Installing Linux Mint 6 on your Asus EeePC 901

08 Jan 2009

I was a fan of ubuntu-eee (now known as EasyPeasy) for a long time, but after upgrading to EasyPeasy 1.0 on my 20gb EEE 901 ($379.99) tonight, I’ve decided it’s time to move on, and I’m happy I chose Linux Mint. Here’s what I’ve done so far to get it running great:

Install Linux Mint

Since the EeePC has no optical media drive, you will need a USB flash drive to install Mint. Download the Linux Mint .iso file and use UNetbootin to burn it to your USB disk, then plug it into your Eee.

Turn on the machine and hit F2 to enter the BIOS setup. Set the boot priority to try the USB disk first. You may also want to make sure the webcam/bluetooth is turned on, while you’re here. Save your changes and reboot, and Mint will guide you through the rest of the installation.

When it asks you how you want to partition your disk, choose Guided – use entire disk and let it use the larger of the two SSDs.

Install the EeePC kernel

As usual with Linux installations, most of your hardware will work from the get-go, but not everything. The first thing you’ll want to do is get the wireless card working. Plug in an ethernet cable, and then follow these instructions. I recommend the lean kernel, and uninstalling the generic one since it will just be wasting precious disk space.

Enable Desktop Effects

Mint makes this easy for you by taking care of installing the correct drivers for your video card. All you should need to do is turn Compiz on in Preferences > Appearance > Desktop Effects.

Enabling Desktop Effects in GNOME

Allow tall windows to move past the top of the screen

Sooner or later you’re going to run into a window that is too tall to display on the 9" screen, and cannot be resized. The solution is to open up a terminal and run this command:
$ gconftool-2 —set /apps/compiz/plugins/move/allscreens/options/constrain_y —type bool 0

This will allow you to move these windows past the top of the screen (use ALT+Drag anywhere in the window. There are a number of other useful gconftool hacks on Ubuntu’s EeePC page.

Create $HOME/bin directory

You’re going to want a place to store little scripts and tools where they can be executed on the command line.
$ mkdir /bin

Now add it to your PATH so bash can find it. Open up your ~/.bashrc file and append
if [ -d ~/bin ] ; then

Make the LCD ultra bright!

This hack is really cool. I found it on the EasyPeasy wiki. Create a new file called ultra-bright in $HOME/bin and paste in this line, then save.
sudo setpci -s 00:02.1 f4.b=ff

You will need to make it executable, so
$ chmod +x ~/bin/ultra-bright

Now you can run
$ ultra-bright

to turn on the extra brightness, and use the bright/dim function keys to reset it. If you’re like me, you’ll want the extra brightness turned on all the time, so go ahead and create an entry for it in Preferences > Sessions.

Making the screen ultra bright when you log in

Enable the WiFi / Bluetooth / webcam toggle and performance tuner

For this you’ll need a package called eee-control. You’ve already installed the Eee kernel, so this package should be available to you from the repository you added to your Software Sources.
$ sudo apt-get install eee-control

Alternatively, you can download the Ubuntu package from the website.

Now you can find this nifty utility in your Administration menu. Unless you need the extra battery life, I recommend setting performance to “super”. To make use of your webcam, install the cheese and/or skype packages.

Make sure text is being rendered crystal clear

Open Preferences > Appearance > Fonts and select “Subpixel smoothing (LCDs)”. Then click Details… and set Hinting to “Full”. If you’re like me you absolutely hate Ubuntu’s default monospace font. I prefer Terminus. To switch, install the xfonts-terminus package and make it the default Fixed Width font.

Boost GNOME Performance with /etc/hosts

Following this guide will help improve your system performance, and it takes about 2 seconds.

Installing Avant Window Navigator

AWN is similar to the Dock on Mac OS X.
$ sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator

Right-click the panel at the bottom of your screen and check “Allow Panel to be Moved”. Drag it to the top of your screen, right-click and lock it again. Now launch Accessories > Avant Window Navigator. It’s kind of ugly and huge by default, but we can fix that.

Right-click on AWN and click Preferences. Turn on “Auto hide bar when not in use”, then switch to the Bar Appearance tab and change Bar Height to something more reasonable, like 32.

Now you’ll want to get rid of the Window List at the top of the screen. Right-click on it and select “Remove from Panel”. Gone! Now there is lots of room for program shortcuts and silly panel applets.

That’s it!

You now have a usable OS on your Asus EeePC, which means you are both cooler and more attractive than every other clown with a clunky Xandros-based netbook. Thanks for following my guide. Let me know in the comments section how your installation experience went and if you have any other EEE tricks worth sharing.

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