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Hardware Thread, The Asus EEE for kids in Technical; Afternoon all, Before I get on to the post subject, I would just like to introduce myself. I am a ...
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    The Asus EEE for kids

    Afternoon all,

    Before I get on to the post subject, I would just like to introduce myself. I am a technician in a large secondary school in Hampshire. We have around 1300 students and 130 staff (ish).

    I was at BETT last week and the EEE caught my eye. The small design was facinating and they seemed very robust, which I am sure you are all aware is quite handy in a school environment (we had a kid chuck a laptop at another student a few weeks a go, little darlings).

    I have a few questions I need answered.

    First of all, does anyone know when the new models are being released, specifically with XP pre installed and the 8GB solid state + larger screens. I know there are already 8GB versions about but I seem to be unable to find any.

    Secondly, has anyone built a RIS image to work with the hardware? Does the network card support PXE? And can we use our existing schools agreement to deploy the XP to quite a few EEE's?

    I have read it is much better to stick with the original linux distro that comes with it, which makes sense. For me, I would be quite happy to do this. This would cause some concerns with students using them tho. Obviosuly, atm they have their access severly limited via group policies etc. This will not work with linux and for example I do not want them to be able to get to the console/shell !! Even if we solve this problem, is it possible for them to get their home drive mapped when they login the way it is done at the moment via policies, depsite being in a linux environment?

    One more thing, bare with me Does anyone know any companies that would be willing to send me a free 4G/4G Surf so I can trial it / show the people whose responibility it is to look after our budget?

    Additional Info

    2 x DCs running 2K3
    1 x ISA 2K3
    1 x Exchange 2K3
    1 x SIMS 2K3
    2 x NAS 2K3 (one for pupils, one for staff)
    1 x VLE 2K3 (moodle)
    Probably some more I have forgotten

    Thanks guys, I look forward to your reply.

    Hope you all had a good weekend.

    Jon

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by m1ddy View Post
    Afternoon all,

    Before I get on to the post subject, I would just like to introduce myself. I am a technician in a large secondary school in Hampshire. We have around 1300 students and 130 staff (ish).

    I was at BETT last week and the EEE caught my eye. The small design was facinating and they seemed very robust, which I am sure you are all aware is quite handy in a school environment (we had a kid chuck a laptop at another student a few weeks a go, little darlings).

    I have a few questions I need answered.

    First of all, does anyone know when the new models are being released, specifically with XP pre installed and the 8GB solid state + larger screens. I know there are already 8GB versions about but I seem to be unable to find any.

    Secondly, has anyone built a RIS image to work with the hardware? Does the network card support PXE? And can we use our existing schools agreement to deploy the XP to quite a few EEE's?

    I have read it is much better to stick with the original linux distro that comes with it, which makes sense. For me, I would be quite happy to do this. This would cause some concerns with students using them tho. Obviosuly, atm they have their access severly limited via group policies etc. This will not work with linux and for example I do not want them to be able to get to the console/shell !! Even if we solve this problem, is it possible for them to get their home drive mapped when they login the way it is done at the moment via policies, depsite being in a linux environment?

    One more thing, bare with me Does anyone know any companies that would be willing to send me a free 4G/4G Surf so I can trial it / show the people whose responibility it is to look after our budget?

    Additional Info

    2 x DCs running 2K3
    1 x ISA 2K3
    1 x Exchange 2K3
    1 x SIMS 2K3
    2 x NAS 2K3 (one for pupils, one for staff)
    1 x VLE 2K3 (moodle)
    Probably some more I have forgotten

    Thanks guys, I look forward to your reply.

    Hope you all had a good weekend.

    Jon
    Hi Jon

    I would suggest you have a word with RM as they may be able to lend you a unit for a few days....although I can tell guarantee you'll want to buy atleast one of the 4G models once you've got you're mitts on one.

    It's wise to wait for the revised version for any large orders you may be looking to place, as you've said expect a larger screen (up to 8 inches with the current form factor) and XP with revision 2....

    I have not tried the XP version, I'm pretty sure those who were at Bett may have tried it out as pre-installed on the current , but I'm just not convinced it's viable without major tweaking on Microsoft's part....

    With XP you're not going to get the sub 20 sec. bootup time, you're bound to hit performance issues once more apps are installed and as for office 2007 on the 8GB model, well i don't think it's going to leave much room for anything else. And having XP its almost certainly going to bump the price up,
    whereas with the hardware revisions and the xandros OS asus could keep v2 of the eee pegged below 200 quid.

