Running Ubuntu Lucid Netbook Edition on a Asus EEE PC 1201HA

Today I installed Ubuntu on my Asus EEE PC 1201HA netbook. Because I’ve got really good experiences with installing Ubuntu on the computers of my family and friends, I was determined to install Ubuntu Netbook Edition on this one too before passing it on to it’s next owner. ( I just bought it for a temp. side project ).

The main reason I recommend Ubuntu to people who are asking for my help is viruses. Most regular home users are still tied to Windows and with Windows comes great responsibility. Most people also rely on old(er) computers, don’t want to spend money on hardware upgrades and are using computers for very easy tasks. Enter Ubuntu.

I’m not saying Ubuntu is not suited for more complicated user profiles. ( With the recent foul play of Apple, I would be more than inclined to use Ubuntu on my MBP on my day to day work. ) I’m just saying Ubuntu is easy enough to start with for most people to enter a virus free world. When they see the Firefox logo they now where “the internet” is.

But enough mumbo jumbo: how did the installation on the netbook go? Well, very smooth. No complaints. The installation was very straight forward. But… the graphics performance was bad. Problem: Intel’s GMA500 gfx card. Intel is not known as a member of the “we support Linux” pool. So, the community is basicly left on it’s own. Luckily for us there is a solution. Created by the community. It’s a work in progress, but for now it supports enough to work on your GMA powered netbook. The biggest thing missing is 3D support. But if you need that, why would you buy a netbook?

  1. First check this wonderful Google Project
  2. Then have a look at my xorg.conf file:
    Section "DRI"
    	Mode	0666
    Section "Extensions"
    	Option "Composite" "Enable"
    Section "Device"
    	Identifier	"Configured Video Device"
    	Driver	"psb"
    	Option	"ShadowFB"	"True"
  3. Check your grub file ( /etc/default/grub ) and DON’T forget to sudo run update-grub afterwards.

    # If you change this file, run 'update-grub' afterwards to update
    # /boot/grub/grub.cfg.
    GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=`lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian`
    GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet acpi_osi=Linux acpi_backlight=vendor mem=2000mb splash"
    # Uncomment to disable graphical terminal (grub-pc only)
    # The resolution used on graphical terminal
    # note that you can use only modes which your graphic card supports via VBE
    # you can see them in real GRUB with the command `vbeinfo'
    # Uncomment if you don't want GRUB to pass "root=UUID=xxx" parameter to Linux
    # Uncomment to disable generation of recovery mode menu entries
    # Uncomment to get a beep at grub start
    #GRUB_INIT_TUNE="480 440 1"
  4. Restart your system and your screen resolution should be ok. WIFI works as expected ( writing this blog post on the EEE PC now on WIFI ).

As I’m going to pass this system on shortly after this blog post I will not be able to check additional settings for you. All I can say is: I installed Ubuntu Lucid Netbook Edition from a USB I created on the existing Windows installation on this machine, before overwriting it with the Ubuntu installation. After that I saw that the screen reso wasn’t ok, so I installed the repo’s from the aforementioned Google Project page. After digging through some Googled pages I found the correct settings for my screen. It is my expectation that the people behind the Google Project will continue their good work and make a fully compatible driver available for us in the foreseeable future.

3 thoughts on “Running Ubuntu Lucid Netbook Edition on a Asus EEE PC 1201HA”

  1. Hi man, I hope this can help.
    I got the Asus 1201HA too and I followed your instructions, but it doesn’t work within a netbook edition session. I get a white desktop (not a nice wallpaper, but a something-here-is-going-bad white desktop). I still can open programs within the terminal (in fact, I’m sending this from my firefox on the eee pc), but there is no netbook-launcher, just the white screen. If I log in within a gnome session, it works like charm. Any ideas?

  2. Hi,
    I did nearly this same with U9.04, 9.10 and then with 10.04.
    10.04 is perfect. All you should know is that you have to manually update repo and add required drivers. No kernel recompilation (known from 9.x) is required.
    No netbook edition – 12″ screen is fine for ordinary edition.
    Details are here:

  3. Hi guy´s,

    just awesome. Thanks for the great tutorial. It works perfect!

    Best regards

    Hans !!!!!

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