Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Dual Booting: ASUS Customised Xandros OS & Ubuntu 7.04/ Feisty Fawn on The ASUS EEE PC 701

Dual Booting:

ASUS Customised Xandros OS


Ubuntu 7.04/ Feisty Fawn



by Anthony Johnson

Within a week of acquiring the ASUS EEE PC 701, I loaded Ubuntu 7.04 on a removable 6GB SD card from an external USB DVD drive.

The installation went quite well. A few things to note are as follows:

The screen resolution is 640 x 480. I await a fix for 800 x 480.
neither the ethernet nor the Atheros WiFi functionalities work.

Aside from the above, the sound card screamed, and the buttons enabling brightness adjustment function also. Grub is installed on the removable 6GB Sandisk SD. The choice of OS is given in the menu and the native customised Xandros OS is address as 'Normal Boot on /dev/sda1'.
My only fear is failure of the the SD card, since its removal will mean that the EEE PC will not boot up. However, this can be circumvented by placing the MBR on the sda1. ( The 6GB SD shows up as sdb1)
This is again should not be too much of a catastrophe in that the factory OS can be reinstalled via my external USB DVD drive in the event of real difficulty.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

ASUS EEE PC, Overiew and running other Linux distros on it.

The ASUS EEE PC 701 'laptopsicle' running Linux: an overview


Anthony Johnson

Released in the UK on 12 November 2007, I purchased an ASUS Pc 701 on the 14th . I bought it purely on the strength that it came with a Linux OS (Operating System) pre-installed and was so small it weighed a kilogram, WiFi ready and all for £219. Its specifications are as follows:

Intel 900MHz Celeron M CPU
512 MB DDR2 RAM, expandable to 2GB
Intel GM915 graphics shared
Intel High Definition Audio
Atheros 802.11g wireless LAN
4GB flash drive, half of this is occupied by the OS and a recovery partition. Very useful. Higher sizes also available
built-in web camera , 0.3 mega pixels. Records in ogg theora format
x3 USB 2.0 ports
audio and microphone jacks
ethernet port
modem port* (blocked with rubber object. Presumably redundant though featured.
VGA out port
x1 flash card reader slot (MMC, SD)
4 cell battery with 3 hours of life
a custom tabbed Xandros Linux OS
DVD resource disc with installation instructions for deploying Windows XP plus drivers. On same disc original EEE PC OS recovery. Utility for enabling booting from a USB flash drive, which the BIOS supports. Very thoughtful!
software pre-installed and packages such as OpenOffice, games ; such as penguin racer, frozen bubble, crack attack, communications packages such as Skype, Firefox, Thunderbird, media software such as Amarok for playing mp3 and Totem for movies. Lots of formats are supported such as MP3, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG 4 SP, Xvid, avi, Ogg Theora, Ogg Vorbis, wav, PCM, AAC, WMV, WMA and DVD from an external USB DVD drive or copy on a USB flash.
most photo formats supported except PSD.
available in five colours

For its size and price, the Eee PC 701 is phenomenally great value for money. ASUS even assumed some users would want to install Windows XP on the EEE PC 701. The pre-installed customised Linux OS ( a kind of Xandros with tabbed access to packages works very well and OpenOffice 2.0 is highly serviceable and reads and enables you to create Word, PowerPoint and Excel files.

This 'sub-sub' notebook, for it is a notebook, will appeal to a broad cross-section of users. ASUS' advertising compaign features children prominently and it will certainly appeal to the 'little people' and above to their parents' budgets. The idea of one laptop per child is now a reality. It will also appeal to another group-, the senior or elderly user. The layout is sheer simplicity. ASUS in its advertiseing campaign claim that this computer can be used without reference to the manual. It is that intuitive.

And what of experienced users? Apparently other Linux distributions can be installed, notably Ubuntu 7.04 and 7.10, Mepis and Mandriva. It should be noted that some devices such as wireless and wired ethernet, the graphics and audio cards will not work or at least not properly. Even in the simplicity of the pre-installed OS a geeky user can still press CTRL +ALT+T and access the command line interface of shell.
I did manage to to load Ubuntu 7.04 on an 6GB Sandisk SD card. It worked and the GRUB boot-loader allowed for dual booting with the original factory installed OS. The ethernet and wireless facilities did not work, however, and the screen is not as clear as it is the proprietary software. Mepis was very clear and but again the same regarding the communications facilities. These anomalies can probably be fixed in the course of time. Also, a word of warning: the fan works a lot, lot harder under the above named Oses. Further, if you write the boot-loader to the removable SD disc, it will have remain there permanently for booting purposes. An extra drive can be placed in some EEE PC models such as the 701. The only problem is availability. Its appears to take a PCI SD device. I've not been able to determine quite what it is.

In all, I award the EEEPC 701 8/10. Easy, Elegant and Eminently user-friendly. A simple quirky Linux for everyday use. Linux is finally ready to take its place in OS the world and do what Windows Vista has failed to do -, put the fun back into computing.