    But hey, the world wants Windows, and i must admit I'm a little bit more than intrigued, if very skeptical.

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    The eeepc is extremely insecure due to the way asus implemented linux.
    There is no user control and it is trivial for any user to become root without any authentication. The eeepc is great for home use, but until asus fix this bug I can't see the default xandros getting widespread use in schools.

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    Thought so. Thanks for the replies guys.

    Guess we will have to wait for one that can accomodate windows with ease. a 4GB is pushing it, even after stripping down the OS and SP2.

    Any idea where I can get hold of the current revision in the 8GB flavour?

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    Would terminal services work for your setup?

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    Quote Originally Posted by m1ddy View Post
    First of all, does anyone know when the new models are being released, specifically with XP pre installed and the 8GB solid state + larger screens.
    I've seen pictures of newer models released at CES last week (including, amongst other added high-tech features, pastel-coloured cases). If I understand correctly, ASUS are simply manufacturers, and sell stuff by the container load to resellers such as RM. You'll have to ask RM or similar companies when they plan to import a load of new machines.

    And can we use our existing schools agreement to deploy the XP to quite a few EEE's?
    I understood the Microsoft schools agreement required you to count all your x86-containing machines, whether they work or not, or whether you'll be running Windows on them or not, so you're going to be paying for Windows licenses for these machines whether you actually use Windows on them or not. I understand that Windows XP drivers have been released for the ASUS machine.

    I have read it is much better to stick with the original linux distro that comes with it, which makes sense. For me, I would be quite happy to do this. This would cause some concerns with students using them tho. Obviosuly, atm they have their access severly limited via group policies etc. This will not work with linux and for example I do not want them to be able to get to the console/shell !!
    The Eee PC, along with similar machines like the OLPC, have been designed with single-child ownership in mind - the child is meant to wander around with their own PC in-hand all day. Machine security/extensibility has been designed with this in mind - the child is free to fiddle with the settings on their own PC as much as they like. I'd investigate either using a Linux distribution more suited to multi-person use, or something like DeepFreeze that can restore workstation images on reboot.

    Even if we solve this problem, is it possible for them to get their home drive mapped when they login the way it is done at the moment via policies, depsite being in a linux environment?
    You could provide a small script that asked to user for username and password, then mapped a directory to their Windows-based user area for them. Or you could try exporting their user area as a WebDAV folder.

    --
    David Hicks

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    Machine security/extensibility has been designed with this in mind - the child is free to fiddle with the settings on their own PC as much as they like
    not just fiddle - they are free to brick them!.


    I'm very keen to see if the new ink-media PC fills some of Asus shortcomings:
    http://www.ink-media.com/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ink_Media

    anyone know where to get them in uk?
    Last edited by CyberNerd; 13th January 2008 at 06:24 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    anyone know where to get them in uk?
    The product image on their website looks decidedly proof-of-concept, can't find anything concrete as yet. This seems to be another product designed for individual ownership - I've yet to see anyone make a system designed for use by multiple random users.

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    not just fiddle - they are free to brick them!.


    I'm very keen to see if the new ink-media PC fills some of Asus shortcomings:
    http://www.ink-media.com/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ink_Media

    anyone know where to get them in uk?
    Looks decidedly fisher price to me, particularly as there's an awful lot space surrounding the 8 inch screen suggesting that the device has a bigger foot print than the eee...i wouldn't pin you're hopes on this to remedy the shortcomings of the asus without introducing major shortcomings of it's own.
    Particularly as there are going to be a lot of similar devices coming onto the market in the footsteps of the eee - meaning this device may well struggle to attract the necessary interest.

    Rather than address multi-user or deployment issue of the eee i'd like the actual hardware issues to be addressed by Asus first , as of V1 it is a single user device and there are aspects of the hardware design and ergonomics that are important to get sorted before anything else. And before they start worrying about how fast windows xp is going to run on it.

    For those looking to buy the 4G eee here are my bugbears;

    No integrated bluetooth - not without hacking the thing open anyway.

    trackpad button is abysmal and absolutely horrible to use...single button is a bad idea anyway, right and left click should be available. don't hold oout much hope for a nub in the centre of the keyboad. nub would allow for a slightly larger keyboard though i don'te treally have a problem with the current keyboard size.

