[Klug-general] Asus X54H review
mike at tandem.f9.co.uk
Sat Apr 28 17:39:17 UTC 2012
So the Toshiba Satellite A30 (which I bought in 2004 for abut £600 if I
recall correctly) is on its last legs. The disc has been reporting more
and more remapped sectors steadily, the micro-switch on one of the
touchpad buttons is dodgy so you have to press the button ever more
firmly, and the batteries no longer retain charge.
I have little reason to travel with a computer now and it mostly sits by
the sofa in the living room and is used for little more than
web-browsing. But it's useful to have a machine like that, and after
perusing the market for a bit I chose an Asus X54H at just under £350 to
Intel i3 processor
500Gb Hard disk
Webcam, Wireless and wired lan, SD/MS/MS Pro/MMC card reader, USB3...
15" wide format LCD display
Windows 7 Home Premium and various other add-ons from Asus which
which I hope never to trouble myself.
The Tosh initially ran Fedora Core 2 and 3, I think I may have installed
4 on it also. I still run Fedora on our desktop machine (currently
Fedora 16) but at some point I tried Ubuntu on the Toshiba and stuck
with it. It was my intention to install Ubuntu on the X54H and may yet
So How'd it go?
The standard install came with a 27Gb recovery partition, Windows in a
187Gb OS partition and a data partition of 255Gb. I fired it up and
went through the first user set-up stuff and checked that it would
connect to my wireless network. It then prompted me to make a backup of
the factory install, so I started that. I was a bit shocked to learn
that this was going to take five DVDs, given that on my desk there was a
single Fedora DVD with more than I would ever want from an operating
Dutifully I went through the process, only to be told half way though
the Windows now wanted to reboot because it had performed a software
update whilst I was making the backup. That filled me with confidence.
It's that sort of non-joined-up thinking that gets computers a bad
name. I also discovered in the process that the button on the DVD
drawer is not particularly robust as it jammed in the 'pressed' position
on second use.
By this time I was about up to the eyeballs with Windows. I was sick of
being prompted to install trial versions of this or that (bits of MS
office, some virus checker) and warnings that the included Bing toolbar
would inform Microsoft of everything I did and that if I didn't like
that then I'd have to un-install it. I couldn't wait to scamper back to
the safety of Linux.
The little manual with the machine gives very little useful information
- but one useful tidbit is that if you restore you get the option of
installing into a single partition. On that basis I decided to leave
the 27G restore partion, have a single 100G partition for Windows should
I want it, and dedicate the remainder to Linux. I would have two
partitions for OS install, a small /home for testing purposes and a
larger /home for normal use. My normal practice is to do an install
using the little /home and when I'm happy with it change to the larger
/home with my real data in it.
I hadn't downloaded an up to date Ubuntu iso image but I did have the
Fedora16 image I am running on the desktop so in a moment of impatience
I went ahead and used that. I created my new partition scheme and did
the basic install and all went smoothly.
Following the creation of a new user I then did the bits for getting the
stuff that fedora doesn't ship:
MP3 player (Rhythmbox and codecs)
Media player (xine and codecs plus libdvdcss)
Adobe Flash plugin
For all of this I followed the helpful cut-and-paste guide by Mauriat
I ran Cheese and checked that the webcam is found and it is. The
connection to the wireless network was seamless, and the receiver more
sensitive than the card in the Tosh. I've tested the SD card reader and
that mounted automatically so that's fine.
There is a bug in the detection of the touchpad with the kernel
installed which means that it is detected as a Logitec wheel mouse.
This means you don't get any edge or multi-touch scrolling and can't
disable the touchpad whilst typing. This was, however, resolved with a
simple yum update, which installed Kernel-3.3.0-4.fc16 in which the
correct driver is connected to the touchpad. Edge or multi-touch
scrolling can then be configured on a user-by-user basis. (Currently
I'm with multi and my partner is using edge - nice.)
As we like to download our mail and I've never bothered to set up an
internal mailserver we use ssh -X to run thunderbird on our desktop
machine from the Tosh. Ubuntu had some magic that meant you didn't have
to do that in a terminal because it would spot what you were trying to
do and pop up a box for the password entry. Although this is not how
Ubuntu seems to do it, I found that ssh has a handy environment variable
called SSH_ASKPASS which can be set up to point to an appropriate X11 or
gnome pop-up application. I used
sudo yum install openssh-askpass
to install gnome-ssh-askpass and that works fine.
A quick 'sudo yum install pidgin' gave me an alternative to the
infuriating epiphany. Fedora also uses shotwell rather than
eye-of-gnome as a quick photo viewer, but it works through a directory
in some random order so I've changed the default app back to eog.
So to summarise progress so far:
everything working so far
Flimsy switch on DVD drawer
Touchpad buttons are really clonky - fortunately I use touch-to-click
Screen colour balance is way too blue
Screen is mostly too bright for me too and Fedora is not good at
controlling this, I'm constantly having to dim it with the function keys.
Given that Fedora 16 is working well for what we need I've not yet found
the time or had reason to try the re-installation of Windows from the
recovery partition and then sort out dual boot. Maybe I never will.
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