Smoothwall Firewall project

Sunday 11 May 2008

Eeepc addons will spark even better Linux supported hardware

While going through my daily technology feeds, I noticed a news item on the new TV adapter that Asus has launched, it's called the ASUS My Cinema-U3100Mini. Now if you look at the operating systems it supports, it includes Debian Linux, which you might know is the basis for a lot of the modern Linux distributions we all use today. These include Xandros, the operating system that comes standard with the Epc , the ever popular K/X/Ubuntu range of operating systems, Mint Linux, and Mepis. All of these are in the top twenty of Distrowatch, which gives a reasonable idea of what people are using.

Now it becomes obvious, even by Asus's conservative projection of expected shipments of Epc's this year, we are looking at a global market of several million customers for these new addon devices with Epc's alone. If you add in all the additonal customers who already use Debian based distro's, which include now the Dell customer base, there is a real market for hard nosed business people to make some serious money, as Asus is displaying on a daily basis.

It also doesn't take a lot to realise that the open nature of Linux development will enable most if not all of these add-on devices to be ported fairly easily to the non-Debian Linux Distributions like Red Hat, Fedora, Suse, PClinuxos etc.

I think that this technical development has several benefits for two groups of people. The business people looking to supply new markets and make sure their products are in at the forefront of a booming new IT sector. You only have to look at the success of the new Ultra mobile laptops from Asus to see what can be achieved. The second group of people who will directly benefit from this are the users of Linux who will now have access to a wider range of add-ons than were previously available.

As I have both an Epc and a Dell XPS m1330 with Ubuntu, I can't wait to get one of these new little devices to watch TV on the move. Those commute train journeys can be so drab on cold winter mornings, so a little light mindless TV can help make them slightly less boring.

Thursday 8 May 2008

Six months with the Asus Eeepc mini laptop

After getting one of these little devils for use on my weekly flights and many train journeys, I did wonder if the novelty of the small laptop might wear off.

Well, I can tell you that the little laptop is working harder today than when I first got it, and I have found many uses for the device that I didn't think about when I originally bought it. The one big use that has become more useful by the week, is taking the Epc to meetings, where it can happily take notes and you can surf the web for info on the spot. I know you can do this with 15" laptops, but they always seem to dominate the table space in front of you at a meeting, and in some subconscious way extend a barrier to other people at the meeting. The diminutive Epc doesn't have this problem, and several members of the team have actually bought them for exactly the same task. It also always offers a talking point when working with people from other teams or companies, which is a great ice breaker. It has also proved really useful for displaying photos downloaded from my cameras SD card, which again was not something I originally bought it for, but now find very useful.

I have played around with the installed Linux software only slightly, basically to remove the simple interface it comes with, and use a more standard KDE desktop. I have tried other Linux distributions on USB keys to see how they might work as a replacement, but have found nothing that works as seamlessly as the pre-installed software yet.

The Epc does everything it said it would do well, and having used the wireless connectivity extensively, and recently helped a friend set up a wireless broadband modem on his Epc, you really can connect in the UK from virtually anywhere.

The only problem I can see on the horizon, is not that this little unit will not keep doing the job it was bought for, but it's new big brother with an updated Intel Atom processor which is just around the corner, will cause a problem on the purchasing front.

You see I have already bought a new Dell m1330n with Ubuntu Linux for more concentrated work, so what the heck do I use the original Epc for?

I'm sure I will find a solution in the house somewhere.