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Running Ubuntu on an Asus EEE 4G

By   |  August 11, 2008

When it was first released a year ago the tiny Asus EEE PC sparked a new generation of ultra-portable PCs called netbooks. As the name suggests they tend to be not much bigger than a medium-sized novel and are designed to surf the Internet and check email on the move. And when the EEE PC was first released it was shipped with a version of Xandros Linux.

Of late, however, Microsoft has got in on the netbook game and Windows XP-based versions of the Asus EEE PC are to be found around town. And this week Microsoft is to hold a press launch for the second generation of the Asus EEE PC in SOuth Africa.

I was fortunate enough, thanks to Microsoft, to get my hands on an Asus EEE 4G, the ultra-small version with the 7-inch screen and based on the 701. Of course it ran Windows XP.

Windows XP on the Asus EEE 4G is not a bad choice. Certainly better than Vista which HP, in a fit of over enthusiasm, installed on its Mini-Note 2133. Vista just drags the machine down and even a cool brushed aluminium casing can’t make up for the speed deficit using Vista.

Of course, the Mini-Note is more powerful than the Asus EEE 4G which carries a 900MHz celeron processor and 512MB of memory, so for the Asus EEE 4G, Windows XP is a far better choice. Unless, of course, you’re a long time Linux user and just have to have Linux on your EEE.

There have been varying reports on which versions of Linux can be run on the Asus EEE with success and, in most cases, the list of tweaks that need to be made before the EEE loves Linux is just too long for the average users.

So with a little surfing around the net I found Ubuntu-EEE, an up-to-date (Ubuntu 8.04) version of Ubuntu Linux for the EEE PC. This is not a stripped down version of Linux. The ISO is a good 670+MB in size and includes everything that a desktop version of Ubuntu would. Of course, things such as Compiz may well be overkill considering the relatively limited power of the EEE.

Installing Ubuntu-EEE is straight forward enough if you have an external optical drive. All you need to do is burn the ISO to a CD and reboot the EEE. As the little EEE boots up hit the Esc key a couple of times until you see a menu for choosing your preferred installation media. Choose the external disc drive and you’re away. The Asus EEE will boot into the Live desktop which includes the installation icon on the desktop. Click that and Ubuntu does its normal installation routine and shortly you’ll have Ubuntu installed on your EEE.

If you don’t have an external optical drive you can also install Ubuntu-EEE from an SD card. The routine is a little harder and requires UNetbootin which is used to transfer the ISO to the SD card. The Ubuntu-EEE site has good instructions on how to do this.

Installed

Installed, Ubuntu-EEE runs every bit as well as Windows XP on the same machine. Unfortunately neither Windows nor Ubuntu-EEE have the excellent boot times of the Xandros version which could be booted in under 10 seconds. There are a number of tweaks that can be performed on Ubuntu-EEE to speed up the machine’s boot times which have varying degrees of success. A fresh install of Ubuntu-EEE on the EEE 4G took just under one minute to boot to a login screen.

A fresh install of Ubuntu-EEE on the EEE 4G also has a number of small, but annoying, issues. The biggest is that when you shut down the EEE it doesn’t’t actually shut down. It just powers down the screen. Also, hibernating the machine doesn’t work. The Ubuntu-EEE website has instructions on fixing both of these issues.

The other annoying bug is that the volume control doesn’t work properly on a fresh Ubuntu-EEE install and the volume is set at its highest setting on each start. Again there is another easy enough fix for this.

Performance wise the Asus EEE is responsive, wireless works out of the box, most of the Fn keys work (but not the volume ones, annoyingly).

Apart from those, Ubuntu-EEE works nicely on the EEE 4G and makes a great tool for surfing the Internet when you’re on the road.

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Comments

17 Responses to “Running Ubuntu on an Asus EEE 4G”

  1. Herman
    August 11th, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

    Mandriva Linux supports the Eee PC and its successors. Everything works with no tweaks required.

  2. Andrew
    August 11th, 2008 @ 4:11 pm

    this is not a shameless plug. but I’ve just tried the upcoming Acer Aspire One which has a 1.6Ghz Intel Atom and runs ubuntu beautifully. It ships with a very neat custom linux derived from Fedora. The desktop is a great, something like the netbook /mid of ubuntu.

    … Please try to get your hands on one of then and review it.

    Great site. Always the place I browse first.

  3. Alastair
    August 11th, 2008 @ 4:12 pm

    @Andrew:
    I’d love to give the Acer Aspire One a spin. Have to have a chat to chat to the Acer guys. It really looks great.

  4. fwiffo
    August 11th, 2008 @ 9:35 pm

    A comparison between ubuntu-eee and eeebuntu (eeebuntu.org) would have been more interesting. The latter offer also a version with the netbook-remix packages.

    Cheers

  5. Alastair
    August 11th, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

    @fwiffo:
    Thanks. For some reason I never came across eeebuntu. Looks like it might be worth a try.

