So I received my Asus EEE PC yesterday and immediately set about playing with it and changing the interface. The device itself is just great and I’ll blog about it later but I wanted to share my thoughts on Linux first.
The EEE uses a customised version of the Debian distribution and out of the box has what is called the simple interface (shown left). I initially eschewed this in favour of the advanced version which is basically a Windows XP look-alike. I quickly realised that this was adding little value as it just gave huge areas of empty space and little else so I have reverted to the simple version. Anyway, just this little exercise was an object lesson in the art that is Linux. Having grown up on Windows when I want to install a new piece of software I am used to double clicking the exe/mis and following the on-screen instructions. Not so with Linux – you need to get your hand dirty very quickly and this means opening a console and typing in obscure commands. Now while this is somewhat tedious I don’t mind too much to achieve the end result even though it was like going back to 1987 and the DEC PDP-11 we had at Uni. However, it would have frightened the life out of, say, my father.
This, of course, is Linux’s great problem – it’s a 21st century operating system that requires 20th century knowledge to do anything remotely complex. And while this remains the case it will continue to be a specialist offering and not something for the mainstream.