Sunday, June 21, 2009

1008HA Assassination - not for faint-hearted

RAM Upgrade of 1008HA (added Video clippings too at the bottom)

This small thingie is a toy for sure!! After all the soft surgeries I had it go through, this time it was hardware's turn. Asus have some funny policies about this RAM upgrade. Netbook comes with 1GB RAM which by the way not excellent thing to have though not bad either. When you know that it supports 2GB, there is no reason why one should not do it.

I called the customer care - following is the conversation we had - pretty hilarious one. After all usual rituals of asking contact details we got down to business.

"Mam, I have a eeepc 1008HA and want to upgrade the RAM. What would you recommend?"
"Your netbook supports 2GB RAM. Please look at the specifications of the RAM you already have and get new one with similar specifications."

"Well, I do not know where to look for the specifications. I know it is DDR2. Is there anything else I need to know about?"
She puts me on hold and comes back in a quick while.
"Sir, you should use DDR2 2GB RAM."

"I know that. There are different pins available - 200pin, 240pin etc." By now, I had done some googling on eeepc forum to see what I should be get but just wanted the confirmation.
She puts me on hold and comes back in a while after asking her superior.
"Sir, as I see, you should use DDR2 SO DIMM 2GB RAM."

I skipped the question and went to next one when I saw some discussion on the forum about it.
"Mam, I see that there is something with 667MHz and also 800MHz. What do you recommend?"
"Sir, 667MHz and 800MHz would be slower. You should get a 2GB RAM."
"Naah, please open and search for DDR2 RAM. You will see 2GB RAM 667MHz and 2GB RAM 800MHz. Which one should I buy?"
As expected, she put me on hold and came back after asking someone. I was almost sure that I did a mistake by calling support.
"Sir, we recommend 550MHz (I think, she said 550 only) to 667MHz." Now that was some information, I did not know that but anyway this answer id not solve my problem but I preferred to skip this question too.

"Do you have any instructions or video for changing the RAM that I can refer to?" This was my pain point too - no where on web, I could find these. There are a few instructions and pics (links below) but no video. All sounds scary when you read and see.
"Sir, we do not recommend you upgrade the memory!"
"What? I want to upgrade memory, why would I not do that?"
"We do not recommend you do it."
"Oh. Ok. Then you do it. Whom should I contact."
"We do not do it sir. We can provide you with the set of instructions."
"But you do not recommend it?"
"That would void your warranty."
"This is really funny. You guys manufacture a machine with maximum memory capacity of 2GB but ship it with only 1GB. Then you do not recommend user upgrade the memory and you also won't do it! Why did you make the model support 2 GB then? Why didn't you ship it with 2GB otherwise?"
"Sir, we do not do it, but we can provide you with instructions."
"What is the use of instructions if it is going to void the warranty?"

After so much of the discussion, I realized that if you induce some damange during the memory upgrade process, then Asus would void your warranty. For some problem if you send back you netbook and if technician concludes that you induced some damage then Asus won't cover it under warranty. If you do the upgrade successfully the warranty remains intact. There was a catch which I realized after performing the upgrade. You would find a sticker inside the netbook beneath which there is a screw that you have to take off if you want to reach to the motherboard. The sticker says, "Warranty is void if found broken or torn" or something like that. Well, I did the successful upgrade but I had to tear off the sticker, I am not really sure if my warranty is void or still in tact. I guess it's void.

Anyway, I closed the call after requesting her to email me set of instruction that she has. She eventually sent me some generic instructions - unscrew the bottom panel, take off the ram and replace it. Another garbage. These instructions do not work for 1008HA - it doesn't have any bottom panel.

I found following 2 links very useful for the whole process.

I bought a Crucial 2GB DDR2 SODIMM RAM 800MHz. 800MHz works well even though 667MHz is recommended. RAM is backward compatible.

Here is the video I captured while upgrading the RAM. Pardon for my _not_very_good_ narration and _not_very_good_ video editing. But I hope this clip will help all those who are going to do this scary stuff of upgrading the RAM for 1008HA. Hope many more such videos come up that can help users. Comments, suggestions, queries welcome.

Part 1 - opening the netbook and replacing the RAM

Part 2 - connecting things back

Special thanks to my roomie, Sahil, for patiently shooting this video and also helping out during the process. Honestly, I was sweating almost through out the process.

I tried to use the latex gloves in order to make sure that there is not damage by the static. But I really could not work properly with those gloves on - hence took it off after some time - definitely not recommended!

... and yeah, it is not for faint-hearted.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

.. just when you think, it is all set

With all herculean efforts and exploration to set the netbook with tripple boot - Win XP (which was preloaded), Win 7 (it's just because I loved it at first login) and Ubuntu (old love, and also because I wanted to solve some different set of problems than usual XP issues!).

Ran out of disk space on Linux Root partition
Everything was set ... finally. I updated all the packages on Ubuntu and suddenly Firefox started acting funny. It wouldn't allow me Then it started refusing browsing intermittently. I first thought, it is because of bad network drivers - which by the way was another battle I had fought while setting up the things on Ubuntu Linux. Obvious thought was, damn, how can I miss something there? I thought, maybe I have to install Java Runtime Environment to make cricinfo and google mail working. Synaptic Package Manager also showed that JRE6 was not installed on the system. Though I distinctly remembered that I had never installed JRE6 in any of my previous attempts on neither Kubuntu nor Ubuntu but still went ahead and started installation of JRE6.

