Asus Eee PC 1015PEM Netbook: Reviewed On Ubuntu Netbook Remix

After waiting about a week to get my new netbook, it finally arrived! I already had plans to install Ubuntu but I wanted to log into Windows 7 just to try it out. The experience was mediocre. After being off Windows for so long, I just couldn't get used to it. Right after Windows 7 Starter was installed, I noticed lots of unnecessary bloatware. There was also a weird dock at the top of the screen. So, I waited a bit for Windows to load and a few things popped up on screen. As usual, I get some weird software company soliciting me to install a trial version of their anti-virus. After I closed that pop-up, I went to YouTube, played a video and closed Internet Explorer. I had enough! Time to install Ubuntu.


The previous night, I made a USB startup disk on my USB drive. I was eager to install Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Netbook Remix. This was the first time the new Unity desktop was launched and I was dying to try it out. I had some problems installing Ubuntu. For those that have this netbook and want to save some time, follow these directions.


Asus Eee PC 1015PEM
Asus Eee PC 1015PEM

Installing Ubuntu

First, plug in your USB and turn on your netbook. Hit F2 right aways to get into your BIOS. You don't have to change boot priority. Go to “hard drive” and set it to “USB 2” instead of the hard drive. After you do this, hit F10 and Enter. Your netbook should restart and boot from USB. After Ubuntu loads, you have a choice to try the Netbook Remix or install it. I choose to install. After that, everything is pretty much straight forward. Now you have the option of installing Flash and music codecs. Make sure your Ethernet cable is plugged. The wireless will not work.


After installation is complete, the update manager will pop up and prompt you to update your system. Do this. Your restricted hardware driver will pop up also. It will ask you to install the Broadcom STA wireless drivers. Do it. You will need it to get wireless working. After that, you're all set. Now you can customize your machine. I was not done. There was a few things I needed to take care of.


Unity Impressions

The Unity Desktop
The Unity Desktop

After trying out the Unity interface. I decided I couldn't use it. It was slow and cumbersome. I didn't want to reinstall Ubuntu. What did I do? I logged out and logged back in choosing the Gnome session. What a relief. I felt right at home... except for one other thing. The minimize, maximize, and close buttons. I don't understand why all of a sudden, Ubuntu wanted to be like Mac. Up until Lucid Lynx, these buttons were on the right side. Now, it is on the left side by default. What's even worse is the fact that there's no simple way to change it out of the box. In order to move these button back to the right, you have to open terminal, type “sudo gconf-editor”. Then, you need to navigate to “apps > metacity > general”. In the “button layout” field, replace the value with “:maximize,minimize,close”. Hit “Okay” and close. Now I'm home. It feels good. Want an easier way? Install Ubuntu-Tweak. It's so simple, it should come pre-installed with Ubuntu.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Asus Eee PC branding.Part of the Seashell series.Intel Atom N550Side View. Looks a bit like a wing.
Asus Eee PC branding.
Asus Eee PC branding.
Part of the Seashell series.
Part of the Seashell series.
Intel Atom N550
Intel Atom N550
Side View. Looks a bit like a wing.
Side View. Looks a bit like a wing.

Performance, Looks, And Initial Thoughts

So how does this netbook perform on Ubuntu? I never owned a netbook before but I expected it to be slow. Surprisingly, this little netbook ran pretty good. It's not as fast as my Dell Inspiron 17 with the i5 processor but it can easily handle browsing the web and text editing. When I just installed Windows 7 Starter, I opened task manager and saw that it was using 730 MB after opening Firefox! With a fresh install of UNR, I was sitting on 220 MB. This netbook only has 1 GB of RAM so it ran much leaner on UNR than it did on Win 7. I will probably upgrade to 2 GB of RAM some time in the future. For now, I'm loving this netbook. YouTube works fine at 480p. Video does stutter at 720p but I don't mind. This screen only goes up to 600p so it seems kind of pointless to watch at 720p all the time. Speaking of screens. I love this matte screen. Asus really did a great job with this netbook. The screen has almost no annoying reflection. It is really easy on my eyes. One thing I wish they did was make the edges matte. The edges of the screen is a glossy black. I wish it was done in a matte finish. That would make this netbook perfect in the looks department. I love the soft touch finish on the outside. It looks really professional. From a profile, this Eee PC looks like a wing. It is a little bulkier in the back. That is where the battery fits. Putting it on a flat surface raises the netbook a bit allowing for better ventilation.


