When I first wrote about EeeDora, a custom version of Fedora designed for the Eee PC, I hadn't taken the time to try installing it yet. But this afternoon I took the plunge, and I'm awfully glad I did.

A little while back I decided to install a full version of Ubuntu on my Eee PC to see if it was easier to use/more familiar than eeeXubuntu. On the one hand, you get a more powerful set of applications with Ubuntu running the GNOME desktop environment than you do with Xubuntu's XFCE desktop environment. But on the other hand, Ubuntu seemed a bit more sluggish on my Eee PC than eeeXubuntu. So I figured I'd reinstall eeeXubuntu. But first, I decided to take a closer look at EeeDora, which appears to have come a long way in the last few months.

You can install EeeDora using a liveCD or a USB flash drive. Since I don't have an external CD-ROM drive for my Eee PC, I chose the latter method. I followed a set of instructions found on the EeeUser Wiki for configuring a flash drive using Windows. There are also instructions for setting up a flash drive using Fedora or another Linux distro.

Booting from the LiveUSB took just about a minute, which is pretty impressive. It takes closer to 6 minutes to boot Ubuntu from a LiveUSB.

Once Eeedora is up and running, almost everything works just as you'd expect. The keyboard shortcuts all seem to work. That means you can adjust the brightness, volume, wireless card, and even the external monitor settings with little trouble. Once I toggled the WiFi I was online. But you can also pull up the WiFi Radar program from the start menu if you need to find your wireless network.

There's not a lot of software installed by default. You've got Firefox, MousePad, and some system tools, but that's about it. You can add more programs using the add/remove software utility, but your settings won't be saved since this is a LiveUSB. In order to save your settings, you'll need to install EeeDora to your solid state disk or a SD/SDHC card.

I had a heck of a time figuring out how to install EeeDora to an SD card until I found a set of instructions at the EeeUser forums. Once I finally loaded EeeDora onto my SD card (note: installation takes somewhere around 90 minutes), I figured I was home free. But it turns out that some of the things which worked perfectly from the LiveUSB weren't working. For example, no matter how many times I clicked on the add/remove software button, nothing happened. Or rather, the first time I clicked, I was asked for a password. But then the package manager should have opened, and it didn't. Since EeeDora comes with very few programs preloaded, that was a bit of a problem.

Figuring something might have gone wrong during the installation process, I decided to reinstall the OS. This time, it took over two hours and hung at the end on a screen that said it was doing some post-installation formatting. This screen said it would take a few minutes. After about 45 I gave up and shut down my Eee.

As much as I want to like EeeDora, I'm not sure it's ready for prime time just yet. Or maybe I'm only encountering these problems because I'm trying to install it to an SD card instead of the main memory. But I'm not ready to overwrite Windows XP just yet. It took me too long to get it on there.

I might give EeeDora one more try tomorrow before reinstalling eeeXubuntu. But at the very least, it's nice to know that there's a Linux distro that you can run as a LiveUSB from any disk with 340MB of storage space. If you ever find yourself with an unbootable computer, this is the sort of thing that can come in handy.


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