So it turns out that that there's a way to boot a live Ubuntu environment from a USB flash disk without spending six minutes waiting for your Eee PC to be ready. OasisBob over at EeeUser has put together a handy little Xubuntu LiveCD designed specifically for Eee PC users. Basically, its just a regular Xubuntu installation disc/LiveCD, but with a few Eee friendly tweaks like:
- Adjustments for the low resolution desktop
- Native WiFi drivers
- WLAN support
Although the Eee PC is more than capable of handling the Gnome desktop environment that ships with the standard version of Ubuntu, Xubuntu uses the light weight XFCE interface which should stress the Eee's resources a bit less. But make no mistake, under the hood, this is still Ubuntu. For example, you can still access all the same software and OS updates using the Synaptic package manager and Ubuntu repositories.
Now, the astute reader will note that I said this is a LiveCD, but the Eee PC doesn't have a CD drive. If you happen to have a USB CD drive, you could pop the disc in, plug the drive into your Eee, hit Esc when the boot screen pops up, and select your external drive.
But if you don't have a USB CD drive, here's how you load eeeXubuntu onto a USB flash drive. Just pop the CD into your PC. It doesn't matter if you're running Windows or Linux or something else altogether. Reboot your computer and make sure to boot from the CD drive. A few moments later, you'll be running Xubuntu. Now all you have to do is plug in your flash drive, follow the steps on the download page, and in about two minutes you'll have eeeXubuntu loaded onto a flash drive.
When you're done, just unmount the flash drive, plug it into your Eee PC, and hit the Esc key during when the boot screen pops up to select your boot device. A little over 90 seconds later, you'll be running Xubuntu on your Eee PC.
If you want, you can click the install button on your desktop to load Xubuntu onto your main memory. Make sure you know what you're doing if you go this route, as you will wind up erasing Xandros. You can also choose to install Xubuntu to an SDHC card or another flash drive, but to be honest I haven't had much success with that yet.
I'm impressed enough with eeeXubuntu that I'm seriously thinking about replacing Xandros. But I'm not quite ready to make the jump yet. And eeeXubuntu is still a work in progress, so odds are if I wait a few days things will only get better.
Update: eeeXubuntu r3 is out, now with better support for the Eee PC's Fn keys.