Writing software for Linux / Use of Eee PC

I think of getting an Asus Eee PC as my, well, 3rd writing tool besides iMac and iBook - mostly because some Apple subnotebook (next week?) will be way too expensive. :wink:

Does anyone already use an Eee in conjunction with Scrivener on Mac? I guess exchanging data shouldn’t be a problem by exporting from Scrivener to RTF or importing the RTF files from the Eee, since Open Office should handle them fine.

And in general: are there good writing tools for Linux distributions besides OO? I’ve never bothered so far, because Linux was under my radar.


Not yet. As the EeePC is not available in Germany, yet.
But I think about getting the 2. generation EeePC (with a larger screen) that was announced during CES.

Exchanging RTF files between Scrivener and OOo (Windows) or NeoOffice (Mac) is no problem - German Umlaute get translated correctly.

Well. OOo uses a lot of memory. It may be a bit slow on an EeePC (I haven’t been able to test one so far).

A faster word processor is Abiword (abiword.org). It has all basic word processing features you need, is fast and saves RTF and Word .DOC files. There is also a German version, it is free, and it is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The EeePC probably has a packet manager that allows you to download and install Abiword.

Apart from OOo, Abiword and the commercial Textmaker, there are a few other word processors for Linux but no writing tool comparable to Scrivener, Avenir et.al.


This is not exactly an answer to your question, but since I was evaluating the eee myself, maybe my thought may help you in making your choice.

The fact Scrivener runs on a Mac, together with the longer battery life and the availability of two great word processors (Nisus and Mellel) and a great database (Devon Think), means that the 800-1000 euro more the new Apple subnotebook will probably cost will be well spent.

I have my current Apple notebook (a G3/400) since early 2001, and still use it for making money. If I divide 1000 euro for seven years, I’ll probably consider it a small surcharge, considering I’ll have much more from the small Mac than the eee.


I know. And obviously there won’t be enough units when it’s released in 2 weeks … some dealers already pushed it to February.

Thanks, that’s good to know! Some reviews mention that OO runs a bit sluggish on the Eee, but should be usable.

Exactly my thoughts. I’ve had an iBook 500 for 3,5 years and now an iBook G4 for 3,5 years, and I’ve always enjoyed having all my files with me - and the apps I want to use. (BTW - which is why I just sold my Alphasmart.)

But I’m afraid some Apple subnotebook will be priced somewhere between Macbook and Macbook Pro - perhaps 1.500 Euros. And that’s whole lot more than 300 for the EEE. And: many subnotebooks weigh 1,5 kilos. I’m looking for something with 1 kilo max - a device that I can take with me instead of an iBook or Macbook.

A Macbook nano with 1 Kilo, 6 h battery life and priced below 1.000 euros … well, I can dream. :slight_smile:

Well, that’s the difference between a 1-liter water bottle, and a 1,5-liter bottle. As for me, I would prefer to carry around the former, but I would be as comfortable with the latter.

However, I’m sure the new Apple subnotebook will weight 1kg. I tried to lift the smaller Sony Vaio, that weights the same, and I admit it is as light as a plume. Fantastic! And I’m sure the Apple will not be made of plastic like the Vaio, but polycarbonate like the MacBook.


It will be too bad if Apple prices any sub-notebook they develop in that range, it really misses the point of that genre, in my opinion. The idea of having something cheap enough that you don’t have to worry about it whenever you take it out, and light enough that it never bogs you down, is what has always appealed to me.

Anyway, when I was a Linux user, I always wrote using LyX. You don’t have to worry about formatting at all. Just specify what you are currently typing (title, quotation, body text, etc), and forget about it. LyX can export to a wide variety of formats, RTF included, and since it is based on the LaTeX engine, creates beautiful PDFs as well. It is also very lightweight, and since there is a Mac version, you don’t have to worry about your .lyx files being stuck on one computer and not the other.

When I wasn’t writing in LyX, I just used Vim, a plain text editor. :slight_smile:

I never got along with word processors for actual writing.

I bought my Eee to be a fit between my Alphasmart Neo (plain text entry; editing ability is minimal) and my iBook that I take out and about with me that has Scrivener and WriteRoom on it.

First of all, this thing is tiny. I mean really really small. I set it down on a stack of books the other day and realized it’s smaller than the hard cover book it was on. I’m warning about this because the keyboard is proportional to its size. I doubt anyone but a child or someone with very small hands would be able to type at full speed on it (if you’re a fast typist normally, that is).

It comes with a linux distro (Xandros) that includes an “easy” tabbed interface. Included on the Work tab is Open Office’s Writer, which is an open source version of Word (sort of). I wasn’t all that thrilled with it for writing, so I searched for a WriteRoom equivalent. At first, no luck other than text editors meant for coders. Then -

I discovered JDarkRoom. It uses Java - which I had to download from Sun - and was a pretty quick install (especially as I was watching my software engineer dh doing the work :laughing: ). There are instructions for an Ubuntu install on the JDarkRoom site and you will need to use them for the Eee. If you’re comfortable using a command line, you’ll be fine. Otherwise, read through everything a few times to get comfortable with the idea before trying it.

