Tweaking Ubuntu 7.10 on the ASUS EEE

This post covers the tweaks I’ve done on my EEE post-install. I have tried a number of methods suggested by various EEE/Ubuntu pages, and these appear to work the best for my requirements. As always, your mileage may vary and I would suggest checking out the original source webpage which I will refer to wherever possible in this post. The bulk of these instructions come from the Ubuntu Community page dedicated to the EEE, other sources are stated where relevant.

Getting the most out of the screen size.
The following commands (grouped for easy cut and pasting, separated by a new-line to indicate function) should be run in terminal and will perform the following tasks:

  • Setting smaller font sizes
  • Allow all applications to go full-screen using F11
  • Smaller toolbars using icons only
  • Unconstrain windows to the top of the screen
  • Making the top and bottom panels smaller

You may want to run ‘sudo su’ in your terminal first:

gconftool-2 –set /apps/nautilus/preferences/desktop_font –type string “Sans 8”
gconftool-2 –set /desktop/gnome/interface/document_font_name –type string “Sans 8”
gconftool-2 –set /desktop/gnome/interface/font_name –type string “Sans 8”
gconftool-2 –set /apps/metacity/general/titlebar_font –type string “Sans Bold 8”
gconftool-2 –set /desktop/gnome/interface/monospace_font_name –type string “Monospace 8”

gconftool-2 –set /apps/metacity/window_keybindings/toggle_fullscreen –type string “F11″

gconftool-2 –set /desktop/gnome/interface/toolbar_style –type string “icons”

gconftool-2 –set /apps/compiz/plugins/move/allscreens/options/constrain_y –type bool 0

gconftool-2 –set /apps/panel/toplevels/top_panel_screen0/size –type integer 19
gconftool-2 –set /apps/panel/toplevels/bottom_panel_screen0/size –type integer 19

Finally, ensure you are running the correct resolution using the right drivers.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

Select all the default values, and make sure you choose ‘intel’ for your video driver and ‘800×600’ as the resolution. Ubuntu is smart enough to use this res and fall back to the 800×480 resolution of the EEE.

Optimising boot speed
From terminal type:

sudo gedit /etc/init.d/rc

Look for the line that reads CONCURRENCY=none and change it to:


Save and close the file.

Change the order that hal scripts start on boot using the following from terminal.

Edit 07 Feb 2008: Domster suggests trying the following:

sudo update-rc.d -f hal remove
sudo update-rc.d hal start 13 2 3 4 5 . stop 16 1 .

Let me know if this works better for you 🙂 Otherwise, try the following:

sudo mv /etc/rc2.d/S12hal /etc/rc2.d/S13hal
sudo mv /etc/rc3.d/S12hal /etc/rc3.d/S13hal
sudo mv /etc/rc4.d/S12hal /etc/rc4.d/S13hal
sudo mv /etc/rc5.d/S12hal /etc/rc5.d/S13hal

You can also try the following suggestions from the Ubuntu-eee wiki as a one off whenever you install a new kernel by doing the following:

  1. 1. Hit “Esc” when you see “GRUB loading” (you?ve got about 3 seconds ? so stay awake!)
  2. 2. Hit “e”
  3. 3. Hit “down arrow” once
  4. 4. Hit “e”
  5. 5. You should now be editing a long line of text. Add “profile” at the end
  6. 6. Hit “enter”
  7. 7. Hit “b”

Getting wireless running (using MadWiFi)
The following stops conflicting modules from starting, installs the madwifi driver and patch and will reboot when done. Once restarted, you should have wifi enabled.

Edit: 07 Feb 2008: Domster suggests building a .deb or grabbing one someone else has already put together

sudo chmod 644 /etc/init.d/linux-restricted-modules-common

sudo apt-get install build-essential
wget ‘’
tar zxvf madwifi-ng-r2756-20071018.tar.gz
cd madwifi-ng-r2756-20071018
patch -p0 < ../madwifi-ng-0933.ar2425.20071130.i386.patch\?format\=raw make clean make sudo make install reboot

Setting up the sound

sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base

Add the line “options snd-hda-intel model=3stack-dig” to get microphone working

Shutdown Fix
Add “modprobe -r snd-hda-intel” to your /etc/init.d/halt file to work around the issue of the machine not halting due to the sound subsystem remaining active.

