Christopher’s Blog

27Dec/1231

Ubuntu 12.10 on the Asus F201E / X201E

Since I am currently over-saturated with Apple products (MacBook, iPad, iPhone, iPod - I have them all) or Windows products (at work), I was looking for a portable notebook to escape the Apple/Windows universe every now and then to play a bit with Linux.

Requirements were that the notebook had to be light and very cheap - the latter characteristic is also good for traveling because you don't need to worry too much that the notebook gets stolen. The choice fell on the Asus F201E that is called X201E (http://www.asus.com/Notebooks/Versatile_Performance/X201E/) in the US.

Choppy YouTube videos with shipped Ubuntu
It came preinstalled with Ubuntu 12.04 64-Bit, however the performance of fullscreen HD Flash videos was very poor. Videos on websites like YouTube were displayed very choppy and sometimes also with a lag in the audio track. Therefore, I tried to install newer graphics drivers, tried several other tweaks and a few other Linux distributions - with no real improvement.

The Asus F201E running Ubuntu 12.10.

The Asus F201E running Ubuntu 12.10.

Fresh install of Ubuntu 12.10
Finally, I found out that my favorite distribution for better performance (less choppy Flash video) and usability for desktop use (installed fonts, installed Flash plugin, drivers, clearness of the user interface) was Ubuntu 12.10. The main trick here was to take the 32-Bit version and NOT the 64-Bit version although the processor supports it.

I used Linux Live USB creator on Windows to put the downloaded iso file from Ubuntu (link) onto a USB stick and make it bootable. I booted from the stick using the legacy BIOS option by pressing ESC during startup and then selecting the USB stick in the menu and not the UEFI boot option.

The UEFI install caused a lot of trouble and did not work, also with the other Linux distributions. To save time, I therefore opted for the good old BIOS option that seemed to work. I let Ubuntu partition the entire 500 GB harddrive. The installation went fine, only a few things had to be changed to make it work as before:

Minor tweaks necessary
For a few issues, some tweaks were necessary to fix them.

Brightness keys
After the installation, the keys for the brightness were not working. This could be fixed by editing the /etc/default/grub file and changing the line "GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash" to "GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash acpi_osi=". After running "sudo update-grub" in the terminal and rebooting, the keys were working again.

Network card not working
Besides, the ethernet controller was not recognized and did not work, while Wifi was functioning just fine. This could be fixed my installing the package linux-backports-modules-cw-3.6-quantal-generic. This package will install several other packages (depending on the current kernel used) and after running "modprobe alx" in the terminal as super user, the ethernet card was working also.

Asus software sources
The original Ubuntu that came with the Asus was using two special software sources, those I added again in 12.10. They were "http://asus.archive.canonical.com/updates precise-annan public" and "http://asus.archive.canonical.com/updates precise-annan public (Source Code)". I don't really know whether Ubuntu 12.10 is using any of these Asus packages, but for future reference, I just included them in this blog post.

System up and running
After fixing these few issues, Ubuntu 12.10 is running fine. Flash videos play more smoothly and everything seems to work just as intended. Speed-wise, the notebook naturally cannot compete with devices that have faster processors and are more expensive, but with this build quality it is a nice travel companion at the fraction of the price of a MacBook air.

Comments (31) Trackbacks (5)
  1. Hi,
    I have the Asus F201 notebook and would like to install the Asus-Packages, like you explained! I found the files in the internet, but do not know how to install them.

    Can you help me with that issue?

    Greets from Germany,
    Johannes

  2. Hi Johannes,

    I did not actively install any of the packages from Asus. In fact, I just added them to the software sources. This can be done in “System Settings” and then “Software Sources”. Since the Asus files are probably for the pre-installed version of Ubuntu (12.04), I guess the system does not even use them.

    Hope it helps.
    Christopher

  3. @cb hi, since you do a fresh install of 12.10 with the official iso, I guess your os won’t use anything in those special repositories. But I still think it’s a good idea to list them here, incase some {f|x}201e users stick on 12.04 but mess up their source list.

