Updated 09/13/07: Device has a PCI Express Mini Card connector
Updated 09/13/07: Clarified the amount of free space available on the local storage
Updated 09/13/07: Added information on partitions

Unicap and UCView on the Asus EeePC

In spring 2007, Asus announced the EeePC, a low cost, small sized mobile computer, which is expected to be available to the public in October 2007. The system is equiped with a 900 Mhz ultra low power Intel CPU, a 7'' LCD monitor, 512 MBytes of RAM and uses flash memory as permanent storage. On the software side, the system comes with a custom version of Xandros Linux preinstalled.

Among the applications preinstalled on the system is UCView, allowing the user to make snapshots and video sequence with the EeePC's integrated webcam. UCView uses the unicap toolkit for image capturing and display.

Size comparsion between Apple Macbook and Asus EeePC

Basic Configuration

The Xandros Linux operating system which comes with the EeePC is customized to accomodate the specific constrains of the machine - most notably the small size of the permanent storage. The EeePC comes with disk size to as low as 2 GB and this size has to contain the whole operating system and its applications as well as the users personal data.

One of the strengths of the customized Xandros system is the fast boot time. From power on to accepting the first user interaction, the system takes only 26 seconds.

Updated 09/13/07
As said, disk space is limited on this device, so it is of special interest how much space the OS leaves to the user in the default installation. On the 4GB model I have, there are about 1.3 GB available to the user. The OS resides in a seperate partition which is combined with the partition for the personal data via unionfs.

Updated 09/13/07
The internal flash is divided in 4 Partitions: The largest one being the partition for the Xandros OS ( of ext2fs type ), the second is reserved for personal data ( also ext2fs type ), a small FAT32 partition ( 8 MB ) and one EFI partition ( also 8 MB ).

The device CPU is an Intel Celeron M @900Mhz. There is a cooling fan that activates after a while. When the desktop is idle or under low load ( ie. while browsing ), the fan is rather quiet and only noticeable in a quiet working environment. It does not seem to get much louder when the CPU is under load ( just tested quickly ).

Hardware Peripherals

Updated 09/13/07
The EeePC can be extended via 3 USB ports and via PCI Express Mini Cards. The connector for the Mini Cards is near the memory slot.

Network connectivity is made either via a wired 100 Mbit ethernet port or via 56 Mbit WiFi. Both, the WiFi and the wired ethernet are controlled by Atheros chips. The WiFi antenna can be disabled via a kill switch.

Stereo speakers are mounted to the left and right of the display and take up a great portion of the lid.

The device is equiped with an SDHC ( SD / MMC Card ) reader to allow expansion of the local storage. The card will "snap in" and dissapear completely inside the computer ( like with the card holder of a digital camera ).

The display has a resolution of 800x480 pixels and a size of 7''. It is controlled by an Intel GMA 915 on-board controller. Compositing should be possible with this controller ( but it is not enabled with the default OS ). Also accelerated video is available via Xv.

The touchpad is controlled via the Synaptics driver. It has a scroll area on the right side but does not seem to be multitouch capable. It is rather small but, after getting used to the small size, it is quite precise. The keyboard is smaller than standard size. It might take a while until getting used to but then it is ok.

The device is equiped with a single 512 MB standard memory module. It can be replaced by a 1GB module. There is no swap space configured with the default installation.

The battery has 5200 mAh capacity which is enough to power the device for about 3-4 hours. The power adaptor is small and light compared to some other notebook chargers. It has a quite long cable of about 2 metres ( thanks Asus! ).

Memory and Expansion Slot of the EeePC

Bus 005 Device 006: ID eb1a:2761 eMPIA Technology, Inc.
Bus 005 Device 002: ID 0cf2:6225 ENE Technology, Inc. 
Bus 005 Device 001: ID 0000:0000  
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 0000:0000  
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 0000:0000  
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 0000:0000  
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 0000:0000  
lsusb output

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile 915GM/PM/GMS/910GML Express Processor to DRAM Controller (rev 04)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Mobile 915GM/GMS/910GML Express Graphics Controller (rev 04)
00:02.1 Display controller: Intel Corporation Mobile 915GM/GMS/910GML Express Graphics Controller (rev 04)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) PCI Express Port 1 (rev 04)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) PCI Express Port 2 (rev 04)
00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) PCI Express Port 3 (rev 04)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #1 (rev 04)
00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #2 (rev 04)
00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #3 (rev 04)
00:1d.3 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #4 (rev 04)
00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller (rev 04)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev d4)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801FBM (ICH6M) LPC Interface Bridge (rev 04)
00:1f.2 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801FBM (ICH6M) SATA Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) SMBus Controller (rev 04)
01:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications, Inc. AR5006EG 802.11 b/g Wireless PCI Express Adapter (rev 01)
03:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Technology Corp. L2 100 Mbit Ethernet Adapter (rev a0)
lspci output

Installed Software

The installed Xandros version is based on Debian Etch.

Since the device I have for testing is an engineering sample and the software is not the release version, I will leave out the information on the software versions for now. I will update this section as soon as I the release version is available.

Integrated Camera

The EeePC comes with an integrated webcam which produces images and videos in VGA resolution with up to 30 frames per second. As with most laptops, the camera is mounted in the center above the display to make it best suited for VoIP applications ( even though Skype is still not able to utilize the webcam under Linux ).

The camera produces images of good webcam quality. In low light situations, the frame rate drops to 7.5 frames per second, allowing the camera to expose long enough to produce a bright enough image without too much noise.

unicap and UCView

UCView is installed on the EeePC as the default webcam application. The pre-release version still has a limited version of UCView installed which does not offer all desired features. By the time of the release of the EeePC, a new version will be available specially for the EeePC on the unicap website. New versions will also be available in a Service Pack from Xandros/Asus.

I would like to thank Asus for sending me the device and Xandros for the support.

Please send feedback to this article to: arne AT unicap-imaging.org or contact me via Jabber: arne@jabber.org