Yes it has been two years since I’ve done the EEE PC Challenge. For those of you new to the site I have an Asus EEE PC 701 $G Surf. It was the first generation of netbooks. The problem with it is that it only has a 4GB hard drive and the Linux distro that came with it not only sucked but was never updated as far as I know. So in the years that I’ve had it I’ve always been looking for Linux distros that will fit on the small hard drive and work decently.
The reason I haven’t done one of these in two years is for a number of reasons. The first is that most Linux distros, including a lot that bill themselves as being lightweight, don’t fit on the tiny hard drive of the aging computer. The second reason is that current Ubuntu based distros, which I prefer, have what’s called a PAE Kernel in them and the Surf has a non-PAE processor. The last reason is that I uh…kind of misplaced my Surf for a last few months. However, I have since found it and I have installed a decent OS on the computer but it took a while for me to get in on there.
Anyway, Like I’ve mentioned I prefer Ubuntu based distros since Ubuntu is one of the most widely based Linux distros in the world but the PAE issues made that virtually impossible. So I took a step out of my comfort zone and went to a distro that I hadn’t used in years and was one of the first distros to work properly with the EEE pc 701, PCLinuxOS. It’s a distro that was forked from the late lamented Mandriva which was also a kick ass distro in its day.
The problem was getting it installed. Normally I download the distro then install it on a USB drive using Unetbootin. During the initial boot I couldn’t get it to load with the terminal saying that the iso file couldn’t be mounted. I searched all over Google on how to resolve the issue and I kept being directed to PCLinuxOS’ own USB installer. The problem with that was that you needed PCLinuxOS already running on one computer. Tried installing it on my test rig which is also an Asus, it still couldn’t mount the ISO. Tried it on my Asus laptop (Detecting a trend yet?) Still couldn’t boot it properly. So here’s what I did.
What you’ll need is a blank CD, a computer with an optical drive and at least two USP ports, and two USB drives of at least 2GB each.
So after downloading the ISO I burned it to a CD and I also put the ISO on one of the USB drives. I booted into the CD which worked like a charm. I then started PCLinuxOS’ USB installer. At the right prompt I put in the empty USB drive. It will then ask you for a cop of the ISO. At that point I attached the USB drive with ISO on it and selected the ISO. This installed the OS onto the empty USB drive which I was then able to use to install the OS to the Surf.
It works great for the limited processing power and leaves 700mb in free drive space. You can always remove any applications that you do not use, within reason. You must use the version with the LXDE desktop or it may not fit on the Surf 4G.