  4. Agree. Thanks also for the comment regarding the error message when posting. Will look into it…

  5. Did you got the networkcard working using Ubuntu 12.04? My favourite distro is based on it :(

  6. See the part “network card not working” in the article above. I guess for 12.04 it will be the same package. Of course, you need to be logged on to Wifi to make it work. I got it running under 12.10.

  7. Hi – with F201E + 12.04LTS + linux-backports-modules-cw-3.5-precise-generic package I face following problem: Network (LAN and WLAN) is working fine but when coming back from sleep mode LAN will not be available any more. Reboot fixes the problem so I think it has something to deal with actions while going to sleep or waking up again. Any ideas? Thank you!

  8. Thanks. I also reinstalled my f201e.

    My network adapter works now. But the max. transfer rate is 2.5mb/s. That’s quite poor for 100mbit. Have you also this problem? Is another driver necessary for the network adapter?

  9. Now I installed 13.04. This version is much better for this netbook.
    Keys for brightness are working out of the box. Also the network-cards are recognized and the transfer-rate is much better…

    So use 13.04 beta…

  10. @Stefan Haven’t tested LAN after “wake-up”, so I can’t say.

    @Mario 13.04 sounds good. I will update once it is released. :)

  11. hi all,
    just to share some infos about x201e. I’ve found out that still there some issues with kernel module in ubuntu. I’ve tried some version and found that xubuntu 12.04.2 have wifi working out of the box. after i’ve done some updates (linux-image) and the wireless stop working, but the next update make it working again (i don’t investigate deeply). actualy version 3.2.0-39-generic (pae and not pae) working very well.
    I prefer not manualy compile driver for ethernet: find out that only (do not update it!) linux-backports-modules-cw-3.4-3.2.0-38-generic (pae and not pae) works well (the other backport-modules-* don’t.).
    i change the line in grub configuration to make britghness key working, but this disables the wireless key (i can alway turn of the wifi via network-manager).

    i would like to thank Christopher a lot. when i start this notebook for the first time have the same issues reported here (flash videos are choppy in 64bit version) and find the blog very usefull. thanks!

    I prefer to use Ubuntu LTS version only and hybernation don’t work at all.

    bye

  12. i forgot to say that bluetooth doesn’t work.

    bye!

  13. Thanks for your advice. I have a problem with the suspend mode. A recent kernel-update (3.5.0.?) broke it. Now I can use suspend only once during a session. The second time I try suspend it fails and I receive the login message. Suspend worked flawless with the original 12.04.2 and 12.10 installations but stopped working after getting the system up to date. With Ubuntu 13.04 suspend does not work right after install. Any ideas?

  14. @Ooobuntu – ubuntu seems to have a quite kahotic way to release update, so I only use lts version, and keep finger crossed… (I like debian, but this hardware is too recent and i don’t want to get crazy looking for driver. Also I want a “modern” SO for my laptop). why don’t you simply go back to 12.04.2? however you can alway choose the kernel version on boot by pressing left shift key on boot (previous linux version menu), if you do not have uninstalled them.
    the best sugestion is that when you have a working system, touch it the less you can…

    bye

  15. I have install 32bit version. i think i’m going to use 64bit version from the next computer that i’ll buy (about two years).

    bye

  16. This Eee-PC _ships_ with Ubuntu, so everything should just work out of the box. And there shoudln’t really be a need to completely re-install either; you can simply upgrade to 12.10 (and probably to 14.04 etc) using the built-in methods. For example: In Update-Manager, click on “Settings” and then select to list every available Ubuntu version and not just “Long Term Support”. Also 64-bit is fine; I don´t see why it shoud be necessary to “downgrade” to a 32-bit version. In any case, Ubuntu 13.04 is just around the corner (will be there by the end of April 2013), and support for “modern” hardware should get better and better with every new (kernel) version.

  17. @essetikappa: Ususally I use LTS on other systems but 12.04.2 did not work that fast. I hope that 13.04 will still get some improvements but even in alpha stage it’s very reliable. In the meantime I use Pear OS (available in Version 7 from today), one of the fastest Ubuntu based distrobutions I have seen so far and without the suspend problems.

