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ASUS ExpressGate -- beware of ripoff!

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  • #31
    Originally posted by mgc8 View Post
    I think that's the image for the "Full" ExG SSD version; anyway, the point is -- if you install it on a stick, will the BIOS loader see it? I tried a simple "copy to stick, reboot computer" test, but it didn't work. Maybe it needs more coaxing or a BIOS patch...

    I booted windows and plugged an USB stick in. Then I called the ASUS installer and installed express gate to the USB. The wizard asked to which partition express gate shall be installed.
    I chose booting from the stick (in BIOS) but that didn't work. Express gate's error message occurred while booting "... no express gate installed ..." or similar.
    I didn't have a look at the files that were installed to the stick. But I think it was about 300 MB of space used.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by drosky View Post
      One possible snag is that this board has a Marvell PATA controller, which is supported out of the box for kernel 2.6.25 and up, but older distros might have some issues.
      That's interesting. With my P5Q-Pro pata_marvell only works with 2.6.24 (Gentoo).
      2.6.25 (Gentoo) and 2.6.26 (vanilla) doesn't work. Both built with 2.6.24's config (make oldconfig).
      SATA is running in AHCI mode.

      There's a log message when booting:


      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7: SATA max UDMA/133 abar m1024@0xfeaffc00 port 0xfeaffd00 irq 16
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata8: SATA max UDMA/133 abar m1024@0xfeaffc00 port 0xfeaffd80 irq 16
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata9: DUMMY
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7: SATA link up 3.0 Gbps (SStatus 123 SControl 300)
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7.15: qc timeout (cmd 0xe4)
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7.15: failed to read PMP GSCR[0] (Emask=0x4)
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7: failed to recover some devices, retrying in 5 secs
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7: SATA link up 3.0 Gbps (SStatus 123 SControl 300)
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7.15: qc timeout (cmd 0xe4)
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7.15: failed to read PMP GSCR[0] (Emask=0x4)
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7: failed to recover some devices, retrying in 5 secs
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7: SATA link up 3.0 Gbps (SStatus 123 SControl 300)
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7.15: qc timeout (cmd 0xe4)
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7.15: failed to read PMP GSCR[0] (Emask=0x4)
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7: failed to recover some devices, retrying in 5 secs
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata7: SATA link up 3.0 Gbps (SStatus 123 SControl 300)
      Jul 20 21:17:14 tuxford ata8: SATA link down (SStatus 0 SControl 300)

      Onboard LAN doesn't work, too (tried with atl1 from the kernel).

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by ficsch View Post
        I booted windows and plugged an USB stick in. Then I called the ASUS installer and installed express gate to the USB. The wizard asked to which partition express gate shall be installed.
        I chose booting from the stick (in BIOS) but that didn't work. Express gate's error message occurred while booting "... no express gate installed ..." or similar.
        I didn't have a look at the files that were installed to the stick. But I think it was about 300 MB of space used.
        You shouldn't have to boot from the stick, the BIOS should find express gate when it first begins POST. I wonder if it's picky about formatting. If the stick was formatted FAT16, maybe you could try formatting it FAT32, and vise-versa.

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        • #34
          Well using my method you can boot from usb stick, but i guess the "standard" way is to select express gate in the bios.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Kano View Post
            Well using my method you can boot from usb stick, but i guess the "standard" way is to select express gate in the bios.
            Because of the error message, it sounded like he has a MB that has the express gate hook in the BIOS, so if express gate is installed properly, he should see the express gate menu almost immediately after powering up. One nice thing about the normal way of running express gate is that it runs very early in the POST process. My P5Q-E, for example, takes 25 seconds or so to go through POST to the point where I get my normal GRUB menu (even with "quick boot" turned on), whereas the express gate menu comes up in around 7 seconds or so after pushing the power button.

            Asus boards seem to be pretty slow to POST all the way through to a normal boot.

