smash$ Xandros
June 10, 2008 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Is it worth changing to xUbuntu from Xandros?

I purchased an Asus EEE 900 about a month ago. I've been wanting to make the switch to Linux for years and this finally put it in my lap. Like most MeFites, computers (or at least Microsoft software) are rather intuitive to me. That said, I've yet to be able to install a single application without tons of trial and error and with it a lot of time. I spent three hours today just trying to work around a Xandros bug to get Firefox 3 loaded, still with no success. Even rTorrent seems like another long slodge through terminal + forum/FAQ hell. The only thing I have managed to install was a JAR Chinese dictionary. Go me!

1) Is this something I'll just learn naturally in a few more weeks?
2) Will switching to xUbuntu make it easier to install programs?
3) Should I just install a copy of XP for when I want to do "real work"?
4) Why do repositories seem so out of date and have none of the software I actually want?
posted by trinarian to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I had very minimal Linux experience, and put xubuntu on my eee700 within the first two weeks, and I greatly preferred it. Installs were a breeze for all the basic programs. I've since put XP on it, but plan to put xubuntu on a SD card to dual boot when I have a free afternoon.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:48 AM on June 10, 2008

1. Probably. I mean, that's what happened with you and Microsoft software. Though it might've taken longer than a few weeks.
2. I don't know much about Xandros, but if it doesn't have Debian/Ubuntu-style packages, then absolutely.
3. There are a few things which require Windows-only software, and I wouldn't be eager to run a virtual machine on something like an Eee.
4. I dunno. (Could be, though, that you're looking for things like Flash and .mp3 codecs, but you're only looking at GPL software repositories.)
posted by box at 9:04 AM on June 10, 2008

A straight ubuntu install is a little more user-friendly, but I tried out the xfce desktop when I was still new to them both and found the differences mainly cosmetic. Xubuntu includes more lightweight programs instead of firefox/openoffice, which you have the ram for. Try out the Gnome desktop (vanilla Ubuntu) first to see if it's responsive enough for you. The chip in my HTPC isn't much faster than yours (1.3 GHz vs 900MHz, with half your ram) and it isn't sluggish or annoying. Install the xfce desktop if you want something faster. You'll still have the best default programs but with a faster desktop. Anyway, your questions:

1. Installing new software? Yes. Very simple. Transitioning from Windows to linux is likely to take months until you're reasonably comfortable.
2. Yes. Xubuntu uses the same repositories as Ubuntu, which are fantastic. Just get to know the graphical install program. Aptitude or Adept or Synaptic or whatever xubuntu uses. You don't need to mess with the terminal until you're ready to branch out into networking and such.
3. What classifies as 'real work?' Browsing/word processing/music/video/torrents are easy as pie. I only keep XP around for games and the Adobe suite. It's handy, sure, but depends on what you can't live without.
4. Sounds like you aren't hooked into the main Debian repositories under the xandros install. Can't help with that, but under a whateverbuntu install you should be rocking and rolling.

On preview: Yeah.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:10 AM on June 10, 2008

Synaptic, the graphical package manager is pretty useful for installing from repositories. It is just a matter of adding a few more repositories and you are good to go. It takes a little bit of command line work but the walkthrough covers it.

Whatever route you go this wiki on eeeuser has lots of good info for you. Their forums are also a great resource.
posted by euphorb at 9:40 AM on June 10, 2008

Yep, once you add a few repositories and get pinning set up (which takes ten minutes tops) you should be fine when it comes to installing up to date apps with no hassles - in fact, I find the 'apt-get install someapplication' much easier than the download .dmg/mount/drag app to Applications folder/unmount image/delete .dmg way I was used to on OS X.

As for Firefox 3, it's a bit more hassle, but still shouldn't take very long. Instructions here.

As for switching to Xubuntu, the method of installing apps is exactly the same, and on my Eee 701, I didn't see any noticeable improvement in performance, though it was a bit prettier (eeebuntu might be better, but I've not tried it yet).

I'd say you're best off sticking with Xandros for a week or two - if only because if you mess something up you have the option to reset the machine to a clean Xandros install by pressing F9 on startup - then you can shop arround for a different distro once you have the basics under your belt. This is what I did, and have since tried three or four distros, but always returning to Xandros after a few days (I still occasionally switch to Pupeee Linux, which is amazingly fast, but way more confusing than Xandros when it comes to installing stuff...)
posted by jack_mo at 11:49 AM on June 10, 2008

Oh, one other thing - are you using 'Advanced Desktop Mode' in Xandros? I found everything a lot easier when I switched to that from 'Easy Mode'.
posted by jack_mo at 11:51 AM on June 10, 2008

I recently switched to using Ubuntu (with xp on an SD card when absolutely necessary) on my eee 701 and I'm happy with the switch. There have been 2 minor drawbacks for me. It takes much longer to boot ( >90 seconds) and I don't yet have the microphone working properly with Skype.
However, everything else works and installing software is easy. For example, I was able to install Java and the Netbeans IDE with just a few clicks and it seems to work perfectly.
The problem with the default Xandros is that its a modification of an old version of Xandros. Its hard to know in advance what will be compatible and much of the compatible software will be out of date.
If you want to use software other than what came with your eee, I would suggest switching to one of the standard distros. When you do make the switch, has most of the answers you'll need.
posted by Zetetics at 11:53 AM on June 10, 2008

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