  18. I just installed Ubuntu 12.04 (LTS) 64bits on this Asus X201E and it works nicely. Anything from the webcam to the bluetooth ant the wifi works out of the box.
    I didn’t test usb 3.0 devices as I don’t own any, but 2.0 are working perfectly.
    The only thing I had to try more than one time was the choice of a working installation device. I first wanted to use a 2Gb SD card as I usually use it to install all linux os, but, the X201E was not showing it in the boot menu.
    Using a regular 2Gb USB Key was ok.

    Also notice that my X201E was shipped with Ubuntu installed…but a 199Gb partition was formated in NTFS and although there was only one system, it was booting in efi mode and had an EFI partition… They should pay more attention to the install process because I don’t worry and do a fresh install as most linux users will, but if someone buys this pc by confidence with Asus hardware and in order to switch to Linux, he won’t understand this partition stuff and think linux is crap, using too much space…

    Or perhaps is it a way to show the same free space than when Win8 is installed :) Ok, this is a troll…

  19. My SSD got here the other day, so the original internal HDD is replaced now (no more noise), and I just installed Ubuntu 12.10. Works fine; wired networking too thanks to Christopher’s extremely helpful hints above!

    Merci! :)

    P.S.Should all versions have bluetooth?

  20. I’m running Xubuntu 12.10. Needed the grub-fix for the brightness keys, but now it works fine for me. Wireless key does not acually, but for that the network-manager is sufficient (as mentioned before). What I’m having trouble with is the combined headphone/audio jack. Can someone tell me how to use it? I get Sound out of it, but there is no option for me to use a microphone (in the audio manager). I’m trying with a combined headphone/microphone jack I also use for my smartphone. Can that even work or is this a only one of both type thing? In that case, how do I switch? Good thing I have a USB sound card I can use for the moment, because the internal microphone is a bit too crappy to use for skyping.

  21. @Chriskross Good question. I wasn’t able to get the audio/mic jack to work, either (to be precise the mic part). Best would be if it worked with the standard iPhone headset. Any suggestions?

  22. to make asus x201e hibernate works on Ubuntu 13.04 I did so:

    sudo mkdir /etc/pm/sleep.d/moved
    sudo mv /etc/pm/sleep.d/11_usb_s3 /etc/pm/sleep.d/moved/

    it works immediatly

    bye
    Luca

  23. There seems to be a “suspend works the first time only” issue that is still there with Ubuntu 13.04.

    To check if it concerns you, try putting your X201e to sleep by closing the lid (or pressing Alt-F1) and then waking it back up _two_ times. If suspend only works once (or not at all) and dmesg contains lines like “PM: Device 0000:03:00.0 failed to suspend async: error -5″ you’ve got the bug, and instead of saving energy (as you’d expect), your notebook will stay on and drain your battery.

    To fix this, you can add the following script to /etc/pm/sleep.d/40_asusX201e (don’t forget to make it executable, i.e. “chmod 755″ and “chown root:root”):

    #!/bin/sh

    # Fix ASUS X201e “only one time suspend” issue.
    # Problem in atheros network driver (eth0).
    #
    # Solution recovered from:
    # http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2128766

    case $1 in
    suspend|suspend_hybrid|hibernate)
    modprobe -r alx
    ;;
    resume|thaw)
    modprobe alx
    ;;
    esac

  24. Hi Johannes,

    Hats off to you for a great tutorial. Now I wish I could make it work :-)

    I tried originally a dual boot install from Win 8, the installer fails to start as I reported here :
    http://askubuntu.com/questions/300384/black-screen-when-trying-to-install-ubuntu-dual-boot-from-usb-on-asus-f201e-kx

    I then found your article, download the 32 bit of 13.04 (haven’t tried 12.04 32 bit though), modified the BIOS to add the USB option, selected USB and … nothing happens or the system simply boots back to Windows (I also tried with a Mint distro just to see).

    Of course there’s a chance that I missed something, if you have any suggestions I would take them readily.

    thanks

    P

  25. I have successfully installed Debian sid on my F201E, with kernel 3.8.13.
    I subsequently put my repositories to testing so I am now in testing

    Wifi was working but was erratic, it was solved very simply, just installing the package firmware-brcm80211 (you need to enable non-free repo for this). After this linux is going to use the module brcmsmac for wifi.

