Reviving an EEE PC 900A with lubuntu 10.10

Some years ago Asus invented a new class of computers, the netbooks. I bought one of the first models, an EEE PC 701, and was fascinated by its portability and use of Linux as an light weight operating system. Slow performance and the 7 inch screen with its low resolution limited its usability so I switched to one of its Linux successors, the EEE 900A, that provided a 9 inch screen with a 1024*600 resolution and an Intel Atom processor.

I took my 900A with me on every vacation since but always experimented with alternative operating systems. The original Xandros Linux was soon replaced by Ubuntu Jaunty Netbook Remix and it worked quite good until now. Unfortunately Jaunty comes to the end of its life end of October and a replacement was needed. The natural successor would be Maverick Meerkat (10.10) and so I tested the Netbook Edition but discovered that it was not very snappy on this early generation netbook. The new Unity launcher looks great but was a little slow and I decided that I do not really need the eye candy.

Next I tried lubunu 10.10 and I was immediately impressed. It was very quick and snappy and so I installed it.

Here are my impressions of what worked, where I had to tweak something and where I encountered problems:

Great:

  • Very fast boot and login times.
  • Very snappy reactions and quick program start times (Chromium starts in under 2 seconds).
  • Even with Chromium running, only a 220 MB memory footprint on a 1 GB machine.
  • An optional netbook launcher called lxlauncher. It looks a bit like the original Xandros netbook launcher of the original EEE PCs.

Issues solved by some tweaking:

  • splash screen during boot
  • adding powertop recommendations to /etc/rc.local
  • Power Off key added to ~/.config/openbox/lubuntu-rc.xml

Issues:

  • I can switch off WiFi but not on again. A reboot seems to be required.
  • The volume Fn-keys on the keyboard work but the LXDE volume applet does not show the volume change like I was used to under Gnome.

Overall, I must say, lubuntu is ideal for underpowered hardware.

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