Netbooks are becoming increasingly popular these days. One reason might be because they are more environmentally-friendly, and Green Computing is definitely a buzzword being thrown around. However, they are also mighty convenient, and they just work and do what they should do. At this magazine, we have just bought EeePCs for all of our reporters, and they are now inseparable.
But you can get more out of your EeePC than you get from the store. One of the drawbacks of the EeePC, or any other netbook, is the limited amount of resources available in it. No matter how clever the manufacturer is, the specs of the netbook will never be as strong as a desktop, or a full-fledged notebook computer. So in this frugal computing environment, it is important to squeeze as much performance out of each megabyte of memory and clock cycle of the processor. What you need is an operating system that was built by obsessive-compulsive perfectionists, one that does not brook any foolishness. What you need is Linux.
But how do you install Linux on a netbook For that matter how do you install anything on a computer with no CD drive It is remarkably easy, and yet includes some technical hurdles that might be intimidating for the inexperienced user. But this guide will try to explain those details enough for anyone, even your mother, to be able to install Linux on the net netbook you got her for her birthday.
If we're going to make this easy, we need an easy version of Linux. There are more different versions of Linux than any one person needs, catering to all different types of computer users. The easy, simple, low-resource kind of Linux for netbooks is called Easy Peasy, an encouraging name for novices if there ever was one. It's a good choice because it is specifically designed for the low-resource netbook. We're also going to need a USB flash drive, one that is at least 1 GB in size and doesn't have anything important on it, because it's going to be wiped by the process. Finally, we're going to need some button-mashing skills, which you hopefully picked up during wasted Sundays at the mall.
First, you should download two things. Go to www.geteasypeasy.com and click on the download link to download Easy Peasy itself. Then also download a small utility called UNetbootin that will get the USB flash drive ready by going to unetbootin.sourceforge.net and clicking the large blue button. Download the version appropriate for your operating system. If you haven't already, plug your USB flash drive into your computer. Also, you should realize that all the data on the USB flash drive and on your netbook will be erased by the end of the process, so rescue anything you don't want to disappear.
Wait for everything to finish downloading, and then install UNetbootin, and launch it. The program will just be a small box with several options to adjust. Ignore the top half of the box and look at the second half, where there is the word Diskimage with a small circle beside it. Select the circle, thereby selecting Diskimage. Then in the small box to the right select ISO as the type. Finally, on the far right, there is a file browser button. Click it and select the Easy Peasy file which have you downloaded. UNetbootin has probably already selected your USB flash drive as the target of this whole process, so just click OK and wait for things to finish.
After everything is done, your USB flash drive should be full of Easy Peasy just waiting to take over some other computer. Plug it into your netbook and reboot the netbook. This is where the button mashing begins. You need to mash buttons in order to interrupt the boot process for your netbook and get a boot menu. However, depending on your brand and model of netbook, you might need to mash the escape key, or F2, or F8 or the delete key. So, just to be on the safe side, just mash all of them simultaneously.
After your button mashing is successful, you should have a menu in which you can select the boot device. There should be all of your netbook's meager hard drives and also the USB flash drive. Select the USB flash drive and proceed from there. You should start to see some Easy Peasy logoing about this time. For novice users, just selecting all of the default options will be the best course of action. Just follow the prompts and answer questions about your location and keyboard type and preference for caramel or chocolate macchiattos (that last part may not be in there).
You should eventually get to a screen which will ask you to input your name and password. At this screen, you're almost done. Eventually you will be able to select the option to continue with the Live CD, which means the USB flash drive, or to restart. Simply choose to restart and remove the USB flash drive, and you will be booting up your Easy Peasy Linux install for the first time ever.
The setup of Easy Peasy is especially designed for small screens with limited functionality. You won't see flashy scrolling windows and 3D animations like with Windows Vista, but what you will get is simple, elegant functionality. That includes huge icons to start programs with, tabs which divide your programs into several categories, and easy shortcut keys to your desktop, music, pictures, videos, and documents. The experience is remarkably smooth, and everything just goes that much more quickly. The included OpenOffice programs are fully compatible with Microsoft Office, and the other tools are also great for doing exactly what you can get away with doing on a netbook. You should notice that your netbook runs faster, easier, and does more than it did before. If you don't, well, you can always figure out how to restore the original operating system on it.