Anthony Johnson
20th Nov 2007, London UK

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Mandriva 2007 Spring on a Sony Vaio S4XP


Model Name: Sony VGN S4XP (Released early 2005) Processor: 2GHz Intel Centrino (Cache Memory 2MB) 533 MHz Front Side Bus, RAM: 1GB DDR2-400, Hard Disc:100GB SATA, Optical drive: DVD-RW/DL, Display: 1280x800 X-Black13.3 Inches LCD WXGA,Graphics Card: NVIDIA Geforce Go 6200 with Turbocache supporting up to 128MB, Wireless capabilities: WLAN/Bluetooth, Interfaces: SVGA, x1 PCMCIA, x2 USB 2.0, x1 Firewire, Memory Stick slot, Ethernet, 56kpbs Modem.

Installation Summary

As with the installation of SuSE 10.1, installing Mandriva 2007 was frightfully simple. All devices worked with the sole exception of the wireless functionality of the Centrino. This can be fixed by a software download or a inexpensive Linux compatible PC card wireless adapter.

For those who have video files in MP4, AVI and WMV, they playback in Mandriva 2007 Spring out of the box! My main annoyance with Ubuntu 6.06, which I love, was its inability to handle video formats and MP3. Mandriva 2007 Spring in this regard is a refreshing alternative.


Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Ubuntu Linux 6.06 Running on a Toshiba Satellite P20-801

Ubuntu Linux 6.06

A Toshiba Satellite P20-801

By Anthony Johnson

Toshiba Satellite P20-801 - P4 3.2 GHz - 17" TFT
Notebook - RAM: 512 MB - HD: 60 GB - DVD±RW / DVD-RAM - 4.5 kg - Battery run time: 1.5 hour(s)
Built-in Devices: Stereo speakers, wireless LAN ( Realtek)aerial, Bluetooth aerial
Width: 41.9 cm, Depth: 29.3 cm,Height: 4.7 cm,Weight: 4.5 kg
Processor: Intel Pentium 4 3.2 Ghz,Data Bus Speed: 800 MHz
Features: Hyper-Threading Technology
Cache Memory
Type: L2 Cache
Installed Size: 512 KB
Technology: DDR SDRAM
Storage Controller
Type: IDE
Hard Drive: 60 GB
Optical Storage
Type: DVD±RW / DVD-RAM - plug-in module
Read Speed: 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD)
Write Speed: 16x (CD) / 4x (DVD-R) / 2.4x (DVD+R)
CD / DVD Rewrite Speed: 8x (CD) / 2x (DVD-RW) / 2.4x (DVD+RW) / 2x (DVD-RAM)
Card Reader
Type: Card reader
Supported Flash Memory Cards: SD Memory Card
Display Type: 17" TFT active matrix
Max Resolution: 1440 x 900 ( WXGA+ )
Widescreen Display: Yes
Graphics Processor / Vendor: NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5700 - AGP 8x

Video Memory: DDR SDRAM - 64 MB
Audio Output: Sound card (Realtek)
Input Device(s)
Type: Keyboard, touchpad
Modem: Fax / Modem
Max Transfer Rate: 56 Kbps
Protocols & Specifications: ITU V.90
Features: V.92 upgradable
Networking: Network adapter
Data Link Protocol: Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g
Compliant Standards: IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED
Expansion / Connectivity2 ( 0 ) x memory
1 ( 1 ) x PC Card - type III (2 x type I / II)
1 ( 1 ) x SD Memory Card

Power Device: ExternalVoltage Required: AC 120/230 V ( 50/60 Hz )
Technology: Lithium Ion

From the offset I feel it necessary to say that this Toshiba notebook as I have found it is made for Ubuntu 6.06. The installation was distressingly simple and hassle free. The installation took just over 45 minutes with 1GB.

On first boot-up the sound card sang-, loudly. The display was excellent. The internal wireless LAN card worked and picked up my access-point-, remarkable. It exceeded all expectations. Only two devices did not work. The internal SD card reader and the 56k internal Win modem. I have a Xircom PC card modem that works fine if you address it as tty s3 or s4.

My computer is dual partitioned as are all of my others. The Windows XP Pro partition is easily accessible as a drive icon on my desktop. It is read-only though but this is good. That what Linux does by default, it protects Windows better than Windows protects itself!

The battery performs under Linux as well as it does under Windows- , which is so so. A huge 17” display and a Pentium 4 3.2 Ghz processor all take their toll.

There's not much I can add to this article except that several other distros I tried just did not cut it. In Xandros 3.0 CE the sound card did not work . In Redhat 9.0 the same. Mandrake 10 Community was a spectacularly unsuccessful.

Ubuntu 6.06 or Dapper Drake has proved to be very stable, simple and clean and a pleasure to use. My printer (Epson DX6000) works, USB storage devices and a portable media player capable of OGG Vorbis playback all function.

For those of you who use MP3/MPEG 4 encoding and other commercial codecs will find the legal restrictions on Ubuntu 6.06 irksome. (Those codecs will not playback with plugins and this means compilation. For some of us this is a stimulant and for others a bore.
For those who simply wish to get essay, letters and e-mails out, Ubuntu possesses all that is required is OpenOffice (Version 2).

Ubuntu 6.06. Load, install it love it.

Anthony Johnson

London, UK ( Or the 51st State of that very well known Super State)