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2008-10-11 | Permalink

So, I finally got my hands on an Eee. There’s only one store over here that sells the Linux version of the 901, which is the only model that has exactly everything I’d want from it. Here are my experiences with it so far.

I’ve played with it for a couple of day now, and am very happy with it. It came with Asus’s own software based on Xandros, which was not really to my liking; the software I use most isn’t directly available, and the default interface could be a bit slicker. It did boot really fast though.

So I threw that out and installed Ubuntu Eee . This is very much a work in progress, and therefore a lot of features you really want from a laptop/netbook don’t really work out of the box. However, the sheer power a ‘general’ Operating System gives you, while still directed at such specific computers, is great. Also, since the Eee seems to be pretty popular, and there is still an overseeable number of different configurations, people tend to run into the same problems, and most are easy to find and fix.

Here are the ones I ran into so far:

By default, the Fn-F5 combination does not work. It doesn’t do anything at all. Here is a wiki page describing how to fix this. When you have done this, it is also trivial so change the default resolution it uses, and as a bonus, you get to learn how to do it manually, if needed.

Switching the wireless off using Fn-F2 crashed the system. Yes. Crashed. The. System. This was quite a surprise, to say the least. Turns out that the internal driver somehow screws things up if the wireless networking interface is still up. The default scripts do bring it down, but apparently the chipset has been changed between Eee versions, and the wrong interface is brought down. So, replacing the ifconfig down statement with the correct one fixed this. Again, a little bonus is that you get to tweak how the switch button works (for instance you can decide whether bluetooth should be shut off too. I think i got the information from the comments on this bug report.

Hibernation did not work either; after the default install, the swap space was too small to store the suspend data. Recreating another swap space on the second disk did not work for me either; it somehow immediately seemed to start up again. I got around this by installing the uswsusp package. Now hibernation works fine. This was pretty important to me, because Ubuntu Eee boots a lot slower (about a minute from cold start to a logged in state where you can start to actually do anything). Getting out of hibernation takes about 20 seconds now.

The final problem I encountered, and for which I unfortunately have no fix at this time, is IPv6. It appears to support IPv6, and gets both a link-local and a global scope address. The routing table seems fine, and ICMP works. But unfortunately, TCP does not; I did some experimenting with netcat and incoming packets are handled just fine, but it will not send out any tcp packets at all. They don’t even show up on a local tcpdump. I did notice that the iptables modules for IPv6 were not loaded, but loading them did not seem to work. I will continue to play around with this and if I find a solution I’ll post it. In the meantime, please let me know if you have one :)

Apart from these issues, or maybe even because of them, I am very happy with my little netbook. It is a lot snappier than I dreamed of hoping for, and with Ubuntu Eee, it has a really nice interface. The battery life is also amazing, so if you are on the road a lot, or just fancy a really tiny laptop that can still do some pretty heavy lifting, and if you are not afraid of doing a little work to get the most out of it, I heartily recommend the 901.