best linux for eee pc
January 4, 2010 3:36 PM   Subscribe

What's the "best" linux distro for an ASUS Eee PC 1005HA netbook?

It's been awhile since I've run Windows on my personal computer and am finding XP to be a bit slow and tedious. For a few years I ran Ubuntu on a desktop and laptop and, while that would be my choice for a more powerful computer with a taller screen, I'm not sure I'll be any more satisfied with (standard) Ubuntu than I am with XP.

I've read these previous questions as well as this Register article but am left feeling overwhelmed by the choices. Ubuntu Netbok Remix, Eeebuntu (three versions!), CrunchBang Lite, Pupee, and HP's Ubuntu interface all seem like potentially reasonable choices.

I'd like something with good performance, boots quickly and/or sleeps or hibernates well, wastes little vertical screen space, and supports the hardware without a lot of configuration on my end (getting wireless or Bluetooth to work, for example). Maintaining good battery life and the power management features the computer has under XP along with likely future development and support of the distro would all be pluses as well.

While a hackintosh is sort of appealing given that my primary laptop is a MacBook I'd rather go with a version of Linux that just works out of the box, as near as possible, and need not worry about OS X updates breaking compatibility.
posted by 6550 to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
No personal experience with it, but from everything I've heard, Jolicloud is damn nifty.
posted by deadmessenger at 3:45 PM on January 4, 2010

Someone with actual knowledge and ability will be along soon, I hope, since I have the same model. I had an Easypeasy install running for a while, but I think there's issues getting lan and wlan to work with both that and Netbook remix. I read forum articles talking about how to work around it, but I didn't have any success before I had to go back to, you know, work.
posted by Mngo at 3:45 PM on January 4, 2010

I tried UNR and Eeebuntu but settled on Easypeasy for my Eee 901. It worked out of the box, no fiddling about to get wireless/webcam working & the screen utilisation is really good.
posted by paulash at 3:51 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been happy with UNR on my Dell mini. Here's the (dated) hardware support report for your system. Note that this is for the previous version of ubuntu and any bugs may be fixed in 9.10.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:06 PM on January 4, 2010

Best answer: I use Ubuntu Netbook Remix and am very happy with it. Usability, performance, boot time and flexibility are all very good. If you don't have a favourite Linux distro, I recommend UNR as a good place to start.
posted by damian_ at 4:19 PM on January 4, 2010

Best answer: I have tried a lot of Linux "netbook" distros, and settled on UNR for my eee900. It runs very smoothly. I really like the interface for a netbook, it's attractive and easy to use but it's cake to access anything at the same time.

I'd recommend downloading a few and trying them out by booting them from a flash drive. Easy to do and then you can see what you prefer before installing your favorite. Anything with a recent kernel will be capable on most netbook's hardware.
posted by quarterframer at 4:21 PM on January 4, 2010

Best answer: I have this netbook and use Ubuntu NBR. Everything works out of the box, including wireless, and it's very snappy even if you haven't done the RAM upgrade. I had previously tried eeebuntu and easypeasy, but had a rash of problems with both wireless and ethernet.
posted by iarerach at 4:29 PM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

ETA: I should note that the version I have does not have bluetooth, so I can't tell you if it works, but the options are definitely in the distro to find out very easily. It boots slightly less quickly than XP, but nothing worth pitching a fit over, and has the same battery life and feels more stable (the box XP install crashed on me during boot at times, even after a clean reinstall).
posted by iarerach at 4:33 PM on January 4, 2010

I've been very happy with a stock ubuntu 9.10 install; It pretty much worked out of the box (I had to tune a few things, make some of the windows autohide, etc)- but basically, after messing around with the random netbook distros and flavors, there didn't seem to be any compelling advantage to them.

If you're willing to tweak the UI a bit, the stock distro can certainly be used without trouble.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:59 PM on January 4, 2010

I'm going to 2nd Jolicloud. I was really impressed by how easy it was to set up. The only thing I had to do after setting it up was to "Update All", which only took a few minutes.
posted by 2oh1 at 5:16 PM on January 4, 2010

The biggest difference between a stock Ubuntu install and UNR is that the latter incorporates the window title bars into the taskbar when maximized. This helps you make the most of your limited screen real-estate. (and, of course, the large-icon launcher)

If you do go with a stock install, it's fairly easy to install the remix interface. Conversely, on a UNR install, it's easy to disable the interface and get back to what is essentially a standard Ubuntu install.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:06 PM on January 4, 2010

Best answer: thirding UNR
posted by 3mendo at 9:51 AM on January 5, 2010

Best answer: I've been really pleased with the regular Ubuntu but it does take a little configuring to get the most out of the limited screen. Strangely, Karmic was more of a pain to install than Jaunty or Intrepid. The short version is that if your netbook uses a Broadcom card for wifi, Ubuntu won't install the drivers during the initial install, even though they are included in the iso. You can either find a wired internet connection and System Update will take care of the problem, or you can mount the iso, get the .deb files and install them manually. (Maybe too much information, but it drove me up the wall...)

I used Crunchbang for a while, but the community there seems a little disorganized. As near as I can tell, it's mostly one dude's labor of love. I really like the initial setup though. It uses Openbox instead of Gnome, which has a pretty nifty launcher/menu tool and it gave me some good ideas about how to modify Ubuntu.

Regardless of which distro you go with, get the TinyMenu extension for Firefox. Every little bit counts.
posted by clockwork at 10:54 AM on January 5, 2010

Easypeasy and UNR used up all my drive space (701). I switched to xubuntu and it works much better on that feeble machine (not discounting the possibility that I erred somehow).

To install it, I downloaded the iso, booted it in VMWare and made a USB stick installer from there.
posted by klanawa at 11:05 PM on January 5, 2010

Response by poster: So I tried Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Jolicloud, Crunchbang, Eeebuntu and ultimately settled on UNR. Both UNR and Jolicloud recognized wireless right off the bat, when I booted off a Live USB, while Crunchbang and Eeebuntu did not. The latter two were also less polished than UNR and Jolicloud, although I appreciated Crunchbang's minimalism and Eeebuntu appeared to use less vertical screen space than UNR and Jolicloud.

I waffled a bit between UNR and Jolicloud but went with UNR because it was the majority rec here and Jolicloud's newness made me hesitant. It's possible I'll reevaluate the decision in the future if it looks like Jolicloud maintains a reasonable development schedule.

For anyone curious these are the steps I took for the install:

1) Eee PC came with two 72GB NTFS partitions, C: with Windows and D: empty. Deleted D: and reduced Windows XP partition size to 30GB with EASEUS Partition Master. Left the 5GB recovery partition and ~47MB ASUS Boot Booster partitions alone, leaving approx 114GB free space for UNR. Obviously keeping a Windows partition is optional but it's occasionally handy to have Windows around, if for no other reason than to update the BIOS.

2) Downloaded Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10.

3) Created a bootable USB flash drive from the UNR .iso using UNetbootin (need min 1GB drive).

4) Using this guide I disabled Boot Booster in the BIOS to choose USB flash drive as the boot device (Step 1). Guide also discusses partitions, notably for Boot Booster.

5) UNR loads fairly quickly off the USB drive. Installation is pretty straightforward. In the Partition Manager I chose "Use remaining free space" (114GB) and let it handle things from there.

6) After verifying installation I went back into BIOS and re-enabled Boot Booster.

Wireless is working with no configuration on my part. UNR seems like a solid operating system and I'm happy so far.

Note: I recovered this comment from Google's cache.
posted by 6550 at 8:55 AM on January 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

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