Monday, 27 July 2009

AntiX Mepis 8.2 On The Eee PC 900.

AntiX Mepis 8.2 is a stripped down Mepis, using the Ice WM desktop on a Mepian/Debian Testing base.

Let's get down to business. I downloaded the .iso, put it on a 1GB stick using UNetbootin, rebooted and after hitting space to skip the video options, I was presented with a nice looking desktop. In the top right of the desktop there was Conky telling me what was going on with the CPU and stuff. A stormy looking background and a nicely configured panel completed the rather polished look.

No battery indicator anywhere, though I'm pretty sure that's easy enough to sort out.

So, first the acid test. Would it work with wireless?

Clicking on the network icon in the tray said yes, it did work.

So I hit connect, entered my WEP pass, hit OK...

...and then hit Connect again.

And there I was, connected.


But, could I toggle the wireless on and off?
This is something that almost every distro I've tried on the Eee fails on. Some can't turn it off. Some can turn it off but not on again. And some can turn it off and on but then run into trouble reconnecting.

So, I hit the wireless toggle (Fn+F2) and the blue wireless LED indicator went out. I waited about ten seconds and hit it again. The LED came back on and I was able to connect to my network again. Excellent!

I found the webcam app, Cheese, in the menus. Fired it up and voila! A working webcam!

I thought I'd take a look at what was available in the repositories as the screenshot utility is annoyingly forgetful of your settings. I opened up Synaptic and hit Reload. But no dice. Checked that I was still connected...hit it again, still nothing.

So I opened the Iceweasel browser and went to Google. Nothing. Still connected, though.

I rebooted into Mint and went to look for an answer...

...and found it. But first I changed the theme to something a bit more, er, green.

Anyway, when you start the wireless manager, Wicd, go to Preferences > External Programs > and enable dhclient. Like this:

And so I was able to use Iceweasel and Synaptic.

Flash works out of the box but there's no Java although that's only a Synaptic install away, as are the W32 codecs that I insist upon.

I say only a Synaptic install away...

...the menus really are something of a shambles.

With a little tweaking, this really could be the ideal distro for the Eee. Wireless, sound, webcam and resolution all working out of the box. It's a small-ish install (if you want smaller, look to Puppy), it looks good and it's nice and zippy.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Cracking WEP With Spoonwep On The Eee Pc 900.

I have BackTrack 3 Final running from a 4GB SDHC card which resides in my 900's SD slot. It's handy having a live distro to call on and BT3 works well with both the 900 and the 701. Apart from the sound. There's no sound. Like I care.

Anyway, I tend to use it for testing WEP encrypted networks (purely for educational purposes, mind) and I've learned how to do it using the command line. Then someone pointed out that a utility called Spoonwep will do the job using a simple GUI.

So I gave it a go. You won't learn much from it, I would strongly recommend you learn the command line way (which is a lot more powerful), but it is a bit of a time saver.

Here's how to do it:

01) Open a terminal:

airmon-ng stop ath0

02) Next:

airmon-ng start wifi0

03) Next:

airodump-ng ath0

04) Choose the AccessPoint(AP) you want to hack and remember the channel number. The AP will need to have a PWR rating of above 20 to have any chance of this working.

05) Hit CTRL+C to stop

06) Then copy the AP MAC address

07) In the same terminal:


08) In Victim MAC, paste the AP MAC Address

09) Choose your network card. On the EeePC 701 and 900 it's Ath0

10) Set the AP Channel Number

11) Set the Injection Rate to maximum

12) Use Fragmentation and Forge Attack

13) Use 128 Bits Key Length

14) Click launch. It does take some time, usually between ten and twenty minutes. Just be patient.

15) If it works, the key will appear as a string of characters punctuated by colons. Remove the colons and your key is what remains.

Example: 12:34:56:78:90 should be read as 1234567890.

Here's some screen shots of Spoonwep in action on my brother's network:

Not bad, eh? Fifteen minutes to crack my brother's WEP key.

Wasn't he surprised!! Needless to say he's changed his encryption to WPA...

Updating the BIOS in the Eee Pc 900.

I’d been having some problems with my 900's 16GB drive recently and after much messing about I’ve reached the conclusion that I need a new one.

