Debian Linux on the Asus EEEPC 1001P

I recently acquired an Asus EEEPC 1001P-MU17 netbook and replaced the marginal crippled operating system it included with Debian GNU/Linux.

Let's go!

There were a few hiccups during the install... but with the replacement of Debian's default 2.6.32 kernel with a more recent release (currently running kernel 2.6.37) most of the 1001P's hardware is supported by default. Adding a few configuration tweaks makes this one nifty little device!

0. Start

Asus 1001P-MU17 Hardware specifications

  • Processor: Intel Atom N450
  • Chipset: Intel NM10<
  • Memory: 1GB DDR2-667
  • Graphics: Intel GMA 3150 (kernel driver: i915)
  • Display: 10.1" LED Matte 1024x600
  • Hard Drive: 160GB 5400RPM Western Digital WD1600BEVT-2
  • Ethernet: Atheros AR8132 (kernel driver: atl1c)
  • Wireless: Atheros AR2427 802.11g (kernel driver: ath9k)
  • Audio: Realtek AL269 2-Channel HD Audio
  • Webcam: 0.3MP UVC Camera (kernel driver: uvcvideo)
  • Battery: 6-Cell, 4400mAh, 48Wh (~7 hours runtime)
  • Ports: 3 x USB 2.0, VGA, SD Reader, 100Mb Ethernet, Microphone/Headphone Jacks

Device status

  • Graphics: Works
  • Ethernet: Works
  • Wireless: Works
  • Audio: Works
  • Webcam: Works
  • SD reader: Works
  • Touchpad: Works

Function keys

  • Fn+F1 (Suspend-to-RAM): Works
  • Fn+F2 (Toggle wireless): Not used
  • Fn+F3: Not used
  • Fn+F4: Not used
  • Fn+F5 (Brightness down): Works
  • Fn+F6 (Brightness up): Works
  • Fn+F7: Not used
  • Fn+F8: Use xrandr in the terminal
  • Fn+F9: Not used
  • Fn+F10 (Volume mute): Works
  • Fn+F11 (Volume down): Works
  • Fn+F12 (Volume up): Works

1. Install

My Debian install notes. Specific details concerning the Asus 1001P are noted below.

1.1 Configure BIOS and boot Debian installer

Power up and enter the Asus BIOS by pressing the F2 key. Configure for a USB install:

  • under Advanced ... ensure that both onboard camera and WLAN are Enabled
  • under Boot ... ensure that 1st boot device is set to Removable Device
  • under Boot ... ensure that boot booster is Disabled

Prepare the Debian installer on a USB stick, attach, and reboot. At the BIOS screen hit Esc and select USB as boot device.

2. Configuration

2.1 Ethernet

Auto-detection probing of the ethernet interface during the install can result in device disappearing from the system and network configuration to fail (Update: Appears problem has been resolved with the stable release of Debian squeeze). If the ethernet device was knocked out during installation:

  • ensure that /etc/network/interfaces contains no hotplug entry for eth0 or wlan0
  • shutdown netbook and remove the power cord
  • remove battery and let sit for a minute or so
  • restore power to netbook and startup
  • lspci -v | grep net reveals the ethernet device (Atheros Communications AR8132 Fast Ethernet)
  • bring up the interface... ifconfig eth0 up and dhclient eth0

2.2 Wireless

Works "out-of-box". Interface is identified as wlan0.

2.3 EEEPC

Install the eeepc-acpi-scripts to enable the function keys and the ability to suspend-to-RAM (sleep) ...

$ sudo apt-get install eeepc-acpi-scripts

2.4 Power management

$ sudo apt-get install acpid acpi cpufrequtils pm-utils

Verify acpi-cpufreq module is loaded... otherwise sudo modprobe acpi-cpufreq.

Output detailed information about the CPU(s) by running cpufreq-info.

Settings are in /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq. CPU speed can be monitored in real-time by running ...

$ watch grep \"cpu MHz\" /proc/cpuinfo

Default scaling governor is ondemand.

2.5 Screen brightness

Post-install the display brightness is extremely low and the assigned function keys for adjusting the brightness level cause the setting to jump all over the place. This can be fixed by editing /etc/default/grub and modifying GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT ...

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet acpi_osi=Linux acpi_backlight=vendor"

Save your changes and run sudo update-grub2. Reboot... login... and run ...

$ sudo `echo 15 > /sys/class/backlight/eeepc/brightness`

2.6 Touchpad

By default the touchpad is limited to finger-tap=left-mouse-click. HAL and fdi files were previously used to enable more mouse-click and scrolling functions but their use is now deprecated... udev is the way to go now.

Determine type of touchpad used in the 1001P ...

$ egrep -i 'synap|alps|etps' /proc/bus/input/devices
N: Name="SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad"

Use xinput to determine the properties of the touchpad and add new functions ...

$ sudo apt-get install xinput
$ xinput --list | grep Synaptic     # determine ``DEVICE_ID`` of the touchpad ... on the 1001P its ``id=13``)
$ xinput --list-props 13

Create a shell script using xinput to configure the touchpad for left-middle-right mouse clicks with finger taps and two-finger scrolling, save it in ~/bin and source it to run at login. On my 1001P running Fluxbox window manager I add the line touchpad_config & to ~/.fluxbox/startup.

2.7 Suspend-to-RAM

Using the eeepc-acpi-scripts and key combo Fn + F1 to put the netbook to sleep "just works".

2.8 Microphone

Muted by default. Need to enable capture in alsamixer.

2.9 Hard drive management

I noticed a frequent clicking noise from the drive heads on my netbook. Digging online reveals discussion about over-aggressive power management settings on hard drives that rapidly mount/unmount/remount and gradually wear out the drive. Feedback suggests that laptop drives are good for roughly ~600000 load_cycles.

To check the drive and alter management settings ...

$ sudo apt-get install smartmontools hdparm
$ sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda | egrep -i 'Power_On_Hours|Load_Cycle_Count'

In my situation I felt Load_Cycle_Count was increasing too rapidly and I found the click-click-click of the drive every few seconds a nuisance. I use hdparm to set powersaving mode to less aggressive tactics... which eliminated the clicking hdparm -B 254 /dev/sda.

To make the change permanent edit /etc/hdparm.conf by adding to the end of the file ...

command_line {
    hdparm -q -B 254 /dev/sda

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