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            • #36
              Well found a way to test it with VirtualBox - saidly without network support. You can use a hd image to boot the ce_bz kernel. Also enable the USB support as it will access the usb stick to load the apps. Then you are done! If you already created the test.vmdk just use it
              Last edited by Kano; 07-25-2008, 11:35 AM.

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              • #37
                Heh I like how this thread turned from a warning into a howto.

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                • #38
                  Yes, because I can run it with Vbox now, i figured out, that you have to partition the usb stick if you want to store data. Updated my script that it only uses 220 mb for the system and the rest for the data.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Kano View Post
                    Well found a way to test it with VirtualBox - saidly without network support. You can use a hd image to boot the ce_bz kernel. Also enable the USB support as it will access the usb stick to load the apps. Then you are done! If you already created the test.vmdk just use it
                    That's cool. Maybe you could build a driver module for the virtual network adapter against the version of the kernel they use (2.6.20) and get networking working.

                    Also, you don't have to store data only on the USB stick. With a terminal available, I can mount my linux partitions and access my home directory. It's not perfect though, there is no command for adding users, so you have to manually add your user and group to /etc/passwd and /etc/group, then you can su to your username. Could make a script to do all this on startup.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Security

                      Originally posted by drosky View Post
                      With a terminal available, I can mount my linux partitions and access my home directory.
                      Express gate represents a security hole. You could put rxvt on a USB stick and have root access to your machine. Probably would only want it enabled on machines that nobody else has physical access to.

                      Of course, this is no worse of a security hole than machines configured to boot from anything other than the HDD.

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                      • #41
                        ASUS is NOT clear which boards have full ExpressGate

                        Originally posted by deanjo View Post
                        Hmmm, must of been a mistake with the packaging on your box. Other Asus boards clearly label if Expressgate Light is being used (example below). I would be contacting Asus about that.

                        http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1...39&modelmenu=1
                        OK, in some cases the say, n others they do not.
                        For example look at the M3N78-VM
                        http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?mo...49&l3=643&l4=0

                        Great deal. The board costs around $95
                        Pretty decent platform, with embedded nVidia video, hybrid SLI support, etc.
                        The webpage simply says "Instant Internet Access with Express Gate™"
                        However on setup one finds the usual message about using the installer under Windows.
                        It IS a ripoff!

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          As you need an USB stick with unmodded apps you can put the thing on it too. It just needs 240 mb from it. I would not overrate the internal SSD, because it is more easy to mod without. The BIOS hotkey should work with external usb stick too, maybe only on a few ports. If you want you could attach it internally too *g*.

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                          • #43
                            Express Gate on Asus M3A78-EM

                            I just bought the M3A78-EM board. On the Asus website, it says nothing about the Express Gate being "Light", and the description of the Express Gate feature says that it is a "unique motherboard built-in OS", see

                            http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1...52&modelmenu=1

                            When I boot, I get the dreaded message about installing Express Gate using the Windows installer. What does this mean? Do I have the onboard SSD or not? I do not have Windows installed on the computer, neither do I want it. If I was able to boot into Windows temporarily, say from a USB stick, could I then install Express Gate to the SSD and then be done with it?

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                            • #44
                              Just use my script in the install onto usb stick section. That emulates the SSD and should work. No Win needed.

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by cobra-kai View Post
                                http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1...52&modelmenu=1
                                When I boot, I get the dreaded message about installing Express Gate using the Windows installer. What does this mean? Do I have the onboard SSD or not? I do not have Windows installed on the computer, neither do I want it. If I was able to boot into Windows temporarily, say from a USB stick, could I then install Express Gate to the SSD and then be done with it?
                                From what I learned after browsing several ASUS product pages, if it is not specifically written "Express Gate SSD" then no, you don't have the SSD. The description icon is also different (see P5QDeluxe for what it looks like when it's "full"). That means the hardware (flash chip) is missing from your board and you need to install EG to the hard-disk from windows. If you still want to use it, follow Kano's adice above. I personally find this completely useless if it's not embedded, so I disabled it and also mailed ASUS about this -- which you could (politely) also do...

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