Asus EEE 1008HA and Ubuntu: Keep a USB drive handy

I’d been thinking about getting a netbook for a while, but I’d felt guilty over the two ultraportables languishing in our electronics drawer. I occasionally dusted them off and W- even got Ubuntu running on them again, but I just didn’t use them as much as I did before I got my work laptop. Keeping multiple configurations synchronized is a pain. Lugging two laptops around is a real pain.

I held out for the longest time. I’d been into ultraportables when having an 8.9″ screen made geeks’ heads turn (which is how I got away with selling advertising on the back of my laptop one weekend, as an experiment ;) ), and now that ultraportable computers had gone mainstream, well… <laugh>

Then W- reminded me that the real reason why I haven’t been using the Fujitsu Lifebook P1110 or the Sony Vaio U1 was that I’d used them until they fell apart. Really. Masking tape was the only thing keeping the P1110 together.

And then I ran into all sorts of computing difficulties on my work laptop, and I decided that having a backup system that I could keep in a consistent configuration was worth some of my dream/experience fund. A light machine that I could use for presentations and for blog posts would be nice, and if it could let me connect to Windows-only teleconferences while continuing to do work using the Linux partition on my main laptop, that would be fantastic.

After consulting Ted Tritchew (resident guru) and a number of Net resources, I ended up with two choices: the Asus Eee 1000HE, and the Asus Eee 1008HA. The 1000HE was relatively solid, worked well with Linux, and boasted a 9.5-hour battery life. The 1008HA was slimmer, lighter, and could get by on 6 hours. I went with light, because the pounds really do add up.

It was easy to get Windows XP and Linux to co-exist, thanks to the USB installer that Ted lent me. The 1008HA was pre-partitioned, so I just installed Linux onto the second partition. (Nice not to have to fuss with resizing things!)

The first major hiccup I ran into was getting networking to work. With the default install of Ubuntu, not even wired Ethernet worked! I came across this really useful Amazon.com review which said:

Once you install, you need to grab the AR813X-linux-v1.0.0.8.tar.gz package from http://partner.atheros.com/Drivers.aspx . Untar this (ignore the gzip errors), cd src, make, sudo make install, then insmod the resulting file. That should give you wired ethernet.

To get wifi, go to Administration > Software Sources > Updates and check off “Unsupported Updates (jaunty-backports)”, then do sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-jaunty . Once you reboot, you should have wireless.

So the important parts of my system work now, and I’ll worry about the other bits later on.

  • http://N/A Ari Turetzky

    Oh dear! opted to skip the IdeaPad ;) I originally went with the EEE 900A. Ubuntu Intrepid and Jaunty worked without issue on both. For some things the array.org kernel was more responsive and had the drivers for all the function keys as well. However the keyboard on the 8.9” netbooks was just too small for my fingers. So after getting my hands on as many different 10″ models I went with the lenovo. Main reason was keyboard action, ability to upgrade memory without warranty violation(addresses 2GB just fine not the 1.5GB rumored) and general feeling of quality. the EEE 1000H I looked at was nice but was too flimsy for me. Also as an emacs user xmodmap will be your friend for getting the proper number of ctrl and alt keys :D

  • http://www.numerimatch.com Pierre Ristic

    Thanks for the trick. But for the ethernet driver, after the make install I have the error:

    ” could not write to /var/cache/man/cat7/atl1e.7.gz ”

    some idea ?

  • mau

    can you explain how to install ubuntu in the second partition in details?

  • Leandro

    Pierre, just give this command after the “sudo make install”:

    sudo insmod atl1e.ko

    This will install the ethernet driver. (check if this “atl1e.ko” exists,
    if not, do the command with the available .ko file, I’m not sure
    the name was that since I’m not in the computer now, but I think it is).

  • Fred

    To get wired network, just ignore these two errors:

    1. While unpacking (tar xvzf …) gzip says something is wrong, and
    2. While installing (make install?) there is this message about not being able to write /var/cache/man/cat7/atl1e.7.gz

    The last step is:
    insmod atl1e.ko

    And remember, with every kernel update this last step needs to be redone (till this module goes mainstream, I supose).

  • http://kaliaragorn.spaces.live.com kali

    cannot compile the driver:

    ubuntu@ubuntu:/media/disk-1/Users/kali/Desktop/netbook linux/network/src$ sudo make install
    make -C /lib/modules/2.6.28-11-generic/build SUBDIRS=/media/disk-1/Users/kali/Desktop/netbook linux/network/src modules
    make[1]: Entering directory `/usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.28-11-generic’
    make[1]: *** No rule to make target `linux/network/src’. Stop.
    make[1]: Leaving directory `/usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.28-11-generic’
    make: *** [default] Error 2

  • Fredi

    nice tip! tks!
    i could make it work smoothly, but every restart (e.g. to get wireless working), the wired goes down and i have to ‘sudo insmod atl1e.ko’ again to get it working.
    any idea?

  • Fredi

    case solved. loaded different kernel than backports. sweeet…

  • Fred

    Many Thanks Sacha !

    Note that the WIRED network interface worked fine after having upgraded from kernel 2.6.28-11 to 2.6.28-15, without having to run:
    “sudo insmod atl1e.ko”

    Cheers.

    Fred

  • Yongming

    The site http://partner.atheros.com/Drivers.aspx doesn’t work. I searched google for a while and I am not able to find AR813X-linux-v1.0.0.8.tar.gz anywhere. Could you please send me the file if you still have it.

    thanks,

    yongming

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    Sorry, I don’t have it handy. Good luck! =|

  • http://www.morannon.org Wouter Thielen

    I don’t know if it is a hardware issue or a kernel issue, but my Asus S101H worked fine with Jaunty, no issues at all. And Ubuntu has a whole community dedicated to Asus EEEPCs: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/EeePC

    I do not quite remember when I bought my EeePC though :) Might be in July or August, around that time…