Easy Peasy Linux 1.5

I don’t own a netbook but I’ve always been fascinated by the operating systems that run on them. Whether it’s a version of Windows, Linux or something else it intrigues me to know what folks are running on their netbooks. So when I ran into Easy Peasy Linux, I just could not resist doing a review of it here for DLR.

Just what the heck is Easy Peasy? And why should you care? Well it’s essentially a modified version of Ubuntu geared toward netbook users. The interface has been redesigned to work better for netbook users that might not need or want a more traditional desktop interface.

Before you read any further please take note that Easy Peasy should not be considered a desktop version of Linux. It’s designed for netbooks so if you don’t have any interest in that you should stop reading now and skip the rest of this review. If you’re bored and looking for something to read, head over to my opinion column site instead. That will keep you busy for a while as there are quite a few things to read there.

For those of you looking for an offbeat version of Linux to play with, read on!

Easy Peasy has a unique netbook-oriented interface.

Easy Peasy has a unique netbook-oriented interface.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a list of what’s new in the 1.5 release of Easy Peasy:

# New visual look by Lasse Sætre and Mark Basset
# Awesome Linux kernel (2.6.30) optimized for netbooks with faster startup built by Martin Bammer
# Support for more netbooks
# Hybrid image (both .img and .iso at the same time) by Phil Howard

* This makes it possible to move the image to the usb stick with unetbootin or dd etc. Which means it’s now possible to intall from a Mac

# Many bug fixes [1]
# Upgraded software (Picasa, OpenOffice 3.1 etc.)
# Built off Ubuntu 9.04
# Smaller harddrive footprint
# Uses the new ext4 filesystem as default
# UXA by default

* The first distro to deliver real composite desktop which means it’s possible to run 3D in 3D (ie. the netbook interface and desktop effects)

# Banshee as default music player instead of Songbird
# Lots of clever solutions when it comes to upgrades through repositories

* Ubuntu security upgrades are available to easypeasy users as fast as they’re released, while easypeasy isn’t overwritten by Ubuntu

Requirements & Installation

The closest thing I could find to a list of hardware requirements for Easy Peasy comes from this page:

AsusEeePC12G (900) – installed on second partition of about 10GB on Transcend 16GB SD card, using HP dv6120 having removed, first, HDs (internal and external) in order to create a standalone installation on SD card and avoid changing original boot manager of both computers; after inserting SD into USB 2.0 slot of AsusEeePC12G, Easy Peasy booted properly (of course, on turning on the netbook, one has to press Esc key and choose the boot device); small difficulties to configure sound play and capture for use with Skype, and to stop the recurrent launching of installation screen after each boot/login (Ubiquity entry was disabled in SessionsTrash without having to navigate through directories, so some time was spent in order to “revert to Regular Desktop“, clean Trash, and revert back to “Remix interface“, by installing and using Desktop-Switcher (see “PPA for Ubuntu Netbook Remix Team[1]) – March, 19 2009 – Lesseps. application).

As far as the install itself goes, if you’ve installed Ubuntu then Easy Peasy will be very familiar to you.

Now that does not mean that it will definitely install on your hardware. It may or it may not. Remember that I installed it via Parallels so just because it worked fine for me in Parallels does not mean it’s going to work on your desktop system.

If you've installed Ubuntu, you'll be right at home installing Easy Peasy.

If you’ve installed Ubuntu, you’ll be right at home installing Easy Peasy.

Desktop & Apps
The default mode for Easy Peasy is the Netbook interface and it’s quite different than a regular Ubuntu interface. On the left side you have app categories, favorites and system links as follows:

Favorites
Accessories
Games
Graphics
Internet
Office
Sound & Video
Preferences
Administration

When you click Preferences, for example, a set of icons for those settings will appear in the middle and you can choose what you want. Same for app categories such as Office, etc. When you click to open an app or other window you will notice that you move between windows via tabs at the top of the interface. This might seem odd at first but you quickly get used to it.

On the right side you can navigate to other places on your system or you can quit:

Home
Desktop
Network
DVD/CD
Documents
Music
Pictures
Videos
Quit

It’s quite easy to navigate around using Easy Peasy. I suspect that some people will actually prefer this interface to the traditional Ubuntu desktop interface. But then again it may also annoy the hell out of some people. I found it quite comfortable after I got used to it but your mileage may definitely vary.

