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Debian Lenny on the EeePC

The main source of information is Debian for the Asus Eee PC, the following notes is my personal recipe.

Kernel 2.6.26 on the EeePC 900

On the EeePC 900 with kernel 2.6.25 (see below) there is a problem with internal microphone, which cannot record any audio. I installed the Debian 2.6.26 kernel and some packages from the Debian EeePC repository:

deb  lenny  main contrib non-free
deb-src  lenny  main contrib non-free

Special EeePC packages fetched from the repository are:

  • eeepc-acpi-scripts
  • madwifi-modules-2.6-686
  • madwifi-modules-2.6.26-1-686

Support for camera (uvcvideo), network card (atl2) and Asus ACPI (eeepc_laptop) is provided by modules of the stock linux-image-2.6.26-1-686 kernel.

Audio with kernel 2.6.26 on the EeePC 900

Kernel 2.6.26 provides ALSA drivers 1.0.16, which has some minor glitches on the EeePC 900:

  • Muting the front (internal) speaker does not work.
  • The Front control should control only the internal speaker, but it influences also the headphone.

The interesting ALSA controls are (use alsamixer to set them):

Master Adjust the volume of headphone and internal speaker. When this control is muted, toggling mute on the Headphone or on the Front control is ignored. Muting works only on the headphone.
Headphone Toggle the headphone output ON/OFF.
PCM Adjust the volume of PCM audio.
Front Adjust the volume of headphone and internal speaker. The mute does not work.
Capture Enable/disable capture and adjust gain.
Digital Gain boost: keep below 60%.
Input Source Select caputer source: Front Mic or Mic (external).

It is convenient to connect Fn+F8 and Fn+F9 keys to both the Front and the Headphone controls, see /etc/default/eeepc-acpi-scripts:


In xfce4-mixer set the wannabe master control to Front,0, and enable only the PCM, Front, Capture and Digital controls.

It seems that Alsa 1.0.18 has a better support for the EeePC, see the Debian EeePC Sound HowTo.

Compiling a custom kernel and modules

Note: For the EeePC 700 I used the 2.6.22 kernel, but for the EeePC 900 I used the 2.6.25 from Debian Sid, because of the sound problem.

I compiled a custom kernel on my desktop PC, because I don't want to install the development tools and kernel sources onto the EeePC, I also don't want to wait the time required to compile on the little Asus. It is also necessary to compile some modules which are not provided by the vanilla kernel, but have separated sources:

  • atl2 for the Ethernet
  • eeepc-acpi for controlling integrated peripherials
  • madwifi-eeepc for the WiFi card
  • linux-uvc for the camera

So the Debian packages required are:

  • linux-source-2.6.25 (version 2.6.22 is OK for the EeePC 700)
  • kernel-package
  • eeepc-acpi-source
  • atl2-source
  • linux-uvc-source
  • madwifi-eeepc-source This is a non-free package, due some restrictions in redistribution and some binary-only files. I got it from If you use the old version I got from this repository, remember to put the Debian madwifi-source package on-hold, otherwise the patched package will be replaced by the Debian one at the first apt-get ugrade.

I used the original Asus kernel configuration as a base for the new one:

cd /usr/src
tar jxf linux-source-2.6.22.tar.bz2
ln -s linux-source-2.6.22 linux
cd linux
make mrproper
cp /boot/config- .config
make oldconfig
make-kpkg clean
make-kpkg --revision=0.1 --initrd kernel_image

To compile the extra modules (atl2, eeepc-acpi, linux-uvc, madwifi-eeepc) I used commands like that:

cd /usr/src
tar jxvf atl2.tar.bz2
cd linux
make-kpkg --added-modules atl2 modules

Then I installed with dpkg -i all the resulting packages:

The WiFi card

We need to load the following kernel modules:

ath_pci Support for Atheros 802.11 wireless LAN cards
ath_rate_atheros Rate control support for Atheros devices
ath_dfs DFS Support for Atheros 802.11 wireless LAN cards
ath_hal Atheros Hardware Access Layer (HAL)