  6. Harold
    August 12th, 2008 @ 6:28 am

    Nice to see Microsoft sponsoring more and more Linux companies.

  7. Refer to a friend - PR Inside | Ubuntu Today
    August 13th, 2008 @ 2:16 am

    […] Running Ubuntu on an Asus EEE 4G – TectonicIf you’re new here you may want to subscribe to our RSS feed or our weekly email newsletter . Thanks for visiting! When it was first released a year ago the tiny Asus EEE PC sparked a new generation of ultra-portable PCs called netbooks. As the name […]

  8. Jngoi
    August 13th, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

    I have installed Ubuntu 8.04 LTS to the external hard drive of my eee pc 701 and everything works and smoothly at that. Compiz fusion works, I’ve got the cube, beryll effects, fire/water effects, wobbly windows, etc. the works. My wi-fi works(Riceeytweak.sh), sound is good(installed AlsaGuiMixer), programs speedily open (thanks to pre-load), web pages open fast(tweak), shortcut keys work. I posted how I did my installation which started as a wubi install with the script from Riceeeytweak that got things rolling, ending with a full install via lvpm to a partition on my eternal HDD and then the tweaks that sealed it off. It is not eeebuntu nor ubuntueee, It’s Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron running smoothly on dual boot on the eee pc 701 4G using an external sata HDD. Oh yeah, BTW am using a 2G RAM, that’s the only thing I upgraded.
    I wrote down how I installed Ubuntu here:
    http://eeeph.com/index.php/topic,1269.msg25590.html#msg25590
    It works great, I hardly use my XP anymore.

  9. Andrew
    September 5th, 2008 @ 2:29 pm

    invitation to see Acer AspireOne running Ubuntu with a WinXP guest in VirtualBox

    http://picasaweb.google.com/zerlgi/AspireOneScreenshots

  10. jngoi
    September 16th, 2008 @ 7:55 am

    Just an Update, I installed Ubuntu 8.04 to the SSD of my 701. I used the tweaks in ubuntu help, everything works, Compiz cube spins so fast and smooth. I always use the additional desktops to compensate for the 7 inch screen. I deleted software I don’t use and the games that were pre-installed. I also save my files to a 4 Gb SDHC card. Setup works and is stable. 701 Ubuntu 8.04 works, great netbook.

  11. Eee PC 4G on Ubuntu Linux | only Eee PC hotties
    September 17th, 2008 @ 10:09 pm

    […] Tectonic has tried to install a Linux operating system on the Eee PC 4G and they prefer to install the Ubuntu Eee Linux version, which is an up-to-date (Ubuntu 8.04) version of Ubuntu Linux for the EEE PC. This version is a full version. […]

  12. Tectonic » Best of 2008: The year’s top posts
    December 12th, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

    […] – Running Ubuntu on an Asus EEE 4G (17 597 […]

  13. Kevin
    January 30th, 2009 @ 3:25 am

    Alastair,

    Hoe gaan dit daar?

    I have successfully installed Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid (not Ubuntu- EEE) on an Asus EEE 4 Gb netbook from a 4 Gb USB thumb drive. I also was able to get wireless networking going with the help of LinuxQuestions and Ubuntu forums.

    I have one remaining frustration: on some panels, like those for System -> Preferences -> Screen Resolution I cannot access the Appply and Close widgets at the bottom of the panel as they are below the bottom of the screen. Any suggestions on how to customize the display (like Control Panel -> Display in Windows (perish the word) XP)?

    Kevin

  14. Alastair
    January 30th, 2009 @ 9:44 am

    @kevin,

    I also had that problem. Not sure there is a way around it without looking for a new theme which is designed for the smaller screen (maybe someone else has a suggestions?).

    In the interim you should be able to drag windows around while holding down the “alt” key which will gie you access to the buttons.

  15. Kevin
    January 31st, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

    Alastair,

    I had that suggestions from LinuxQuestions.org but it doesn’t work. Also a guy with alias PWC101 from Southampton, UK, said I should run:
    gconftool-2 –type bool –set /apps/compiz/plugins/move/allscreens/options/constrain_y 0
    and referred me to the site:
    http://forum.eeebuntu.org/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=1005
    but that didn’t work either as I have no directory /apps/compiz/plugins/ on my system.

    [See the dialogue at http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/linux-laptop-and-netbook-25/inaccessible-ubuntu-panel-widgets-on-asus-eee-700911/#post3426351%5D

    Kevin@Alastair:

  16. Kevin
    February 2nd, 2009 @ 5:50 pm

    Alastair,

    I reran the command, then logged out and logged back in and – bingo!! – I was able to move the window up above the top panel with the Alt key held down while dragging the window up.

    Kevin

  17. vpurto
    March 4th, 2009 @ 12:00 am

    I have ASUS Eee PC 4G XP (701). It has preinstalled WinXP and Microsoft Works. I would appreciate very much an advice how to get rid from WinXP and install Ubantu without loosing wireless capabilities if that is possible at all. Can I start from USB memory stick? How much memory do I need for that?
    Thank you.

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