Keyboard

The keyboard on this netbook is amazing. The keys are quiet but solid. It is a chicklet style keyboard. This style is very popular. Some netbooks have these keys that recess when you press them. This gives them a mushy and cheap feeling. Not with this netbook. When you press a key, only that key goes down. The spacing on the keys are great. There are just the right size for the tips of my fingers. I really can't think of anything I hate about the keyboard. If I were to add something, it would probably be the ability to be illuminated.


Chicklet-style keyboard.
Chicklet-style keyboard.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Large touchpadWeb-cam half opened.
Large touchpad
Large touchpad
Web-cam half opened.
Web-cam half opened.

Touchpad And Webcam

The touch pad is good. I like that is is very large. It's about the same size as my 17” laptop's. I do prefer separate buttons over a single rocker button. I like how it supports 2 finger scrolling. Some netbooks and laptops have a thin scrolling strip at the right side of the touch pad. I hate them. I always accidentally touch that part. It's nice to see Asus giving us the finger. Two of them. One thing I don't like about the touchpad is it seems a bit too sensitive.


The web-cam has a physical sliding cover that blocks the lens. This cover is not a switch of any kind. I've tested this web-cam with Cheese and it will continue to record as the slide is covering the lens. Personally, I like it. Not that I'm paranoid or anything. You never know if there is malware or the government taking control of your camera without your knowledge. As far as quality, the web-cam takes 640 by 480 pixel photos. There is also lots of noise in the picture. It is a cheap web-cam It functions fine on Ubuntu and seems on par with other web-cams I've seen. Just don't expect DSLR-type performance.


13 hours? sure but you have to turn the screen off and use it as a coaster.
13 hours? sure but you have to turn the screen off and use it as a coaster.

Battery Life

Asus claims that this netbook can get 13 hours on a charge. Let me tell you right now, they are lying. No one is going to get 13 hours on a charge. At least not on Ubuntu. Asus has low power exclusive OS called Express Gate. It's a simple OS that lets you have quick access to the Internet and key applications without having to log into Windows. I removed this partition when I installed Ubuntu so I don't have it. In Windows, when you press FN and the spacebar, you have access to what they call Super Hybrid Engine (SHE). This toggles from power saving, super performance, and high performance. That function does not work in Ubuntu. From a fresh, topped off battery, Ubuntu is telling me I have 8.2 hours of life. That actually sounds more realistic. 8 hours is perfect for me. I want to be able to last a full day on the go and that's more than enough. I just don't want to carry around a power cord like I see most people doing with their laptops. I also doubt it can last 13 hours on Windows even on power saving mode. You would have to turn the brightness down all the way, turn off Wifi, and use it just for typing I'd imagine.


In terms of up to date technologies, the 1015PEM has lots of new numbers. USB 3 support. Wifi N capability. DDR3 RAM. Bluetooth 3 support. This is great on paper. I'm glad to see this new netbook having the latest, up to date technologies. Just don't expect everyone else to be up to speed. Most Wifi networks are still using the wireless G standard. USB 3 haven't been fully adopted yet though the demand for more HD media has helped push it. DDR3 is an improvement over DDR2. I have used Bluetooth 2.1 in the past and it is slow. Bluetooth 3 compatible devices should make wireless transfers less frustrating.


Goodbye Unity, Hello Gnome!

After using the UNR and trying out the Unity desktop for a few more hours, I've decided to stick to the standard Gnome desktop. I've done a fresh installation of Maverick Meerkat Desktop Edition and it is serving me well so far. It seems to take a few more seconds to boot up but that's fine with me. There were a few things about Unity that I couldn't get used to. For one, the side bar was sluggish and unintuitive. In comparison, it seems to me that Compiz in normal settings run smoother than Unity. The dock was cumbersome. Because the dock is moving, your apps never seemed to be in the same place that it once was. The universal search addition didn't impress me at all. I've been used to Gnome Do for years and it is much faster than UNR's universal search. Using it right now on Ubuntu's Desktop Edition, I can confirm that Gnome Do performs much faster than UNR's universal search on the same machine. What's even more annoying, because they try to ignore their sluggish performance, there is no progress bar. There was a few times when I was trying to click on an icon thinking that it was done when the icons moved because more results popped up.


There's no place like Gnome!
There's no place like Gnome!