Also, I just read that there’s a Java version for Mindola’s SuperNoteCard that someone has gotten running under linux that I’m going to try loading on the Eee. That will be nice for quickly working out sticking points the way I do now in Scrivener.

The upshot is that the Eee is very light and hardy - it has an SSD instead of a traditional hard drive - and boots quickly. It’s easy to drop in a bag and go.

I’m hoping that the workflow with it will be to create when I’m out, then either upload using wifi (it’s built in to the Eee) or put on a thumbdrive, then transfer into Scrivener on my desktop.

I have to say, though, that the keyboard is almost too tiny for me, though I’m going to give myself a chance to get used to it. Note, however, that I am a tech-junkie of long standing and if Apple intros a subnotebook I will probably get one of those, too.


Thanks, Studio 717! Much appreciated. JDarkRoom sounds great. I’m not at all familiar with the command line (in fact, I switched not to have to use it), but remember typing something in Amiga’s shell back in the 2nd age of this world. :wink: I already tried SuperNoteCard on OS X - would be nice to have on a Linux machine.

JDarkRoom sounds nice, but isn’t VI or Emacs already included with the eee? I feel they could do about the same.



For all those interested in the EeePC: There is an installation guide showing how to install Mac OS X Tiger on the EeePC on eeepcnews.de/2008/01/09/mac- … tallieren/).

One caveat: On the German EeePCNews.de site, the translator and a user state that the installation worked on an comparable Intel notebook (there is still no EeePC around over here).


I think I won’t mess with the Xandros distribution. I’ll be happy to use it as it is.

JDarkRoom has been updated especially for the Eee, which is cool:

I doubt that Scrivener would be much fun on the 7" screen. In fact, I find the 12" screen on my old iBook a bit small.

Hey, great.


The Fonts panel would cover the whole screen, I guess … :laughing:

So, after 2 days with Eee … works nicely. I didn’t know that I could also export the Research folder from Scrivener, which comes in handy now. I just export the Draft and Research on an SD card, plug it into the Eee and everything is available. Great!

Abiword also comes pre-installed with the eeeXubuntu distro, that I plan to install to replace Xandros. Contrary to most other Linux distros, that try to replicate the look and feel of Windows, Ubuntu is inspired to the Mac. A better way to feel at home, while Apple doesn’t make a true subnotebook.


Hi, Paolo,

Would you post a link or two to an image showing this OS X-like interface? Sounds like something I might want to aim for on my Eee pc.

Thanks. :slight_smile:

Here’s a video showing eeeXubuntu on an eeepc:

carmelo42.blogspot.com/2007/12/v … -sous.html

BTW: The screen is way too small for those ultrawide screen fonts and huge dialogue boxes. I’ve read that there will be a 9" or 10" version soon, so if anyone intends to buy an eepc he or she should wait.

Hi Studio,

Here is a series of screenshots from Ubuntu 7.10, where you can see how similar the general concept and the file selector are:

ubuntux.org/image-galleries/ … creenshots

Here is a guide on how to completely change the look of a Linux desktop, to make it almost match the pone of Mac OS X:


I’ve never been impressed by a simple ‘maquillage’, trying to make a system look like another. But in the case of Ubuntu, functionality seems to be also derived from mac OS X.



After some days with the Eee, I can tell something more about the use of this little notebook for writing.

First of all, using it with the onboard OpenOffice is not very comfortable. OOo’s interface takes a lot of space on the small screen, and the installed version (2.0) uses even bigger icons than the current one (2.3).

So, I deactivated the simplified user interface, and went for a standard KDE 3.4 interface. Not pleasing, being sort of a clone of Windows XP (I would have been happy to install the more pleasant Ubuntu, but I was not able to do it). However, my goal was to use a full screen wordprocessor, so, after the first disappointment, I was not too concerned for the aesthetic and functional part.

After a bit of work, I was able to install JDarkRoom, and make it run effectively. It is a lovely application, very well conceived, clearly written by someone aware of our need for an uncluttered user interface and very quick commands. It even opens with the last open document ready for work.

Text, in Unicode UTF-8 format, is easily exchanged with Scrivener. File transfer is done via an USB pen drive. I have not yet been able to let my Macs and the Eee talk via network (apart for a disconcerting one-direction ftp access via command line). According to the various Linux gurus I got in touch with, this is not exactly easy, even if I’m not completely sure they understood my needs.

Writing with the small keyboard is a matter of getting used to, and this might take just a few days - or even just hours. I’m writing this message by touch-typing, going about at the same speed as on my Pismo. Not bad at all. I can write on it. Shame that I could not find a way to write the capital accented ‘E’…

I still wait for Apple to make something like this - but better. The operating system, as well as the wonderful apps running on it, are really a plus, and you discover how much they are when using something different.