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(Reposted from my previous blog)

The Asus EEEPC initially is pretty bricked, leaving the user with an over-simplified interface and few options for customisation. More advanced users must launch any new software from the command line, since nothing can be added to the default desktop. Fortunaely there is a way around it, and it’s possible to have a full KDE desktop without having to download and install another OS.

A quick examination revealed the EEEPC already has almost all the components installed for a full Debian Linux system, and most the default KDE applications normally present are accessible from the command line. All that’s missing are scripts to load the actual desktop.
At first, very little can be installed using the Asus update manager or apt-get, because the manufacturer no longer supports the EEEPC 900, so apt-get is pointing at repositories that no longer exist. This cn be fixed by reconfiguring apt.

1. Viewing the Linux File Structure
If we open the file manager, and select ‘Show Filesystem’, the familiar Linux directory structure becomes available for browsing. The file we want to change here is /etc/apt/sources.list, where the repositories for apt are defined. Unfortunately only the root user can edit the file at this point. NOTE: There’s also an old trick that involves copying the .icewm directory to /home/user, which enables another menu on the default desktop.

2. Defining a New Repository
The next step is to open the command line by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T (T for ‘terminal’). We type sudo su in the command line, which gives the user administrator permissions for the terminal session. Now it’s possible to move to the /etc/apt directory and edit the sources.list file by typing:
user> cd /etc/apt
user> kate sources.list

The file will open in the kate text editor, and new repositories can be defined. The one I added was http://download.tuxfamily.org/eeepcrepos, which must be entered in the same format as the other entries. Many alternatives are available on the Internet, but they must be chosen carefully to avoid what the developers call ‘dependency hell’. At worst, the wrong libraries could break the OS, and this is quite likely as the EEEPC 900 has an older version of KDE.
Ideally the repository should be specific for this model of netbook, or at least closely related as possible. Only very experienced Linux users should try adding stuff intended for anything else.

Once the changes have been made to sources.list, we can save and close the file. The next time apt-get update is run, it will scan the new addresses.

3. Installing the Scripts
Quite by accident, I found that synaptic was also available on the system, which is convenient as it provides a GUI for managing the software and installing any code we might need.
Returning to the original problem of getting the missing scripts to run KDE, they should now be available somewhere in the new repositories, and therefore listed in synaptic. The two scripts needed are kicker and kmserver. If they’re present, check both and install them.

4. Switching to Full Desktop
Once the installation is finished, the option to switch to full desktop should be available in the Shutdown Dialogue whenever the shutdown icon in the lower-right of the screen is clicked. The screen will go blank and a nice KDE screen will appear.

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