Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Linux Mint on Asus EeePc Netbook 1005HA

I am not a Linux expert and never will be.

But this old Netbook that's gathering dust might just get a second chance at life, so I dusted it off and gave it a spin. It once ran Windows XP well but that's no longer an option...

What OS?

Can't use Windows XP, too insecure these days.

Windows 7 (though great by itself on other machines) was a disaster.

Windows 10 ran slightly better but still slow.

Even Linux Mint 19 x86 isn't a great performer 😒

I'll have to try some other Linux releases, or simply say goodbye to this Netbook...

Installation notes

1. Download Linux Mint XCFE x86

This is the lightest version of Mint AFAIK.

2. Burn it onto an USB stick

For this I used Etcher.

3. Boot from the USB stick

Hit TAB on the boot screen and check the boot options. It flashes by in an instant, so you have to be fast hitting the right keys.

4. Allow installation of third party software: yes

Otherwise not everything will work.

5. Follow instructions...

The Linux installer starts doing its thing. Takes a while...

6. Software manager won't scroll down

The software manager seems to ignore smaller screens (hey, this is an old EeePc notebook, so it's a miracle things still work anyway). Sometimes it comes in handy to 'virtually' increase the screen from it's paltry 1024x600 to, for example, 1280x750 or 1280x1024.

Xrandr to the rescue. Note that the often quoted --mode parameter caused me some troubles. Leaving it out and settling for --fb gave me the results I wanted.

RMB on the desktop / Create Launcher, then use one of these three command lines:

Native resolution:

    xrandr --fb 1024x600 --output LVDS1 --panning 1024x600 --scale 1.0x1.0


    xrandr --fb 1280x750 --ouptut LVDS1 --panning 1280x750 --scale 1.25x1.25


    xrandr --fb 1280x1024 --output LVDS1 --panning 1280x1024 --scale 1.0x.1.0

Note: changing icons of a launcher takes ages. Live with it.

7. Software manager hangs

This can happen. If it does then open a terminal window and type:

    killall mintinstall

8. Install Google Chrome

No such luck, Google has discontinued the 32 bits version of Chrome. You'll have to settle for Firefox and / or Chromium.

Yes, you can start Netflix in Firefox, but performance is pathetic.

Yes, you can access all your Google stuff using Chromium or Firefox (but Chromium seems to work a little faster).

9. Drivers

It appears the Linux kernel recognizes all EeePc netbook hardware. Wifi worked immediately (had some problems with older versions of Mint, not this time), battery indication seemed to work (well, this is an old netbook so no expectations regarding battery life).

None of the function keys did anything except screen illumination. That one is probably hardware / Bios enabled and not software defined like the other keys.

10. Speed

I'm a little disappointed. It's a little faster than Windows 10, but not as much as one would expect.

I think my phone is actually faster 😏

First Linux impression (on a netbook)

Well, it works, but I'm too used to Windows to feel comfortable at once. The netbook is also a little slow, so not the best 'first' experience. (Though to be honest I also have Mint and other flavors running in a VM on my main machine.)

Oh well, I can always fool around a little with a VM on my (Windows) PC. I guess I should try some other distros as well. Hmmm. Need more hours in a day...

I do however feel the need to play a bit more with Linux. Raspberries have become an essential part of 'nerdiness' so I can't avoid Linux forever. And Microsoft seems hellbent to go for subscription models, which isn't my thing either...


  1. Anonymous9/4/21 21:55

    Use AntiX or MX Linux or Bodhi Linux or Q4OS on this

    1. There are many different versions. You have a specific release in mind?