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Asus Eee PC 901 20G Linux Edition - Asus Eee PC 901 20G Linux Edition

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


While the inclusion of an Intel Atom processor is the headline grabber, this isn't to say Asus has been resting on its laurels. Knowing that the likes of MSI Wind, HP 2133 Mini-Note, Acer Aspire One and Dell Inspiron E and E Slim are snapping at its heels, it has given the 901 a subtle but timely makeover. Gone, for example, is the slightly toy-like pearlescent finish, replaced almost entirely by a classy and familiar feeling glossy finish.

Another improvement is the previously mentioned screen hinge, which is both larger and slightly narrower than that on Eee 900. It is, however, a pretty insignificant change compared to greatly improve touch pad. Whereas previous Eee PC touch pads were something to be tolerated rather than admired, this new one is a massive improvement. Its new silver fringing is particularly fetching and the larger size and seamless integration makes it great to use. Indeed, the only complaint is that the buttons are a tad tough, but this is really a trifling issue.

Asus has also gone to town and come back with an assortment of new features, without actually increasing the price. As such, in the 901 you'll benefit from niceties such as Bluetooth, Dolby Sound Room audio (XP version only) and, incredibly, high bandwidth Wireless-N Wi-Fi. Doubtless many won't see the benefit but it's a great feature nonetheless and when you consider the wealth of excellent features already present in the Eee, such as the 1.3 Megapixel camera, dual integrated microphones, multi-touch touch pad, SSD storage, three USB ports, and excellent 8.9in 1,024 x 600 screen, the Eee boasts a feature set to match and surpass many of the machines aspiring to its crown.

The good news doesn't end there, though, because there's one other new feature that's probably the most significant of the lot: the battery. Previously Asus has been rightly criticised for not providing the battery needed for satisfactory long-term use, but the 6-cell 6600mAh battery supplied with the Eee PC 901 changes all of that.

Though it pushes the weight just a smidgen over 1kg, to 1.1kg, it finally gives us the thing we've been craving: longevity. Previous Eee PCs tended to keel over at around the three hour mark or below, but when used with the screen at full brightness, with wireless active, we managed a very impressive four hours and 45 minutes of real-world use.

Asus, in fact, claims up to 7.8 hours and though we haven't had the time to re-create the conditions required to test this claim, given the large number of brightness increments and potential power savings it's a claim we can believe in. Moreover, regardless of what the exact figure might be, the 901 delivers the kind of battery life that provides freedom and flexibility.


June 18, 2008, 4:12 pm

I love it so much. 20Gb, 1.6 atom, 4 hours 45 minutes at full brightness... I don't need anything else :p I'm actually going to use it as my main PC--possibly i'll buy an additional monitor and external storage. Bluetooth allows BT-enabled keyboards and mice, remote controlling using mobile phone--and it rocks. This thing includes everything I need. Asus Eee PC 901 is a real woman--and i want her.


June 18, 2008, 11:38 pm

Thanks for a very informative and useful review - but where are those prices from and where is this machine available in the UK?

Andy Vandervell

June 19, 2008, 3:53 pm

Glad you both enjoyed the review. Pricing comes from Asus and is their suggested pricing to retailers. It should be available on July 1st.

David 7

June 19, 2008, 8:00 pm

Great Review!! Although I think i'd rather save some money and have a little bigger keyboard. Msi Wind, Aspire, or even a new Dell. The market is definitely giving us lots of options for the UMPC. And although the EEE Pc was one of the first with the 701. So many better options for your money. At least in the US.


June 27, 2008, 10:33 pm

Is it possible to tun a bigger monitor off this machine ?

Reaso I ask my sons off to university and I think this would be great ,fo taking to lectures,but if he wants to use it as a main PC screen size might be too small so if it could be linked up to a good cheap monitor then problem solved ?


June 28, 2008, 5:58 pm

Andy cracking reviews, I had a Sony TX1 was just about to get a TZ but now reckon its the 901 for me. Discounted HP Mini Note ta to your other review.Wondering if should wait for Dell E or go for Asus 1000.

