Archive for February, 2012

eeePC: Making it work

Monday, February 13th, 2012

I’ve already written about Debian GNU/Linux on the Asus EeePC and how to Upgrade Debian on the eeePC to Squeeze, but this weekend, the power supply of my workstation died, and I had to work exclusively on the eeePC. These are the lessons.

My eeePC 701 is heavily space-constrained, I’ve partitioned it with 2.5GB for system, and 1.5GB for /home. Apart from performance, space was the major consideration.

No Gnome, no KDE

I decided earlier to only not to use gnome, and only to install KDE. Both come with about the same footprint in packages and libraries. As it turns out, KDE wasn’t a good idea either. With Akonadi and Nepomuk it tried to fill up my /home, and it generally proved to be a ressource-hog. I decided to get rid of it, and to replace all remaining KDE-software, mainly Kmail, Kaddressbook, Kopete, Kword and Kspread.

Dead Firefox

If you haven’t noticed, the firefox/iceweasel still delivered with Debian “squeeze”, 3.5.16, is dead. Dead like in “there are no more extensions which can be installed”. Like AdBlock Plus. You’ll need a Mozilla Backport, thankfully provied by the Debian Mozilla Team.

Embedded Debian

Use it. It saves about 25% to 30% of harddisk-space, solely by not installing documentation and translations, and by sometimes not having as many dependencies as the normal debian packages. The packages are binary-compatible with the normal debian-packages, so all you have to do is to add their repositories to your system:

deb squeeze main dev debug java doc
deb-src squeeze main dev debug java doc

As said, they integrate seamlessly, but due to their “em1” suffixed to the package-version, they will get preference (and some 2/3 of all packages will automatically be upgraded). You could control that with apt-pinning, of course, but I saw no need yet.

Big Screen

Since I had screen, mouse and keyboard available, I connected those to the eeePC. The monitor wouldn’t work at first, until I deleted /etc/X11/xorg.conf as the easiest thing to do. Also, it was unusable at 1920×1080 at 60Hz, so I calculated some modelines and made a small script for xrandr, to use 59.8Hz.

xrandr --newmode 1920x1080_59.80 172.50 1920 2048 2248 2576 1080 1083 1088 1120 -hsync +vsync
xrandr --addmode VGA1 1920x1080_59.80
xrandr --output VGA1 --mode 1920x1080_59.80


Now the applications I installed.

  • Desktop Xfce4
  • Mail Claws. Small and fast, and does a lot
  • Jabber Psi. I also have mcabber, but this is more comfortable.
  • Word-Processor abiword. Which I only did because with the emdebian-packages, it didn’t pull in the whole of gnome
  • Spreadsheet gnumeric. Same as with abiword
  • E-Reader fbreader
  • PDF-Reader xpdf
  • Movie-Player smplayer
  • Editor tea. Apart from mcedit which does all my editing needs on the console, you sometimes need a graphical one.
  • Terminal xfterm and rxvt-unicode. These took a lot of time to decide on. The first one is pretty basic, well-integrated into xfce and has tabs. The latter supports font-resizing, does utf-8, and generally does everything right that aterm, wterm, Eterm and mlterm do wrong.