    Screen size is a problem but will be addressed in Version 2.

    If HSDPA isn't to be integrated, then i'd like an exprescard slot in place of
    the current SD card slot...though i'm not sure if there are any expresscard HSDPA modems available from the mobile operators.

    Battery life is rather disappointing.



    So not a lot to correct but if anyone from Asus or RM is reading Asus should think beyond the obvious screen size and drive size issues and serisuoly look at addressing the other shortcomings.
    Last edited by torledo; 14th January 2008 at 06:52 AM.

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    Couple of things that spring to mind here:-

    The Schools agreement does require that all x86 machines are included in the contract, but the XP license is only an upgrade - you have to have a valid and recognised license to upgrade from. You would normally qualify with the OEM version of windows that comes with a machine - but as these do not have one you would have to spend extra money on something that qualifies!

    I have got a EEEPc (4Gb - 701) that I have managed to get XP running on - it was not a huge job at all (as long as you have got a USB CD Rom drive that it recognises at boot). All the dirvers are on the CD supplied with the device and they are on the Asus website. The boot time is suprisingly quick - I am guessing partly because of the solid state drive and partly because there is not much other software on there (All patches and Sophos Anti Virus). The disk space has pretty much all gone - but getting hold of a 4GB SD card to see what would be possible with the 8GB model.

    The most quirky thing I have found with it is the webcam - managed to get it working under XP and tried video conferencing just with NetMeeting. For some reason the image comes out upside down on the PC I am conferencing with - even though it is fine in the preview window on the machine itself.

    We are currently look at how we could use them - they are the closest thing we have found so far in terms of cost and useablility for giving one to each student. But they are in no way a replacement for the classroom machines we have - so they would be fulfulling a role that currently does not exist, so we have to decide what that role is, and whether it is worth the investment for 1800 students.

    I can definately see them being useful to sixth form students for a host of things, so maybe that could be our starting point - if we can get a solution to the licensing that does not cost us more than the devices themselves (regardless of whether we run Cp or the onboard distro).

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by limbo View Post
    Couple of things that spring to mind here:-

    The Schools agreement does require that all x86 machines are included in the contract, but the XP license is only an upgrade - you have to have a valid and recognised license to upgrade from. You would normally qualify with the OEM version of windows that comes with a machine - but as these do not have one you would have to spend extra money on something that qualifies!

    I have got a EEEPc (4Gb - 701) that I have managed to get XP running on - it was not a huge job at all (as long as you have got a USB CD Rom drive that it recognises at boot). All the dirvers are on the CD supplied with the device and they are on the Asus website. The boot time is suprisingly quick - I am guessing partly because of the solid state drive and partly because there is not much other software on there (All patches and Sophos Anti Virus). The disk space has pretty much all gone - but getting hold of a 4GB SD card to see what would be possible with the 8GB model.

    The most quirky thing I have found with it is the webcam - managed to get it working under XP and tried video conferencing just with NetMeeting. For some reason the image comes out upside down on the PC I am conferencing with - even though it is fine in the preview window on the machine itself.

    We are currently look at how we could use them - they are the closest thing we have found so far in terms of cost and useablility for giving one to each student. But they are in no way a replacement for the classroom machines we have - so they would be fulfulling a role that currently does not exist, so we have to decide what that role is, and whether it is worth the investment for 1800 students.

    I can definately see them being useful to sixth form students for a host of things, so maybe that could be our starting point - if we can get a solution to the licensing that does not cost us more than the devices themselves (regardless of whether we run Cp or the onboard distro).
    As you've said I think the main reason for the relatively quick bootup time for windows is probably because it was a barebones install - the SSD drive will speedup boot times but it's normally only a marginal improvent over equivalent times when using the SATA hard disks as found in current laptops.

    The xandros OS bootup time is insanely quick on the eee, and that's despite open office and quite a few applications already installed. Wonder if we could say the same of a windows xp installation on the forthcoming 8GB eee after installing office 2003, a few more productivty apps and a after a few weeks of use ? ......Guess i'll have to try that out when they release it and put xp to the test

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    Does anyone have any idea where I can get hold of the current revision 8gb? Everywhere only seems to have 2G/4G.

    Also, has Asus released a timescale on when the revision 2 EEE's will b available in the UK?

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