Installing Slackware on Eee PC

Eee PCs are those tiny notebooks produced by ASUS. Seems a good thing, but unfortunately, the OS they are shipped with is an awful clone of GNU/Linux, castrated and mutilated beyond any recognition. It lacks everything most needed on any decent box, and offers lots of useless scrap instead. The only reaction one may expect after looking at its startup scripts is to puke all around keyboard. Well, of course, you should take it as the author's point of view, you know ...

Anyway, the first thing to do after bying this box, is certainly to install a decent OS. This article describes how to install Slackware 12.2 on it.


First of all, an Eee PC of course. Basically, the only difficulty in installing is that the box is equipped with Atheros(R) L2 Fast Ethernet Adapter, which is not yet supported by Slackware. So, you will need this boot image. It will let you boot and see the network.

Further, you will need a GNU/Linux machine which exports Slackware 12.2 distribution via NFS. How to do this is beyond the scope of this article, but basically it will suffice to ensure that rc.portmap and rc.nfsd from the rc.d/ directory are started, insert the Slackware installation DVD in its drive and to export it via /etc/exports or the exportfs command. Throughout this article, we will refer to this machine as host.

You may use one of the provided tagfile sets, or you may select package sets manually, at your option.

Finally, some additional packages may also prove useful.

Creating boot USB

Download the boot image and copy it verbatim to your USB stick using the following command:

  dd if=usbboot.img of=/dev/sda

This assumes that /dev/sda is the device name for your USB stick. If it is not the case, substitute actual device name instead. Notice that you must be root to do that. In any case, make sure that the argument to of= is really the device of a USB, and not of one of your hard drives!

This operation will make your USB bootable. Notice that it has no partitions, so fdisk -l /dev/sda will show garbage. To reuse the stick for other purposes, you will have to re-partition it and to re-create file system(s) on it. For more information about creating and restoring USB sticks, refer to Eric Hameleers' USB boot page or to the /usb-and-pxe-installers/README_USB.TXT file from the Slackware installation DVD.

Booting the Eee PC

Connect it to your host via an ethernet cable, insert your boot stick into the USB socket and power it on. When it begins to boot, press F2 and ensure that it will try to boot from the USB. Select the Boot menu, move to Boot Settings Configuration. When the boot: prompt appears, hit Enter: you will boot with the default huge-smp kernel, which is the best choice.

Now, login and partition your "hard drive" (it is visible as /dev/sda). Given its size, it is hardly necessary to create more than one partition, but that's up to you anyway.

When ready, start setup. When you make it to the SOURCE section, select "Install from NFS (Network File System)". This will guide you through several steps for setting up your network connection. Once done, you will be prompted for the IP address of your NFS server (host machine) and the directory on it which contains Slackware installation.

Using the Tagfiles

Two tagfile sets are provided. Both install all necessary network utilities, normal X11 setup, and everything necessary to compile programs on your box. The eeepc-12.2.tgz set requires 1.4G of disk space, the eeepc-nokde-12.2.tgz, which does not install KDE, requires a little less.

Download the set you prefer and untar it on your host machine. This will create a directory with the name of the corresponding tarball, minus the .tgz suffix. Export this directory via NFS to your installation target machine.


Now, go to the INSTALL section and choose

   tagpath 	 Use tagfiles in the package directories

You will be prompted for the tagfile directory. Enter the full pathname of the one you created in the previous step.

The rest of installation will take some 5--7 minutes, depending on your network speed and will not require any interaction from your part. When it is done, finish the installation by selecting CONFIGURE and configuring your system.

After setup finishes, do not reboot right away. First, you will need to copy the atl2.ko module to the installation, e.g.:

 cp /lib/modules/ \

Alternatively, you may install the kernel-modules-smp- module after booting your new system.

Now, remove your USB stick and reboot. If everything is OK, you'll boot into your new OS.

You may wish to try some additional packages as well.