Also, I can't get used to the minimize, maximize, and close buttons on the left side. There doesn't seem to be an easy way to change this without breaking the whole desktop since these buttons overlay the top panel. If it was moved to the right side, it would cover the notification area. I said, “fuck it.” I'm just going to install the desktop edition and I couldn't be happier. I'm not to sure a new desktop was needed. Yes, a 10” screen is a bit small but I have no problems with screen real estate. I have not ruled out Ubuntu Netbook Remix completely. If they improve on the interface and performance, I might give it another visit somewhere down the road. As of now, there is no way I can recommend it. It needs work. Goodbye Unity. Maybe some other day.


Not For Gaming

Just for giggles, I've tried Alien Arena on this little Eee PC. After moving the window and playing with the settings to fit the screen, I got it working. It doesn't run very well. It stutters more than a nervous kid with Tourette's. Needless to say, this is not a gaming computer. I wasn't surprised really. I didn't expect it to be a power-house. I am not much of a gamer anyway. I have tried Supertuxkart and it is playable. If you decide you want to play games on a netbook, look into buying one with the Ion graphics.


Hyper threaded dual core.
Hyper threaded dual core.

Who Is This Netbook For?

After using this netbook for a few days, I am very happy with my purchase. I love it! It's perfect for my needs. I can listen to Pandora while typing up work and the battery will last me a long time. It is about the same size as a school textbook so it doesn't feel awkward carrying it around. I purchased a neoprene sleeve and it is very discreet. People can hardly tell I am carrying a netbook. Browsing the Internet have been very enjoyable. Watching YouTube videos have been fine at 480p. As I mentioned earlier, watching at 720p and above will result in stuttering. If you are looking into buying this netbook, I would definitely recommend it. Just realize you won't be able to run first person shooters or playback in 1080p HD videos. If you need a netbook for word processing, browsing the Internet, and moderate multi-tasking, then this netbook is a good choice. I purchased this netbook for $369 from Amazon. You can buy a netbook cheaper but expect a slower experience with multi-tasking. The Asus Eee PC 1015PEM is the first of many true dual core netbooks to come. My system monitor shows 4 cores running. I know it's a hyper-threaded dual core. I bring this up to show off to my friends. Yes I know it's not as fast as my Intel i5 laptop but it is cool to see netbooks finally getting a major processor upgrade. If you are looking to keep Windows 7 on your netbook, I strongly recommend getting a 2 GB RAM upgrade. I am looking to upgrade my RAM in the future. The most memory I have seen used on my netbook was 600 MB so far. I don't need it yet but I like to be prepared. I have installed Inkscape and GIMP on this netbook. There may be a time when I will have to use it. When that day come, I'll have enough RAM.


Final Thoughts

I have considered getting a tablet but I decided against it. If I wanted to consume lots of media, then a tablet would be perfect for me. Right now, I need something that will help me get work done. After owning a netbook, I further understand the appeal. Most of the time when I am using a computer, I am only using the Internet. I'd much rather carry this Eee PC to go rather than my full size 17” laptop. I don't need a quad core computer with the latest graphics card to surf the web. This netbook is perfect for that. I love this netbook!


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Comments 40 comments

The Smiling Man profile image

The Smiling Man 6 years ago from USA

How I hate Windows. Go Ubuntu!


Steve Beamer 6 years ago

I have an EeePC 901 that is a couple years old. I also did not like the netbook remix. I found that running the LXDE or the Gnome/Openbox (Openbox with the Gnome bar at the bottom) is much faster than a full Gnome session and I really can't tell the difference other than the look of the windows. Thanks for a great article.


Adroit Alien profile image

Adroit Alien 6 years ago Author

steve,

I've seen the gnome desktop with the bar at the bottom. I've always thought it was a custom gnome interface with the top panel removed. I didn't know it had an official name. Thanks. my full gnome session runs fine but now that you mention it, I might be tempted to give Lubuntu or Openbox a try. Thanks for the comment!


nikitha p profile image

nikitha p 6 years ago from India

Thanks for a nice hub.


DavidLivingston 6 years ago

Thanks for this post. It is very interesting.


Joshua526 6 years ago

I want to buy one!


DaveW 6 years ago

Great review. One word of caution to potential buyers. I bought the 1015PEM at Staples and feel ripped off. It did not come with USB 3.0 or Bluetooth. I now have bluetooth headphones and mouse that won't work without purchasing a dongle.


