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Getting the most out of your Eee PC

In the beginning...

Before you start, the following tips will come in handy while working with the Eee PC.

Sometimes windows are larger than the display resolution, and they need moving. You can do this by holding down ALT and drag-clicking anywhere on the window you want to move.

You can open a console by pressing CTRL+ALT+t. Inside the console, if you need to paste in a command, or a whole lot of text into a file, you can do this by pressing the left and right mouse buttons at the same time. This simulates the middle mouse button.

Some things in this guide might require the use of the console, but all the commands are given to you. For those of you that want to learn a bit more about how the console works, read our Linux CLI 101.

When using FireFox, pressing F11 to go full screen can give you that little bit of extra space, and you soon get into the habit of doing so.

Every tutorial here has been tested on a freshly restored Asus Eee PC. In some cases the Xandros repos are needed and this will be mentioned – to enable these, you need to open the console and type the following:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Then at the end of the file, add the following line:

deb http://xnv4.xandros.com/xs2.0/upkg-srv2 etch main contrib non-free

This adds the repos for Xandros Server 2.0. This is the same base as the Eee PC, with the KDE packages removed. If you've ever dealt with package conflicts before, you'll be glad you use this repos instead of the desktop equivalent.

Backups

One of the great things about the way the filesystem is set up on the Eee PC, is that you can restore to factory defaults by merely pressing F9 during the boot and selecting the restore option. However, if you've installed a few updates and have applied a few tweaks—like the ones seen in this article—this process can be a pain. My Eee PC has had quite a few updates and modifications, yet I can back up the user partition to 200MB gzip file – this can be used to bring the machine back to a state that you want at any point.

If you don't understand the “copy on write” methodology behind the Eee PC, do read part one of this series, as it helps to explain this feature of the Eee PC’s filesystem.

Backing up partitions while they are still mounted is not the best of ideas. Restoring them is even sillier, and usually pretty impossible. There is also no guarantee that when something goes wrong you'll be able to boot into the OS. Because of these reasons, I felt the best solution was to make a bootable USB key with the software we need installed on, to keep things entirely dependent.

There are many ways to skin a cat, and there more recovery tools than there are cats. I decided to use partimage as my partition backup/restore software and Googled for the first recovery CD I could find that came with it ready to go.

I found the System Rescue CD. While there may well be better recovery CDs out there, this has done the job for me and a few of the extra tools can only come in handy. I also found PING, which stands for “Partimage Is Not Ghost”, but speaking frankly, the wizard interface really needs some work.

I used a 1GB flash drive, and had room for storing several backups. If you have a Windows machine to hand, you might want to follow the instructions on their website, as it's a little simpler than doing it from your Eee PC. These instructions might seem daunting, but they only need to be done once, and then the backup process is incredibly simple.