Now, one of the solutions to my problem I tried was to update the BIOS. It was a long shot at best, but you never know.

I’ve never done this before and I understand that if you make a mistake whilst doing it, you can be left with a very pretty Asus EeePC 900 doorstop.

Please, unless you really are confident of your ability to follow instructions to the letter or you are having problems which you know a BIOS update will solve, leave the BIOS alone.

This is how it’s done.

You will need a USB stick. I used a generic 1GB drive, I wouldn’t recommend using anything over 4GB. Plug it into the machine on the right hand side in the USB slot closest to you. Make sure no other drives are attached.

Go to System > Administration > Partition Editor

Enter your password.

Once it’s finished scanning your drives, go to the drop down list at the top right and click on /dev/sdd.

Then right click the partition box > Unmount.

Right click it again > Format to FAT32

Click Apply.

When it’s done, right click again > Manage Flags and tick the Boot box.

When it’s done, you can close the partition editor and move on.

Let’s get the BIOS file!

Download the BIOS file from or, for ease of use, from my SkyDrive.

Save it to a convenient place. Right click the zip file and then ‘Extract Here’. A file called 900-ASUS-1006.ROM will appear.

Rename it to 900.ROM You MUST do this. It will not work unless you do.
here (click on the little plus sign next to BIOS and then Download From Global)
That is your BIOS file and you need to copy it to your USB stick. It should be the only file on the stick.

Now, you’re sure you’ve got all of that? Good.

This is the fun part.

Shutdown the Eee.

Make sure your Eee is using mains power.

Make sure you have nothing attached to it (USB sticks, drives, SD cards) and hit the power button.

Now start up and hit F2 at the Asus screen to go into the BIOS. Once in, go to (using the arrow keys) Boot > Boot Device Priority and make sure it looks like this:

1st boot device Removable Dev.

2nd boot device HDD:SM-ASUS-PHISON

3rd boot device ATAPI CD Rom

Then hit ESC.

Now go to Boot Settings Configuration. You need to make it look like this:

Quick Boot Disabled

Quiet Boot Disabled

To do this, use the arrow keys and the enter key.

When you’re done, hit ESC and then F10 and Enter.

Now shutdown.

Put your stick with the BIOS file into the left hand USB slot and start up the Eee.

At the Asus screen, hold down ALT and hit F2.

Some text will appear. You won’t have anything to do now. Just let it get on with what it needs to do. It takes a few minutes.


Only when you are prompted to do so, shutdown using the power button.

And when you reboot, if you go into the BIOS you will notice that the version number has changed.

Also, you will probably notice that your fan runs a lot quieter now.

Which is nice.

Installing My New Printer On Linux Mint 7 Gloria.

Setting up my printer (23 June 2009)

As it happens, we have a new printer.

It’s an HP Deskjet F2280 all-in-one.

I highly recommend HP printers as they are very well supported in Linux.

So, unpacked it, followed the setup instructions and connected it.

There was a short pause while it looked like nothing was happening and then a message popped up telling me that the printer had been installed, set up and was ready for use. So I opened a document hit print and it printed.


Then, because I’m that way inclined, I wanted to have a nice looking GUI to configure the printer with. And there is one available for HP printers.

Go to System > Synaptic and search for hplip-gui. And install it.

Now, to stop it running automatically (I don’t do enough printing to warrant it appearing at startup):

Go to System > Preferences > Startup Applications and untick the HP System Tray Service.

Sorted, as they say.

Getting rid of the Keyring Password.

The Keyring Password

Now, when I first tried to connect to a wireless network, I was asked to create a password for the keyring. So I did and I used a different password to my user password.

Then I found that every time I booted, I was asked for this password before I could connect to my network. Gwibber, the Twitter client, wouldn’t or couldn’t use the network to access Twitter. Which, I assumed, was a permissions problem and put it down to something to do with the Keyring.

I found this a bit irritating and went to find a solution. And here’s what I learnt.

This machine is for my use only, so I didn’t really need to set a Keyring password.

To remove the password and stop the Keyring constantly asking for it, go to:

Applications > Accessories > Passwords and Encryption Keys

Hit the Passwords tab and then right click the Keyring Password (or whatever it’s called) > Change Password.

