I joined the netbook club

So I got my first netbook this monday. First off, the details; it’s an Asus 1001HA with an N270 Atom processor, 1Gb of RAM, a 160Gb hard disk, 0.3 Mpixel web cam, came preloaded with Linux and it cost me(technically my mom, but anyway :P) around 436$.

Now, when I started using the netbook with the stock OS, I was pretty much taken in by it’s boot speed(about 8 seconds) and I also liked the ease with which I could use the interface in general. But the interface did have one fatal flaw, it was catastrophically awful to look at. Seriously Asus, if you’re going to sell a laptop with Linux on it, don’t use an interface that looks as is if it was made to deliberately repel customers. Another thing I hated was the sheer inflexibility of the system(granted, this probably was a sensible design feature).

So, after a few hours of use, I removed the stock OS from the netbook and replaced it with Ubuntu 9.10. Most of the hardware worked out of the box with the stock Ubuntu install, but the wireless card didn’t which was a RaLink 3090. After a bit of googling around I did manage to find a driver for the wireless card in question in the staging tree for the 2.6.32 kernel, so I got the source, configured and compiled it. So, full of hope, I booted the new kernel up to find that network manager detected the card, but could not use it. After a few more minutes of looking around, I discovered that the firmware(or whatever it was) had to exist in a certain location(which it didn’t). So I got down the official driver from RaLink(same as the one in the staging tree in 2.6.32, but happily it’s not true for that in the 2.6.33 kernel, will explain later) and I found the files the driver was looking for, plopped them in the required location and lo-behold wireless now works!

Now apart from the wireless driver which caused a few problems, the default interface was also a bit of trouble because it took too much screen space and it wasn’t that easy to use on a netbook. So I decided to give gnome-shell a try, and I must say that I am loving it, albeit there isn’t any support for the old gnome-panel applets. So if you have a netbook and hasn’t given gnome-shell a try, do so, ofcourse your mileage may vary, but I just love it. πŸ™‚

About the wireless driver in the 2.6.32 staging driver, it’s awful to look at, now I know I am not a kernel developer, but comparing that driver to the Intel wireless driver syntactically, the RaLink driver is a mess, but I am happy to say that the staging driver in the 2.6.33 kernel(which is actually the 2860 and 3090 drivers together) is a lot better, so there is some hope yet of having the 1001HA working out of the box completely in the near future. πŸ™‚

There were a few surprises when I bought the laptop, the first one was that the Linux version is about 87$ cheaper than the equivalent Windows one(probably obvious I suppose). The second, most surprising, was that EPSI(the vendor) only offered the Linux version in their showrooms whereas the Windows one had to be ordered beforehand if you wanted it. So it looks like Linux is getting more and more exposure. πŸ™‚

Edit:- I forgot to mention that the mic does not work for me, so I’ll need to look into that too.


7 Responses to “I joined the netbook club”

  1. Gord Allott Says:

    Why not Ubuntu Netbook remix? its specifically designed to maximize your screenspace, be quick and easy to use on netbooks and look very pretty

    • pmdematagoda Says:

      The interface does not seem to agree with me over much, albeit I didn’t really try it to be giving a proper opinion of it yet. I’m thinking of trying a few other distros on the netbook such as Moblin later on, so I’ll probably add UNR to the list and see how it goes. But for now, I’m pretty happy with gnome-shell. πŸ™‚

  2. Martijn van Es Says:

    Hey pmdematagoda,

    Did you get the mic working? Im stuck there and since the 1001 is perfect for skype that mic should work…

    • pmdematagoda Says:

      Ah yeah, I forgot to mention that problem too, it doesn’t work for me either. 😦

      I’ll be having a look around for that, but unfortunately sound is not a strong point for me.

  3. ikkefc3 Says:

    Isn’t $ 490 a bit expensive for an Asus EEE 1001HA?

  4. netbook Says:

    come to about netbook, Hope it helps, and I have learned from you also..!,

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