If you prefer a traditional desktop interface you can follow the instructions on the Easy Peasy Wiki. Personally I liked the netbook interface as it’s really what sets Easy Peasy apart from regular Ubuntu and other desktop distros. But your mileage may vary.

Here’s a sample of the software that you get with Easy Peasy:

Games
Nibbles
Chess
Blackjack
Mines
Mahjongg

Graphics
Picasa
Cheese Webcam
XSane Image Scanning
OpenOffice.org Drawing

Internet
Pidgin IM
Skype
Firefox
Transmission BitTorrent

Multimedia
Banshee Media Player
Totem Movie Player
Sound Recorder

Office
OpenOffice.org
Evolution
Dictionary

Adding & Removing Software
If you’ve ever added or removed software from your system on Ubuntu then you’ll feel right at home. Just click Adminstration then Synaptic Package Manager. Type in your password and you can add or remove software from your system.

I had no problems updating my system. To update your system simply click Administration then Update Manager. After my update was finished I rebooted and was back into Easy Peasy.

Use Synaptic to add or remove software.

Use Synaptic to add or remove software.

System updates worked fine in Easy Peasy.

System updates worked fine in Easy Peasy.

Sound and Multimedia
I had a bad time trying to get my Superman DVD to play in Easy Peasy. It may have been a Parallels issue but I also tried it in VirtualBox and it wouldn’t play there either. And upping the video RAM did nothing to help the problem. I eventually gave up. The video would play but it was all choppy and screwed up. The sound worked but the video simply would not.

YouTube videos worked perfectly, however. The sound and video were both great and I had no problems at all viewing them in Firefox.

What I Liked Most
Without a doubt the different interface was what appealed to me the most. I always like surprises and generally enjoy things that are different as I see quite a lot of the same thing over and over writing these reviews. The Easy Peasy interface isn’t groundbreaking but it’s different enough that I found myself enjoying using it a lot more than I expected.

And the fact that it is Ubuntu underneath just made it even better. You get the power, reliability and comfort of Ubuntu with a cute netbook interface.

YouTube videos played very well in Easy Peasy.

YouTube videos played very well in Easy Peasy.

Problems & Headaches
The install did seem a bit slower than I’ve seen with other versions of Ubuntu. I’m not sure why but I’d like to see it sped up a bit in future releases.

I also noticed a “Information Available” pop up that came up when I booted into Easy Peasy. The pop up noted an apt authentication issue said that the package list update failed. I clicked Run This Action and Easy Peasy tried to download some files. I then got a message saying that the repository was not updated and that it would efault back to the previous index files.

Beyond that, Easy Peasy ran pretty well for me. I can’t say it was a speed demon, mind you but it was quite usable for the most part.

The Easy Peasy login screen.

The Easy Peasy login screen.

Where To Get Help
You can always post a note in the Desktop Linux Reviews Forum and we’ll do our best to offer feedback or at least point you in the right direction. You might also want to check out the Easy Peasy Wiki, the Easy Peasy Forum and the Easy Peasy Blog.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
I had a lot of fun with Easy Peasy. The netbook interface took me a few minutes to get used to but I got used to it quickly enough and found myself enjoying using it. It’s refreshing to have a very different interface than what we usually see available for Linux even if it’s geared toward netbooks.

From what I can see it’s quite possible to enjoy Easy Peasy as a quirky desktop alternative if you find that you enjoy it (and you can get it installed on your machine). Would I recommend it for ongoing desktop use? No, it’s not designed for that. It’s designed for netbooks.

But darn it, it’s fun to play with. Everything from the name to the interface itself is cute and enjoyable to use. If I had a netbook I’d definitely give Easy Peasy a shot on it as my main operating system.

If you’re a distro-hopper then you should definitely download it and have some fun playing with it. Non-distro hoppers will probably want to take a pass and might want to flame me for reviewing if they’ve actually made it this far into the review.

:whistle:

Summary Table:

Product: Easy Peasy Linux
Web Site: http://www.geteasypeasy.com/
Price: Free
Pros: Unique, cool looking netbook interface. Ubuntu in a netbook package.
Cons: Netbook interface might not be for everybody. Slow install.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users who want a distro that offers a netbook interface but that retains the ease of use and comfort of standard Ubuntu.
Summary: Easy Peasy is a cute, highly usable version of Ubuntu for netbooks that might also be run on the desktop of adventurous users.
Rating: 4/5