You have to put the old password in but then don’t type anything into the other two boxes and hit Change. A message pops up about lack of security, but that’s fine. Hit Ok or whatever and then reboot to see the changes.


Installing Linux Mint 7 Gloria On The Eee PC 701

Just a quick heads up on this.

I used to be a 701 4GB owner until June 2008 when I bought my 900. I gave my 701 t0 my brother in the hope that he and his family would warm to Linux. I left him running Xandros in advanced mode.

I popped over to see my brother last week and after showing him what BackTrack 3 could do on my 900 he said he wanted it on the 701. Which I did. BackTrack 4 Pre Release, in fact.

Now, while it worked well, it booted to a command prompt requiring that you type startx to get the thing going and when you are logged in, you’re logged in as root. All of which is fine and dandy if you know what you’re doing, but in a family with a six year old who likes to go onto the CBeebies site and use Tux Paint, it’s maybe not the right distro.

So I installed Mint 7 instead. And it works as well as it does on the 900.

The install was almost identical to the 900 install that I ran through earlier, except when the partitioning screen appears, be sure to choose the “Use the entire disk” option.

After the install, I tweaked it, keeping in mind that a small child would be using it, I stripped out the same stuff as I did on my 900 install and also removed Brasero, Pidgin, The Gimp and Open Office.

And then added BleachBit, Ubuntu Tweak, Wxcam, Picasa (she loves taking photos), Abiword and, of course, Isla’s beloved Tux Paint.

Now, if you install Tux Paint on the 701 you really must install the tuxpaint-config package as well. This little utility will allow you to choose the correct screen settings, making the most of the 701’s small screen. I don’t remember if the configuration utility appears in the menu or not, so just open a terminal, Applications > Accessories > Terminal, type tuxpaint-config and hit enter.

All in all, Mint 7 on the EeePC 701 4GB is a very pleasurable experience. I could have removed more and given it a bit more room, but a machine which is only used for browsing doesn’t really need loads of free space and after following my install guide and tweaking it, there was 1.3GB free.


Putting Mint 7 On The Big (Well, Bigger) Screen.

Today I decided that it would be nice to see Mint on a much bigger screen than my little Eee 900’s.

Now, the TV has a VGA port on the back, the Eee has one on it’s right side. All I need is a cable.

So, I popped off to Argos and bought a Belkin Monitor Cable.

£25 FOR A CABLE!!! *falls over*

After being brought round by a member of staff, I managed to justify the purchase by telling myself “it is well made and feels nice and sturdy and I’ll never have to buy another one…”. I hope.

So I got home and had a cup of tea to steady my nerves and then fired up the Eee and the TV. Then I plugged the cable in and switched the TV’s source to PC.

Now, at this point I made mistakes. Lots of them. I assumed that by going to System > Preferences > Display, I would be able to configure it.

Stupid boy…

I spent ages lost in a pair of screens that were somehow joined together, wondering where my pointer had gone and thinking “all I want is big screen Mint. If I have it on the big screen, I won’t need it on the little one.”

I managed to get it sort of right, but the screen resolution was stuck at 800x600 on both screens.

The answer to what I wanted was fairly simple. And I found it in Synaptic.

I installed the gnome-randr-applet and added it to the panel.

To add applets to the panel, right click an empty space on the panel > Add To Panel and choose from the list.

The new applet is called Display Geometry Switcher.

With that added, it was a simple case of logging out and then back in again and choosing the resolution I wanted (1320×768) by left clicking the applet.

When I choose that resolution, the Eee’s screen switches off. That’s fine.

A word of warning, when you log out, the login page will not let you see what you are typing. Just the login page. This doesn’t affect anything else. I don’t know why.

And here it is. Not a particularly good photo, but there you go.

You can’t really see it here, but the display is nice and crisp. I’m very impressed.

And when you want to remove the cable, either log out (hit CTRL+ALT+Backspace) and remove it or change the resolution using the applet so that the Eee’s screen comes back on.

So, there you are. Now, what I really need is a wireless keyboard with built in touchpad (which should work out of the box with Mint) so I can sit on the sofa with my Eee under the TV…

Tweaking Linux Mint 7 Gloria On The Eee Pc 900

So, you’ve installed Linux Mint 7 on your EeePC 900. Now let’s tweak it a little.

