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Asus EEE-PC X101CH

Posted 04-18-2013 at 05:40 AM by markyd
Updated 12-03-2013 at 06:47 AM by markyd

Friday 6th September 2013

First of all I must thank the lovely wife Emma who hit the "Google Jackpot" with this one, as anyone with the patience to read the rest of this blog below will know I was "most peeved" with ASUS and their X101CH. I wish I had all the Google articles to support this post but I did not make notes sorry but here is a summary as I see it. It appears that Intel "outsourced" the drivers for the Cedar Trail chipset and they are only available in DRM format and were part of a very limit Linux Kernal (3.2) and was removed from later versions!

Linux Mint 13 (Maya) is based on the 3.2 Kernal ( ... think I used the default Mate but will redo with the xfce build later.

After installing and activating the proprietary drivers the X101 went from most hated to most loved of my devices, performance greatly improved and plays videos great (full HD just a touch stuttery but normal AVI's perfect) runs a lot cooler and battery life is 4 - 5 hours, suspending to RAM works so good mine can last days or a week now depending on use (must point out I am using a SSD not a mechanical HD so don't know how much that is effecting it) waking from suspend is awesome, open lid .. use!

Was a battle getting here and don't know what the future is for the GMA / Cedar Trail driver set in Linux but being stuck with Linux 13 does not scare me.

Friday 19th April 2013

Fitting the SSD upgrade was not to difficult, 11 screws on the underside including 4 in the battery bay and thankfully no sneaky hidden ones under rubber feet! Separating the two halves of the base section requires some confidence, thin knife blade and an old credit card ... there seems to be "snap" fixings ever inch of the way but once started it unzips nicely, look out for two locking lugs on the inside of the hinges.

Once apart there are two ribbon cables that need released in the usual manner of pulling forward the tiny plastic clamps. The entire top half of the base section & keyboard can now be removed exposing the the standard 7mm 320GB hard drive, remove it swap over mounting lugs to the SSD and reassemble.

Reloading Lubuntu 13.04 and it now flies, lots quicker, totally silent and battery life better too (too early to say how much) the fast recovery from sleep is almost instant now, close lid ... sleep ... open lid awake ... massive improvement.

Thursday 18th April 2013

I came across my Asus X101CH by accident, I work in IT so tend to have quite a "fleet" of machines including 2 Asus EEE-PC 901's which have been my stalwart of Linux "hacking" ... anyway to the X101CH, I got it as a hotel reward after spending 6 months as their guest .. I thank you!

The keyboard, actually I like it the extra inch over the 901's makes typing easier and not had any issues with accuracy, its certainly easier to use that the keyboard on my Transformer Prime! Not up to a full size keyboard maybe but still I like it.

In the 4 years since my Asus EEE-PC 901's there has been some stagnation / cost cutting and even steps backwards. Ye ancient spinning disk thing (Hard Disk) instead of a new fangled SSD (solid state disk, faster draws less power)... come on Asus ... progress please even the 901's were SSD only and helped with their mighty battery life of 6 hours plus ... oh talking of battery life, the X101CH battery life down to 3 - 4 hours another step backwards ... grief! Now ... to the biggest crime Asus has committed ... the messily 1GB of RAM is soldered to the motherboard and totally not upgradeable, Asus you total scum tight wads! The EEE-PC range was always darling of the "hacker" community as it was easy to upgrade but that is a total step toward the "locked in Apple world" (more Asus ranting on that subject when I write my blog on my Asus Transformer Prime ho ho ho).

Screen may be an inch bigger than the 901 but at 1024x600 its the same spec and very ordinary no progress there then.

But the CPU is a dual core Atom running at 1.6Ghz, the cpu is of the "Cedar Trail" variety, no more pwerful than the old Atoms but a lot more frugal on electric hence no fan ... makes me laugh when Asus say the fan less design makes it silent ... er how about that ancient noisy hard disk then? ;-) Oh aparantly it has a 1080P decoder in it so watching videos should be easier on the eye.

Asus have always had a funny relationship with Microsoft, the 901 initially launched with Linux and made Microsoft mess their pants, drop the price of XP and extend its life for several years just so that Asus and the netbook revolution would be XP based and not Linux. Shame on Asus for not offering both side by side, they sort of did for a half hearted while but Linux line never saw much love or development and died out or at least became unavailable in the UK, but no odds it was still a Linux hackers dream netbook. Googling about I see that the X101 had a MeeGo (Linux derivative) offering, not that I ever saw it ... what's so wrong with a 'Buntu based standard offering? Anyhow Windows 7 ran like a dog on the X101 so I binned it for my Linux distribution of choice, Lubuntu (being a simple chap with simple tastes ... speed over style any day baby .... I have a life to lead!)

Linux on the X101CH .... Lubuntu 12.10 was not happy, the screen was so dark ... think there were some issues with the uber new graphics on the X101CH and the Linux kernal of that date ... so I loaded the 13.04 Beta and all is well usual issues with some of the keys and its not fully tested but getting there ..... will update this as and when.

The X101's future? Keep or sell? For the moment keep, my son will get the 901 as its more his size and I like the extra go from the dual core processor but it is getting an SSD as fast as I can sort it out! Its an ok bit of kit if you get it cheap enough 150 here in the UK tops.

Some independant reviews here:

Toshiba 60GB 2.5" SSD on order, make sure its a 7mm slim drive though! Note, total disassembly of your X101 will be required to install ... Asus ... ahhhhhh!

I still have a lot of "love" for the Asus brand but the X101 & Transformer Prime has tested it somewhat!
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  1. Old Comment
    Hi MarkyD. I am Jim Kelsh from Guelph Ontario and I have an Asus X101CH.
    I am running Ubuntu 12.04.2, dual booting with the stock Windows 7 Starter the machine came with.
    You mentioned you might be trying to upgrade the RAM to 2 gigabytes, but Asus's product spec site says the RAM is not upgradable as it is soldered to the motherboard with no SO-DIMM. Have you investigated this further? Just curious.
    Thanks, Jim.
    Posted 07-15-2013 at 09:52 AM by freshmeadow freshmeadow is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Hiya Jim, so sorry that it took so long to reply to your post its not excusable. Sad fact of the day is that the X101CH is 1 GB of RAM and it is soldered and that's your lot! Have transformed the netbook by the use on Mint 13 (Maya) will write a post on that soon.
    Posted 09-05-2013 at 05:27 AM by markyd markyd is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Thanks! Looking forward to hearing about Mint 13!
    Posted 09-05-2013 at 09:35 AM by freshmeadow freshmeadow is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Mint 13 "fix" posted above, mail me if I can be of any help.
    Posted 09-06-2013 at 04:06 AM by markyd markyd is offline


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