Splashtop Mini Review
I finally got it running on real hardware with internet access (booting the ce_bz kernel from hd, added realtek 1 gbit nic for networking on board with via chipset). Now some things I discovered first - and basically reasons why a full featured Linux distro - which can also run from USB is better:
It was nice to see that it is possible to select german language and keyboard layout. The language is ok, but the german keyboard layout is absolutely crap. It is impossible that the developers ever tried it, because you can not use any webmail provider without using the @ key - and that key (right alt+q) does not work at all. So even german users are forced to use us layout if they want to write emails.
b) Firefox crippled
Well it is no full featured Firefox, but fully crippled. You can only access files from USB and you can not access any config options besides proxy settings. That leads to the point that you can not show Youtube videos fullscreen only in a window. And not even that is really stable with Firefox 18.104.22.168. Java is completely missing.
Full outdated version of Skype 22.214.171.124 without video chat, but thats basically unimportand as the system has no access to webcams anyway.
d) Chat / Pidgin extremely restricted and not working with ICQ
This is also fully outdated and does not feature lots of protocols like newer Pidgin releases do. You can only access MSN and Yahoo, the ICQ network does not work due to the last protocol change and Pidgin is not new enough for that. Usually you would like to use IRC protocol at least too, but thats impossible.
As conclusion I would suggest that the system should be at least updated and improved with preinstalled Java (at least version 1.4) and updated Pidgin. Also a few more network drivers would not hurt too like via-rhine or some others used by Virtualbox - that's really needed to debug. I don't think that you can do much with this system, it is very restricted and can not compete with full featured Linux live systems at all.
It's one of the reasons I disable Splashtop, not really useful for me at all. Now if they would have put more useful things like Flashbios,memtest,partitioning, data recovery/rescue,Initrd comes straight from bios, installable GRUB, the ability to store drivers on, etc then it could be something great.
All of the things Kano noted are correct, except that I did not know about the German keyboard problem - you might want to file a bug report with Asus about that.
I would also like to see a few more things in splashtop and more up-to-date apps, which is why I've started to hack in some of those things (e.g., rxvt and Java, etc.). But I would defend it to say that it was never intended to be a full-blown Linux environment. The goal of splashtop is not to compete with a full linux system, but to have usable internet access within 10 or 15 seconds of pushing the power button.
I believe the limited ability of splashtop to access the HDD is for security reasons. Of course, by hacking in a terminal, you can access anything you want.
As Kano noted, the environment is out-of-date and has limitations, but it *is* usable for some things. My computer is off a lot, so I use splashtop to check email, which it can do fine, even with the limited Firefox. I also occasionally have the desire to quickly check Google for something or check Wikipedia and I find it useful for that.
However, I think it is a temporary solution. This is because a suspended box will come up faster than splashtop. Suspend to RAM on both Linux and Windows is getting more stable, and that will eventually make splashtop irrelevant.
Last edited by drosky; 07-25-2008 at 08:06 PM.
Leaving out ICQ is pretty bad, but the splashtop website says ICQ is supported. I bet the version of splashtop that ASUS express gate is based on is very old and splashtop themselves have possibly updated some of the apps.
Originally Posted by Kano
Well of course I tested the latest update from the website - but this is still from june.