I take notes send emails and surf with need to watch odd film on long journeys. Awesome reviews appreciate your thoughts if allowed JD


July 4, 2008, 1:50 pm

It looks a bit plasticky. Also, how difficult is it for computer makers to design good looking laptops??? Mobile phone manufactuers seem to be doing it. One of the biggest USP of Apple computers is that their equipment looks cool!


July 9, 2008, 7:13 pm

To david: actually the Toshiba Libretto and then the Sony Picturebook were the first UMPC's and these were back in 1997-ish. UMPC is a new term for subnotebook.....


July 18, 2008, 10:08 pm

Great review Andy....I am definitely gonna get the 901. Is anyone able to tell me how much of the 12G would be left after XP installed? Alternatively, is it easy to install XP if I go for the 20G Linux edition? Ta very much.

Pat 1

July 31, 2008, 2:19 am

I have one on order - should be here any day (I hope) but I had intended to use a usb broadband modem but I can't find one compatible with Linux os. Anybody have any suggestions? Thanks


August 2, 2008, 7:52 pm

To Pat: I also have one on order. I had a tiny Acer laptop running Ubuntu Linux that i got my Vodafone USB broadband stick to work with.

I'll post here, once my Asus arrives and i've got the Vodafone stick to work with it.


August 8, 2008, 2:38 am

Can I just point out the one thing that know one seems to be picking up on (or maybe it's just me who is annoyed by this).

All of the main rivals to the 901 have terrible touchpads!

A list then:

- MSI Wind: No divide between left and right mouse buttons, meaning half the time you press the wrong button by accident.

- Acer Aspire One: Even worse than the Wind! Left and right mouse buttons are on either side of the touchpad, rather than being on the bottom

- HP Mini-Note: The same design as the Aspire One! Buttons on either side of the mousepad. Ahh!

It is for this reason (and not for any small keys or high price issue) that I have decided to go for an Eee PC 901, as they alone have decent mousepads!

Pat 1

August 15, 2008, 12:52 am

To Unixadmin99: Well, I bought one loaded with Windows. It's a great bit of kit but after installing a few bits & pieces (Adblocker, Firefox, AVG,Bitlord, and a few other bits)the C drive is now full! I guess I have to re partition the drives? There is still plenty of space on D drive. All in all its an amazing machine and I would recommend it to anyone still unsure. How did you get on with your USB modem?

Clive 1

August 23, 2008, 3:15 pm

Have a 900 and just bought the 901. Fabulous piece of kit and very useful when travelling. Why have Asus put Star Office on the 901 instead of Open Office seems a strange move especially as I can't see any way to uninstall Star Office. Still love the machine though


August 27, 2008, 1:26 pm

My EEEPC 901 Linux arrived early last week. My Vodafone mobile connect HSPA USB Stick (E172) just works. I didn’t have to configure or do anything. Once I plugged it in, an "Asus Mobile Phone Tool" applet popped up. I clicked connect and after a second or two I was connected. The EEEPC 901 is an amazing little machine. It isn't the fastest on the block, but in terms of portability it cant be beaten. I am glad I went with the Linux version because I haven't had to install anything on the laptop to get it useable. Had I gone with Windows I would have had to install Zonealarm firewall, AVG Antivirus, VLC media player, 7Zip, PDF Creator, WinSCP and also Windows XP SP3. All that on a 4gig partition that is almost already full on the Windows version.

The User Interface on the Linux version does look a bit Mickey-Mousey but it works. And I think that is the important thing.


August 28, 2008, 12:22 am

i am confused - should I buy 901 with linux or xp? if i buy xp i can download linux for free but not vice - versa. the memory for xp is 12gb flash drive? and linux 20gb flash drive. What are the negatives? can someone help??

Stu 1

August 31, 2008, 3:14 am

I would go for the XP edition (which I have with no regrets) - far fewer problems with program installations - have a look here to help you decide. http://forum.eeeuser.com/in...


