I recently tried out Easy Peasy on my Asus Eee PC 901. It promises to be an easy to use system that is well adapted to computers like the Eee PC. Unfortunately, it comes up short of that promise.
I had problems with it right away. I downloaded Easy Peasy 1.5 and used Unetbootin 372 to put it on an SD card. The Easy Peasy site recommends Unetbootin, but the result wasn’t bootin’ anything. All I got was a blinking cursor on an otherwise black screen. Based on what I found in their forums, I used dd to write the Easy Peasy disk image to the card. This makes the card look a lot like a CD to a computer, albeit an 826MB one. That got the Eee PC booting Easy Peasy. It seemed to work well enough, although the touch pad mouse doesn’t move as easily for some reason.
Since it was just a minor issue getting the Easy Peasy image to boot, I decided it was working well enough to install to another SD card. I selected the install option, and after maybe a half hour it was done. The Eee PC rebooted, I told it to use the card, and I got a black screen with a blinking cursor.
That wasn’t enough to stop me because I don’t much care for the Xandros Linux distribution the Eee PC shipped with. I put the SD card into my Gentoo running deskunder computer and proceeded to re-install Grub on the card. That took some trickery. I also had to modify Grub’s menu.lst file and the /etc/fstab file because they referenced the SD card device incorrectly. I had used two cards during the installation. The one with the disk image was /dev/sdc, and the install target was /dev/sdd. Now that the install was over, there would be no disk image, and the root filesystem would be found on /dev/sdc.
I fixed all that up and put the card back in the Eee PC. This time it booted Easy Peasy from the card. After a while, it came up with a text menu like what can be found on Redhat installs a decade old. The age of the interface doesn’t bother me; that it worked a decade ago but not on the much newer Easy Peasy does bother me. It noticed that I had changed menu.lst and presented me with options. Pressing any keys in an attempt to select an option resulted in garbage text being put on the screen, just like from programs that are busy ignoring stdin.
After a while, I decided to use my Eee PC again with the old Xandros. Even with the Easy Peasy SD card removed, I get Grub error 21. Easy Peasy wrecked the Grub configuration on filesystems that I never asked it to mess with. This is a major problem. If you do give Easy Peasy a try and decide to install it, be prepared for nothing to boot.
Since I still wanted to use the Eee PC, I booted Easy Peasy. I hit a few more keys when the menu came up and got lucky. I really don’t know what I pressed to get past the menu. After the X server came up, I logged in and tried to get the wireless connection to work. It didn’t. It did earlier when I used the Easy Peasy disk image, but it is broken after an install. It seems that it needs to open /etc/Wireless/RT2860STA/RT2860STA.dat, but there is no /etc/Wireless.
In the process, I decided to switch to a virtual terminal for some reason. I didn’t really need to, I just did. I was able to login and get a prompt from bash. But when I tried to return to the X server, all I got was a black screen. I could switch back to the terminal, but X wasn’t being useful. I tried the common keystroke to kill the X server without success. After about a half hour of sitting around on terminal, I found the computer brought up a graphical login on its own. I was logged out of my X session, and X was being useful again. Weird and obnoxious.
Overall, I would have to say that Gentoo is a little easier to install on a regular deskunder than Easy Peasy is on an Eee PC. Gentoo’s directions are clear, well written, and work. Easy Peasy has few directions, they often fail, and you’ve got to figure out how to fix it on your own. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Oh, the included Firefox doesn’t go to the previous page when backspace is pressed. I hate that about the Xandros install.
The wireless problem wasn’t fixed by restoring the missing /etc/Wireless files. After that attempt, I shutdown the system through the graphical interface for the first time. When I later started the system with the intention of seeing if any updates might help, the filesystem was not clean and was mounted read-only preventing the X server from starting. Using the shutdown command from a shell worked fine, but not the pretty GUI.
Don’t touch Easy Peasy unless you are ready to spend time fixing it.
I put Eeebuntu standard on my Eee PC a couple months ago. It is working out quite well, and didn’t have the install trouble of Easy Peasy. Compiz gives it plenty of nice eye candy, and it runs acceptably fast. Unfortunately, Compiz and Google Earth don’t seem to play well together. It is no fault of Eeebuntu, and Eeebuntu doesn’t force the use of Compiz.
In any case, Eeebuntu is keeping me happy with my Eee PC for now.