The Eee PC 901 is an Intel Atom-based laptop, with 1 GB of RAM, a 20 GB SSD, a 9 inch display, and ships with Asus’ own Linux distribution. Since I bought mine, I’ve installed and used Ubuntu 8.10 and 8.04. The new Ubuntu 9.04 finally has full support for the Eee PC 901.

With previous releases it has been necessary to install a customized Linux kernel to add support for wireless networking, Ethernet, and more. In Ubuntu 9.04, everything is supported by default with the exception of some of the keyboard function keys.

The system feels much more responsive than it was with Ubuntu 8.04. Booting from bootloader to the login screen takes 20 seconds (35 seconds in 8.10). Battery life is approximately 4.5 hours (same as 8.10).

Installation is pretty straightforward, but here’s how I installed Ubuntu 9.04 on my Eee PC 901:

  1. Unless you have an external CD drive, you will have to run the Ubuntu installer from a USB drive (or SD card). The easiest way to create a live USB system is using Ubuntu’s USB Startup Disk Creator tool. If you don’t have another Ubuntu system, or the tool doesn’t work for you, UNetbootin is another option.
  2. To boot from a USB drive, press escape after starting your Eee PC to open the boot menu. Select the USB option and press enter.
  3. You can run Ubuntu’s installer normally, but pay attention to the partitioning step. The Eee PC has two solid states drives: a faster 4 GB drive, and a slightly slower 16 GB drive. Select the manual partitioning option and put your root (/) on the smaller drive and home (/home) on the larger. I also chose the Ext4 filesystem to get more performance out of the SSDs. You’ll be warned if you don’t create a swap partition, but I’d recommend not using swap to avoid shortening the life of the SSDs.
  4. Boot into the newly installed system and everything should be working. If Ubuntu doesn’t see the Bluetooth radio or webcam, these may be disabled in the BIOS. Install Cheese to take advantage of the webcam. If you’d like to be able to control the CPU scaling like in the default Xandros distribution, add the CPU scaling applet to your GNOME panel.

You may also be interested in my article on tweaking Ubuntu for SSD drives, although I haven’t felt the need to apply these tweaks myself yet because the system seems so much more responsive.

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