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Asus Eee PC 4G (700) setup notes, links

November 10th, 2008 · No Comments · Firefox, Linux, Python, Ubuntu

Photo "Online Manga on Asus Eee PC" by Steve Keys, 2008, ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevekeys/2742226772/ ), Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en )I recently got an Asus Eee PC 4G so I could avoid lugging around a heavy notebook when traveling. The Xandros distro which came preinstalled was cute and booted very fast (~17 secs), but ultimately I felt I needed something a bit more versatile (oh, the stock Xandro also lacked WPA2 wireless support, which was something I need). I decided to install the soon-to-be-renamed Ubuntu Eee, an unofficial version of Ubuntu using features of the Netbook Remix, tailored to work nicely on the Eee PC.

What follows is not a HOWTO, but rather a set of links and notes on some things I tweaked. It’s mostly for my own personal reference, but if it helps someone else out, all the better. The Ubuntu Eee distro has already done most of the heavy customization required for smooth operation on an Eee PC … but I had fun doing a little tweaking of my own anyhow.

Some links

A nice quick overview on setting up Ubuntu Netbook Remix on an Eee PC, with links to some key sites: http://yergler.net/blog/2008/07/13/ubuntu-netbook-remix-on-the-eee-pc/

Install these repositories, use the “hack” tips: http://array.org/ubuntu/index.html

Tips for improving battery life.

Some ways to optimize boot speed (it’s not going to beat the Xandros distro it shipped with, but at least some speed improvement is better than nothing).

“Official” Ubuntu Docs for installing stock Ubuntu on an Eee PC (not really required if you are using Ubuntu-Eee, but there are some good post-install tweaks here)

EeeUser Wiki: Getting Ubuntu 8.04 to work perfectly (again, if you are using Ubuntu-Eee, most of these tweaks are already applied by the distro).

Note on setting up sqaushfs/unionfs on /usr .. nice idea which I haven’t tried yet.

Tweaks I made (or didn’t)

These are mostly drawn from the links above.

Root partition line (/dev/sda1) in /etc/fstab has the options defaults,noatime,errors=remount-ro
and made /var/log, /var/tmp and /tmp as tmpfs ramdisks.

DON’T add “commit=15″ to the /dev/sda1 line in /etc/fstab .. this causes Xorg to fail at startup (don’t know why).

Did array.org Hack #13: $ gconftool-2 –type bool –set /apps/compiz/plugins/move/allscreens/options/constrain_y 0

Changed CONCURRENCY in /etc/init.d/rc to CONCURRENCY=shell

Added force-hpet to the #defoptions= line in /boot/grub/menu.lst (as per one of the guides above)

Also added stuff to /etc/modules (as per one of the guides above), including uvcvideo … Added echo “1″ > /proc/acpi/asus/camera to /etc/rc.local to make sure webcam is enabled. Also, make sure that /etc/rc.local is executable … it seemed not to be in Ubuntu-Eee 8.04, which meant it wasn’t actually being run at startup ?.
All the right stuff in /etc/sysctl.conf came “for free” with ubuntu-eee …

Setup hibernate, as per: http://ubuntu-eee.com/index.php5?title=Fix:_hibernate … I also copied the /usr/lib/pm-utils/defaults to /etc/pm/config.d/config (prior to making the modifications to correct the path to s2disk). Ended up creating a symlink /usr/sbin/s2disk (for s2disk) and /usr/sbin/s2ram and /usr/sbin/s2both (both linking to s2both), to solve per Bug #207002 and Bug #246053. To be honest, I think I messed things up a little. I can hibernate / sleep using sudo s2disk / s2ram from the commandline, but at some point I lost hibernate from the Gnome shutdown dialog. Oh well … mostly works.

Applied selected parts of the Riceeey script. Again, many of these tweaks are already applied in Ubuntu-eee … I ran the gconftool-2 commands to enable suspend upon lid close, created  /etc/modprobe.d/snd-hda-intel and installed the eee-osd packages (eee-osd must have since become deprecated, as it was uninstalled by apt in an update a few days ago ??).

I installed the Ubuntu 8.04 version of CNR (Click-n-run), which then allowed me to install software from the official Asus Eee CNR site. There is probably no advantage to doing this over simply using the regular Add/Remove programs in Ubuntu, but I thought I’d give it a try anyhow, just in case there was some special Eee optimized stuff available.

Added the Medibuntu repository … installed Adobe Acrobat Reader (not that there is anything wrong with the default Evince Document Viewer … but I read a lot of PDFs, and Acrobat Reader is still the gold standard. If I need the diskspace, it will get uninstalled, because I can live without it on my Eee).

I also installed the Vimperator Firefox extension, so I could operate Firefox better in fullscreen mode (F11) with the keyboard only, and avoid messing with the tiny touchpad and slightly tough ‘clicky’ mouse buttons when browsing. It helps to make the best use of a little screen too.

Summary

This is not a review … but I just had to say something. It’s cute, light and almost completely silent (the tiny fan is only slightly audible in a silent room, and it’s not on all the time). It works well enough for me to use my Eee PC for light web browsing, note taking, reading PDFs of journal articles and ebooks. You get used to the smaller than standard keyboard very quickly. I wouldn’t want it to be my only computer, but if it was, I would mostly cope if I didn’t want to play games and didn’t need to use it for 8 hours a day. Battery life is ~ 3 – 3.5 hours. Hopefully the next version of Ubuntu Eee (or even Netbook Remix) will iron out all the minor issues, and if I ever need to reinstall I won’t need to tweak much at all.

(Photo above “Online Manga on Asus Eee PC” by Steve Keys, 2008, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)

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