Vasco Dias @blog

another blog about stuff?? oh yeahh

The new laptop – Asus Eee PC 1215b

After some time not posting anything here on the blog, I’m finally going to do it :P. The thing is I bought the laptop not long ago after the last post, around middle September I think and wanted to talk about it, but wasn’t in the mood to post about it until now. Procrastination is awesome and I like to do it a lot.

Long time ago I was looking for a new laptop and then, one day, I bought one. That’s right I got the Asus Eee PC 1215B. The main points wich led me to do it were the size of the screen (12.1″ with this resolution is not so common), the weight (under 2 Kg), an AMD APU with integrated graphics, not having an optical drive, not having a dedicated numpad, not having a fingerprint reader, relatively cheap, doesn’t make much noise and having a USB 3 port. Yeah, I know, lots of “not” but that’s how picky I am.

What I really don’t like about it? Well it’s an Asus laptop, so I have an Asus quality. Lot’s of glossy all around the place, some places of the body are clearly weak, the screen is not very different from the one I had before. Major annoyance is the maximum angle made by the opened screen, it’s almost as if it’s 90º which makes it hard to use for example on the couch.

Another one that makes me tremble in fear, if I ever need to do it, is to replace the hard drive. In this laptop from the bottom I can only access the memory and to get to the hard drive I have to basically disassemble the whole laptop. At least on my old one I could get access to both the memory and the hard drive from the bottom.

There’s also a problem on the keyboard with the F4 key. It is very sensitive and just by touching it is gets activated. That’s a problem when I have lots of windows opened and want to close one with the keyboard shortcut and suddenly too many windows start to get closed… Also the keyboard layout makes it hard to get some keys right, such as the Enter key and all the close keys like the arrows and Home and related keys.

It obviously came with windows 7 and there was nothing i could do about it (it’s the real world, you don’t have any right of asking the seller to remove the Microsoft stuff nor any option of seeing the money you paid for it).

After playing with it for I noticed quickly that the pc supported booting by UEFI. My next adventure was trying to make it work, so converting the disk to GPT which implied formating the drive, install arch linux on it, configure it, etc. At the end there’s some information about the UEFI stuff on this pc.

I’m sorry to say that I still have some problems with linux, probably bad BIOS, ACPI or even configuration problems that I still haven’t bothered to take care. I have two that are not so small problems: one out of three times after waking from suspend it will just lock and have a black screen; the other, I can’t make a new boot entry appear for grub2 on the UEFI system. As a matter of fact I can’t even reinstall windows on this pc, at least not with UEFI+GPT combination because it will just BSOD after starting the install and that is only if it enters the installation procedure. About grub2 and uefi I made a thread on arch linux forums [UEFI] Problem with efibootmgr on asus 1215b. I just didn’t bother yet about reporting it on LKML but soon I will do it.

So as a conclusion I can say I’m satisfied with what I bought. Could it be better? Of course, anything can always be better, we just have to learn how to live with what we got, that’s all. There are things that I still have to do and other things I’ll have to wait (for example the wireless driver is still on the staging tree on linux, so unstable). If you are interested in the laptop I tell you to test one by yourself. Right now maybe there’s something better on the market, maybe not.

Hope you liked my “review” and anything else you want to know, just make a comment. Probably I’ll make another post related to the laptop, or probably not :P.

Specifications:

  • Display: 12.1″ – 1366×768 (glossy)
  • CPU: AMD E-450 (1.65GHz, dual core)
  • Graphic Card: Radeon 6320 (Integrated)
  • Memory: 4GB DDR3 (2 x 2GB 1333 MHz)
  • Storage: 500GB 5400rpm SATA HDD (Seagate ST9500325AS)
  • Wireless Network: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (Broadcom BCM4313), Bluetooth 3.0
  • Weight: 1.45 Kg
  • Others: 2 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3, VGA, HDMI

Original hard drive configuration (mbr), ordered partitions:

  • 100GB windows ntfs
  • 15GB recovery fat32 hidden
  • 130GB empty ntfs
  • 16MB (empty?, EFI marked?)

System UEFI findings:

  •   Uefi shell reports that the system comes with uefi ver 2.0
  •   Bios option to load Shellx64.efi, works if file Shellx64.efi is at the root system (also works from a usb drive or memory card).
  •   efi/boot/bootx64.efi (the fallback of the standart) works only on usb drive (tried with memory card and didn’t work).

How to put windows 7 sp1 installer on usb to boot from uefi:

  1. Copy all contents from the dvd to the usb drive.
  2. Open sources/install.win (7-zip can do it) and extract 1/Windows/Boot/EFI/bootmgfw.efi and put it on [USB DRIVE]/efi/boot/bootx64.efi
  3. Reboot, press ESC, select UEFI: Partition. Windows installation should begin.
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10 responses to “The new laptop – Asus Eee PC 1215b

  1. Motiejus Jakštys 16 March 2012 at 23:09

    Hi,
    thanks for posting. Have some questions for you. 🙂

    Did you play with power management? How much voltage have you got, and what tweaks did you apply? I’ve got ~12W with moderate effort, which is alot.

