My primary plan for my Eee PC is to use it a mobile blogging tool. But I just had to see if I could install some audio editing software. It turns out the answer is yes. Yes I could.

Color me a little bit shocked that I managed to do this on my first day with my new toy. I had kind of sworn to myself that I wouldn't install any new software until I had played with everything the Eee PC had to offer out of the box. But where's the fun in that?

When you first power up the Eee PC, there are about 40 programs installed. One is a sound recorder, but that won't get you very far if you're editing podcasts or radio stories. Ardour might be pushing it a bit, so I figured I would try to install Audacity. There's a simple add/remove programs dialog included, but right now there are only a handful of programs that you can download and most of them are actually just updated versions of the applications that ship with the Eee PC.

While working to connect the Eee PC to my home network so I could play some music off of a shared drive (it comes with Amarok, and does a pretty decent job of playing music through headphones or the built-in speakers), I noticed that there was an option to "Open Console Window" in the File Manager. Ah hah! For some reason this option is grayed out when you're in some directories. But when you're browsing attached storage devices or shared network drives, it shows up.

So I fired up the console and typed "apt-get install audacity." Nothing happened. Actually I got some error message or other. I forget what it was. I wasn't surprised. I figured I'd have to add some repositories. To make a long story short, here is how to install Audacity, and presumably a bunch of other programs on an Eee PC:

  1. Open that console window by going to File Manager and clicking Tools/Open Console Window
  2. Navigate to //etc/apt
    1. You do this by first typing "cd //"
    2. Then type "cd etc"
    3. And finally "cd apt"
  3. Now it's time to edit your source list using the vi text editor
    1. Type "sudo vi sources.list"
    2. User the arrow keys to put your cursor just below "deb http://update.eeepc.asus.com/p701/en p701 main
    3. Hit the "i" key to enter insert mode
    4. Type "deb http://http.us.debian.org/debian/ stable main"
    5. Hit the "esc" key to exit insert mode
    6. Press "ZZ" in order to exit and save
  4. Now you should be back at the console
  5. Type "sudo apt-get update" to get an updated list of available packages
  6. Type "sudo apt-get install audacity" to install audacity.
  7. Select yes when it asks if you want to continue
  8. When Audacity is done installing, type "audacity" to launch the program.
And you're all set. Don't expect Audacity to be a speed demon on a 900MHz processor. And by default, sound files are larger than your screen so you'll need to do some resizing of your windows to make everything fit. This is a common problem on the Eee PC, but it's not insurmountable. Usually.

Also, there doesn't appear to be an easy way to create a desktop shortcut for launching Audacity. That means you'll need to fire up the terminal every time you want to run this or any other unsupported program you install. If you can live without audio editing for the time being, you might want to wait and see whether Asus offers Audacity or other programs you may be looking for in future updates.

If you're not familiar with Linux, this procedure can be a bit dangerous. Here's a complete list of instructions for using the vi text editor. It could save your life if you wind up hitting the wrong buttons and deleting the Eee PC official sourc list. And here's a list of safe repositories to try if the Debian repository I mentioned above doesn't work.

If you do accidentally wind up deleting your Eee PC repositories, just open up sources.list agan and make sure you enter these two lines:
  • deb http://update.eeepc.asus.com/p701 p701 main
  • deb http://update.eeepc.asus.com/p701/en p701 main
Update: Notebook Review points out an easier text editor than vi. Novice that I am, I used the first text editor I could think of. But instead of typing "sudo vi sources.list" try "sudo nano sources.list." The nano text editor is much easier to use. And more importantly, it includes instructions at the bottom of the screen.

Update 2: And for an even easier method, try using the hidden Synaptics Package Manager.

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3 comments:

oskar said...

I know my way around vi and nano, but I always use the easiest editor available. On the eee kwrite is preinstalled, so that is what I use.
you can open it from the command line just like vi or nano:
sudo kwrite /etc/apt/sources.list

Mr Harrington said...

Hey,great thanks for the code! Did you have any luck with the lame mp3 encoder??I have tried few times without much luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks man! I was having a very hard time to install audacity. Now since it is installed I can put my Tape2PC to good use! Thanks again!

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