ASUS ExpressGate -- beware of ripoff!
The tone of this message may be somewhat unfriendly, but I want to warn other potential Linux users so they don't make the same mistake I made.
I have been using Linux for quite a while and often wondered why it's not included by default instead of the clumsy BIOS-es we have to struggle with. Needless to say, after reading the articles on this site and others regarding SplashTop being embedded with the P5Q line of Asus motherboards, I had a strong reason to choose one of them for my new build as opposed to, say, a Gigabyte or MSI with similar specs.
Initially I aimed for the P5Q-Deluxe model, but it was not in stock at my local retailers and they all said I'd have to wait at least 2-3 weeks; at the same time, the P5Q-Pro was in stock and from what I read on the ASUS website the features were similar enough for my needs (and, importantly, it included the "Express Gate" feature). So I went ahead and got that one, saving a few bucks (not many) at the same time.
It turns out that only a select few of the ASUS boards actually have SplashTop installed on the motherboard. All the others (the p5q-pro included) do not. Instead they only have a stripped-down castrated version that needs to be installed on the HDD (!), on a NTFS partition under XP/Vista none-the-less (!!!).
I find this really appaling, especially since there is no warning on the ASUS site or elsewhere until you actually buy the product and read the manual (which doesn't make it clear either). The website only features a tiny hint -- the presence of three letters "SSD" on the "deluxe" models, and the absence thereof on the others -- without any other clear indication that the "Express Gate" version is totally different from the "Express Gate SSD" one.
This experience has severely shaken my trust in ASUS (whom have received quite a bit of my money during the past decade or so) and I will be much more circumspect of their products from now on. I urge the readers of this site to do the same.
It would be wonderful if Phoronix could write an article detailing this situation -- after all ASUS can trace at least some of their sales to the articles announcing it's "linux-friendliness". Maybe some bad press will deter them from doing this in the future.
P.S.: As it stands, this feature does not even work on my MB. I had only Linux installed initially and a black screen with an error message upon boot ("Express Gate is not properly installed or incomplete, please run the Installer in Windows" is what it said for a second before the BIOS started), but now I installed Vista and a) the program from the included DVD which didn't do anything, afterwards b) the latest version from the website which created a bunch of Asus.xxx directories in my C:\ root but still -- no go, the same black screen on boot. Shame on you, ASUS!