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Bits from the Eee PC team, Spring 2009

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Lenny well supported

   We're pleased that Lenny released with good support for the Eee PC
   and are now turning our efforts to make Squeeze even better, while
   continuing to provide support for our Lenny user base.  The standard
   Lenny installer can install Debian on all models of Eee and our
   [1]custom installer provides the ability to install over wireless for
   almost every model (more about this later) from a very small image.
   The latter continues to be our recommended install method, since in
   addition to being wireless-ready, the custom installer also handles a
   few other small eee-specific configuration chores to make as much as
   possible "just work" right after the install.

Solid mainstream support

   We've made good on our promise to make Debian work on the Eee PC,
   not a derivative, many of which use a custom kernel instead of the
   stock kernel as we do and use a special desktop instead of our users'
   favourites.  While we agree that some intriguing things can be done
   in these areas, it is no substitute for mainstream support.  Our
   users are better served by a solid foundation than specialised
   modifications that limit their choices.  We want them to be able to
   enjoy the freedom to mold Debian, the universal OS, into whatever
   suits them best.

Squeeze support started

   Work is well underway on supporting all Eee models in Squeeze.  For
   months, several team members have been experimenting with new
   kernels, producing support for them in eeepc-acpi-scripts.  The
   current release of this key package (version 1.1.0) supports Linux
   2.6.29 and contains enhancements for wifi, sound hotkeys, bluetooth,
   external displays and OSD.

Squeeze will support wired & wifi on all current models

   With the appearance of 2.6.29 in Sid, all ethernet and wifi cards
   used in all models of Eee today are supportable without the need for
   out-of-kernel or non-free drivers.  Madwifi is replaced by the free
   ath5k driver, the non-free rt2860 package is replaced by mainstream
   kernel support, (though it still requires non-free firmware provided
   separately,) rtl8187se is included, making it possible now for us to
   support the model 701SD, and ath9k is included, making full support
   for newer models such as the 1000HE possible.

Lenny backports and live demo

   All of these changes can be enjoyed today by Lenny users.  Just add
   Daniel Baumann's Lenny kernel backport repository and then install
   the 2.6.29 kernel and an updated acpid.  See our [2]upgrade howto for
   details.  You can try a small (less than 256M) demo of this
   configuration by downloading beta 2 of our [3]Live USB image.


   Late last year, [4]we discussed how to make it easier for the blind
   to install Debian unassisted on their Eee PCs.  As it was a simple
   change, we now include brltty in the custom installer, but we
   understand that some users also need software synthesized
   text-to-speech, something for which there is no support yet in the
   standard Debian-installer.  We understand this isn't an easy thing to
   fix, but hope someone will rise to the challenge.

Growing team of developers

   We welcome Darren Salt and Raphael Geissert to the team this year.
   Both have been actively [5]making contributions to the
   eeepc-acpi-scripts package over the past months, fixing some
   outstanding bugs and readying it to handle changes in more recent
   kernel releases.

Moved eeepc.debian.net to new hosting

   Nico Golde, who hosted eeepc.debian.net for the first year
   development, has turned his focus to other areas of Debian.  Glenn
   Saberton has stepped in to provide a new home for it.  We thank them
   both for their efforts and for a smooth, uneventful transition from
   one host to the other.

Size of user community

   Speaking of the move, earlier this year, Glenn shared with us some
   interesting archive traffic statistics that give us a rough idea how
   many users we have.  For the months of December and January, after
   factoring out bot hits, we were seeing about 300,000 hits from 15,000
   unique users per month.  The site handles roughly 60G of traffic per
   month, most of that from thousands of downloads of our custom
   installer image.  It's hard to draw any firm conclusions about the
   size of our user base from these stats, as many users may be on
   dynamic IP numbers, inflating the numbers, but we can conservatively
   say we have at least 5000 users.  Other interesting statistics are
   that we have anywhere up to 80 users at any given time on our irc
   channel and over 250 users on the mailing list.

Help wanted

   The Asus Eee PC line continues to expand, with [6]24 models listed
   so far.  It is a challenge to keep up support for all of them.  We're
   encouraged to see Asus choose a new b/g/n wifi chipset for their
   [7]1002HA that is supported by a DFSG free driver -- ath9k in this
   case.  It appears that the new Atom N280-based 1000HE uses the same
   chipset as well (though be careful: I know of at least one user who
   bought a 1000HE in Argentina expecting it to have this chipset and
   was disappointed to find it had the Ralink chipset instead, we guess
   because of availability).  If this trend continues, we'll be that
   much closer to our goal of full support for Squeeze main.  As it
   stands, we're already as close as we can get given the state of
   rt2860 and no prospect on the horizon for replacing the non-free

   If you would like to help us out in any way, whether by testing,
   debugging, patching, or improving our documentation, get in touch
   with [8]our team.  We rely on your feedback to keep Lenny in good
   shape and work towards making Squeeze even better for all users of
   Debian on the Eee PC.

   1. http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEeePC/HowTo/Install
   2. http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEeePC/HowTo/Upgrade
   3. http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEeePC/Live
   4. http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/debian-eeepc-devel/2008-December/001683.html
   5. http://git.debian.org/?p=debian-eeepc/eeepc-acpi-scripts.git;a=shortlog
   6. http://event.asus.com/eeepc/comparison/eeepc_comparison.htm
   7. http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEeePC/Model/1002HA
   8. http://wiki.debian.org/Teams/DebianEeePC

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