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ASUS Eee PC 1201N On Linux

Michael Larabel

Published on 22 December 2009
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 3 of 10 - 61 Comments

ASUS loads a standard American Megatrends Inc BIOS on the 1201N netbook.

The Linux operating system being tested on the ASUS Eee PC 1201N netbook was Ubuntu 9.10. In the end, we ended up testing out both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Ubuntu 9.10 on the 1201N since the Atom N330 is an x86_64 processor unlike the common N270 processors that only provide i686 support. When first booting into the Ubuntu 9.10 LiveCD to begin the installation via Ubiquity, the first problem we encountered was the X Server being mode-set to 1024 x 768 rather than the ideal 1366 x 768 resolution. However, this was with the xf86-video-nv DDX driver crud. Once the proprietary NVIDIA Linux driver was installed for the ION graphics it automatically mode-set to 1366 x 768. For those not looking to use the proprietary NVIDIA driver, with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS there will be the Nouveau driver by default that should work properly with this wide-screen resolution and provide EXA / X-Video acceleration. Nouveau is certainly a better choice than xf86-video-nv.

The next problem we ran into was the 802.11 b/g/n WiFi was not working. When looking at the PCI output for the 1201N it was detected as a Realtek 8171 wireless adapter with a 0x8171 product ID, but in reality its a Realtek RTL8191SE B/G/N ASIC found in the 1201N-PU17-BK. Unfortunately there is no Linux wireless driver for this adapter in the mainline Linux kernel (or even within the staging area) at this time. However, at Launchpad in this bug report is a Linux driver for the Realtek RTL8191SE. When using the most recent driver package (rtl8192se_linux_2.6.0010.1211.2009.tar.gz) this does work with the 1201N netbook on both 32-bit and 64-bit Ubuntu. Building the driver is as sample as running make and then manually copying the wireless kernel driver to the appropriate location along with the RTL8191SE firmware (using make install was broken). After manually installing this driver the 802.11 b/g/n WiFi had worked without any problems, whether using an open or WPA/WPA2 connection.

Other components found in the ASUS Eee PC netbook include an Attansic Atheros AR8132 / L1c Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (0x1969, 0x1062) and NVIDIA MCP79 Chipset (part of the ION platform). The 250GB HDD is a Hitachi HTS54502 that operates at 5400RPM. The LVDS panel was detected by the Phoronix Test Suite as an HSD121PHW1. Besides having to use the xf86-video-nv DDX with this netbook initially and then needing to manually build the Linux wireless driver (at least until its included in the mainline kernel or hopefully back-ported into the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS kernel) those were just the main problems we had encountered.

ACPI had worked fine on this netbook using the Linux 2.6.31 kernel found in Ubuntu 9.10. The Intel Atom N330 CPU temperature was exposed through acpitz and the fan speed for the CPU can be monitored through the hwmon1 sysfs interface. Battery monitoring also works. All of these sensors on the sysfs interface can be easily tapped into through the Phoronix Test Suite.

On average with the stock hardware and stock Ubuntu 9.10 configuration we found the battery to last for about three hours during normal usage within the GNOME desktop and surfing the Internet with Firefox, etc. Running more demanding applications and playing back audio/video had cut the battery slightly shorter. For comparing the performance of the ASUS Eee PC 1201N netbook the Samsung NC10 was also re-tested with its 1.60GHz Intel Atom N270, Intel 945GM chipset with integrated graphics, 2GB of DDR2 memory, and a 32GB OCZ Core Series V2 SSD. Again, the 1201N has an Intel Atom N330 dual-core 1.60GHz processor with Hyper Threading, NVIDIA MCP79 Chipset, 2GB of DDR2 memory, a 250GB Hitachi HTS54502, and NVIDIA ION graphics with 512MB of video memory. Both netbooks were tested with clean installations of Ubuntu 9.10, but with the Atom 330 CPU supporting x86_64, we tested both the 32-bit and 64-bit spins of Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu 9.10 runs with the Linux 2.6.31 kernel, GNOME 2.28.1, X Server 1.6.4, GCC 4.4.1, the EXT4 file-system, and the NVIDIA 190.53 display driver was used during our testing.

Through the Phoronix Test Suite we ran the following tests: 1080p H.264 video playback, OpenArena, World of Padman, Tremulous, LAME MP3 encoding, FFmpeg, x264, 7-Zip compression, LZMA compression, PostMark, SQLite, PostgreSQL, OpenSSL, Gcrypt, John The Ripper, Bullet Physics, Crafty, and dcraw. We also ran our battery-power-usage test profile to look at the battery consumption for the Samsung and ASUS netbooks along with their temperatures through the Phoronix Test Suite's system monitoring module.

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