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08 January 2009, 17:08

Easy Peasy 1.0 for netbooks released

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The Easy Peasy launcher
Zoom The Easy Peasy launcher
Easy Peasy 1.0 has been released. Easy Peasy, a Linux distribution specifically for netbooks, is based on Ubuntu 8.10 ("Intrepid Ibex") and brings together the appropriate drivers for the popular netbooks to support devices such as wireless modules, sound chips and webcams. With many distributions, these drivers normally have to be installed manually. Easy Peasy has also been optimised for the small display of the netbook. It uses the launcher and window management from the Ubuntu Netbook Remix, which gives the user an easy to configure applications launcher. When run, most applications are maximised to full screen and a compact tab bar at the top of the screen acts as a task bar/window title area.

Easy Peasy comes with a range of open source applications such as OpenOffice 3.0, Firefox and Songbird, but also includes closed source software such as Skype, Google's Picasa image manager and the Adobe flash plug-in. A standard Ubuntu distribution comes with only open source packages. Other applications are available through the Synaptic package manager and the Update manager ensures the system is kept up to date. Easy Peasy also includes the latest Network manager, making it capable of using many 3G broadband USB sticks and 3G phone modems.

Easy Peasy can be installed with a DVD and an external optical drive, or booted from a USB stick using Unetbootin. The 870MB image file can be downloaded from the web site. When booted, users can boot as a Live CD, to check their system will run with the distribution, or go straight to installation.

We tested Easy Peasy on the Asus EEE PC 901 and the distribution does seem to be promising. We did note that the live CD boot started the installation programme immediately, rather than waiting for the user to start it when they wanted to. The installer was basically the same as the standard Ubuntu installer. When the system rebooted, the new OS started up and when we logged in, we were actually prompted for an admin password, which then ran the installer again. This turns out to be a known problem and required going to the Preferences, then Sessions and removing Ubiquity from the listed applications. We were also prompted over incomplete language support, a problem which was resolved with a short download from the package repositories.

Easy Peasy, on first look, doesn't quite support all the hardware of the 901; the web-cam didn't initialise correctly and the hot key to toggle the wifi/bluetooth combination did not work. Also sound levels were somewhat low, another known problem that requires the user to adjust the volume with the Gnome sound mixer to reset the audio levels.

Norwegian Jon Ramvi is behind the Easy Peasy project. He originally launched the project as Ubuntu EEE for the Asus EEE PC and over time, the distribution has become increasingly a generic netbook operating system. With that change in focus came a need to remove the Ubuntu brand from the name and the project was re-dubbed Easy Peasy.


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