The Asus Eee PC ultra-portable computer is more than just a capable little machine—it’s a phenomenon. The Eee PC not only started the movement toward inexpensive, accessible computers, it spawned a cult following, similar to the Ford Model T in its day. Eee PC owners, devotees, and hackers have run practically every operating system, window manager, and software application imaginable on these little machines. Others have modified the hardware, adding components that Asus does not provide.

The Eee PC is a step toward selling the “next billion computers.” It was partly born out of the desire to create a real, tangible, commercial offering in the spirit of the One Laptop Per Child project. It was designed to be extremely easy to use ...

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