August 31, 2008, 8:18 am

Can i just point out that eee pc wern't one of the 1st to produce UMPC's, has everybody just forgotten all about the Toshiba Libretto ?? and over 10 ago to boot!! Sony have a tiny little notebook out about 5 years ago about the size of your hand too.


September 15, 2008, 2:40 pm

I am in the market for a 901 but undecided whether to go for the Windows version or Linux. My thinking is if I go for Windows I can then load Ubuntu, SUSE or one of the other smaller distros but still have the option of having the windows version. Other than anti virus is there any other advantage to having a linux machine as opposed to an XP


September 18, 2008, 11:09 pm

I have a 901 Linux ,as with most things in life there are advantages and disadvantages. Linux boots up in25 sec. ideal for wifi hotspots.travel.emails, and surfing the net(mozilla firefox) .battery life is very good too. It comes loaded with software- for work and play including, Picassa for images and from Sun systems a program comparable to microsoft word. A dictionary .games ,a media player for internet radio and music.This OS less prone to virus . On the downside linux to date is very limited with the amount and type of periphericals you might in the future want to use . To date not even itunes software is available officialy for linux. I use my 901 from wifi hotspots and have a wireless 3G sim data card from VODAFONE for portability and anywhere internet use when hotspots are not available. Very light weight,keyboard takes getting used to but not impossible ,and the mouse pad is remarkably sensitive. Overall i am pleased with the purchase . Its GOOD VALUE for the money .Asus is one of the big world players in computer motherboars . A serious brand. My harderest decision was pondering over Linux or Windows .I went for Linux just to try a different OS.


September 25, 2008, 8:51 am

I love my 901. I bought the Linux version for its greater storage room, and then I converted it to XP SP3.

At first I thought I had made a very bad buy, and was depressed. Definitely the 901 is overpriced, by arguably $100 to $200. Let's say about $100. I'm on a tight budget, so I was running scared of anything not being just right. There is no DVD/CD in the 901, so right away you're considering USB possibilities and possibly an $80 external hard drive.

My 901 on Linux ran into an internet connection bug that some of the Linux versions have. Well, I was already going to put XP on, but at the time I didn't know if this were just a Linux problem. (It was.) I can do pretty well anything with XP, but I don't know Linux well enough to troubleshoot it effectively. I was really somewhat scared of this glitch, and that turned into real after-purchase depression.

It took me a week to get my spirits back up to putting in XP. I did a few days' research into doing it from a USB stick, but I began wondering whether my time was worth it. Finally I gave in and bought the $80 external hard drive. I was also planning on 2 GB of RAM, which would be another $35.

My fortunes changed when I put in XP. I knew what I was doing, then. Using the XP CD, I chose to zap everything. I had read that one partition would show up as "BIOS", but, no, you're not killing your BIOS. So now I had the usual XP setup decisions to make, which I rather enjoy. I decided to put XP on the smallest GB drive. I didn't use nLite; just a nice reasonable XP. All finished and trimmed, it would end up using a teensy bit less than 3 GB, leaving 20% empty for easy defragging. To do this--important--I would move my pagefile to a different drive, immediately on setting up XP. And later I would compress quite a few of XP's files.

Also, I keep my programs in another partition on ANY XP install. On my Eee, I set up the larger drive to have 2 partitions. A 5 GB partition holds all my programs, and the remaining 10 GB or so is for creative work.

As I said, things began to go much better for me with that install. In advance, I'd taken some time to download and organize all my drivers from the ASUS site. You need those for XP, because this is originally a Linux version, right?

Finally, after two weeks of sweet running, I spent another $60 on a SDHC 16 GB flash card, which fits weightlessly and invisibly into the 901's side. AND, unnecessarily, I splurged $80 on a sale-priced 500 GB external hard drive. To complete things, I have $5 thrift store powered speakers. If you're looking at my costs, consider that 500 GB hard drive a luxury, but very well priced. The cheap used speakers give my 901 a very nice voice indeed. Of course, the external hard drive, the external DVD, and those speakers are not really portable. Only the Eee is, with its flash drive and as many USB sticks as you might feel like carrying.

