ASUS Eee Top Fails With Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in Computers on 17 March 2009. Page 3 of 9. 20 Comments

When booting the Ubuntu 8.10 LiveCD it was anticipated that Ubuntu Linux would install cleanly on it just like any other ASUS product we have come across; after all, Ubuntu 8.10 runs very well on the Eee PC and other Atom-powered devices. However, that was far from being the case. The first signs of trouble came after USplash finished but when the X Server started. There was a black screen with the backlight being illuminated but nothing was being displayed. The system continued to boot as Ubuntu's GNOME login sound played, but the screen was black.

After rebooting with the "Intrepid Ibex" LiveCD and switching over to Ubuntu's "failsafe graphics mode", which uses the VESA driver instead of the Intel X.Org driver in this case, we had a display. Although we were running at 800 x 600 on this 1360 x 768 panel and without any acceleration, due to using the VESA driver. After carrying out a Ubiquity installation, we were forced to continue using the VESA driver in order to see the display. Also not working "out of the box" on the Ubuntu 8.10 installation was the touch-screen, integrated wireless, and hardware volume controls. At least working with Ubuntu on the Eee Top is ACPI, the memory card reader, and Gigabit Ethernet.

With Ubuntu 8.10 not working out well on the ASUS Eee Top ET1602, the next step was trying out Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 6 to see whether the system ran better with the Jaunty Jackalope, but it did not. When upgrading to this latest Ubuntu 9.04 development release that uses the Linux 2.6.28 kernel, X Server 1.6.0, and the xf86-video-intel 2.6 driver, the display continued to not work when using Intel's DDX driver. What worked, however, was the integrated 802.11n WiFi. This integrated wireless is powered by a Ralink ASIC (RaLink Device 0781) and worked with Ubuntu 9.04. In addition, working with Ubuntu was the integrated 1.3 mega-pixel web camera, which was detected as an "ASUS USB2.0 Webcam" and functioned with the uvcvideo driver.

In regards to the single-touch panel, it was detected as a TouchPack Resistive Touch Screen with a manufacturer ID of 0x1bfd and part ID of 0x1688. This touch-screen was tried with both the evdev and evtouch drivers, but in neither case did it work. The driver successfully loaded and was setup for a HID Touch Panel with an absolute touchpad configuration, but the cursor would not move. Touching the screen would just result in a left button click wherever the cursor was as moved by the mouse. Attempting to calibrate the touch-screen has also been to no avail thus far.

With some work, you can get the Intel driver working on the Eee Top ET1602. In order to get the display working with the xf86-video-intel driver since both the version 2.4 and 2.6 series had failed, on Ubuntu 9.04 the driver's Git master code had to be built from source. When using the Git source-code for the Intel driver as of 2009-03-14, it had worked. However, it would mode-set to 1152 x 720 by default. After using RandR 1.2 to reset the mode to 1360 x 768 (and it works through modifying the xorg.conf) it would properly mode-set to 1360 x 768. Of course, this came after building the Intel X.Org driver from source, which is not a task for a novice Linux user. Ubuntu 9.04 will not likely ship with the Intel 2.7 driver, which means Eee Top customers would need to go through these added steps at least until later this year when Ubuntu 9.10 is introduced.

To put it simply, the Eee Top has quite a few hurdles to cross if you hope to use it with Linux. If you are an experienced Linux user and don't mind using Ubuntu 9.04 and building the Intel DDX driver from source, these hurdles can be easily crossed. The only outstanding issue still being worked on is the calibration for the resistive touch-panel.

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