This simple guide will remove stuff and add stuff until your system is identical to mine and ends up looking something like this:

At this point, I will assume you are connected to the internet either via wireless, ethernet cable or mobile and you have broadband.

Obviously, you don’t have to do everything here, but this is what I did and it may give you some pointers as to what to do and how to do it.

I use Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo for email so I don’t store email on my machine, hence the removal of Thunderbird.

The default Bittorrent client will be changed from Transmission to Deluge.

Computer Janitor will be replaced by a combination of Ubuntu Tweak and BleachBit. Both are excellent additions to any Gnome setup.

I don’t need Giver, X-chat or Gnome Do.

Note: I highly recommend removing the Compiz stuff!

Your machine will respond a lot quicker without the eye candy and certain applications don’t work very well with eye candy enabled.

You may disagree.


We will also be adding some stuff later that is found elsewhere on the net.

“Get on with it!”….

Open Synaptic (System > Administration > Synaptic).

Enter your password.

First, go to Settings > Preferences > Files > and mark “Delete downloaded packages after installation”.


That will help save space.

Hit the Reload button (sort of top left).

There will be a lot of updates to get, but ignore them for now.

To remove/add packages, find the package, right click it and choose the action. You don’t need to use Completely Remove, just Remove)

Here is a list of stuff to remove:


And here is a list of stuff to add:

asunder (Cd Ripper)
audacity (Audio Editor)
bleachbit (Privacy Clean Up Tool)
deluge (Bittorrent Client)
gwibber (Twitter Client)
lame (Allows Apps To Rip To MP3)
skype (VOIP Client)

Once everything is ticked, hit “Apply”

This may take some time depending on your connection.

Once it’s all done and dusted, hit the Reload button again (just to be sure) and then hit “Mark All Upgrades” and then Apply.

Now, this really will take some time, so have cup of tea...

That's better...

Your kernel will be upgraded at this point, so when it’s all done, reboot.

When you reboot, the Grub screen will look a little different, but there’s no need to touch it. Those other options will be gone soon enough.

Now we’re going to go get some other bits and pieces.

Open Firefox and go and download these packages:

Picasa (Google’s Photo Manager. Even if you don’t have a Google account, it’s still a nice app.)

Ubuntu Tweak (A very useful tool for cleaning and configuring Ubuntu based distros)

Wxcam (A webcam app which is easy to use and can record to .avi with sound)

Elementary Icon Set (Clean, simple and efficient)

Elementary Theme (Clean, simple, efficient)

The first three are .deb packages so just double click them to install.

The Elementary stuff comes in .zip files. So right click them, choose (Extract Here) and then open the resulting folder to get at the .deb package.

Once this is all done, fire up Ubuntu Tweak and once it’s up go to Applications > Package Cleaner.

Hit the unlock button and then use the cleaning tools to clean up all the mess you made by installing stuff. Yes, clean the kernel, too. This will remove the old kernel and next time you boot, you will notice Grub has less options available.

Now fire up BleachBit, tick all the options down the side and hit preview. BleachBit will scan your machine for stuff to get rid of (not applications, which is what Computer Janitor did to me and is the reason I removed it earlier). Once it has finished scanning, scroll to the bottom of the list in the right hand pane and you should see how much stuff there is to get rid of, like this:

And then hit the Delete icon.


Almost forgot…

To change the theme and icons, right click the desktop, Change Desktop Background. Choose your background, hit the Theme tab, choose eGTK and then hit Customise > Icons > Elementary.

If your panel is still at the bottom of the desktop, right click it > Properties > Orientation > Top.

To change the terminal colours, open a terminal > Edit > Profile Preferences > untick “use colours from system theme” > choose Green on black from the Built in schemes drop down list. Then hit the General tab and untick “Use the system fixed width font”.



Now for some kind of justification.

I have not installed Adam’s kernel nor any of the scripts and utilities that are available to make this distro more Eee specific. The reasons behind this?

I’m sick of messing around with the command line, editing files and emailing developers because the scaling doesn’t work properly on machines with Celeron processors. Nor do I want or need to turn off the webcam or wireless.

A lot of hard work goes into those packages and there are many users who are very happy with them.