Adroit Alien profile image

Adroit Alien 6 years ago Author

DaveW, you are right. Mines was advertised with Bluetooth but I can't seem to get it to work. I've concluded that it's missing even though the sticker pictured above saves it should have it. I'm also disappointed. As for USB 3.0, I can't remember if it was advertised so I'm not to steamed about that. It did advertise 3 USB ports. Maybe that was the case with you and perhaps a misunderstanding?


sim 6 years ago

nice, thanks


KLeichester 5 years ago

Great information you have. Thanks!


sasimirobot 5 years ago

Android: could you send me step by step instructions (like I was a grandma) on how you installed Ubuntu? I am a Linux noob and have tried the eeeuser forums and google and this is the closest I have gotten to figuring it out.

sasimirobot((at))hotmail.com


Adroit Alien profile image

Adroit Alien 5 years ago Author

sasimirobot,

If you are a complete newbie, I'm not sure I can help you get pass the first step. Since the Eee PC doesn't have an optical disk drive, you will need to create a startup USB. I can do this on Ubuntu but I'm not sure where to go about doing this on Windows.

After you create a startup USB, you will need to change the boot priority in your BIOS. Hit F2 when your turn on your netbook. After you do that, everything is pretty much straight forward.


The Cageybee 5 years ago

I just got the Asus 1015PEM. Like you I waited for the true dual core netbooks to come out and have to say, I not disappointed.

I haven't given Ubuntu a go yet, still playing around with windows.

I just took it on a long (for UK) train journey, 6 hours, and used it all the way and still had about 3 hours juice left at the end.

Just for the crack, I thought I give a game a go and tried out quakelive. I was pretty surprised that it works flawlessly.

Not so good is video. Flash tends to stutter in fullscreen, though I might see if I can turn off hyperthreading to see if it make a difference.

I got it for £250, which is £50 less than everyone else sells it for and is the same price as the Acer one D225.

Despite what would appear near identical hardware, the Asus battery life figures were much better.

The fact that the screen is truly excellent (matte, no reflections) as is the keyboard, both better than the D225.

So, yes, I'm one happy bunny! :)


Adroit Alien profile image

Adroit Alien 5 years ago Author

Just an update, I've gotten Bluetooth to work now. It was strange. The Bluetooth icon used to appear without responding to anything but after installed Jupiter, it works fine now. It works exactly like it did on my laptop. Please read my update review for more info.


beerusb 5 years ago

The Unity Desktop look great.


Jack 5 years ago

I have one and I also would like to change the desktop. I like it over all. Is a good little netbook.


Jo 5 years ago

Hi. My Ubuntu on 1015PW isn't working fine. My netbook has an Atheros AR8123 Fast Ethernet Controller. Though Ubuntu detects it (I see this via "lscpi" command), I can't get onto Internet. It's the same as the wireless card. Ubuntu can detect it, but I can't get onto Internet with it. Could you help me? Thank you :)


Adroit Alien profile image

Adroit Alien 5 years ago Author

i have the same ethernet controller. What I did was hook it up to an ethernet wire and installed the Broadcom STA drivers. When you install ubuntu, it should install if you have internet access. If not go to admin> additional drivers. Hope this helps.


Rambobafet 5 years ago

Great review !

I just bought this netbook [and when i say "just", it's approximately 2hours] and i'm already doing the installation of Ubuntu with your advises ^^

See ya !

(sorry for the mistakes, i'm french... :p)


Jo 5 years ago

Thanks for your reply XD

So did your wired connection work well as soon as you installed Ubuntu? Mine couldn't. So that's the biggest problem. It seems that Additional Drivers doesn't work if there is no internet access.


Adroit Alien profile image

Adroit Alien 5 years ago Author

jo,

yes, you need a wired internet access but just for this one time. After the broadcom STA drivers are installed, you dont need the wire any more.


Rambobafet 5 years ago

Just about Wifi :

It does not work with my netbook T_T

Broadcom STA installed but still doesn't work.

"Network Manager" wants the key wpa everytime (it's a loop : "may i have the key ?" - "Here is the key" - "Ok i check" - "May i have the key ?") without success (and it's the good key)

Any idea ?


Adroit Alien profile image

Adroit Alien 5 years ago Author

rambo,

if network manager is asking for the key than the STA drivers are working. That same thing actually happened to me. But my fix was a silly caps lock mistake. Try checkboxing the "show key" box to double check.

Also, try configuring your router to AES encrytion. If that doesn't work, try reinstalling network manager through the software center.


Rambobafet 5 years ago

Hi everyone !

My wifi is working \o/

Thanks Adroit Alien ! I follow your advises and I changed the encryption of my wifi to AES.

On the ubuntu forum (fr), they told me to check the filtering "MAC".