In my file the edited stop section looks a little like this:

do_stop () {
modprobe -r snd-hda-intel
if [ “$INITHALT” = “” ]

Setting up a swap file
My swap file started playing up. As a result I decided to create a swap file on my internal drive, and drop the swap partition on the SDHD card. From the Ubuntu community Help site, we find this FAQ on swap files.
Again, due to the wiki nature of the referred site, I recommend you go there to check things out rather than rely on what is written here. Out of interest however, the following procedure built a 512MB file, turned it into swap and then added it to my system:

sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/mnt/512Mb.swap bs=1M count=512

sudo mkswap /mnt/512Mb.swap

sudo swapon /mnt/512Mb.swap

(You can see with “cat /proc/meminfo” that your additional swap is now available)

sudo gedit /etc/fstab

and add this line at the end of the file:

/mnt/512Mb.swap none swap sw 0 0

Save and reboot

Reduce Swappiness & Disk writes
Now, this is kind of a contentious point, flash memory used to be severely constrained in the number of write/erase cycles it could handle before it became unreliable. Time and technology have moved on substantially and this is less of a concern, but still, we don’t need to swap out of memory to disk very much regardless given the speed of the solid state ‘drive’ so, this section will walk through how to reduce the amount of swapping and disk writes the system does.
From terminal, type:

gksudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf

at the bottom of the file add the line


Save the sysctl.conf file and exit the editor

We’re going to place the temporary directories in a temporary file system in the systems RAM. This means your log files will disappear when you reboot so if you’re trying to diagnose something, be sure to reverse this procedure, or check the logs BEFORE you restart your system.

From terminal, type:

gksudo gedit /etc/fstab

at the bottom of the file add the lines

tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=0777 0 0

tmpfs /var/tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=0777 0 0

tmpfs /var/log tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=0777 0 0

if you followed the install section and have a ‘reiserfs’ filesystem, you can also use the option ‘noatime,nodiratime,notail’ for slightly faster file system performance.
The next thing to do is to create symbolic links to send unneeded data to /dev/null
From terminal, type:

sudo rm -f /etc/*

sudo ln -s /dev/null /etc/

sudo rm -f /etc/mtab

sudo ln -s /proc/mounts /etc/mtab

Finally (for now at least) we need to stop Firefox from caching. For each user, start firefox, click ‘Edit’ > ‘Preferences’ and click the ‘Advanced’ tab. Under ‘Network’ set the cache size to ‘0’ and click ‘Clear Now’. Close the dialogue box and restart Firefox.
(Also check out the Ubuntu-eee wiki article)

Installing WINE
Because there are some Windows based programs I just can’t live without, I need WINE on my EEE to allow the device to pretend it’s windows enough. The following is from WineHQ and adds a trusted key, then the WINE repository, then updates and installs WINE on the system.

wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add –

sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/winehq.list

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install wine

Once installed, you need to configure wine, you can do this with the command

sudo wincfg

Maximise your Battery
From terminal, type:

sudo gedit /etc/rc.local

and add:
“echo 1500 > /proc/sys/vm/dirty_writeback_centisecs” before the line that reads ‘exit 0’

Save the rc.local file and exit the editor

From terminal, type:

sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

use + or click ‘Search’ > ‘Find’ and type in ‘defoptions=quiet’, click find. You should be shown a line that reads ‘# defoptions=quiet splash’
close the ‘find’ dialogue box and add ‘force-hpet’ to the end of this line – it should now read:

# defoptions=quiet splash force-hpet

Save the menu.lst file and exit the editor
From terminal, type:

sudo update-grub

(Also check out the Ubuntu-eee wiki article)

Free up some Space
As this model only has 4GB of internal solid state drive to play with, we’re going to want to make the most of that space, this means we’ll need to get rid of some of the default applications which come pre-configured in Ubuntu 7.10.
Open up ‘System’ > ‘Administration’ > ‘Synaptic Package Manager’ and click the ‘Search’ button. We’re going to search and mark for complete removal the following:

  • ‘bluez*’ (we’re not using Bluetooth on this device)
  • ‘f-spot*’ (we’ve got web based photo applications)
  • ‘evolution*’ (we’re going to use webmail)

Click the apply button and wait for the changes to be made to your system.
(Also check out the Ubuntu-eee wiki article)



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2 responses to “Tweaking Ubuntu 7.10 on the ASUS EEE”

  1. Domster Avatar

    A better way to install the new madwifi is to build a .deb:

    Or, just grab one somebody (:-) put together earlier:

    ‘make && make install’ is just so uncivilized, don’t you agree? Oh, and I think this is a better way of munging the startup links for hal (it doesn’t presuppose any existing configuration):

    # update-rc.d -f hal remove
    # update-rc.d hal start 13 2 3 4 5 . stop 16 1 .

  2. Rob Avatar

    Hey Domster, Thanks for the comments, I’ve updated the post with your suggestions – other readers, let me know if these changes work better for you