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Asus Eee PC Seashell - can it live again?

BarriBurt

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Morning all!

While cleaning out some space I unearthed the old Asus Eee PC "Seashell series", and promptly woke it up to see if it might make something my young kids can mess around with. I intend to build them a desktop, but they'll fight over it, so an extra ensures someone isn't feeling left out. Well, this Asus "Seashell" laptop is alive, but Win7 isn't much use around here so I'd like something supported that it can handle with all 1.6ghz of Intel Atom fury. I'd tell you the model but the label's so tattered I can't read it anymore. It's probably a 2010 model.

Reading online suggests it's a 64bit system. To what purpose with 2gb of ram I'm not sure, but there you have it.
Linux Lite = no boot in normal mode, usb boot in Compatibility mode ok, installed, locks up on restart. Boot, unreadable text (missing character glitch maybe), then flashing screen of misery with distro logo and several "failed to start" for various boot screens. Left it for an hour, no progress, recursive error, turned it off. Sorry, I'm rerunning the test to capture that error.

Linux Mint XFCE = exactly the same story up to the flashing distro logo, but this one includes "failed to start "Show Plymouth Boot Screen" and eventually went to repeating text.

I don't know what "Compatibility mode" does on these Distros, but the fact it works this way makes me think there must be some way to achieve this setting with an installed OS. The installation GUI for Linux Lite and Mint XFCE did not indicate any options for such things. How might I achieve it? Or is there another distro I'd be better off putting on this little laptop?

Edit: noticed Asus support shows a "Linux 64bit" drivers option, which is encouraging. Not sure if that's the model I have but the vintage smells about right.


Edit2:
Right, the scrolling text doesn't look like an error. Or if it is, it's too fleeting. I have some camera footage of it, including a slow-motion recording, to get that... best clarity seems to be the normal recording when slowed to .25% playrate, but boot loader appears to be just looping system initialisation after failing to start Plymouth boot screen.

Eee PC Seashell looks quite happy to do this all day. I've turned it off again.
So, booting to USB in "Compatibility mode" works - how do we achieve that from an installed OS?

I considered running the OS off the stick, but performance is too low in that state. Glacial. Kids would get frustrated and ignore the thing. If we can get it to work, I would consider buying a little 2.5" SSD for it - those are dirt cheap these days.
 
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@BarriBurt :-

Wouldn't be much point buying an SSD for it. These things are kitted-out with eMMC solid-state storage, which is soldered to the motherboard. eMMC is based on the MultiMediaCard standard, which dates all the way back to 1997, for God's sake!

(Stands for "embedded MultiMediaCard".)

There's nowhere for you to connect an SSD. You might, perhaps, be able to use an external SSD, but I really wouldn't like to say for definite...

From what I understand, most people who have one of these - in order to get more storage and a better way of booting an OS - if their eeePC has an SD card slot, they buy a decent-quality card that's supported by the slot, leave it permanently plugged-in, and install their OS of choice to that.

You cannot really improve the speed/performance of these things, due in large part to the type of hardware they were built with. @Brickwizard will confirm most of what I've said if he sees this thread.

You might have to lower yourself to use summat like 'Puppy' Linux if all else fails. Hey, at least that'll be 'home-grown'..! :p


Mike. ;)
 
@MikeWalsh returning your call, this was one of the new products branded Eee pc by Asus when they took over the ailing Eee pc brand, at best it was what we would call basic entry level. However, it did get a bit better in the later versions, to give a full appraise I will need the full model number off the manufacturer's plate on the machine. Some later models had an Atom twin core 1.6 cpu and a better hard drive. The early versions had 1gh or 1,2gh single core CPU, whichever the OP has it will be pains takingly slow. With a full-blown Linux distribution. Puppy or DSL may run OK,
 
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I successfully ran antiX on my eeePC 4G Surf, which I think is worse than yours. I used an external SD card, as Mike said, it doesn't make sense to invest more money in these thingy.
 
Well, the serial number is still (barely) legible so I ran an Asus serial number lookup. Returned:
  • Eee PC (System)
  • 1215P-BLK137M
  • BCOAAS089611
  • Outside of Manufacturer Warranty
I reckon I can hear a mechanical drive in here... and sure enough, somewhere, some optimist is trying to sell one - oh, sold out. Lucky feller. Anyway, the model number on that advertisement matches well enough with what I can make out of the (quite faded) model & serial sticker.
 
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I successfully ran antiX on my eeePC 4G Surf, which I think is worse than yours. I used an external SD card, as Mike said, it doesn't make sense to invest more money in these thingy.

I followed this suggestion and... wahey! A desktop!

Happy Little Asus Seashell 20230911_112624.jpg
Doesn't that little thing look happy with itself?
I'll test a few things, see that it can browse the web and draw a picture. Looks like the pipsqueaks can mess around with this after all. Thanks for the suggestion, ML_113
 
Now you have it working, if you run from the terminal inxi -Fnxxz you can find the full details of the machine.
 