It seems that when the network manager tried to connect, the address mac was not registered in modem's configuration. [On a livebox, you need to push a button for register a mac address. I did that but it seems that it doesn't work with ubuntu :( No prob with windows and Mac ]

Thanks you very much :)


Lewis De Payne 5 years ago

As you pointed out, Ubuntu Netbook Remix (10.10 Maverick Meerkat) also includes Gnome. I'm curious as to why you decided overwrite it with Ubuntu Desktop Edition, instead. In the end, you're still running the same Gnome, and the same utilities.

There's no hint in your article as to what the benefits were of going that route. As a new eeePC 1015PEM owner myself (running Netbook Remix with Gnome), I'm curious as to what I'm missing, if anything.


Adroit Alien profile image

Adroit Alien 5 years ago Author

Yes there was a gnome session when I installed UNR but it was fragmented. There were a few features missing which I can't remember. I think I had a problem with compiz not running right. Either way, leaving my netbook "broken" brought back bad memories of Windows and I figure it would be easier to get support with the desktop version. Telling people that I am running Gnome on UBR on ubuntuforums might mean no replies.

I can't remember anything specific but I do remember it was slightly different.


Luismi 5 years ago

Hi,

I plan to install Ubuntu in my Asus 1015PEM that I will have today. I like to know if you install 64bit or 32bits version, because, the N550 processor i a 64bits processor, no?


Adroit Alien profile image

Adroit Alien 5 years ago Author

yes the n550 is 64 bit. I installed the 32 bit because I had issues in the past finding compatible 64 bit software.


JimShortz 5 years ago

For those with Bluetooth issues note that it is turned off in the Bios by default; so just go turn it on!

I love mine (2GB model), with Netbook remix on it. Everything works, and it is fast too. I also opted for the gnome desktop because the sidebar doesn't hide, but by logging out and selecting Gnome - not by a reinstall! when Ubuntu 11.04 comes out next month Unity will auto-hide apparently. We will see!


ThePracticalMommy profile image

ThePracticalMommy 5 years ago from United States

Thanks for the review. I'm in the market for one of those.


hekllo 5 years ago

hi just did the same. i only have 6 hours battery life after fully charged. this should go up according to the manual after some charges. also wanted to ask does this destroy the mode where the laptop can be opened in some kind of internet mode from the button on top left next to the wireless button?


Adroit Alien profile image

Adroit Alien 5 years ago Author

the top left button afaik doesn't work. I'm not exactly sure what it did besides controlling the wifi antenna. Been using it for a while now and it's still going strong. It has not affected functionality whatsoever.


pellur 5 years ago

Great post! But I wish you could've mentioned more about the partitioning of the hard disk, you mention something about it a bit too late :). I just installed Ubuntu on my new Asus 1015pem, but wiped the harddisk at the same time. I won't be able to use the Express Gate, so basically that button just starts Ubuntu, would be nice to have option for Express Gate. Does it start Ubuntu for you too? I was wondering if I could create a partition for it and somehow reinstall the Express Gate to it. Or only if they had some recovery file you could install to a USB memory boot stick. First I was a bit concerned that the netbook didn't include a recovery CD, but then I realized that there's no CD Drive! :D

I have battery life of mere 6 hours where you have 8 hours. My battery was charged over night before use. That sucks.


pellur 5 years ago

That button is Express Gate. It will start this small OS in few seconds, so it might come handy.

http://support.asus.com/Download.aspx?SLanguage=en...

You can download it from the above link. Not sure how it should be set up though, maybe you need to create a partition for it so that the button will work and start it from the designated partition, or does who know how that button operates.


Adroit Alien profile image

Adroit Alien 5 years ago Author

thanks for the comment and link. I'm sure others may find the express gate handy. I didn't mind losing express gate as Ubuntu is light already for me. I also found it odd that there are no recovery USB like the ones apple offers.

If you lower your brightness, you will notice that the battery indicator changes. This can add an extra hour or so at full charge. In real life usage 6-7 hours sounds about right. I've ran my battery down a few times and I can't complain at all about the juice it holds.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

Maybe I should've bought this instead of my Toshiba NB505. Good review.


James 5 years ago

Hi thank you so much for directing me on how to boot into a usb.. I hav sleepless nights on this problem.


Adroit Alien profile image

Adroit Alien 5 years ago Author

your welcome James but I doubt you would really lose sleep over that. :P


Eric 4 years ago

Hi Adroit Alien,

You comments is very helpful indeed. Thank you so much. It did work. Good job mate.:)


german guy 4 years ago

very helpful, dude. did a great job.

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