To the best of MY knowledge you need to be online for the updates. Via those updates, you get the E17 and Ecomorph updates.
So as far as having access to the update files, it is best that you connect the computer to the internet. It is much simpler as I can tell you right now that as a newby, it is quite an undertaking to figure out what updates you need when there are hundreds of files updated after the initial install from the Ubuntu & E17 repositories. If you can do that, then you are no newb.... thou art the MAN!!!
If you installed OpenGEU 8.10... and you have 3D hardware acceleration drivers you should be able to choose the Ecomorph option under Session on the login screen... I am going to out of a limb here and say it wont work until you connect to the web and download the proper drivers to enable 3D HW acceleration from NVIDIA or ATI.
Good Luck... I certainly don't know how to download the updates from the repositories, let alone choosing the right ones to install...