Bluish Coder

Programming Languages, Martials Arts and Computers. The Weblog of Chris Double.


2008-11-26

Installing Arch Linux on the Asus EEE PC

I have a first generation Asus EEE PC (the 701 model) that I haven't really used much, mainly because I never got around to installing a more full featured Linux distribution on it than the one comes installed by default. I originally wanted it as a small portable machine to hack Factor and other languages on. Tonight I had a go at installing Arch Linux on it.

There is a good guide to installing Arch Linux on the EEE which I mostly followed. The basics of getting Arch up and running were pretty easy.

First step is to download the USB key version of the Core install disk. I copied this to a USB key using dd:

dd if=archlinux-2008.06-core-i686.img of=/dev/sdb

If you're doing this yourself, replace '/dev/sdb' with the device for your plugged in and unmounted USB key.

With the USB key plugged into the EEE PC, reboot it and press ESC at the bios screen. This will give an option to select to boot from the key. Choose that and Arch Linux will boot. You'll need to have a wired internet connection for this first part of the installation. The standard kernel on the USB key includes drivers for the wired ethernet, but not for the wifi.

Follow the standard install process for Arch Linux. When configuring the disk partitioning I removed all existing partitions and created one primary partition. Don't create a swap partition, following the caveats from the install guide. For the same reason choose ext2 for the filesystem.

When selecting the packages to install, ensure you choose the atl2 drivers, dhcpcd and wireless_tools. The first is so you get networking via the wired ethernet when you boot into the newly installed Arch Linux, the second for network configuration and the third is to enable configuring of the wireless connection.

Once the install is done, reboot. Everything should boot fine into the new Arch Linux install. The network should be working. If not run 'dhcpcd' to get connected.

To get wireless working download and install toofishes eeepc kernel:

# wget http://code.toofishes.net/packages/eee/kernel-eee-2.6.27.6-3-i686.pkg.tar.gz
# pacman -U kernel-eee-2.6.27.6-3-i686.pkg.tar.gz

This kernel contains everything needed for the hardware on the EEE PC. It worked for me anyway. Once installed, enable it in grub by adding something like the following added to /boot/grub/menu.lst:

# Arch Linux eeepc
title Arch Linux eeepc
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuzeee root=/dev/sda1 ro

Reboot and choose this option. To setup the wifi use:

# ifconfig wlan0 up
# iwconfig wlan0 essid your_ssid_here

If you use WPA authentication then you need to set up wpa_supplicant. I did this by backing up my /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf and creating a new one with:

# wpa_passphrase your_ssid_here your_passphrase_here >/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf

Edit /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf and add at the top:

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=wheel

Now you can associate with your chosen access point using WPA:

wpa_supplicant -D wext -i wlan0 -c /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf &
...wait a few seconds for it to connect...
dhcpd wlan0

This information was obtained from the Arch Linux wpa_supplicant docs Occasionally wpa_supplicant gives some errors but they appear to be safely ignorable since it still works. You can check if you're associated with the access point using:

# ifconfig wlan0

Once connected, update Arch Linux to the latest version:

# pacman -Syu

There's more to do to get the camera and sound going, and to install X, but that's the basics to get things up and running - as far as I've gotten so far. Total disk usage at this point is 671M leaving most of my 4GB free. I'm sure that'll change once I add X into the equation.

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