Posted using the Eee PC Seashell, here's a copy-paste from the terminal output.


LittleBurt@Seashell:~
$ inxi -Fnxxz
System:
Kernel: 6.1.42-antix.1-amd64-smp arch: x86_64 bits: 64 compiler: gcc
v: 13.2.0 Desktop: IceWM v: 3.4.1 dm: slimski Distro: antiX-23_x64-full
Arditi del Popolo 27 August 2023 base: Debian GNU/Linux 12 (bookworm)
Machine:
Type: Laptop System: ASUSTeK product: 1215P v: x.x
serial: <superuser required> Chassis: type: 10 v: x.x
serial: <superuser required>
Mobo: ASUSTeK model: 1215P v: x.xx serial: <superuser required>
BIOS: American Megatrends v: 0601 date: 04/18/2011
Battery:
ID-1: BAT0 charge: 50.7 Wh (98.6%) condition: 51.4/56.2 Wh (91.5%)
volts: 12.5 min: 10.8 model: ASUS 1215P serial: N/A status: not charging
CPU:
Info: dual core model: Intel Atom N570 bits: 64 type: MT MCP arch: Bonnell
rev: A cache: L1: 112 KiB L2: 1024 KiB
Speed (MHz): avg: 999 high: 1000 min/max: 1000/1667 cores: 1: 999 2: 1000
3: 1000 4: 1000 bogomips: 13318
Flags: ht lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 ssse3 vmx
Graphics:
Device-1: Intel Atom Processor D4xx/D5xx/N4xx/N5xx Integrated Graphics
vendor: ASUSTeK driver: i915 v: kernel arch: PowerVR SGX535 ports:
active: LVDS-1 empty: VGA-1 bus-ID: 00:02.0 chip-ID: 8086:a011
Device-2: IMC Networks USB 2.0 UVC VGA WebCam type: USB driver: uvcvideo
bus-ID: 1-6:4 chip-ID: 13d3:5711
Display: server: X.Org v: 1.21.1.7 driver: X: loaded: intel dri: i915
gpu: i915 display-ID: :0.0 screens: 1
Screen-1: 0 s-res: 1366x768 s-dpi: 96
Monitor-1: LVDS-1 mapped: LVDS1 model: HannSpree/HannStar HSD121PHW1
res: 1366x768 dpi: 129 diag: 309mm (12.2")
API: OpenGL v: 2.1 Mesa 22.3.6 renderer: i915 :) Pineview M)
direct-render: Yes
Audio:
Device-1: Intel NM10/ICH7 Family High Definition Audio vendor: ASUSTeK
driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel bus-ID: 00:1b.0 chip-ID: 8086:27d8
Sound API: ALSA v: k6.1.42-antix.1-amd64-smp running: yes
Sound Server-1: PipeWire v: 0.3.65 running: yes
Network:
Device-1: Qualcomm Atheros AR8152 v2.0 Fast Ethernet
vendor: ASUSTeK Eee PC 1015PX driver: atl1c v: kernel pcie: speed: 2.5 GT/s
lanes: 1 port: ec00 bus-ID: 01:00.0 chip-ID: 1969:2062
IF: eth0 state: up speed: 100 Mbps duplex: full mac: <filter>
Device-2: Qualcomm Atheros AR9285 Wireless Network Adapter
vendor: AzureWave AW-NE785 / AW-NE785H 802.11bgn driver: ath9k v: kernel
pcie: speed: 2.5 GT/s lanes: 1 bus-ID: 02:00.0 chip-ID: 168c:002b
IF: wlan0 state: down mac: <filter>
Drives:
Local Storage: total: 298.09 GiB used: 7.9 GiB (2.6%)
ID-1: /dev/sda vendor: Western Digital model: WD3200BPVT-80JJ5T0
size: 298.09 GiB speed: 3.0 Gb/s serial: <filter>
Partition:
ID-1: / size: 292.35 GiB used: 7.9 GiB (2.7%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda2
Swap:
ID-1: swap-1 type: file size: 1024 MiB used: 0 KiB (0.0%) priority: -2
file: /swap/swap
Sensors:
System Temperatures: cpu: 34.0 C mobo: N/A
Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A
Info:
Processes: 145 Uptime: 1m Memory: 1.92 GiB used: 382.6 MiB (19.5%)
Init: SysVinit v: 3.06 runlevel: 5 default: 5 Compilers: gcc: 12.2.0 alt: 12
Packages: pm: dpkg pkgs: 1806 Shell: Bash v: 5.2.15 running-in: roxterm
inxi: 3.3.25
 
You have yourself just about the best of the bunch, it is newer than you thought [a 2012/2013 machine]
it will be fine for normal home use, but may struggle streaming HD content, apart from those already mentioned, distributions that should run on it
Ubuntu [mate desktop]
Lubuntu
Kubuntu
Linux lite
Peppermint
Mint LMDE
MX-64 bit
Debian with driver pack
all of these [and a few others] will run on 2gb ram.
 