    Did you have to apply reboot=a,w kernel command line to make shutdown/reboot work? I did, but didn’t help 😉

    Which kernel module are you using for the wireless driver?

    • diaz 17 March 2012 at 23:26

      Hi,
      I didn’t play with power management, when i want some more juice I just decrease the screen brightness and launch powertop2 and apply all the changes it recommends :D.

      I don’t have any specific kernel options on my grub kernel line.
      What problems with reboot and shutdown are you talking about?
      Most of the time I try to suspend my laptop and not really shutdown or reboot but it’s like playing russian roullete, 10% of time it works, the remainig 90% it goes black and locks and I have to force it to shutdown.
      I think it always reboots fine, although shuting down sometimes doesn’t.

      For the wireless I just use brcmsmac driver that is on kernel’s staging tree.

  2. Motiejus Jakštys 16 March 2012 at 23:13

    By the way, these were my requirements:
    http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3657324

    And I purchased the same laptop…

  3. targnation 25 May 2012 at 17:24

    Hi Dias. I purchased my 1215B around the same time (last sept), and had similar requirements. I bought it because of it’s size, weight, and price. I agree that the screen angle is too sharp, even when I’m sitting at a table sometimes I wish I could open it up more. (My old Dell 700m 12.1″ screen Could open pretty much 180 degrees!). Also the little plastic cover to one of the screen hinges just flew off and I can’t find it, so you can see the bare metal exposed, but not a big deal. Also, yeah the Hard drive does seem difficult to replace, but I’ve seen a few tutorials, so I think I’m going to try and throw an SSD in there soon to speed things up.

    Ohh, do you have the problem where your touch pad stops working, or works all funny? I get that sometimes.

    Anyway, I found your post because I’m having some weird issues with linux. I’ve been using Ubuntu on it since 11.04, I upgraded to 11.10 no problem, then 12.04 without a hitch (Duel booting windows 7 the whole time), but now in ubuntu 12.04 I tried to do a kernel upgrade through the normal ubuntu Upgrade Software app, and when I boot up, the laptop posts, but then does nothing. I ctrl-alt-delete to reset, and try pressing F2 or F9, or ESC, but …that just goes to the blinking cursor too.

    OMG! It’s working for some reason, WTF?? I turned it on and now I see the Grub menu… Okay that’s weird.. Well, I already wrote all this, might as well post it! haha.

    • diaz 25 May 2012 at 21:49

      Hi,
      it’s sad that the plastic on your laptop hinges have already broke. Mine are still ok, but my previous asus laptop they broke very early too.

      Changing the hard drive seems hard, but as you said there are some tutorials around so should be doable, good luck with that.

      Strangly enough my touchpad seems fine. It just seems too sensitive most of the time, but i think it’s probably some settings that i didn’t bother with.

      Regarding your “problem” that got solved i have no idea :P. At least it’s fixed.

  4. Anonymous 17 March 2013 at 15:39

    I’m a year late, which renders my remarks mostly irrelevant, but alas:
    – Getting a refund on Windows *is* possible in the real world. My choice for this netbook (vs. a similarly-specced Lenovo) was actually based on the fact that Asus (Netherlands) offers refunds (at least they did 1.5y ago). Requires some paperwork, ironically including a *.docx form, but I had my Windows license refunded.
    – I replaced the drive in my 1215b as soon as I got it. Used a video guide, still snapped a handful of plastic clips in the process. SSD upgrade was worth it though..

  5. RYKEL 9 June 2014 at 10:38

    Hi, I am late to this thread because I decided to revive this old ASUS 1215B of mine with a SSD hard drive. Now, I have burnt a Windows 8.1 ISO to a USB FAT32 thumbdrive using Rufus, set the partition system to “GPT for UEFI” and turned the SSD into 100% unallocated space with GPT (using diskpart to “clean” and “create gpt”). However, Windows installer goes into BSOD when it tried to copy its files over to the SSD… I know this is not related to Linux (yet!) but I wonder if any of you know what I can do to install Windows 8.1 to the new SSD with a GPT partition system? Thank you.

    • diaz 9 June 2014 at 16:50

      Hello, sorry for the late reply, but all I can say is that any attemp I did to install windows in gpt mode just goes into BSOD.
      I believe it’s due to a buggy BIOS/UEFI implementation because even with linux it was impossible to add a boot entry to the uefi boot manager.
      The only thing I would recommend at this point is ignore the UEFI/GPT side and just use the traditional BIOS mode as that seems to work. At least that was how windows came installed in the laptop.

      It’s sad that manufacturers just keep releasing buggy uefi implementations and even worse that Asus hasn’t released an updated in the last years.

      • Frank 19 October 2014 at 08:55

        I had the same problems when trying to install windows 8 on a new SSD in my 1215b. I had to put BIOS in IDE->AHCI mode, then used diskpart to remove all (hidden) partitions/volumes and convert the disk from GPT to MBR and assign the letter C to the disk. After that it worked. It took me a lot of time and google to figure it all out. Wished it would be a lot easier.

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