Getting That Old Netbook Ship Shape
July 14, 2012
About a year ago, I got an older Asus EeePC 1000hd from a client. After letting it sit dormant for a rather long time, I finally got around to replacing the harddrive and keyboard last week. Ultimately, I ended up putting Debian Stable on it, although I initially installed Fedora 17.
Fedora 17 worked well out the box, however after doing a full update, gdm gave me the incredibly helpful “Oh something broke, contact someone” message. I was also getting CPU lockups on boot, typically 3 or 4 for over 22 seconds. From the gdm greeter log, it seemed like it was trying to load gnome-shell, instead of xfce, causing it to crash.
Given the lockups and age of the laptop, with its older 900MHZ Celeron Processor, I didn’t end up doing much more than basic troubleshooting, before deciding to go back a bit to a more stable distro, hence Debian Squeeze.
The install went well, no issues and it was easy to setup an encrypted lvm on it. After booting, most things also worked well out of the box. The only real issue was with wireless.
The Asus 1000HD uses the Atheros AR5001 wireless driver. Right after install, the connection kept dropping after a few seconds. This happened with both Wicd and Gnome Network Manager. After a bunch of playing, it resolved itself after I deleted all the DHCP leases on my router…so probably related to that. I ended up keeping Gnome Network Manager though, as I like it a bit better.
It is nice that everything works for the most part and installing xfce was as easy as adding it as a flag when booting the net-install cd.
The only downside with a distro like Debian is that packages tend to move pretty slow, the trade-off of stability. For instance the default browser of Debian Squeeze is Iceweasel(firefox) 3.5. Of course, downloading and installing the latest version of Firefox only takes a second. Since this isn’t really a working machine anyway, only a netbook, I am fine with the tradeoff and am not really planning on installing much software. However, it reminded me how accustomed I had become to having the most recent version of software on my desktop.