With all this talk of people installing Mac OS X, Windows XP, and even Windows Vista on the Eee PC, I figured I had to get in on some of this alternate OS action. But I don't have a USB DVD drive, and more importantly, I don't really want to mess with the Xandros operating system that comes with the Eee PC, which for the most part I love.
So I decided to give my Eee some puppy love. Puppy Linux, that is. Puppy is a tiny Linux distribution that fits on a flash drive, and can be booted from a flash drive. It's sort of like a LiveCD, in that you can run it from any PC without writing anything to the PC's hard drive. But since you're running the OS off of flash memory and not a CD, you can save data.
All you need to do is download the Puppy ISO and burn it to a CD, reboot your PC running Puppy, and then use Puppy's universal installer to install Puppy onto a flash drive. Then you slap the flash drive into your Eee PC, hit Esc when booting up, and select the drive you want to boot from. You can find more detailed directions here.
Everything worked like a charm. Well, almost everything. There's no sound, and there's no way I would have figured out how to configure the wireless drivers on my own. Luckily, the Eee User forum came to the rescue again. In a nutshell, you need to grab the "net5211.inf" file from the DVD that came with your Eee PC and load it onto your flash drive. You can find the file in the /Drivers/Wireless/ndis5x/ directory.
Then you need to find "BootManager configure bootup" in the Puppy start menu, select blacklist, and add ATH_PCI and ATH_Hal to your blacklist. Oh yeah, and you can only do this after you've rebooted Puppy once and created a save file.
Once you've added those items to your blacklist, reboot again, then select the "Connect" icon on the desktop. Go to load module, and click the more tab. Choose NDISWrapper, and browse to wherever you put your net5211.inf file. Now you should be able to configure your wireless settings.
As for the audio, I haven't found a way to make that work yet.
After playing with Puppy for a while last night, I decided to try a different version today, so i went with Fire Hydrant, a custom version of Puppy. I like the graphics a bit better, and it comes with Firefox, Thunderbird, and Sunbird instead of SeaMonkey.
I haven't run any thorough benchmarking, but Puppy seems a bit quicker and more responsive than Xandros on the Eee PC. Programs load in the blink of an eye and Firefox runs like nobody's business. Although the Adobe Flash player plugin seems up to the task of YouTube videos, it must be a bit older than the version Asus includes, because while Firefox can handle Hulu videos under Xandros, the version that comes with Fire Hydrant doesn't seem to like Hulu.
All in all, I'll probably stick with Xandros for my day to day tasks. But it's nice to have choices.