Wednesday, June 11, 2008


One of our raffle prizes at JavaOne was a 4GB Asus Eee pc/umpc/laptop thing. We had a play around with it before we reluctantly gave it away, and it is quite a cool little toy - very small and light, but with a half-decent keyboard and wi-fi. The only bad points were the screen (very small) and the need to boot the thing into 'advanced mode' and perform some black-hat magic to get a Java plugin installed for Firefox. It really wasn't trivial, and was certainly beyond the scope of the couple of hours we had to play around with it.

So, obviously when I was back in the UK and discovered there was a new Asus Eee out with more storage and a bigger screen, then I had to go and have a look, and when I played with one in the shop and discovered that it had a Java plugin installed and ran the Altio website demos without any problems then I was sold.

The screenshot above is the AltioLive applet running in Firefox on the Asus.

Now, I bought the Linux version of the Asus Eee PC900, but I'm going to have to crap all over my geek credentials by admitting that I installed XP on it after a couple of days. The version of Linux on the Eee seemed fine, but a bit noddy and didn't support multi-user logins easily, so I decided to switch to XP.

There followed a long, long, long time playing around with nLite, which slipstreams Windows installations by allowing you to decide what components to keep and what to remove. After a lot of trial and error, messing about with booting off USB drives (which was made easier by helpful pages such as, and finally giving up and buying an external USB CD drive, I finally got it installed.

As long as you are fairly brutal with what is installed in XP, and keep an eye on the services and startup programs you have, it runs really well on the Eee, even with its wheezy processor. With XP, I get to use the new Java 6 Update 10 plugin on the Eee too, so I may even see if I can use it for development, although I think trying to run Eclipse on it might be stretching a point too far.

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