Fernando J. Pereda’s blag

February 2, 2009

ESTEC and EeePC’s first big test

Filed under: blag — Tags: , , , , , , — Fernando J. Pereda @ 11:07 am

This year I joined a couple of research projects at the Computer Architecture and Automatics Department of UCM. Since I’m still finishing my Computer Science degree I can’t spend as much time as I’d liked on the projects I’m taking part. I’m mostly doing softwar and learning quite a bit of electronics and such.

Tomorrow morning I’m heading ESA’s ESTEC to attend the first workshop of this year’s RexusBexus campaign. We’ll be there until friday. We’ve worked quite hard and are hoping to get selected for the next phase. Even if we are continuing our research even if we don’t get accepted, it is a great opportunity to test the thing.

Given that I really hate checking luggage at airports I was planning to travel as light as possible. Not needing lots of computing power the Eee came as the best candidate to carry around. I haven’t really done much with it than using it to go to University and back home so this is going to be its firs big test. I get to see whether this netbook thing really works for me, though I think it will.

We’ll see how it works…

— ferdy

October 19, 2008

EeePC 901: Fighting the suckiness

Filed under: blag — Tags: , , , , — Fernando J. Pereda @ 3:04 pm

Ok, so the machine is very nice but the software is very annoying. These are some ‘first tweaks’:

Edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and set a bigger Virtual so that you can use a big resolution if you are going to use the Eee with an external monitor. You will still need to use xrandr by hand because their GUI has the resolutions hardcoded.

Copy IceWM’s config and set KeySysWindowList and KeySysWinListMenu to something. Don’t leave it empty or the power button will open the annoying window list.

Some people seem to like that shitty tabbed interface called ‘Easy Mode’ that is AsusLauncher. But the thing is that I really hate it, removing it is stupidly tricky, dirty and hacky. AsusLauncher is not a proper display manager, it is an aplication that just runs on top of icewm and asks you for a password. To remove it, this is what I did:

Copy /usr/bin/startsimple.sh to ~/.xsession and remove all the useless stuff. I left mine like this:


BRN=`cat /etc/acpi/brn` >dev/null 2>&1
if [ -z "$BRN" ]; then
echo $BRN > /proc/acpi/asus/brn

sudo /usr/bin/sessreg -a -l :0.0 -u /var/run/utmp user 
if [ -d /home/user/Desktop ]; then
    if [ -d /home/user/.Desktop.bak ]; then
        rm -rf /home/user/.Desktop.bak
    if [ -d /home/user/.Desktop ]; then
        mv /home/user/.Desktop /home/user/.Desktop.bak
    mv /home/user/Desktop /home/user/.Desktop
xhost + si:localuser:root # Allow local user root only to access the diplay

xset dpms 0 0 0
sleep 2

[ -e /var/lock/xandros-rclock/webcam.lock ] && sudo rm /var/lock/xandros-rclock/webcam.lock
[ -e /var/lock/xandros-rclock/webcam.owner ] && sudo rm /var/lock/xandros-rclock/webcam.owner
sudo rm -f /tmp/nologin
rm -f /tmp/.fastlaunch

exec icewm-session

There is something racy going on with that script, the sleep 2 line seems to be important. Then some stuff has to go into .icewm/startup to start network and battery applets and AsusLauncher (yes, AFTER icewm started….). This is hacky but seems to do a good job:


touch /home/user/.doingLogin
/opt/xandros/bin/AsusLauncher &
while [ -f /home/user/.doingLogin ] ; do sleep 0.2 ; done
killall AsusLauncher

powermonitor &
minimixer &
networkmonitor2 ra0 &
networkmonitor2 -i eth0 &
networkmonitor2 -i ppp0 &
/usr/bin/dispwatch &
/usr/bin/keyboardstatus &
/opt/xandros/bin/start_netserv &
/usr/local/bin/asusosd &

If the order of applets in the notification area is important it is possible to tweak where they appear by adding some sleep commands. I don’t particularly care though.

The acpi script that reacts to the power button will check whether AsusLauncher or KDE are running and if neither is, it just sends USR2 to init. This is a bit too much, editing this file was easy, my /etc/acpi/powerbtn.sh looks like this:

# /etc/acpi/powerbtn.sh
# Initiates a shutdown when the power putton has been
# pressed.

if [ ! -f /home/user/.doingLogin ] ; then
        DISPLAY=:0 su -c /opt/xandros/bin/shutdown_dialog user &

At this point, you’ve lost direct access to some of the applications that were there in the EasyMode interface, the paths for those applications are in /opt/xandros/share/AsusLauncher/simpleui.rc. Grab the ones you want and add them to IceWM’s menu.

I think I’ve done some more tweaks but those are the big ones. I’m hating this Xandros thing more and more, and I guess I’ll install Debian sooner rather than later.

— ferdy

October 15, 2008

EeePC 901: First impressions

Filed under: blag — Tags: , , , , , , — Fernando J. Pereda @ 2:59 pm

Last friday, I got myself a shiny EeePC 901. The machine is extremely nice and the bundled software JustWorks if you have very simple needs and are happy with the very few packages that are available. Battery life is very good too with wifi constantly on.

However, there are a number of oddities in the Xandros installation, some are just annoying and others really piss me off. Without any specific order:

  • It comes with mono, python, java, make, cpp, gdb but without gcc? And no, it is not available in their repos eiher.
  • You can’t enable/disable bluetooth without disabling the wireless card. It is possible to do it on the command line so it is just a software stupidity.
  • The installed vim version lacks support for mouse and there’s no gvim or a full vim package in their repos. Also, no indent is either installed or installable.
  • The GUI does not support WPA2 though it is possible to use it through wpa-supplicant
  • A Windows XP theme for icewm? Come on…
  • Stupidly big fonts and cursors, because there’s so much screen space to spare.
  • Their apt repositories are b0rked and some updates don’t work.
  • The only PDF reader available is acroread.
  • StarOffice instead of OpenOffice? Yeah, quoting spb: “for full enterprise readiness“.
  • No kernel source, so building additional modules (iptables, additional filesystems, …) is impossible.
  • External, USB drives get mounted as ‘D:’, ‘E:’, ‘F:’….
  • Your user has to be ‘user’ and many things hardcode /home/user. Yes, it is easy to change, it is just annoying
  • Samba and parport are enabled by default and there is no way to stop or disable them from the gui.
  • The terminal is hidden, an uxterm is available through Ctrl+Alt+T

That list is not complete but it is enough to ilustrate the point that the Xandros installation really sucks.

First things to do to get a not stupid environment:

  • Edit /usr/sbin/services.sh and /etc/fastservices and remove stuff like samba, portmap and lindvd.
  • Install xandros-wpa-supplicant needed for networks such as eduroam.
  • Copy /etc/X11/icewm to ~/.icewm to enable multiple workspaces and remove the SOS and tips buttons.
  • Install a proper theme (ThinBlack is a very good one) and a proper cursor theme such as DMZ-Vanilla.
  • Run sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales AND edit /etc/kde3/kdeglobals to get the system in english instead of dealing with wonky translations. Run something like aptitude or synaptic to remove locale-specific packages.
  • Run kcontrol to set smaller fonts

In theory, it is possible to use the debian apt repositories using pinning, however, I’m wondering if that’s better than just installing Debian on the EeePC.

All in all, a very nice machine and hardware and a very stupid software. Fortunately, the latter can be replaced.

— ferdy

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.