Sunday, 16 August 2009

Make your Asus Eee 900/1000 run 4x faster

Previously, I described how to set up an Asus Eee 1000 to run Eeebuntu and described the 8GB / 32GB Solid State Disk setup it has. What I didn't realise then is that the 32GB SSD provided was much slower than the 8GB SSD, and that the 8GB SSD wasn't particularly fast either.

You can now purchase a much faster "Runcore" drop-in replacement for the 32GB SSD.
It is 4-6x faster for read/write and makes apps that were sluggish before, such as Firefox, respond quickly. Boot and shutdown time and noticeably faster too.

The Runcore is sized at either 64GB or 128GB. I went for the 64GB option (enough for me!)
The full title for Googling is RunCore 64GB PATA Mini PCI-e PCIe SSD for ASUS EEE PC 901 and 1000. Phew.
In the US you can buy it from ($220) and in the UK I bought mine from for £160 inc. VAT. Check out the comments on there from other happy customers :-)

Installation is simple. Backup all your data to a USB stick (usual warnings about proceeding at your own risk). Shutdown and unplug your Eee PC. Turn it over. On the back there is a panel (red rectangle below) retained by two precision screws (red circles). One of these on mine was hidden under a silver "EeePC" sticker which I had to peel up for access.

Unscrew these using the (provided) precision screwdriver and lift off the panel. You can then remove two screws to release the existing 32GB memory card. It is simple to push in the replacement one and screw it down. Replace the panel and screw that down. Here's my old Asus 32GB card in the box the RunCore card came in from

Now power back up and on the BIOS boot screen press F2. Go to Advanced, IDE Configuration and you should see [RunCore 64G-C SSD] as the new drive.

What I did was install Eeebuntu 3.0.1 (Ubuntu 9.04) to the 64GB RunCore SSD (format it and use 100% of space for root / partition) and use the Asus 8GB SSD as the Linux swap space (select manual configuration at install time to be able to do this). After that I restored my user files from the backup.

Works like a charm!

Asus Eee 1000 using Ubuntu 9 Jaunty with INQ1 Phone as a Bluetooth Modem

This article follows on from my earlier blog post on how to install Eeebuntu (Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid) on an Asus Eee 1000 and use it with an INQ1 phone as a bluetooth modem.
I have reinstalled with Eeebuntu 3.0.1 NBR (Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty) and it's a big improvement. It now comes with EeePC Tray working right out of the box and you can skip most of the setup I gave previously. There are a couple of tricky points and the procedure for getting an INQ1 phone to work as a bluetooth modem is slightly different (and easier) and I outline these below.

Install Eeebuntu

First, install Eeebuntu 3.0.1 NBR onto a USB stick and then onto your Eee 1000 using the same approach as described in my earlier blog post. Run Administration / Update Manager and make sure you have the latest updates installed.

I found the latest acpi utilities were showing up as grey on the Update Manager (it ends up with an interim version that doesn't handle the screen mode switching properly from the EeeControl tray icon). There was also some debris from the install. To fix this do:
$ sudo -s
# apt-get autoremove
# apt-get install eeepc-acpi-utilities

Install Dropbox

The Dropbox package available under Administration / Synaptic does not work with Eeebuntu 3.0.1. When I tried that I got an error:

The program 'dropbox' received an X Window System error.
This probably reflects a bug in the program.
The error was 'BadIDChoice (invalid resource ID chosen for this connection)'.
(Details: serial 722 error_code 14 request_code 53 minor_code 0)

There is a fix described here.
To make it work I downloaded nautilus-dropbox_0.6.1_i386_ubuntu_9.04.deb and then installed the patched version manually with:

$ sudo dpkg -i nautilus-dropbox_0.6.1_i386_ubuntu_9.04.deb
$ cd; rm -fr .dropbox-dist
$ tar xfz dropbox-lnx.x86-0.6.510.tar.gz
$ .dropbox-dist/dropbox --sync
(enter login details)

On a restart, Dropbox was integrated and working with Eeebuntu nautilus.

Install Blueman

To install Blueman you need to add their repository. Start a terminal session and type:
$ gpg --recv-keys 6B15AB91951DC1E2
$ gpg --export --armor 6B15AB91951DC1E2 | sudo apt-key add -

Then go to Administration / Software Sources, click the Third Party Software tab and click "Add...". Where it says "APT line:" type in on one line:

Click 'Add Source', click Close, click Reload. Close the window.
Run Administration / Update Manager and apply updates and restart.
Run Administration / Synaptic Package Manager and search for and install "blueman".

Note - if you follow the instructions I gave in my previous blog for Ubuntu 8.10, you will get an older version of Blueman that gives a Python error complaining it cannot find ''. In that case, do an 'apt-get remove blueman' then follow the instructions above.

On the main menu select Preferences / Bluetooth Manager. If it prompts you to start Bluetooth, say Yes. Now do a Search and bond and trust with your INQ1. As mentioned in the previous blog, if you cannot see your phone check you have turned on bluetooth networking on the INQ1 phone:

menu Settings / Bluetooth = Switch - on ; Visibility - show your phone

menu Settings / Advanced / Connectivity / Modem Connect - via Bluetooth

In Blueman you should see your phone's name below the button bar. Click on it, then click the Setup button at the top. Choose Dialup Networking (DUN) and click Forward. It will prompt you to add a profile type. dropbox-lnx.x86-0.6.510.tar.gzSelect "3 (Handsets)". It should then connect to your phone and report a working connection. Try running menu Internet / Firefox and browsing to a website to test it.

If I find any more issues, I will add them to this blog.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

YAPC::EU::2009 Lisbon

I'm back from the European Perl conference in Lisbon.
Man, that was fun. Lisboa is a great city, with plenty of tourist sights to see before the conference itself. I was staying in Hotel Alif, the main conference hotel, along with many other Perlmongers. The metro system was good and easy to use (wish I could say the same about London ;-) and it was simple getting to the conference venue at the Faculty of Sciences, Lisbon University.

The standard of talks this year was very high and I attended more than usual. In particular, I wanted to hear more about Moose the meta-object protocol based extension to Perl 5.

Moose in Perl 5.10 brings in the best language features of Perl 6, Common Lisp, Smalltalk, Java, Ruby etc. while still being compatible with older Perl 5 code such as the huge library at CPAN.
It lets you handle in a simple, powerful and intuitive way:
  • classes
  • data members and accessors
  • method parameter signatures and type-checking (no more @_ unrolling)
  • roles
  • traits
  • mix-ins
Giving shorter, easier-to-read and more expressive code that is much easier to maintain.

Moose's core features are now stable and production-ready and any self-respecting Perl 5 programmer should consider switching to using it as soon as possible.

Piers Cawley told us about how he moved from Perl to Ruby then was lured back to Perl by the cutting-edge language features that have been added to Perl 5. The joy of it was apparently enough to make him sing! Either that or is was the sight of beautiful teutonic youths ;-)

Yuval Kogman filled in the details of using Moose and some MooseX modules and is running a long best practices Moose training session today in the post-conference training slot.

Paul Fenwick of Perl Training Australia gave us a good run through of modern Perl programming using Moose and autobox with some interesting asides on autodie, PAR::Repository for automatic deployment and updating of applications, and application speed profiling using Devel::NYTProf.

To get you started with Moose I can recommend the Moose book by Dave Rolsky and Stevan Little.

Well done to the organisers, and I look forward to next year's event in Pisa, Italy.