Like the Xandros setup, we load the pciehp module (PCI Express Hot Plug Controller Driver) with an entry into /etc/modules, then the ath_pci is loaded with a modprope rule contained in /etc/modprobe.d/pcie:

options pciehp pciehp_force=1
install pciehp /sbin/modprobe --ignore-install pciehp pciehp_force=1; /sbin/modprobe ath_pci

The Madwifi driver with the Atheros WiFi chip, supports multiple access point and station configurations on the same phisical device, the phisical device is named wifi0. Whenever the WiFi is turned on, want an interface configured in station mode (named ath0), for this we write an udev rule into /etc/udev/rules.d/50_eeepc.rules (borrowed from the original 50-xandros-udev.rules):

KERNEL=="wifi0", ACTION=="add", RUN+="/sbin/wlanconfig ath0 create wlandev wifi0 wlanmode sta"

We can turn-on (1) or turn-off (0) the WiFi card with the command line:

echo 1 > /proc/acpi/asus/wlan

The webcam

Tried into the EeePC 900. Load the module uvcvideo, activate the camera with the command

echo 1 > /proc/acpi/asus/camera

then start the program luvcview from same name Debian package.

It seems that Ekiga has some trouble using the camera via V4L (Viedeo for Linux) version 1. I installed the libpt-1.11.2-plugins-v4l2 package to let Ekiga open the camera, solving the error message

your video driver doesn't support the requested video format

Halt or poweroff problem

The EeePC does not halt (poweroff) when requested, the problem is with the audio kernel module snd_hda_intel. We must unload the module before poweroff. You can add a modprobe -r snd_hda_intel into /etc/init.d/halt or add a dedicated script linked as /etc/rc0.d/S89eeepc_local.


This is a summary of what I succeded to make work:

Fn + F1 Sleep does not work
Fn + F2 WiFi on/off works
Fn + F3, F4 Bright up/down work (but no OSD feedback)
Fn + F5 LCD/CRT not verified
Fn + F6 Task manager does not work
Fn + F7 Mute/Unmute works
Fn + F8, F9 Volume up/down works

To get working hotkeys (Fn + F1, F2, …) we need some Debian packages installed:

  • acpid the ACPI daemon
  • eeepc-acpi-scripts some scripts which respond to ACPI events
  • alsa-utils amixer is used to control the audio
  • madwifi-tools not strictly needed

The configuration files are:

  • /etc/default/eeepc-acpi-scripts

Changing the original GRUB menu

If you start the EeePC with the standard Xandros installation, you can modify the /boot/grub/menu.lst, but your changes will be ignored at the next reboot. This is why your changes are written onto /dev/sda2, which is mounted as unionfs on top of /dev/sda1 after the boot.

You can boot off a different installation (press ESC on boot and choose to boot from USB), mount /dev/sda1 and make the changes to GRUB menu.

Optimizing Konsole

  1. Font: Terminus (Debian package xfonts-terminus), Bold, size 11
  2. Settings, Configure Konsole…, General, Show frame (no)
  3. Show Menubar
  4. Tab: Dynamic Hide, Auto Resize Tabs required packages

You can reduce the number of xserver-xorg installed packages by removing the ones you not need. To support the EeePC hardware you need:

  • xserver-xorg-video-intel
  • xserver-xorg-input-kbd
  • xserver-xorg-input-synaptics
  • xserver-xorg-input-mouse

Optimizing Xfce

I choosed Xfce instead of KDE or Gnome because it is light.

To have the battery status, a network widget, a calendar, a volume control in the Xfce panel, I installed some extra packages:

  • xfce4-battery-plugin
  • xfce4-mixer
  • network-manager-kde

To let a standrd user to power-off the EeePC via the quit Actions applet you must partecipate the user into the powerdev group and write into /etc/xdg/xfce4-session/xfce4-session.rc:


To have the compose key help in typing characters that are not present on the keyboard, you can edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf following this example: caratteri_non_presenti_sulla_tastiera_kde_e_non_solo.

Controllare la frequenza

NOTA: Pare che modificare (abbassare) la frequenza della CPU sia del tutto inutile ai fini della durata della batteria e del calore generato.