    Atheros network card has the issue described by Christopher, solved compiling and modprobing the alx driver (found on http://www.linuxfoundation.org/collaborate/workgroups/networking/alx , section “code”) (the link Christopher has given was not working for kernel 3.8.13)

    The main problem is that there is NO middle click, even emulating it by clicking left and right simultaneously. That is horrible, I have to go back to the rough and rustic Selectt + Ctrl-C + Ctrl-V method, instead of the real-men Select + middle click method ! Berk… :-(

    And also, the battery is NOT removable, Apple has showed the way to make money (battery will be usable 2 years instead of 5 or 6 if we can remove it when not needed) and the other constructors are using the path opened by Apple :-(

    No virtual numpad (using verr-num), even with the function key. Too bad.

    Out of this, it seems a good machine. In France, we can ask the refund of Win8 to Asus (43€), I’ve asked it and am waiting for a reply.

    USB3 is not tested yet.

  26. Ab Kernel 3.9 ( getestet ubuntu 13.04 mit Mainline kernel update via mainline ppa ) ohne jede Bootoption gehen am F201E alle FN-Tasten und Hardware out of the Box und es leuchtet nun auch die Wifi Lampe bzw geht aus wenn Wifi deaktiviert wurde ;-)

    UEFI ist eine Seuche, also die BIOS Emulation zur USB-Installation nutzen und SecureBoot abschalten. Grafik für Unity & Apps wie openshot/gimp reicht zwischen 64 bis 128MB.

    Zum Stromsparen und leisesein benutze ich mit 3.9 :

    GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash i915_enable_rc6=7 pcie_aspm=force ”

    Stromsparen mit der Festplatte : Im Dash nach “laufwerke” oder “disk” suchen. Die Laufwerksverwaltung hat eine Option ( etwas versteckt in einem Button oben ) um AHCI Spindown nach x Minuten zu aktivieren. Ich hab meine auf 5 Minuten eingestellt bei mittlerem Stromsparen ( Regler in die Mitte ziehen ) .

    Unity beschleunigen : Im Compizconfigsettingsmanager (CCSM) “Animationen” und “Fenster einblenden” komplett ausschalten. Die Dash- Suche läuft schneller wenn unter “Privatsphäre” in den Systemeinstellungen die Suche nach Online-Ergebnissen deaktiviert wurde .

    Es gibt noch etliche weitere Tweaks, ggfs. veröffentliche ich das mal als Blog demnächst. Laufen tut es jedenfalls inzwischen hervorragend und zwar leise und mit reichlich Akku ( das war out of the Box mit dem normalen 13.04 leider nicht der Fall , es lief zwar alles, aber nicht wie ich es mir gewünscht hatte )

  27. den 3.9 Kernel in Ubuntu 12.x/13.x hineinzaubern : hier gibt es ein Script, das alles alleine bewerkstelligt, bitte die Anleitung lesen! :

    https://github.com/GM-Script-Writer-62850/Ubuntu-Mainline-Kernel-Updater/blob/master/README.md

  28. Read your blog. Read all of it including the comments. Let me inform here, that I tried 13.04, 12.04 … and finally 12.10. The only thing that worked with me with a dual boot (for secure boot bios) was the 12.10. I had to do the boot-repair later on after installing ubuntu on it. That made sure that I got the boot menu up and running, NOT untill then. Also one issue that i am facing is, I am not able to find any graphics drivers for ubuntu 12.10 for asus f201e. Intel drivers, to be precise. Even without the drivers its working absolutely fine. But the videos lag, the animations are a biiitt choppy. It would be really nice if i am able to install graphics driver for ubuntu on my machine.
    HOw did i check it does not have any drivers -> system settings -> details.

    If you all can help me get that, it would be really great !!!! Thanks

  29. The update for 12.04 just broke my ethernet connection.

  30. Yes it looks like something in the latest 12.04 update killed the wired driver. Wireless still works for me, but the wired “eth0″ connection no longer appears in the ifconfig output.

  31. This article helped when I bought this nice light Netbook a year ago.
    By now Ubuntu runs out oft the box. No extra packages or tweaks needed.
    Video runs fine. HD YouTube is not choppy anymore. That was true even with 13.10 before I recently replaced the HDD with a cheap SSD and re-installed a fresh 14.10. Now it flies.


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