The people who develop those things aren’t getting paid and I see no need to talk about them in a negative light.

But, those utilities just ain’t for me.

I wanted a full featured Gnome/Ubuntu based distro that was easy to set up and easy to maintain with no eye candy to slow it down and no other utilities that I didn’t want.

And this guide is the result of me getting what I want.

Your comments and questions are welcome.


Saturday, 18 July 2009

Installing Linux Mint 7 Gloria On The Eee PC 900

Welcome to my short guide on installing Linux Mint 7 or Gloria, as it is also known, on the EeePC 900 20gb.

I am going to assume you have a way of installing it, either from a USB flash drive or an external CD/DVD drive, and are able to run Mint 7 live.

Mint 7 pretty much works out of the box on the 900, the wireless and webcam perform well and, with a little tweaking, it’s very snappy. More so than regular Ubuntu and some other Eee specific distros I’ve used.

I’ll be removing some stuff and adding bits, nothing heavy, just packages. I won’t be installing the Eee specific kernel nor will I be adding any of the scripts that are available. I want to keep this simple.

Sometimes, less is more…

So, let’s aume you’re running Mint as a live distro from USB. I’m running from SDHC and I have a UB stick inserted.

So, here’s the desktop:

To start the install, double click the Install icon on the desktop.

You will be greeted with the Install welcome screen:

Choose your language and hit the Forward button.

Next, select your region. I’m in London, as you can see. If you can point to where you are on a map, well done you!

For those who’s geography leaves something to be desired, choose from the drop down lists.

Now to choose your keyboard. If you’re not sure, accept the default. It should be correct. You can type stuff into the empty text box to check.

And now the best bit…


This is the bit that throws many new users.

In this instance, we’re going to use the smaller 4gb drive for the operating system and the larger 16gb drive for our files.


‘Cos I said so.

I suppose I should point out that the following procedure will wipe both drives clean. So make sure you’ve backed up any files you need to a flash disk or whatever.

So, we want to set up our partitions manually because the installer doesn’t just do it for us.

On the Prepare Disk Space page, we need to check the button titled “Specify Partitions Manually (Advanced)”, like this:

(Mine says something about deleting Linux Mint 7 Gloria because I have already installed it and am running the installer from a live disk to get the screenshots. You don’t have to worry about what it says there.)

***For those with the 16gb 900, which has a single disk, choose the “Use the entire disk” option and then accept whatever the install throws at you. You're next step will be User Details***

Click Forward.

Now, highlight sda (the second line) and then hit Edit Partition and make it all look like this:

So, we are editing the 4gb drive which the operating system is going onto. We will use the Ext3 Journaling File System from the drop down list. We want to format the partition, so check the box and the mount point will be the / symbol from the drop down list.

Then click OK.

Now highlight sdb (the fourth line) and then hit Edit Partition and make it all look like this:

So, we are editing the 16gb drive which will store our files, documents, music etc. Again, we will use the Ext3 Journaling File System from the drop down list. We want to format the partition, so check the box and the mount point this time will be the /home option from the drop down list.

Then click OK.

Now hit Forward.

It’s at this point that I stopped getting screenshots. You will get a pop up message asking about a swap partition etc. We have 1gb of RAM in our machines and therefore we don’t need swap. So, just hit whatever you need to hit to make it go away.

Another screen will want your user details. Just enter your details and passwords here. Don’t hit any other buttons.

And then just hit OK or forward to get the install started.

The install itself doesn’t take long (if the screensaver kicks in, just move the cursor or hit the space bar).

When the install is finished, reboot.

Now, we are going to check that everything’s switched on so we don’t put up posts on forums because we believe our wireless isn’t working, making us look stupid.

When you boot, at the Asus screen hit F2 to bring up the BIOS.
Using the arrow keys, go right to highlight “Advanced”.
Then go down to highlight “Onboard Devices Configuration”.
Hit Enter.
Make sure that all the entries are enabled.
If one isn’t, go down to highlight it, hit enter, change it and hit enter.
Press Esc twice and then enter.
The machine will boot and in about 30-40 secs you will be greeted with the login page. Enter the username and password you provided earlier and in about 10 secs you will have your newly minted EeePC staring at you.


Now, let’s tweak it a little…