Si installa il modulo kernel p4_clockmod, grazie a questo i tool tipo xfce4-cpufreq-plugin possono mostrare la frequenza attuale della CPU.

Si installa anche il pacchetto delle utility cpufrequtils.

Il modo in cui viene amministrata la frequenza del clock è affidata ad un policy governor, si può scegliere tra diversi moduli kernel:

  • cpufreq_ondemand
  • cpufreq_powersave
  • cpufreq_conservative

La configurazione avviene direttamente in /etc/init.d/cpufrequtils, ad esempio:


Per scoprire il range di funzionamento del processore si usa:

cpufreq-info -l
112500 900000

Per vedere quale policy è attualmente in uso:

cpufreq-info -p
112500 900000 ondemand

I moduli kernel necessari si devono mettere in /etc/modules:


Attacching an external VGA display

Install the eeepc-acpi-scripts package.

You can attach an external display to the VGA port after you have booted the notebook: hit Fn-F5 to switch between internal or external display.

Indeed I have a problem if the external display is attacched during XFCE login: the KDM login is displayed correctly on both internal LCD and external monitor, but XFCE startup crashes. I see a lot of flikering, then X crashes and a new KDM login appears. The last few lines of Xorg.log are:

(II) intel(0): [drm] removed 1 reserved context for kernel
(II) intel(0): [drm] unmapping 8192 bytes of SAREA 0xf8c49000 at 0xb7f80000
(II) intel(0): [drm] Closed DRM master.

A workaround is to keep the external display disconnected once the login is completed, then plug the VGA cable and hit Fn-F5.

Check the following script and configuration files:

  • /etc/acpi/actions/
  • /etc/default/eeepc-acpi-scripts

You can set the following option:

COMBINED_DISPLAY_SWITCHES="--auto --output LVDS --same-as VGA"
#COMBINED_DISPLAY_SWITCHES="--auto --output LVDS --off"
#COMBINED_DISPLAY_SWITCHES="--auto --output LVDS --below VGA"
#COMBINED_DISPLAY_SWITCHES="--auto --output LVDS --right-of VGA"

I also changed the case statement of /etc/acpi/actions/

# handle return value
# 0 = disconnected
# 1 = connected and VGA enabled
# 2 = connected and VGA disabled
case $? in
        xrandr --auto
        xrandr --auto
        sleep 3
        xrandr --output VGA $COMBINED_DISPLAY_SWITCHES
        xrandr --output VGA --off --output LVDS --auto

Debian Squeeze on the EeePC

Default installation does not create an /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. We can merge some configuration snippet using the InputClass directive.

The first is to activate the touchpad tapping, the second is to enable the compose key (using the menu key) and the Euro sign on the Alt-e combination.


Section "InputClass"
    Identifier      "Touchpad"                      # required
    MatchIsTouchpad "yes"                           # required
    Driver          "synaptics"                     # required
    Option          "MinSpeed"              "0.5"
    Option          "MaxSpeed"              "1.0"
    Option          "AccelFactor"           "0.075"
    Option          "TapButton1"            "1"
    Option          "TapButton2"            "2"     # multitouch
    Option          "TapButton3"            "3"     # multitouch
    Option          "VertTwoFingerScroll"   "1"     # multitouch
    Option          "HorizTwoFingerScroll"  "1"     # multitouch
    Option          "VertEdgeScroll"        "1"
    Option          "CoastingSpeed"         "8"
    Option          "CornerCoasting"        "1"
    Option          "CircularScrolling"     "1"
    Option          "CircScrollTrigger"     "7"
    Option          "EdgeMotionUseAlways"   "1"
    Option          "LBCornerButton"        "8"     # browser "back" btn
    Option          "RBCornerButton"        "9"     # browser "forward" btn


Section "InputClass"
    Identifier      "keyboard-all"
    MatchIsKeyboard "yes"
    Driver          "evdev"
    Option          "XkbOptions"  "lv3:ralt_switch, compose:menu, eurosign:e"

