Saturday, March 24, 2012

Asus 1001-PXD Project: Installation

I bought an Asus 1001PXD netbook on eBay to create custom Linux "couch computer". The idea was to have someone light, portable, and secure and that didn't cost as much as an iPad or Galaxy tablet. I had done a little research on which netbooks were Linux compatible and on the various netbook oriented distributions, but it turned out to be a little trouble than I expected.

Updating the BIOS for USB book

The netbook came with Windows 7 starter edition. The first step was to update the BIOS so it supported booting from a USB flash drive. One of the guides I referenced was this one for Crunch Bang Linux.

One of the early steps to get ready for the BIOS update is:

prepare your USB flash drive with a: 16 mb FAT16 partition at the start of the disk
I first tried using a FAT32 USB drive, but that was never recognized by the Asus BIOS update utility. Next, I tried to partition the USB flash drive from Windows 7 and that was not supported. I ended up creating a 4MB FAT16 partition on a small USB flash drive and that didn't work. Finally, I used a program called BootIce to create a 1MB FAT16 partition on the same flash drive and at last it was recognized and updated the BIOS.

Installing Easy Peasy

After looking through some choices of netbook optimized distributions, I decided to try Easy Peasy. The interface is tablet like, one maximized window at a time, big icons, easy navigation, etc. I downloaded the ISO and unetbootin to create the USB boot image. The one trick here is to first reformat the USB flash drive partition back to FAT32 for booting. I tried leaving is as FAT16 and it didn't work. When booting, I hit ESC to bring up the boot menu, then chose USB and once it was up, chose to install on the hard drive with default options.

Out of the box, every appears to be working. Wireless networking, suspend/resume, camera, package installation and updates, etc. The online documentation for Easy Peasy seems a bit sparse, and the wiki had some signs of spam vandals, but I an pleased with the choice so far.

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