The Eee PC has joined the iPhone and Google Android in having a newly minted SDK being made available. We've taken a look at what ASUS is offering developers.
While Asus isn’t averse to shipping the Eee with Windows XP – and undoubtedly those plans will have shifted into a higher gear with news that Microsoft is going to continue to offer XP to low-cost notebook manufacturers, a category where Asus is the torchbearer – the notebook manufacturer still isn’t abandoning the open source Linux roots of its Eee platform either. First there was the news that the 900 series Eee would come with 50% more storage than their Windows counterparts, and now it’s the release of an Asus-provided – and even Asus bug-checked – software developer’s kit.
Of course, the only real difficulty to date that developers may have had in making Eee-compatible applications is likely to have been wrestling with the 700 series’ diminutive keyboard, at least if you wanted to run applications simply in Advanced mode. It is, after all, an open-source platform that’s almost illicitly easy to unlock compared to, say, an iPhone – but where the SDK differentiates itself is that it’s designed for developers to easily develop applications that run from the Launcher – even Asus’ own documentation admits that this is more commonly known in the Eee community as Simple Mode.
The SDK is available via SourceForge, and Asus is offering some forum-based support for developers wrestling with the SDK via the official Eee Community SourceForge page. From there you can grab the Open Circulation Edition of the Xandros Desktop OS, the Eclipse development environment, the Qt4 toolkit, a developer's guide as well as sample applications. Unlike a lot of Sourceforge output, it’s quite well supported in terms of accompanying documentation, with the SDK Guide laid out in a better fashion than many other PDF documents we’ve seen for fully commercial software.
Just in case you’re stuck in the stone age without some kind of Internet access – a question which raises in itself exactly how you’re reading this story – Asus’ press release indicates that they’ll also mail out DVDs with the SDK on it to anyone enquiring to firstname.lastname@example.org. Postage is payable by the receiver, and presumably ships from Taiwan, so it might be easier to get someone else to burn it for you.
The SDK is available as a full replacement to the Eee’s existing Xandros operating system, or as a VMware image for running inside a virtual machine. We await the inevitable Windows-running Eee user trying to run the VMWare image inside a virtual machine on their Eee. You know somebody’s going to try it – it’s just a matter of time.