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Asus Eee PC Linux Ubuntu

Ubuntu Eee 8.04.1 – I’m impressed!

If you’ve been following my blog at all the past year, you know I’ve been obsessed with finding the right Linux distro for my Eee PC. It came with an Asus-customized version of Xandros that works perfectly with the hardware but suffers in many ways on the software and user-interface side. I’ve since tried vanilla Ubuntu, eeeXubuntu, Mandriva, Debian, Puppeee, and various other distros that are supposed to be good for the Eee PC.

It’s been a tough search to find a good combination of usable and compatible. I just want something that will let me use all the hardware on the Eee and more or less let me use Ubuntu and its repositories. Why is that so difficult to find? Well, I think I may have found the holy grail of the Eee PC—Ubuntu Eee. Yes, I’d heard about it for a while now but never gave it a try, because I’d had a disappointing experience with eeeXubuntu. I’m very impressed with Ubuntu Eee, though, despite running into a few problems that were easily fixed.

Here were the problems I ran into:

  • The netbook remix it came with wouldn’t let me quit. I’d click the Quit button, and it’d look as if it were going to fire up the logout dialogue, but nothing would come up. And the way the netbook remix Gnome panel is set up, it was impossible for me to add anything to the panel (like the logout applet). So to shut down the computer, I had to use a virtual terminal and the sudo shutdown -h now command.
  • The netbook remix interface was also extremely unresponsive. I think it was designed with the Intel Atom processor in mind and not my poor little Eee PC 701’s Intel Celeron processor. So one of the first things I did was remove the remix and automaximize applications through Synaptic.
  • Wireless, as the Ubuntu Eee website indicates, is a little buggy with MadWifi on the 701 (and I’ve experienced this with other distros too), so I blacklisted the Atheros modules and installed and used ndisgtk, and that problem was solved.
  • There was a minor volume applet adjustment I had to make to get the front microphone working.
  • Ubuntu Eee comes with a lot of stuff installed by default (normal Ubuntu stuff and then a lot extra), so I spent a good hour in Synaptic Package Manager trimming out the fat.

The webcam, microphone, hotkeys, and sound all work great. They even have the little on-screen displays from Xandros when you press the hotkeys. I do get some weird message about the scanner group being unknown when I boot up, but the boot time isn’t too bad (still not as speedy as Xandros, of course). I think I’ll be sticking with Ubuntu Eee for a while. And now that it’s based on the 8.04.1 release of Ubuntu, I know it’ll be supported for the next two and a half years also.

P.S. There is one minor annoyance, which seems to pop up every now and then with Ubuntu releases. In Gnome, the volume manager will automatically mount my Lacie external drive’s FAT32 partition but not the Ext3 partition. With Thunar’s volume manager, neither will mount automatically. When the automatic mounting doesn’t happen, I get some message about not being able to mount the partitions since I’m not the superuser. So I’m mounting them from the command-line right now. I don’t mind doing that, so I’m on the whole pleased with Ubuntu Eee, but it’d be great if there were an easy fix for it.