How to revive your notebook Asus x205ta with Linux in 2020!

 How to revive your notebook Asus x205ta with Linux in 2020!


The Asus x205ta notebook was sold in 2014. At this time, it was already a kind of "cheap" laptop solded with Windows 8 builtin. Even at the begininning, this laptop was not really fast and pleasant to use.

Owner of this dude, i decide in 2019 to upgrade it to Windows 10, the only way to accomplish that was to choose the Windows 10 32bits because this "magic" computer use the UEFI Boot32 method to work and cannot use 64bits even if the CPU can...

The installation was relatively simple, and my wife goes with that for few months with this "laggy installation". For security reasons, i decide after few months to install a paid antivirus on her system because she catch some malwares that Windows Defender let it pass. I noticed after that the system was complettly unusable with an Antivirus installed, i have tried severals "low impact" antivirus on the system but the result was everytime the same, unusable.

So i decide to switch this notebook to Linux even if a lot of people on the net do not advice it, here is how to accomplish that with 99% of the functionnalities working!

Linux distribution choosed:

I finally fell to Fedora 33 64 bits edition, after some tries with Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora 33 was the only one that everything was working directly. Mint and Ubuntu was failing on sound not working after resume, thanks to the Alsa 1.2.4 builtin in Fedora 33 that fix a lot of issues with the sound driver chtrt5645 where Ubuntu and Mint stuck on Alsa 1.2.2 version.

In the opposite of Ubuntu or Mint, Fedora 33 come also with embeded UEFI 32 bits support, so it work out of the box without any other manipulation.



Fedora 33 installation from USB stick

Just download the ISO of Fedora 33 64 bits and put it on a stick with Rufus, please choose the GPT partitionning of the stick instead of MBR thus you can boot it on a UEFI system like our tender notebook :)

Go inside the notebook bios by hitting "ESC" and disable "Secure Boot", than choose your UEFI stick where leave Fedora to boot.

Install on the notebook by reclaiming all the space on the computer disk (30GB) and choose your personnal options.

Finish the installation, reboot and see the magic happen

What is not working out the Box?

The first thing i noticed is the trackpad (Elantech) does not work after resume (lid close than lid open), to fix that, simply create this script

nano /usr/lib/systemd/system-sleep/touchpad-fix.sh

Paste this code inside:

#!/bin/sh
if [ "${1}" == "pre" ]; then
  # Do the thing you want before suspend here, e.g.:
  echo "we are suspending at $(date)..." > /tmp/systemd_suspend_test
elif [ "${1}" == "post" ]; then
  # Do the thing you want after resume here, e.g.:
  echo "...and we are back from $(date)" >> /tmp/systemd_suspend_test
  modprobe -r elan_i2c
  modprobe elan_i2c
fi

Save and exit, than get the script executable:

chmod +x /usr/lib/systemd/system-sleep/touchpad-fix.sh

This script simply reload the ElanTech driver when lid open, the issue is fixed.

What tweaks i've used for speeing up the system?

Disable SeLinux

grubby --update-kernel ALL --args selinux=0

Disable Grub timeout to get 5sec less boot time

nano /etc/default/grub

GRUB_TIMEOUT=0

As we are on an UEFI system, we update grub with this command:

grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/efi/EFI/fedora/grub.cfg

Disable service wait on line

We use Wifi, so the system could loose 15-20sec to wait for online internet at boot time than fail.

As we are probably connected with Wifi, this is not usefull and we loose time until the timeout, so we mask it because disabling it could get trouble with dependants services

systemctl mask NetworkManager-wait-online.service

Disable LVM monitor

We not use it

systemctl mask lvm2-monitor.service

Disable Modem Manager

We don't have modem builtin, if you don't use any extrenal modem (4G), you can safely disable it

systemctl disable ModemManager.service

Disable Firewall

At your flavour, but you can disable the firewall since it take 6sec to spin up at boottime

systemctl disable firewalld

Check the blaming service

I have choosed to disable these services above because i have monitored who was causing slow boot using this command, usefull to point to the right crappy services

systemd-analyze blame | head
systemd-analyze critical-path
systemd-analyze critical-chain 

This give you wich services take some time at bootup, you can also tweak in your flavour but be aware that some services have to stay active

Thoses who i've talk about just before were tested to be masked or disabled without any issues.

Less time to timeout on hardware detection

This service try to detect any new hardware change at every boot-up, since our hardware will not change, we can safely decrease it's timeout to 1 second

nano /usr/lib/systemd/system/systemd-udev-settle.service
[Service]
Type=oneshot
TimeoutSec=1
RemainAfterExit=yes
ExecStart=udevadm settle

Things to know

No more disk/file Swap

Fedora 33 does not use partition or swapfile, instead, and this is a new feature, it use compressed swap in ram with zram, there is no easy way to setup swapfile and the distribution is not really made to work in another way. After some days of using it, i can tell you that it's work really well and i don't have noticed any slow-down, no need to swap file or partition... 

The side effect is that as you don't have "true" swap file or partition, you can not hibernate on disk, just suspend to ram. This is not really a problem because this notebook in suspend mode does not use a lot of energy, my first test shown that you can stay on resume state for more than 15 days with a 100% battery charge.

Installed softwares

Here are the list of softwares i've installed and i suggest you to use with this laptop

Internet Browser

I hightly recommand Brave Browser since it's based on chromium with builtin security features (anti popup, forced https aso.)

sudo dnf install dnf-plugins-core
sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo https://brave-browser-rpm-release.s3.brave.com/x86_64/
sudo rpm --import https://brave-browser-rpm-release.s3.brave.com/brave-core.asc
sudo dnf install brave-browser

Spotify

No need to present you this one, it is installed with snapd

dnf install snapd
ln -s /var/lib/snapd/snap /snap
systemctl enable snapd.seeded.service
systemctl start snapd.seeded.service
snap install spotify

VLC

For watching local file movie or music

dnf install vlc

Glances

For watching how system handles memory aso


dnf install glances

Zoom

To make meeting with all others zoom users (and since covid, they are a lot)

yum -y install wget
wget https://zoom.us/client/latest/zoom_x86_64.rpm
yum localinstall zoom_x86_64.rpm

Access windows shares

dnf -y install samba-client cifs-utils

Brother printers basic dependencies

dnf install glibc.i686 libstdc++.i686 cups-libs.i686 cups-ipptool psutils ghostscript foomatic-db

7zip

I used it for backing up all the config with rclone

yum install p7zip p7zip-plugins

Midnight Commander

To facilitate folder and file navigation in terminal

dnf install mc  

Other stuffs

Trimming SSD

Trim the SSD sometimes

fstrim -av

I cron it for my part

0 12 * * * /usr/sbin/fstrim -av

At the end of all, you get a notebook that

* work in 64bits, and so, get new softwares that are only supported in 64bits by these days..
* stable and fast notebook that already have been so slow by the past
* last technologies embedded in Fedora 33
* no true needing of installing a antivirus since we are on Linux


Written by Cédric MARCOUX
ICT Consultant in Belgium

Comments

  1. Hello there, thanks for the thorough tutorial, I followed your steps and now my x205ta is a lighting fast device! However I do notice that headphones seemed to be broken as speaker works perfectly. Any chance that you have the same problem?

    ReplyDelete
  2. did not recognize the asus x250ta brcm43341 built in wifi board, any guide on that?

    ReplyDelete

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