While mentioning the OLPC XO laptop, I have to point, as well, to Asus’ Eee. Sure, it’s not necessarily designed for being in the middle of a sub-Saharan desert, but it has some of the other hallmarks of OLPC — low power use, light weight, extremely low cost, and open-source, Linux-based software. These little machines are underpowered for many digital audio tasks, but MIDI and basic live audio are certainly feasible. I’ve heard at least a couple of readers using them. Anyone using them for musical tasks?

Asus has launched an “SDK” — a bit of a misnomer, as you don’t really need specialized tools to make Linux software for these machines. But it is a nice, packaged set of free tools you’ll need, as a ready-to-go distro. Curiously, it requires an installed partition on your machine; there’s no live CD mode. Digital wunderkind Brad Linder is all over it:

Asus launches Eee PC SDK [Eee Site]

OLPC XO, Eee, or other Small Computer reports? We’d love to hear them. And maybe someone can tell us how to pronounce Eee. Now, back to my desktop behemoth to burn some non-renewable resources.

Photo: raster. And yeah — it’s that small. (What, AP, not Strunk & White?)

See also: Computer Music Magazine’s mini Eee PC review [musicradar.com], though it still leaves some questions unanswered … let’s keep the chatter going!

  • I use audacity with mine to record beats from my kaossilator through a behringer uca202.

    it works okay…

    i tried running my monome with mlr on it… wasn't having much luck…

    seems to be a bit on the slow side for audio stuff…

    i have 2gb of ram running a nlited version of XP…

  • Hmmm, if you're on XP instead of Linux, how about ReBirth?

  • I've been using my Eee running Ubuntu to rock soft synths, Audacity for recording, and (slowly) learning Supercollider / csound / pureData – And lovin' it!

  • I don't use mine for music per se, but I do a fair bit of audio editing. I have Audacity installed in Linux and Windows partitions, and I use Reaper in Windows. Ardour also seems to run well under eeeXubuntu, but since I can't get Ardour to work on my main laptop I've never really learned my way around it.

    All of which is to say, while I wouldn't use the Eee PC and its poky 900MHz processor for serious video editing, it gets the job done when it comes to snipping and compressing audio.

  • guidedbyVOIP

    I've been wondering about this scenario. Thanks for profiling and the info. 🙂

  • I wondered also. Thanks for the question and answers.

  • i tried Reaper also on mine, but it ran rather slow, and the interface didn't seem to fit well in the 480×800 resolution.

    it works in a pinch on the road, but i don't think i could use it for anything major…

    just my opinion.

  • You can find 2 videos on youtube running milkytracker on eee pc

    See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbbseVXrCBw
    and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCT0P7wQBpA

  • Dr. Funk

    I'm still holding out for the EEE 900… Maybe the specs will be enough to run Circle, but I doubt it.

  • now, there's a good topic. As far as I could dig the eee for audio so far, I haven't found ANY combination of distro/options that ran properly for serious music on the EEE so far. Each attempt always end up getting glitches (blanks) in the audio at random intervals, every 1 or two minutes, which makes the eee unsuitable so far for decent work. I'm even more bummed to know there's several reports of ableton live running properly under windows but so far, on the linux end, it's been a failure. If ANYBODY got tips to get glitch-free playback for half and hour using apps like audacity, milkytracker, or any decent audio app (i.e not just a media player), I'd love to hear their setup coz it'd be way too sad to have to put XP on it 🙁

  • I'm working on a project using command line Chuck running on Ubuntu. Seems good so far, but I haven't really pushed it.

  • Yea any audio help people can give m-.-n the better. Glitchfree littlepiggytracker + jack support on eeepc = niiiiiiice samples + midi + lite synths workstation.

  • Dan

    I have SuperCollider running glitch-free, comfortable and v cool on my Eee. I stuck with the "simple" interface and it's perfect. Did a little bit of livecoding at a party and it worked fine.

