Big mods for the small Eee PC

It looks like a toy, but this Linux mini-notebook has inspired a growing community of hardware mod devotees.

During the 2007 holiday season, there was another small, white and cheap tech device that became a hard-to-find bestseller: the ultra-portable Eee PC notebook by ASUS. (It also comes in black and three other colors, but the white model appears to be the most popular.) Despite looking like a toy, the Eee PC is a fully capable computer primarily meant for wireless Internet use. It runs Linux and includes Firefox and OpenOffice.

The Eee PC has appealed to a large segment of mobile computerists due to its combination of size, features and affordability. The lowest price model retails for US$299. And, to those who are keen for disassembling gadgets, its potential for being easily hacked and modified has been the biggest selling point.

Soon after its release, an online scene quickly emerged around the Eee PC. The enthusiasm of this community is in large part centered on the hackability of the gadget. "It's huge. I have never seen anything as big," describes an individual who prefers to be referred to by the initials "JKK," and who has worked professionally in hardware design for mobile computing devices. He became renowned for developing a touch panel and an internal 3G mod for the Eee PC.

When someone in the community successfully creates a new mod, they share information and how-to's about their work with other Eee PC users. "I'd describe the present status of the scene as explosive," says John Addison, who has modded his Eee PC and is an active participant in the mod scene for the tiny notebook. "There is hardly a week that goes by without a great new mod, hack or idea."

On the forum, non-technical Eee fans mingle with extremely technically knowledgeable users like JKK. There are step-by-step written tutorials and videos showing amateurs how to add features, like more internal storage space or Bluetooth to their Eee PCs.

"The beauty of the Eee PC is that you don't need a technical background to enjoy it," says Anthony Lusby, creator of the site. "Ultimately, each mod breeds opportunity for further future mods down the road, along with creating a more solid community feel."

Typically, the first "mod" most Eee PC owners perform is changing out its operating system. The Eee PC OS is built upon the Xandros distribution, and features a very simplified interface. It was specially designed to be used by people who are totally unfamiliar with Linux and to maximize the system's limited capabilities. Although most in the Eee mod scene agree the included operating system is a good match for the intended audience of the Eee PC, they have figured out ways to install other Linux distros. (ASUS also provides Windows drivers for installing Windows XP on the device.)

"I think ASUS made a solid decision in using Linux," says Lusby. "That said, I think they could have done a better job in making it easier to install and properly use other various Linux distributions with the Eee PC without having to seek help, for instance, in finding out how to get the wireless card properly working."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Howard Wen

Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?