That is excellent news, Greg :)

Looks like the latest, antiX 23 too, only a few days out.

If you have any questios on antiX, post them in the Debian & Derivatives subforum and mention antiX 23 in the subject title and one of us will swing by.

I put it on a few days ago and quite like it.

Hope the munchkins like it and tell 'em to honour their mother and respect their father or vicky verky.

Cheers

Chris
 
@BarriBurt :-

Well, that's good to hear.

Brickwizard's info was news to me. I'm far more "au fait" with the original line of eeePCs, prior to the Asus take-over. Those were truly minimalist 'netbooks', barely capable of handling ANY OS if we're honest about it.....on top of which, they had that weird screen resolution that 'squashed' any content down that bit too far.

Of course they came with Windows pre-installed, as did everything.....but they really were at the bottom, 'minimum-requirement' end. Hence everything was dreadfully slow & took for ever to accomplish anything.

Various lightweight/featherweight distros have managed to give many of these a new, less stressful lease of life. In fact, I believe some originally came with a distro called Xandros, OOTB.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xandros#ASUS_Eee_PC


Mike. ;)
 
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Brickwizard's info was news to me.
I manage to approximately date it by the components used. The only thing I would consider swapping out is the rather slow WD Blue plate spinner with a SSD. I don't have access to a full workshop sheet for this machine, therefore I cannot comment if the ram is Hard wired or clip in.
 
@Brickwizard :-

Ah, well, if you CAN install an SSD, that's one of the main upgrades I, too, would go for if this were mine. It can only improve matters....

I think the originals were more a demonstration of what "could" be done, rather than "should we do this"? :p


Mike. ;)
 
It's clip in, with a handy access panel for memory modules. But allegedly it can't handle more than 2gb, so no real improvement options there.

An SSD for $25 would be easy enough to arrange.

It's unfortunately sticking dud key inputs all the time, which bootloaders represent with endless ^~[[20~^ statements. It sails on regardless under antiX 23, but is probably the reason key inputs are sometimes missed when typing - I'm guessing it's overloading the inputs. A USB mouse, if used, is often ignored for a second or so when you move it - related, perhaps.

I found someone selling replacement keyboards on eBay for these (astonishing!), but is there a bash keylist or something I could look that up on? If it's a glitchy key, there's probably a way to disable the key.

Worst case, the squids just use it as it is. antiX 23 has some nice kids programs in the app library.

IMG_20230911_200102.jpg
 
It's clip in, with a handy access panel for memory modules. But allegedly it can't handle more than 2gb,
I have just checked my list of CPU's, The Atom N570nCPU can only handle 2Gb of ram so sorry you're stuck with what you have.
t's unfortunately sticking dud key inputs all the time
If possible, carefully unclip the offending button slowly [in case any springs are loose] and take a good look. There could be a spring out of place, a plastic seating clip broken or out of line, or even some crap in there holding the contacts down.
 
I've played around with AntiX before, but I'm curious about how well this works.

What happens if you try to play a YouTube video, what is the maximum resolution you can play videos at?
 
If possible, carefully unclip the offending button slowly [in case any springs are loose] and take a good look. There could be a spring out of place, a plastic seating clip broken or out of line, or even some crap in there holding the contacts down.
Sure, worth a go. But is there an app you'd suggest or a bash lookup table to help identify which one's the offender?
What happens if you try to play a YouTube video, what is the maximum resolution you can play videos at?
Well, you can choose HD resolution in Youtube and it plays, sound & all. That's a little ambitious for a 1366x768 resolution 12" monitor, but it'll download content and play it nonetheless.
AntiX is certainly chatty about what the computer has and has activity overlays right on the desktop. It's otherwise pretty bare bones - and that suits a minimum price PC like this quite well. It's handling it. But spends a lot of time disk loading from that old platter; the 2.5" SSD upgrade would cost peanuts so it's on my mind.
 
which one's the offender?
This type of error is usually associated with the up/down keys, another thing it could be is a scancode error [search linux scancode errors]
 
Well, you can choose HD resolution in Youtube and it plays, sound & all.

I am impressed! Thanks! (I was just curious, nothing more.)

The last time I dug out an old network-capable PC, it wouldn't play video higher than like 360P and that made it work like a heater and sound like a jet engine.
 
to help identify which one's the offender?

Is there anything to be said for the tedious process of opening a Text Editor (could be Leafpad for antiX) and typing in all the keys from the keyboard which generate output to the screen?

That would be starting with the line of numerals above QWERTY and proceeding from there.

Wiz
 

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