Travel light – Eee PC 1000H HackBook

I’ve been wanting a lightweight travel machine for ages. I’ve been looking longingly at the MacBook Air as several folks I know own one, but the price has always been too high for me to easily justify to myself. And with the recent price increase in Australia to AU$2899 base, I just couldn’t do it.

I also know several people with Asus Eee PCs. They swear by them. Most of them are running one form of Linux or another. I could cope with that, but am so comfortable in OS X that I dislike using anything else. Not that the OS should matter – most of my data is in the cloud.

Eee PC 1000H HackBook - screen side What you’re looking at here is an Asus Eee PC 1000H running OS X. Best of both worlds!

Here’s what I’ve done to it:

  • installed OS X 10.5.5 from iDeneb based on instructions at eNik
  • upgraded the memory to 2Gb
  • I will install an Airport card as, while it works, the onboard Broadcom card (and the app that goes with it) aren’t awesome

That’s Skype and Twhirl running there. I’ve also installed:

  • Coda 1.5.1
  • Firefox 3.0.3
  • Git
  • Keynote ’08
  • MAMP Pro
  • Quicksilver
  • SimplifyMedia
  • TextMate
  • VLC
  • Vodafone Mobile Connect
  • Vuze

There are some well-documented gotchas that are a minor inconvenience:

  • Ethernet doesn’t work
  • audio doesn’t work through speakers but works fine through USB
  • the two video .kext files need to be installed after first boot into OS X
  • CPU SpeedStep doesn’t work
  • mapped controls on the keyboard no longer work and default to OS X standards
  • the screen is at full brightness but can be controlled through this tool

The perfect cheap travel machine, no? And not expensive.

I’m more than happy to take the hit on engineering beauty and audio for a machine 1/3 the price of an Air.

Total cost, AU$848:

  • Eee PC 1000H – AU$598
  • 2Gb RAM – AU$75
  • legitimate copy of OS X Leopard – AU$150
  • Airport card – AU$25
  • two hours of my time

3 Replies to “Travel light – Eee PC 1000H HackBook”

  1. Spent the last fortnight researching and trying to decide between the Eee 1000 and the Dell Inspiron Mini 9. I already have the Eee 701 (which the girlfriend is only too happy to take) but i always found the keyboard difficult to type. In the end I spent a long time typing on both in Officeworks andd ecided my accuracy and comfort was far better on the Dell, even though it is a smaller machine. The 1000 is still a fine, fine travel machine though. these new ultraportable laptops – or netbooks asd they are now being called – are fast taking over. They’re just more convenient for people who have a main machine for big jobs and just need something light for the bag.

  2. Hi Stephen,
    Only just noticed this Eee PC post on your blog (after some conversation had on the topic recently over on Twitter) so I was pleased to see more detail on the OS X installation (and the Flickr photo of your machine with the extra detail and comments there too – all interesting)

    This could be just the “poke” I need to enter the Mac world as I totally agree AUD$2899 for the Air is just out of reach for many of us. I love my Eee PC 1000H but after using Vista at home since its release, it’s just awful having the pre-installed XP Home Edition. I live with it because the netbook/cloud combo (as you point out) is all I use it for too, so the OS isn’t that relevant to me on this machine. I would find the lack of internal audio a showstopper as I enjoy using the machine as an occasional media player at home (streaming from the mothership PC) amongst other things. I wonder if headphones work under OS X?

    I’ve seen some Vista/Eee reviews and they’ve been reasonably positive but Asus’ CEO says they’re going straight to Windows 7 so I may wait for that (http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/10/22/asus_ceo_shen_speaks_out/)

    Thanks for all the details on the OS X Eee though – it’s got to be the best value ultra-portable running OS X in the world right now!

    Cheers
    Tony Hollingsworth

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