Lubuntu on an Asus Eee PC 701/4G and The Laptop Testing Project

I’d already tried a few distro’s on my Eee PC but nothing was providing the friendly, clear and uncluttered brilliance of Ubuntu world. There seem to be few developers out there actually testing these low spec laptops so I decided to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. After rooting around in Ubuntu I now have a quite a respectable Lubuntu system on my netbook. Now I need to get into some Ubuntu QA testing (quality and assurance) and get some bug reports in so my discoveries actually get into a Lubuntu release. I joined the Laptop Testing Team, part of the Laptop Testing Project. Here is my launchpad page.

Until my discoveries are included in Lubuntu here they are for those who want to tweak Lubuntu manually. The problem is memory. Ubuntu and Lubuntu both install OK on an Asus Eee PC 701/4G but there is so much running that practically all the memory is used up. So when it comes to running Firefox the entire system is reduced to a giberring swap file thrashing mess. However this can be fixed by doing a lot of pruning. Here are some of my testing notes.

Please note: Lubuntu Minimal (mini.iso) 11.10 … NOT USE THIS !  It cannot show the console (can see flashing cursor pixels along top). Probably wrong video mode.

Lubuntu-Alternate 11.10 … THIS IS OK

> Keyboard detection cannot accept “ė” key (can’t AltGr key?).

    – Solution … pretend European “ė” keys are not there. Just select “£” then it gets GB layout.

 > Memory after fresh install: 367 used, 132 free (out of 512. O swap. Should be 50 – 60 used ?
   Memory after optimisations below: 206 used, 281 free

    – Desktop Session Settings …

        > Turning off … SSH agent, Update Notifier, Cert & Key Storage, Check for New Hardware Drivers, GPG Password Agent, Secret Storage Service

        > removed /etc/xdg/autostart items … bluetooth*, gnome*, print*, update*

    – unneeded kernel modules …add to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf … rfcomm (bluetooth), bluetooth, parpot_pc, ppdev, parport (parallel port), joydev (gamepad/joystick), snd_rawmidi, snd_seq_midi, snd_seq_midi_event, snd_seq_device ?, lp, at12 ?, bnep.

    – Don’t use pcmanfm as desktop file manager ?

    – Remove xscreensaver ? used to blank screen.

 > Disk space 1.5 gig free

 > Optimisations

    – Set noatime flag

    – EXT4 supports SSD – Set TRIM command support using the discard mounting option in your fstab (or with tune2fs -o discard /dev/sdaX) –;a=blob;f=Documentation/filesystems/ext4.txt;h=10ec4639f1522dad34d66eea61443750435fe3ae;hb=HEAD
      TRIM … tested ? works? stable?

 > Cpufreq

   –  “modprobe acpi-cpufreq” activates cpufreq system and puts processor to 900mhz – or did “sudo apt-get install cpufrequtils” get it working ?

   –  unplugging power supply DOES NOT take cpu back to 633mhz.

The important part is turning off services and disabling unneeded kernel modules. That leaves just enough room for most Firefox operations. However it should be possible to get memory usage right down to on 50 or 60 megabytes. But until I work that out this should suffice for most 701/4G users or users of any low-spec netbooks or other devices.



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