Ubuntu 8.10 on EeePC 1000HE

26 March 2009

I picked up a Asus EeePC 1000HE for Claire, and she needs Linux installed on it. Ubuntu 8.10 looked great on the ThinkPad, so that's what I'm installing on this new netbook.

First problem: get an Ubuntu installer on an 4G SD card. It turns out that unetbootin does an excellent job of this. I installed it on my Debian unstable server right from the repository. unetbootin provides a choice of distributions to download and install (including Ubuntu), or you can build a bootable USB device from an existing ISO.

After a few failed attempts, I realized that I needed to repartition the SD card with fdisk, giving the card one big partition, and marking that partition bootable. That main partition needed to also be given a vfat filesystem (mkfs -t vfat /dev/sdX1), not ext2.

With the SD card in order, I could have unetbootin install the full Ubuntu 8.10 Live CD image to the main partition (/dev/sdX1).

F2 on the EeePC gets into the setup screen, and there, I disabled all the quick boot stuff and booting off the hard drive. Then, I rebooted and hit Esc to choose a boot device. Upon choosing the Single Flash Reader, I got to see the SYSLINUX boot screen, and then the nice graphical Ubuntu boot screen. After a few more moments, it played it's normal chimes and I was looking at the live, wide-screen desktop with battery, bluetooth, wired network indicators going. I clicked the network applet, and on the Gnome toolbar, and I see that even wireless seems to be working!

The Install icon is sitting right there on the desktop, so I give it a run, tell it to use the whole 160G drive, and it's off. I let that finish, and rebooted, and I'm in business.

At this point, the volume keys aren't working for some reason, but the brightness and suspend keys are working. First time out, the battery was only lasting 4-5 hours, but I suspect that probably had something to do with the processor scaling defaulting to on-demand instead of conservative or power-save. I'll have to look into that a bit.

As I search around for solutions to the last few things, I see lots of details on fixing problems I'm not experiencing -- it seems that Ubuntu has taken care of most the hard stuff already, and they've rendered many of the other fix-it articles outdated.

It looks like its going to be a great little machine.

Update (16 March 2009): I'm still not seeing the 9-hour battery life yet -- instead the fan runs and runs, and I see 4-5 hours. Additionally, it seems that the ASUS ACPI kernel module is reporting a few events incorrectly, so evolution keeps trying to pop up when I plug in the AC power. This lead should help me get all the little buttons working, like volume the volume keys.

Update (26 March 2009): The LCD display, USB hub, keyboard, and mouse arrived for the notebook over the past week. Ubuntu mostly saw the display correctly when I plugged it in. I ended up having to restart the X server, and it seems that I have to restart the X server any time I want to switch now, but it took care of the configuration itself. The external display isn't running at its full resolution yet, though. I have to look into it a bit closer, but it's working well enough for now.

I assembled the USB gadgetry, left it on the desk. When Claire found it later, she just plugged it in, and it just worked. Linux has come a long way.


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