Cross-Platform with Multiple Machines
(This post is still a work in progress…)
I recently bought an ASUS Eee PC1000HE. I wanted a new laptop, preferably something small and lightweight. I was also interested in getting a machine to run Ubuntu, and possibly even Windoze once in a while.
After looking around (albeit briefly) at netbooks, this seemed like a reasonable machine for a reasonable price. I ordered it from Amazon, got it the next day, and got to work on setting it up the way I wanted it. I learned a few things, and figured I would share those here.
Hard Drive Setup
The first thing I did was run Ubuntu off a USB stick and reformat the drive. It took some fiddling to find the options I wanted, and without spending all day doing bit-by-bit copies of empty space. But, eventually, I had a partition for Windows (that kept the preinstalled software), and an extended partition that contained the Ubuntu partitions set up by the installer. Unfortunately, I don’t remember exactly what options I chose, but everyone has their own needs anyway.
Then I was able to install Ubuntu, to create a dual boot machine.
Technically, I installed Easy Peasy. This is a customized version of Ubuntu specifically designed for netbooks. I read that it supported the Eee PC machines well.
Installation was easy and it worked without much difficulty.
One problem I did run into - the wireless connection was flaky with certain
routers. I discovered, through trial and error, that I could connect when the
machine first booted. But if it slept, upon awakening it could not obtain a
connection. The answer ended up being that I had to remove and then
the wireless driver in order to reconnect. I created a script to do this for
me, since I couldn’t get it to happen automatically:
(I need to look up this script)
Other than installing my preferred software, I didn’t do a whole lot with this. I don’t plan on using the Windows too often. It seems to work well.
I installed Dropbox on both my Ubuntu and Windows partitions. This allows me to keep my active files synchronized between 2 machines (3 total operating systems) fairly easily.
Through the use of symlinks, it becomes possible to synchronize files outside of the main dropbox folder as well.
Since I was going to be using multiple operating systems, it made sense to emphasize cross-platform open source software.
I use Firefox as my primary web browser, so this was a no-brainer. I installed it in Windows and Ubuntu, and then used Foxmarks to synchronize my bookmarks and passwords across installations. On my main computer, I use 1Password to manage my passwords, so I had to manually reenter the passwords I wanted to keep synchronized within Firefox.
I then installed Google Gears in order to keep copies of my Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs information within each operating system for offline use while traveling.
I use Dropbox to synchronize my Thunderbird profile, so that I don’t have to update accounts on each copy separately, and so that the address books stay in synch whenever I make changes. I tend to still use Apple’s Mail primarily, but Thunderbird isn’t bad. And since I run Portable Thunderbird off a USB stick at work, it’s nice to have consistency.
I started off using Sunbird, but after installing Google Gears with Google Calendar, I gave up. Performance sucked, and it just wasn’t worth it.
All in all, it was nice to play with a new machine. I like the small size of the Eee PC, and it’s useful to have a linux installation that is not in a virtual machine. I’m trying to keep experimenting with open source software, and it’s interesting to have a machine that runs entirely free software and yet can still do almost everything I need.