    I put a how-to on here: http://www.mcld.co.uk/supercollider/eee/

  • sasarasa88

    Peter, I doubt Rebirth would run on the Eee since it checks for the installation CD each time it starts.

    On the other hand, there's a rather short review on Computer Music issue 123 where they report Reason, MadTracker and BeRoTracker worked just fine. They also were able to run four audio clips simultaneously in Live.

  • Hi Dan,

    As far as I could understand so far, the main problem in the eee is the combination of audio and graphical updates.. am I right to think supercollider as you run it does no gfx whatsoever ? I'm running Xandros simple mode too, I find it very efficient to work. Maybe it's just the SDL video driver that bums the eee…

  • The Eee PC was reviewed in the March '08 issue of Computer Music magazine. Interesting enough for me to want to take a look if the price is right.

  • The newer Eee will have a higher-resolution screen, so that addresses that problem.

    I'm curious what the source of the audio glitches on Linux is; that could of course be a number of factors.

    Thanks for the link to the CM review! Missed that somehow…

    @sasarasa — I expect you could fool the Eee by mounting the ReBirth CD virtually.

  • As to pronounciation, "e-p-c" will do just fine.

  • Jason Grlicky

    I use mine with Audacity and Milkytracker for lo-fi music madness. Milkytracker doesn't need this "screen resolution" I hear all the kids talking about these days…

  • Still haven't got mine, EEE-PCs are hard to get here in Germany. I guess I'll just wait for the upcoming 900. Yet I'm very interested in using the EEE-PC for music, so thanks for all the useful comments.

  • @Jason: hey, I like to see my command line with as man, erm, columns as possible … 😉

  • sef

    Neat subnotebook!!! I'm seriously considering getting one now that I see all this. Anyone have any experience installing XP on these devices and using famitracker? I'm most interested in getting one of these for having mobile famitracker to go along with my powerbook w/ ableton.

  • Dr. Funk

    @ Matthias

    My dad bought one the other day (I'm from Germany too) and I've spend extensive time with a maxed-out EEE over easter… the current version is a nice toy but the screen size and resolution really get annoying after a couple of minutes. plus the small touchpad is horrible to use (especially the button!!!).

    as I posted above, I'll wait for the EEE 900 with 8.9" screen and higher resolution. that update should fix all the problems I found with the first version and might make a great little music and media machine to go…

  • Jay Vaughan

    I'm running a regular combination of ZynAddSubFX, amSynth, SEQ24, and Puredata on my EEEPC .. and it really, really rocks.

    One thing: I built my own kernel (switched to advanced-menu mode too) with all the RealTime stuff enabled, set up ZynAddSubFX and amSynth to enable realtime, etc. This was essential – without it, you get stutter city.

    Its not the *fastest* and most voice-friendly machine (still loving my MacBook Pro for that), but it sure is nice to be able to whip out at least a 4 track recording on the EEEPC here and there. Another big positive: my MIDI interface Just Plain Worked (Emagic MT-4) without any configuration/driver hassle.

    Follow the wiki guide on eeeuser.com to enable realtime/build your own realtime kernel (or wait for someone to add EEEPC support to something like UbuntuStudio) and away you go .. easy.

  • Hi, I am running Renoise on my eee with TinyXP installed. TinyXP is a stripped down version of XP that you can find on torrent sites. I upgraded the video driver to handle a higher screen resolution (ie: 1024×768), as detailed here.

    Works without a hitch, I even hook a MIDI UNO to it, and it syncs like a charm. Runs dblue glitch, as well as many other VSTs. So stable I gig with it. I haven't tried Reason on it, but I assume it would work great also. I will have to try this sucker with Rebirth also, that's a great idea…

  • hry, for all the glitches issues, why not recompile the kernel and add the real time kernel patch.. Im stil working on it though..

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  • Req

    I want it to get a new toy to hack 🙂