Installing Fedora 11 on my Asus EEE 701 4g Surf
Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 11:22PM
Tux in Guide, Linux, Linux, asus, eee, fedora, guide, how-to, install

Don't you love my imaginative title? At least it leaves very little, if anything, to the imagination. I paid the early adopter's tax by buying an Asus 4G surf when it first came out. In doing so, I bought myself an - admittedly cute - gizmo that came with 512 Mb memory and 4Gb hard drive space and no easy way to upgrade. This is because the 4G Surf models do not have a panel that unscrews to expose the memory, which in these models is soldered onto the board anyway.

So, as I usually do when I get a new toy, I got bored of it pretty quickly and set it aside for a while. But then, last month, Windows 7 came out and I managed to install it on the internal drive. Windows 7, it turns out, runs really quite well on the Asus, even with only 512Kb memory. A huge improvement over Vista, which I think would have melted the processor had I even threatened to install it on the EEE.

And then, two weeks ago, Fedora 11 came out. So I thought...................... Why not give that a whirl?

I wanted to preserve the Windows 7 install on the internal drive (which was a huge pita to install) and I figured I would need 8Gb, and not the 4Gb the Asus came with, in order to have enough room to actually do something useful with Fedora.

And after just 4 hours of fairly straightforward work, I had Fedora 11 all nice and shiny on my little trusty EEE pc. Since then, I find myself using it a LOT more than I ever did before. Fedora feels fast enough for normal use. If you replace Gnome and/or KDE with a lighter window manager like FVWM that will make a significant increase to the EEE's speed. Boot time is roughly 40-45 seconds from power on to login screen.

Here's what I did to pull off the install. No screwdriver required, but the usual caveats about "do this at your own risk" do apply.

What you'll need:

1 Fedora 11 install DVD (Which you can download from Fedora's website.

1 External USB DVD-ROM from which to perform the initial install.

1 8Gb SD card, blank.

1 Asus EEE PC 4G Surf. (You knew you'd need this, didn't you? The article title should have been a teeny giveaway)

Here's what you do:

  1. Hook up the external USB DVD to one of the Asus's USB ports.
  2. Insert the 8Gb SD card into the SD card slot of the Asus
  3. Start the Asus. When the bios screen shows up, hit the "esc" key to enter the boot menu
  4. In the list that appears, choose the DVD unit as the unit from which you wish to boot.
  5. Fedora install will start booting. When the selection menu appears, choose the "Install or Upgrade an existing system" prompt.
  6. It's a good idea to test the drive media before starting the installation, choose the option to do this and go have a coffee. This should take no more than 5-10 minutes.
  7. If the test fails. STOP. Re-burn the disc and start over. You don't want the frustration, believe me. (Go back to step 1. Do not pass go, do not collect $200)
  8. The fedora graphic screen should now show. Notice you can't see the bottom buttons - DON'T panic. All the following steps can be accomplished with keyboard shortcuts.
  9. First of all, hit enter, this will bring up the language selection screen. Choose your language and hit alt+n (That's: Keep the "alt" key pressed while pressing "n" at the same time) to proceed to the next screen.
  10. Same for the next step, the keyboard selection. Choose your keyboard layout and hit alt-n to continue.
  11. Next comes the hostname. Choose one, then hit alt+n to continue.
  12. Select your home city (for the time) and hit alt+n.
  13. Next choose a root password and hit alt+n to continue.
  14. Now comes the drive layout selection. There are some important caveats here:
    Be sure to DESELECT the internal eee pc drive (in my case, a 4gb ATA SILICONMOTION volume). You want to deselect this because the Fedora install should not touch the internal drive so the OS installed there will not be touched (your original Xandros or, in my case, Windows 7, can then still be booted from the internal drive) If you like, choose the "encrypt system" box. This is cool: Your whole drive - except for the boot partition - will now be encrypted. In the "What drive will you boot this installation from" dropdown, be sure to select the SD drive and NOT the internal EEE drive (in my case, I selected sdb). Finally, and most importantly be sure to check the "review and modify partitioning layout" box so you can tweak the installer's choices. You need to review and modify because you want to get rid of the swap volume that Fedora automatically creates. An alt+n should take you to the next screen.
  15. The next step may appear to be tricky, but it's not too bad:
    In the drive layout screen that appears, near the top, you should have an "LVM Volume" with an entry just below it. Select the entry just below it and click "edit". This brings up a screen that shows the logical volumes fedora will create in your LVM. You need to select the "lv_swap" and delete it by pressing the "delete" button. Why is this? You do NOT want an SD card running a swap volume, since this will significantly shorten the life of your SD card. This will impact performance, but not, I find, by much as long as you don't open 600 windows at a time. You should now have one entry left "lv_root". Select it and click on the "edit" button. Now increase the size to the maximum allowed - in my case, from 6376 mb to 7368 mb. This increases your drive size by using the deallocated size from the swap file Fedora wanted to make. Do NOT click on "encrypt", since the LVM itself will already be encrypted. Selecting encrypt here will only encrypt your installation twice, which I think you'll agree is pretty useless.
    You may be tempted to make your boot partition smaller so you can make your "/" (root) filesystem even bigger. I recommend NOT doing this. If you ever choose to upgrade your fedora 11 to the next version, a bit of extra space in the /boot filesystem can be helpful when using Fedora's built in upgrade tools.
  16. Click on alt+n and Fedora will whine at you for not using a swap file system. This is pedantic and annoying. Ignore this message, brave soul that you are, and continue.
  17. Now pick a passhprase for your encrypted drive. Needless to say, this needs to be something sufficiently large so as not to be guessed by evildoers. And when I say "sufficiently large", I really DO mean "sufficiently large". Using a familiar (but not known by others) sentence can be quite handy and will really improve the strength of your encryption.
  18. Once this is done select "write changes to disk" to commence the actual format of the drive.
  19. At this point, your installation may fail. Possibly due to memory issues, I'm not sure. In my case, I received a warning that the boot device could not be mounted and had to abort the installation. I then followed EXACTLY the same steps again, and the installation proceeded. So be persistent! Just restart from step 1 and do it all again. Being trendy comes with a price. ;-)
  20. Next screen will ask what repositories and packages you wish to install. DEselect "office and productivity" - you can always install what you need later, and it's best to keep memory usage to a minimum during the install phase. Same goes for the additional repos. Add them later, AFTER the install. Hit alt+n to continue and go have another (or TWO), coffee's. Actually, you could probably have dinner in the time it takes for the install to complete. There is a progress bar you can look at to ensure the installation is progressing.
  21. After the install is complete, Fedora will tell you it needs to reboot.
  22. Upon rebooting, don't forget to tell the EEE to boot from the SD card, and not the EEE's internal hard disk (press escape on boot, which will display a boot selection menu). Fedora should then boot and you will be confronted with a blue screen and a padlock icon with a text entry field, this is the encryption password that will unlock your drive which you supplied during the install phase.
  23. After booting, you need to answer a few more questions such as whether to use ntp (network time protocol - keeps your clock in sync with atomic time) and a regular username for the day to day use of the computer (remember: Don't ever - EVER - log in to Fedora or any other *nix windows environment as root, that's just ASKING for trouble.
  24. If all goes well, you should see the login screen and your copy of Fedora 11 on a stock Asus EEE 701 is now complete. Give yourself a pat on the back. Slap a Fedora sticker on the front, and you're good to go. Go show it off to your friends.

Stay tuned and I'll tell you about my experience installing and configuring fvwm, a more lightweight window manager than the standard Gnome or KDE, better suited to the EEE pc's processing power. But that's for another installment!

Tux lives.

Article originally appeared on dutchtechies (
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