It failed. By the way, it was the first software installation error I saw in the whole operation. All the while, I was messing up things in some other basics, but Linux installation was simply great this time. It reminded me of all the pain, I had to go through 4-5 years back when you start installing with some "make" or "make install" and then ultimately series of errors lead you to incompatible gcc version and then you hunt for that. Well, coming back to JRE6. The error was insufficient Disk Space!!

Decided to Resize the Partitions
How could that happen? I had created a 10GB EXT4 partition for root file system! Linux running out of 10GB space!! No way. But somehow I had to solve the problem at hand which was clearly saying "Insufficient Disk Space". Gparted - One of my discoveries in this whole venture helped.
This tool does what Partition Magic 8.0 used to do (that was the last partition magic version I had used - well cracked version. Not sure if later versions were able to do something additional). This tool detects the HDD, creates, resizes, moves the partition like a walk in a park. It takes time. But it does the job right. It supports FAT32, NTFS, EXT2/3/4, XFS (even more than these, but I specifically remember these). Best thing is I could burn its ISO (which is not more than 90MB on USB Flash Drive and boot the machine from that. I can even use the old dumb 128MB flash drive for this.

Gparted showed that Ubuntu installation had not even touched the partitions I had formated earlier for Linux. You see one option while installing Linux that says "install side by side and you will be able to choose them at start ups". What this option actually does is, it applies its own smartness and creates its own partitions for root and swap. In my case, it did create some tiny partitions, and hence I ran out of the space quickly. Since it did not take much time for partitioning while installation, I always thought, it used the preformatted partitions that I had made.

As a quick fix, I deleted the 10GB EXT4 partition that I had made earlier and grew the EXT3 partition that the installer had created. To add to the misery, these partitions were not adjacent - A big fat 90GB partition was sitting between them. Something like this

|-23GB(XP)-|-25GB(Win7)-|-12GB(swap and root partitions I had made)-|-89GB(data)-|-2GB(swap and root partitions that Ubuntu made)-|

It seems that the Ubuntu "Side by Side" option creates partition at the end of the drive - but still not sure why such a small partition! (I later found this link which throws more light on this "side by side" installation). I deleted the 12GB partition that I had created for Linux. Movied the 89GB partition to the right and grew the root partition to occupy 11GB and 3GB for Swap. Since I was only growing the partition size, I could not think of any other danger. Because the operation involved moving 89GB partition, it took significant time. I rebooted the machine after the completion. Boot Loader threw another tantrum

GRUB Loading Stage 1.5

GRUB Loading, Please wait...

Failed to boot - GRUB Error

Battle wasn't yet over. Now I could not even go to XP/Vista. It would just throw this error and refuse to boot. Google helped with this link. This error means following

22 : No such partition
This error is returned if a partition is requested in the device part of a device- or full file name which isn't on the selected disk.

I think, because of the whole partition moving part (I do not think, it was problem with growing the partition size), GRUB was not able to find the right partition. I almost deleted 2 partitions on the right side of the Linux root partition - I presume, that must have made it sda5 from sda7 or whatever and that's why it failed. I do not have any way of confirming this fact - but I guess, that's what it could be.

2 options to come out of this situation - either play with grub and fix the boot loader - I was not too sure about following concern - even if I fix the grub and point it to the right Linux partition, would it have referred to the right Vista Loader or not? The other option was to reinstall Ubuntu on these new partition because it generally recognizes the Vista Boot Loader and makes proper entry to Grub Loader. Also I had nothing to lose if I reinstall Ubuntu - it was fast and simpler than ever.

Reinstalled Ubuntu and all became fine

I burnt the Ubuntu 9.04 ISO on the same thumb drive, and installed Ubuntu - not more than 15 min. It recognized my Vista Loader as expected. This time instead of choosing "Side by Side" installation, I checked the "Manually select partition (advanced users) option and chose the partitions that I wanted Ubuntu to use for installation. Everything finally went well and Ubuntu again popped up smoothly as always. My tripple boot was all fine - Ubuntu, Vista and XP - living happily together ... so far.

In sum,

Ran out of space on Root Partition,
after resizing the partitions, ran into GRUB error

This is how I fixed it,
used Gparted to resize the partitions however deleted some partitions during the operation which lead to grub error,
reinstalled ubuntu and manually selected partitions instead of "Side by Side" option.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I so much wanted "" as the name of this blog. Somehow it already exists with only one line - on day eight, God created blog.

Well, that so much resembles to my situation. On day 8, I created this blog.

4th June was when my netbook booted for the first time, a white seashell model - eee pc 1008HA. Today on 11th June, it lived those moments again; it again got up for the first time with the same beach wallpaper with the seashell. :)

It's been a roller coaster ride with a lot of twists. Buying a netbook indeed was fun. You got to eliminate the big players like HP, Dell, Lenovo and even Samsung and boil down to a couple. But the fun is not over after buying, especially when you want to install to beta OSes - Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.04.

It was indeed fun, thought I would pen down a few things, it would be fun to read it in coming years and also if there are any fellow strugglers like me, I hope this blog will help them.

Let me put a disclaimer right away – this blog is going to contain all the material that someone else has found out or devised. It might contain a few steps that can lead to destroying all your data or even making your machine unusable. Following the steps/instructions explained/discussed/mentioned in this blog is purely at the reader's will.