Eee PC SwEeetness

by smthng 10. December 2007 07:03

I spent a big chunk of this weekend reconfiguring my Eee PC.  The Xandros install was just a bit to "funky" for my tastes and I kept running into weird limitations (like only having one login).  AsusTek did a good job of customizing it to make it easy for Linux n00bs, but it was just a bit too stripped down for my tastes.

So, I slapped XP on the internal SSD and then installed Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" on a Sandisk 4 Gb SDHC card.  I had surprisingly few issues, but I'll go through them anyway.

EeeGrub

That's my new Grub bootloader screen.  Ubuntu by default, XP if I wants it.

The XP install was pretty straight forward.  I did a base XP Pro SP2 install, then removed a bunch of the accessories (screensavers, wallpapers, games, etc) and extra bits (MSN Explorer - ick) to save some space on the internal 4Gb drive.  The only real Eee specific stuff I did was to install the drivers from the Eee support DVD and turn off the swap file.  Everything worked well, but startup and shutdown were a bit slow and there was a fair chunk of memory being sucked up.  I started picking through the services and set a bunch of them to manual to speed stuff up.  I guess I got a bit too aggressive, because the Atheros wireless util and Activesync started freaking out.  I re-enabled a few Com+ and DCOM services and they are now both functioning.  The Atheros stuff works fine (it would just GPF earlier), but Activesync is still a bit upset about smthng.  It works, it just complains about serial and infrared ports being missing.  I'll tackle that later.

I'm actually going to redo the whole XP install anyway...  I accidentally used an expired MSDN copy I had laying around and it won't activate.  Oops.  Nevermind, it'll at least last long enough to get me through my vacation before I have to fix it.  I'll probably redo the whole thing with an nLite install

The Ubuntu install wasn't quite as easy.  It's easier than I expected, but there are a few "gotchas" and some minor h@x0r1ng was required.  Basically, I slapped in the 4 Gb SDHC card, booted of the Ubuntu live DVD and started the install.  The only real customizing you have to do for the install itself is to change the partitions to use the entire SDHC card as the root volume ("/") and format it as EXT2 (although there's some online discussion regarding JFS being safer for flash drives - I may try that later).   Ubuntu will complain about not having a swap partition, but it works.  Finish off the install, then go fix some stuff...  I distinctly remember having to customize my fstab file to set all the partitions to noatime.  I also added all the temp and log directories as tempfs so they weren't writing all the time - although you might want to set up a script to save the logs on a shutdown.  There was some minor customization of the interface required - turn off constrain_y so you can move big dialog boxes and remove the dropshadow effect (it causes weird screen flashes sometimes, particularly in Firefox's fullscreen mode).  For convenience and to get more screen real-estate, I reset all the font sizes to 8 and installed the LittleFox theme for Firefox. Oh, also don't forget to grab the newest release of the Atheros madwifi drivers to support the onboard wireless.  That gets rid of the need for ndiswrapper, which beats the snot out of your CPU and battery life.

There are still some small issues, but they are bearable.  The standby mode doesn't work and I'm not sure if the webcam works... others have reported problems under Ubuntu, but I haven't tested it yet.  Eventually, I'll come back and put in links to all the fixes I had to do.  In the mean time, just go to EeeUser's Wiki and check out the Installing Alternative Operating Systems articles... they can run you through it.

Back to the XP side...  I installed Activesync just so I could use my Blackjack as a shared internet connection (sorry, no links to AT&T sites until they give me my Windows Mobile 6 update).  I tested it last night via the USB cable and it worked like a charm.  I also set up a bluetooth PAN this morning on the commuter train and it also worked great.  I downloaded Skype (21.5 MB) during the commute and was able to average 40Kbs on the download speed. I need a smaller bluetooth adaptor that I can just leave plugged in all the time, but it's good to know that it works.  I'll tackle the same connection on the Ubuntu side of the house later.

Anyway, that's it in a nutshell.  The Eee now rocks!  It does everything I need it to do, can connect using Ethernet, Wifi, Bluetooth, USB through the phone, whatever.  I basically have interwebs everywhere. :)

Currently rated 1.4 by 55 people

  • Currently 1.363637/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

blog

Life with the Eee

by smthng 28. November 2007 09:03

Hey again,

Just figured I'd give an update on the Eee.  It rox!  It goes to work every day, plays good movies on the train (it's been snowing and icy here, so no motorcycle for a bit).  Skype video and Pidgen IM are working great, wireless is problem free, battery life rocks.  For the device itself, I have no complaints at all. 

But, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around Linux.  I'm a tech weenie, which means I want to dig around in it's guts and customize everything... I want to use my phone as a 3G modem when I'm not at a wireless hotspot...  I want to be able to image the drive before I do stupid things to it and have to reinstall everything.  None of this is real easy with Linux...  Well, it might be easy for others, but not for this Linux n00b.  So, it's probably going to get XP tossed on it.  I just got an external optical drive so I can boot from an imaging CD and image the internal drive over to a thumbdrive or a USB hard drive.  I'll probably do that this weekend.  Then the next task is to get the original OS bootable from a thumbdrive.  Should be reasonably simple, but I can't figure it out yet.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against Linux.  But, I need the Eee to do my bidding now, not in three weeks when I've figured out what config file to edit in order to get a bluetooth stack working or smthng like that.  Having the original Linux build on a bootable thumbdrive or SD card is the best of both worlds.  XP when I need to get stuff done, Xandros when I want to just use it and figure out Linux. 

If I find a relatively easy way to get it done, I'll let y'all know.

Be the first to rate this post

  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags: , , ,

blog

Eee PC first thoughts - a real interface

by smthng 26. November 2007 09:04

I've had the Eee for a day now.  First thoughts: For what it is, it's awesome.  It's small, very portable, quick enough and quite usable out of the box.  The form factor is the biggest selling point.  The size is perfect.  A slightly larger screen would really rock, but it's good enough.

The OS is good for newbs, especially since it does a good job of hiding it's "linuxness".  Face it, most of the world is populated with Mac and Windows folks...  Linux is still a closet OS, IMO.  That being said, any one with an ounce of technical skillz will want to enable the full interface, which is not available out of the box.  I've seen several ways to do this, but the best instructions are at downloadsquad. Follow their instructions and you'll soon be looking at...

Eee PC Advanced Desktop

Clicky for full size.

Be the first to rate this post

  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags: , , ,

blog

Powered by BlogEngine.NET 1.4.5.0
Theme by Mads Kristensen

About smthng

Just a guy who digs Jeeps, photography, podcasts, sci-fi, running, motorcycles, and stuff.

Tags