As you know, drive size is based on the 1000x arithmetic; not the 1024 arithmetic. (Check Wikipedia.) It isn't a scam. It just means you get a bit less than you might have expected. In actual available storage terms, I now have 34 GB on my 901, like this:

-- Drive (C) with XP on it: 3.75 GB

-- Drive (D) with my programs: 5.03 GB

-- Drive (E) for my own work; this being really a companion partition to (D): 10.0 GB

-- Drive (F), my flash SDHC: 15.3 GB (note that this increases things by some 81%)

I also did put in the 2 GB of RAM. That is an easy but scary operation. No, it is NOT the thing with the 2 screws in it! The RAM is hidden under a flap. And you have to put it in very gently but also very FIRMLY. I succeeded on my 4th try. It's just a matter of making a FIRM connection.

And of course you want to re-format that SDHC as NTFS, so Google for the free hp Format Tool, which does that in a few easy seconds.

My 901 is not bloated, but it is luxurious. It has some strong programs on it, including Google Earth. It has 3 internet browsers, because I experiment with browsers. It is set up for 2 users. It has my pretty home-made icons. This is no starvation-diet in-transit get-along-with minimalist PC. At the monment I'm using it about 6 hours a day while I build my new desktop computer, a powerful giant the very opposite of my 901. But this 901 is about the cutest bit of pure luxury I've ever owned.

I'm a one-finger typist, and I have been for 53 years, so I go at quite a fast 45 wpm. On this keyboard, I might have an advantage over a "proper" typist. The keys are small, close together--and, beware--the keyboard flexes. You might hate that. I get along with it. But it's not solid.

The screen is small, but your text is extremely clear. I don't get eye strain. I'm surprised.

If you decide to buy a 901, go in with your eyes open. It is overpriced. Oh, do you need an external DVD? Well, you can do these things with a USB stick, but I've used my new external DVD for lots of things with my 901 now, so I consider it at the very least a very desirable luxury. It is very, very handy.

I hope this gives you a few insights. Would I do it again? You bet I would. Scariest part: totally wiping out Linux on my brand new machine. Of course, it does have recovery disks. Er--they're disks. You'd need an external DVD/CD to use them.

Conclusion: I love it! Good luck if you get one. Take it easy (that's what one of the 3 "e"s in Eee stands for, y'know.



September 28, 2008, 1:10 pm

thanks for displaying the price's from other company's as i looked on oyyy an their price is 𧵼 + vat=𧶞,,for the Asus EEE 900 Series Notebook PC 900MHz 1024MB 20GB 8.9 inch Linux (White). your latest price say's 𧷒? i think you should renew your price check!!!

so for u gargain hunters check out oyyy.co.uk


October 4, 2008, 10:58 am

If XP is installed on a 901 20G Linux, will the netbook have the exact same features of the 901 that come with XP? (I’m talking about battery life and real sound quality)



December 14, 2008, 7:48 pm

I have just purchased a 901 from oyyy. Great price and love the linux version. Only question I have is, can anyone recommedend a USB DVD drive for the Linux version. I have a Vaio laptop runniung XP which is great.. but the reason for buying a 901 was its size (easy to use on trains.. easy to thro in a bag) and it has everything I could need from such a small piece of kit. If people buy it for the wrong purpose it says nothing for the 901 but demonstrates their lack of judgment in the choice of kit. "Horses for courses" is the old saying.

Anyone with an answer to my Q re DVD..thanks in advance.


January 11, 2009, 1:32 am

I have the same question as Mars. If I buy the 901 Linux 20GB SSD model and install XP would I lose out on anything? Dolby Sound Room for example.

In addition, if I went for the 1000 40GB SSD model, is Dolby Sound Room even available?

Thanks in advance.

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