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The EEE PC is a new species of computer which has the distinction of being considerably cheaper than the average home computer of the time. The EEE PC is a laptop, but with the miniaturisation actually saving costs rather than being at a premium. What makes the EEE PC remarkable for the time is the fact that it had Linux as the prime operating system. Much better than Microsoft, as well as being cheaper.
Now you might notice at some places that sell computers, the Windows XP version of the EEE PC being the same price as the Linux version. Well, beware! Microsoft Windows is never cheap, and if you get the EEE PC with Windows, you pay for it by the hardware being skimped and cut down. Typically a Windows EEE PC has less memory, or less hard disc space, in order to pay for the Microsoft "TAX" on software.
However, whether you have the full spec Linux version or the cut-down hardware Windows XP version, one of the things about the EEE PC remains the same: None of the hardware can get away with being cheap and nasty win-hardware. Cheap win-modems, win-printers, etc, are eliminated from the EEE PC by the fact that it must work on Linux. So, if you get an EEE PC, then whether you have Linux or not, it's a fact that Linux has already done you a favour by insisting the hardware is of good quality.
Another thing about the EEE PC is that some of the versions of it are much more rugged and shock-resistant than the average laptop. The reason for this is that the "hard disc drive" is sometimes not an actual spinning disc with magnetic material on it, but a virtual hard disc drive made of non-volatile ram, like those little USB memory sticks (beware of fake memory sticks!). This doesn't make a perfect excuse for dropping it from a great height, but I would guess some folks will do exactly that. If that's you, then you'll be interested to know that data rescuers may still be able to recover your data.
On an EEE PC, the keyboard is smaller than on a standard laptop of the early zero-zeros decade, but it's bigger than an Abyss keyboard. You soon get quite adept at typing fast on it, and I've not yet heard of anyone wearing the keyboard out.
Some quite well-known computer manufacturers are involved in the EEE PC, for example Asus*. This might also help to put an end to Microsoft-specific BIOS, which has always been a nuisance.
If you go for Asus, please be aware that in the early days Asus did not suss Linux, and there were some strange quirks. In particular, you should tell Firefox when to upgrade, not let Firefox tell you when to upgrade. Such a thing might not sound a big mistake, but it can spoil all the links to the compiler libraries, which can impair the important ability to be involved in the noble art of computer programming.
The picture on this page shows an Asus 901 EEE-PC with Linux, the program running being Stellarium, which is a planetarium sky display program which is available for Linux and looks remarkably like the actual sky, except that the sky itself doesn't have handy labels floating past with the names on the stars!
Culturally, the term "EEE-PC", is typically shortened for convenience in colloquial speech, to "eep!". It's pronounced a little bit like a certain well-known place in Belgium, famous during the war, Ypres. For example, "I see you've got an eep as well" or "Is that an eep hidden under that packet of biscuits?".
Of course with the EEE PC (eep!) being such a notable development in the campaign to have Linux as the main operating system, and to put Microsoft into the realms of history rather than present day problems, it's something that we're keen to promote here. The trouble is, I'm not sure which of the places who sell computers are offering these things. You're welcome to ask them!
When I looked last, there was a Linux computer (probably an eee-pc) in the Maplin Catalogue described as "7 inch mini laptop". Worth looking up.
* Asus news: The Asus Linux eee-pc is obviously better than the Asus Microsoft Windows machine. Besides the fact that Linux is a better operating system than Microsoft, the Linux version also has more memory. However, there is a minor problem: Asus installed an odd version of Linux, Xandros. Xandros is OK except that with the shoehorned version on the Asus Eee-pc, there's a problem with them not properly supporting it. So, the current advice is: Buy a Linux machine with Xandros, but then upgrade to Eeebuntu - was http://www.eeebuntu.org/ - (Ubuntu for the eep!), or another Netbook-Friendly distro such as openSUSE. Eeebuntu has been made by techies who are very keen to have a version of Linux that works on the eep! They are so keen that they might be changing distro again, in which case the new version will probably have a different name.
Further Update 2011: Some manufacturers have risen to the challenge of the Eeep and have come to a good arrangement with Canonical (Ubuntu Linux). The manufacturers include Acer, Lenovo, Asus, and Dell.
Computers don't need to be expensive, and they don't need to run expensive naff proprietary software by corporate companies. See the Raspberry Pi which is a computer for $25 or $35. They might sell rather well. Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raspberry_Pi
By the way, if you've bought an EEE-PC with Microsoft Windows, then sorry to have to tell you that you've been swindled, and that you could have got a better machine for less money. Sadly, a lot of people have been fooled in that way, and Microsoft has enjoyed a large percentage of the market. Whether this situation will continue to be the case, is a matter that only history will tell.