Bits from the Debian Eee PC team, summer 2008

As always, we’re doing lots of interesting and significant things and have more good ideas than we have people to do the work.  If you have an Eee PC or are planning to get one, or are otherwise interested in our work, some of which has uses beyond just the Eee, here are some highlights:

Earliest Eee models supported in Lenny

Lenny will release with the atl2 ethernet driver and the non-free madwifi-source now works with the earliest Eee models as well, so our patched version is no longer needed.  This means Lenny will work with all of the earliest models of the Eee PC: 701 (2G and 4G surf, 4G, 8G) and 900! All we need now for full support in Lenny is to replace the non-free wireless driver with the free ath5k driver when it is ready.

Free drivers

Nick Kossifidis has submitted patches on linux-wireless supporting the Eee models currently supported only by the non-free madwifi in ath5k.  This means we’ll soon realize our goal of a completely DFSG free system for the earliest models of the Eee.  By 2.6.27, or at the latest 2.6.28, these models will be supported.  Then we will see about making a patch to support whichever kernel makes it into Lenny.

New models

Model 901, 1000 and 1000H users are now able to install using the atl1e ethernet driver from eeepc.debian.net.  Support for wireless and other aspects of the new hardware will follow soon.  The debian-kernel team was prompt to add atl1e to 2.6.26 which has just been uploaded to sid.  We hope 2.6.26 makes it into Lenny.

Wireless installer

Glenn Saberton has been doing an upstanding job adding wireless support to our custom Debian-installer.  We have supported WEP authentication for several releases, now, and a beta version supports WPA.  Glenn is also making progress with these patches upstream so that non-Eee Debian users will benefit from our work.

LXDE is in Lenny

LXDE has entered Lenny, thanks to Andrew Lee.  It is a quite lightweight desktop environment that is made with the Eee PC in mind.

Live images

Two flavours of Debian-live USB images are available: a demo of the LXDE desktop and a minimal console-only image for rescue/backup.  The images are still in alpha stage of development.  If you’d like to help, give us a shout.

More interesting things are planned for the future that benefit Debian as a whole.  With a small amount of work patching live-helper, anyone will be able to make a live image that includes a customized Debian-installer.

Mobile device initiative

This month on debian-devel, there was some interesting discussion about Debian support for the Intel Atom processor and a possible mobile net device initiative.  That’s something we could get behind, if anything comes of it.

Wiki translation

Robert Epprecht has been keeping the German wiki translation in good shape, but we could always use some more help with any of the translations.

New members welcome

If you’d like to join us, check out our site at http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEeePC and drop us a note on our list or join our irc channel and talk to us about what you’d like to do.

 

 

Bits from the Debian Eee PC team

In the past few months in the Debian-EeePC team, a number of interesting things have been happening.

Progress has been made to ensure the Eee’s drivers get merged upstream. Chris Snook from Red Hat has taken over atl2 upstream and has started merging it with the atl1 driver to make a unified atlx driver that will be suitable for inclusion in the kernel. As well, there is continued progress on the madwifi driver, with a patch now included to support version 2.6.24 of the Linux kernel.

In the meantime, the Debian Eee PC Install HowTo has been under constant revision, even gaining recently the beginnings of translations in French and German.

ACPI, another important piece of infrastructure for the Eee, is now supported in lenny and sid through Eric Cooper’s eeepc-acpi kernel module. This is a fork of the asus-acpi module renamed so that it won’t conflict with the in-tree version. It turns out that asus-acpi is deprecated, having been replaced by asus-laptop. Eric has been in touch with the asus-laptop maintainer to ensure the Eee-specific bits are merged so that we can eventually retire our forked version.

There still remains at the top of our Todo list the issue of ACPI scripts to go with the kernel module. Having at first considered patching acpi-support, we have decided instead to start with Eric’s own scripts which will be packaged shortly for Debian. This gives us more freedom to tinker before considering submitting patches to more general laptop support packages like acpi-support.

Finally, after Brendan M. had to send his Eee back to Asus for repairs, work stopped for a while on the custom debian-eeepc installer. Fortunately, he just got his system back from the shop as good as new and has returned with renewed vigor to that task. He has produced a new version of the installer which we are now testing.

Thanks to the efforts of numerous users and developers who are being added to our ranks daily, we expect by the time Lenny releases we will be well on our way to providing a pure Debian solution for the Eee. Whether or not everything needed for the Eee is in Lenny at that time remains to be seen. We need to allow for how long it takes to get new drivers into the kernel. But if we miss the release, we will certainly provide backports and look forward to full support in the following release.