How to make netbooks run faster

The Asus EEE PC

Netbook nerds only:

My friend H recently asked a few pals for some tips on netbooks, the increasingly popular ((Asus is the netbook pioneer, but Dell and several other companies also produce these gadgets. And Nokia recently announced that they’re getting into the subnotebook game, as well.)) subnotebook computers that are cheap, lightweight, and great for travel. ((For at-home use, netbooks make for excellent dedicated Skype videophone terminals, as well.))

I recommended the Asus Eee PC, which I raved about ((One glitch that I’ve encountered recently with my Eee Pc, however: When I try to connect to a wireless access point, I get an error message that says, “There was an error setting up inter-process communications for KDE…Could not open network socket. Please check that the “dcopserver” program is running!” Does anyone know how to fix this? UPDATE: Oct. 26, 2009. I fixed this by resetting my Eee PC to its original factory settings. It’s simple — just reboot while pressing the F9 key. But make sure you’ve saved your personal data elsewhere first. Instructions are here. )) in April, 2008. And my brother M, also a netbook enthusiast ((M recently completed a Los Angeles to Buenos Aires motorbike trip, blogging and Skyping from his trusty ASUS Eee PC 901.)), kindly offered these tips for making Windows-based ((My Eee runs on Linux, but the newer versions use Windows.)) subnotebooks run more efficiently. I’m reprinting M’s suggestions here, with his permission:

I have an ASUS Eee PC 901, but few friends have the next size up, the 1000 series, and they’re very good computers. My computer looks like the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA. It’s a pretty sweet deal at $375.

It’s basically the same guts as the 901 but a bigger screen and keyboard, which is probably good. Honestly, I would only go with something smaller (like the 901) if you were travelling with it a lot. The 1005 is bigger but not by much — it’s still a very small laptop.

Sick battery life, too — not 10.5 hours, like they say, but a long time. So long that you don’t need to bring your charger with you. There are some cheaper options that are the same computer but with a smaller battery pack but longer battery life is infinitely better.

And yes, it runs Windows, but I have mine optimized to run pretty fast. Here’s how you can do the same:

  1. First off, you would want to switch out the RAM stick to a 2GB rather than the 1GB it ships with — around $30 and makes a difference. Like this one.
  2. And any windows computer can be a lot snappier if you slim down the installed programs and use alternatives to bad programs. Before you even start to use a new computer (or even if you have used it for a while) download and run Ccleaner to easily remove all the stupid software that comes pre-installed, that you don’t want or need, as well as removing ALL programs that run at startup.
  3. Google Chrome for a browser — IE is no good, and Chrome is much faster than even my beloved Firefox.
  4. Run Avast free home edition for antivirus (the price is right, and it doesn’t bog your computer down).
  5. Run Open Office for word and stuff (but be careful when you install it because it will want to install some other stuff too) — but only if you don’t have or can’t get a copy of real office. And if you can get a copy of office only install the parts you need.
  6. Get the K-lite codec pack with windows media player classic for videos (instead of windows media player which never has the right codecs and is a resource hog). This will play any video ever.
  7. If you have music on your computer run mediamonkey — it will even sync your ipod.
  8. And if you’re going to download torrents use utorrent – very easy and light.
  9. Those programs plus Skype and Picasa are all I have installed.

Thanks, M, for the tips. Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments.


Asus eee pc: 10 observations

If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger. — Frank Lloyd Wright

A gave me a supremely cool gadget for Christmas: The Asus Eee PC. I’ve been using this most compelling toy subnotebook productivity tool for over three months now.

Here are 10 things you need to know about the Asus Eee PC:

  1. The Eee PC is small. Very small. The display is just seven inches wide.
  2. The machine is extremely lightweight. Mine weighs just two pounds. If I lived in a cool enough climate to wear a jacket, I could put the Eee in my jacket pocket. And take it places. Like to parties. And be a total dork.

  3. Combine these two points with the fact that it has a solid-state, 4 gigabyte flash drive — meaning that it has no moving internal parts — and you’ve got yourself the perfect device for staying connected on the road. I’ve used my Eee throughout Thailand and on the road in Vietnam.

  4. The Eee has some great built-in features:

— The 4 gig drive is big enough for documents, photos, and some music. With a 1 or 2 GB thumb drive, you’ll have all the space you need.
— It has a built-in Webcam and comes pre-loaded with Skype, so it makes a great portable videophone.
— The battery lasts three hours or so, and the charger (pictured below) is slightly larger than a mobile phone charger.
— It lacks, however, an internal optical drive, but I haven’t missed that.

  1. The Eee PC won’t break the bank: the 4 gig version retails for about $400 in the US, though it costs a bit less here.
  • My Eee is black, but the device also comes in…pink.

  • The machine, which Internerds the world over have been lusting over for quite some time, has got an interesting history and some serious geek cred. The Eee was developed by Asustek, a Taiwanese manufacturer that decided to get into the small, inexpensive laptop game after witnessing the attention lavished upon the One Laptop Per Child project.

  • The Eee is powered by Linux. To keep costs low, Asus developed the Eee to run on the open-source Linux operating system, instead of Windows. (If you think PCs are the true computers of the working man, then the Eee PC must be considered equally utilitarian.)

  • One drawback: the touchpad is a bit finicky, so it really pays to buy a mouse.

  • Oddly, the wireless connection doesn’t connect to a preferred network by default, so you should change it to connect to your home wifi signal on boot. Here’s how to make that tweak.

  • Other sites that contain more Eee-related info include and