BOOT CAMP 534 (22/07/08)

Tweaking the Eee PC part 4


We've reached the final instalment of this short series on tweaking the Asus Eee PC and this is the big one, installing the Windows-like KDE desktop. Whilst there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the default Easy Mode interface I suspect many users will prefer something that's a little more grown-up.


The upgrade process is very straightforward, no changes are made to your settings or configuration, you won't lose any data and you can switch between Easy Mode and Full Desktop at any time.


If you've been following the series you should be familiar with the procedure for installing software under this version of Linux, which involves downloading software from an online library or 'Repository', so you need to have a live Internet connection before you begin.


When you are ready step 1 is to download and register the Authentication Key for the upgrade so open a Terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T. At the command prompt after '/home/user>'  type:


wget  and press Enter. A few lines of text appears, ending with the message 'key.asc.5 saved'. Next, at the command prompt type:


sudo apt-key add key.asc  press Enter again and you should see 'OK' and the command prompt again. (Sudo or 'Super User Do' is an administrator command, telling the computer to do something). Now type the following:


sudo synaptic press Enter and a second or two later the Synaptic Package Manager utility opens. Now go to Settings > Repositories and click the New button. In the URL box type:

In the Distribution box enter: p701 and in the Sections box enter: main then click OK and the Reload icon on the Toolbar.


In the left hand pane make sure 'All' is highlighted at the top and go to the 'Package' list on the right and scroll down until you see 'advanced-desktop-eeepc', right-click on it and select 'Mark for Installation', click 'Apply on the toolbar and the upgrade will be automatically downloaded and installed. Depending on the speed of your Internet connection this could take anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or so. When it has finished exit all open dialogue boxes, shut down the PC and reboot.


The Eee PC opens in Easy Mode once again but we're now ready to fire up the KDE desktop, so press the main On/Off switch beneath the screen and if everything has gone according to plan you should see a 'Full Desktop' button on the far left. Click on it, OK the warning about closing running applications and the PC reboots and this time launches the KDE desktop.


There's no much to see at this stage but in a few clicks you'll feel right at home as it's all pretty much the same as Windows with a Taskbar running along the bottom of the screen and a Launch/Start button. Let's make it feel a bit more like home by putting a few shortcuts on the desktop. I suggest that you start with the ones you use most frequently, such as Firefox, Thunderbird, Open Office Writer, File Manager and so on. The procedure is pretty much the same as Windows, click the Launch button then Applications > Internet, right click on Firefox Web Browser and select Add to Desktop. Repeat for Thunderbird Mail Client and Writer, which you will find in Office under Applications, and File Manager, which is in Applications > System > Administrator Tools. To line up the icons just right-click on the desktop and select Arrange Icons > Line up Horizontally (or vertically).


Now let's change the wallpaper or background image, right-click on the desktop again and select Properties, select Desktop in the left-hand task pane and under Background select Picture and use the Browse button (blue open folder icon), to select one for the default images, or, if you have any images of your own on the PC or on a SD card, select that, check the Preview and if you are happy with it click OK. At this point you may run up against one of the Eee PC's few niggles because you may not see the OK button on the screen - if so see this week's Top Tip.


The KDE desktop is so similar to Windows that I don't think I need say much more, except that the best way to get to know it is to click around the Launch menu and explore. If for any reason you don't get on with it you can revert to the Easy Mode at any time by selecting it on the logout screen and it reboots in that mode until you tell it to do otherwise.


Next Week - Networking XP and Vista





Similar to Windows 'certificates', which verifies software comes from a secure, trusted source



On-line library of software dedicated to a particular Linux distribution



DOS-like Command line interface for Linux




Occasionally dialogue boxes like Display Properties are a little too large for the Eee PC display and they drop off the bottom of the screen, hiding additional options and the all important OK, Apply, Cancel and Close buttons. Here's a trick that's definitely worth committing to memory. Place the mouse point mid screen and with your left hand, hold down the Alt key and left touch pad button. The mouse pointer turns into a small arrow-tipped cross and whilst continuing to hold down both keys, use the touch pad to slide the window up the screen, until the options or buttons you want come into view. On a very small number of dialogue boxes these options may still be hidden, or obscured by boxes, in which case you will have to 'stretch' the box by clicking on the lower edge and 'pull' it down.



Don't forget, there's a full archive of previous Boot Camp Top Tips at




(c) R. Maybury 2008, 0207

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