Per vedere le XkbOptions attive usare il comando:

setxkbmap -print
xkb_keymap {
        xkb_keycodes  { include "evdev+aliases(qwerty)" };
        xkb_types     { include "complete"      };
        xkb_compat    { include "complete"      };
        xkb_symbols   { include
            "pc+us+it:2+gr:3+inet(evdev)+level3(ralt_switch)+compose(menu)+eurosign(e)" };
        xkb_geometry  { include "pc(pc105)"     };

Per impostare le opzioni una tantum da riga di comando:

setxkbmap -option lv3:ralt_switch,compose:menu,eurosign:e


I stay with Xfce, also because I got some problem installing Lxde in a KVM virtual machine, where windows move down into the screen, falling out of the bottom border.

Some useful Xfce plugins:

  • xfce4-xkb-plugin
  • xfce4-battery-plugin
  • xfce4-mount-plugin

I installed the network-manager-kde package, which works into the Xfce systray. To let the Network Manager to start automatically at logon:

  1. Xfce menu, Settings, Session and Startup
  2. Application Autostart, Add: knetworkmanager

The session management approach does not work. Once knetworkmanager is started, into the Session tab of Session and Startup, there is the Save Session button. Unfortunately the application is not restored at next logon.

The KDE services approach does not work too: there is a Launch KDE services on startup into the Advanced tab of Session and Startup, but knetworkmanager is not started at logon.

Adding the user into the powerdev and netdev groups, allows to configure the netowrk interface and power down the system.

FIXME There is a problem if the Xfce panel has the autohide option enabled: the knetworkmanager and kwalletmanager icons don't get disaplayed correctly into the systray; they are truncated and almost invisible.

Web browser

To choose Mozilla Iceweasel instead of Konqueror:

update-alternatives --config x-www-browser

Disk performances

Asus EeePC 900, disk performances measured with hdparm -t

/dev/sda 33.00 MB/sec First SSD, 4 Gb
/dev/sdb 25.46 MB/sec Second SSD, 16 Gb
/dev/sdc 14.51 MB/sec MiniSD card, 4 Gb

TRIM command

Solid State Disks should support the TRIM command, this is a command used by the operating system to inform a SSD that a particular sector is no longer used and can be internally wiped.

It seems that EeePC 900 disks do not support TRIM.

For on-line operation, Linux kernel supports TRIM starting from 2.6.33. For off-line operation hdparm supports TRIM starting from version 9.17. With hdparm sources there is the script, which can be run in this way:

mount -o ro /dev/sda1 /media/sda1/
./ /dev/sda1 --commit --verbose Linux SATA SSD TRIM utility, version 2.8, by Mark Lord.
fsmode2: fsmode=read-only
/dev/sda: DSM/TRIM command not supported, aborting.

Journal data writeback

To gain a little in disk performances, you can enable writeback for journal data. Here it is an example for the /dev/sdb1 partition, formatted as ext3 and mounted under /home.

tune2fs -o journal_data_writeback /dev/sdb1
mount -o remount,data=writeback /dev/sdb1

To enable this option on bootstrap, you have to change /etc/fstab:

/dev/sda1  /home  ext3  defaults,noatime,data=writeback  0  1

For the root filesystem, it is required also to pass the option to the kernel, using a GRUB parameter. With Debian Squeeze the option is added into /etc/default/grub:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="rootflags=data=writeback quiet"

Run update-grub to install that option into /boot/grub/grub.cfg.

WiFi interface

The WiFi interface is supported by the new ath5k kernel module. Once loaded, the wlan0 interface is available.

The new iw(8) command can be used to manipulate the device configuration, its purpose is similar to the wlanconfig command, used with the old ath_pci kernel module.

Here it is an example on how to deconfigure/reconfigure the interface from scratch:

iw dev wlan0 del
iw phy phy1 interface add wlan0 type managed

To use the WiFi interface with kismet, you need this in the /etc/kismet/kismet.conf configuration file:


After exiting kismet, the wlan0 interface must be reconfigured as explained above, and knetworkmanager should be restarted.

doc/appunti/hardware/eeepc_debian.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/17 00:06 by niccolo