Hi all! Quite a bit since I’ve made my last post, but not too bad. Still, here’s my Latino-time Happy New Year greeting at the half-point of January. Boy, is 2023 already racing along! πŸ˜†

Lots of changes already with this new year, the main one being a move from where I was living. It’s been quite busy since my winter break and even this past week trying to get everything moved out of the apartment into take what I can into my new living quarters. This has led to a LOT of downsizing on my part, so Marie Kondo and I have become besties in this regard. 🀣 You never realize how much junk you have until you have to move and sift through things to downsize. 🀯 Not only did I have to get rid of clothes which no longer fit me (too big now), but clothes that I’d never used in years. Most of it went to Goodwill, but the rest was tossed in the dumpster because they really weren’t in condition to donate in my opinion. Aside from that, I donated a number of furniture items to the Salvation Army and had my two eldest sons help me load the truck I reserved for yesterday. All that’s left now is to put the rest of my stuff in storage (most of it is already there, mainly the vintage computers and assorted tech items) and clean the unit to make it presentable before this coming Tuesday. Once this is all over, I’ll finally be able to breathe normally, at least until the next challenge arises. πŸ˜…

I have been playing around with a bit of tech lately in spite of the busy personal stuff. Recently, Haiku (the open source successor to the venerable BeOS), had a R1/beta4 release with a lot of advancements and improvements. You can read more about that here. I’d been trying to get Haiku running in a FreeBSD bhyve VM before this release using the nightlies, but was never able to get the installed system to boot even after following instructions for UEFI booting. But once I saw that this release came out, I decided to download an ISO and give it another try.

As with previous attempts, the installation image booted up just fine and I was able to partition the virtual drive as necessary and perform the installation. I also copied the EFI folders from the installation image to the EFIBOOT partition, though this time there was a KEYS folder there that I also copied over before rebooting into the installed system. Not sure if this made a difference this time, but I was finally able to boot the installed Haiku R1/beta4 system! πŸŽ‰

Remmina on my OpenBSD workstation remoted to the installed Haiku R1/beta4 system in a bhyve VM on a remote FreeBSD host system. The “About this system” window is open showing some basic system information and DriveSetup behind it on the bottom left showing the VM’s partitions, proving that this is from the booted installation.

After celebrating my successful boot of the installed system, I decided to run some updates and then launch WebPositive to see how it’s improved. I’m glad to report that it’s less crashy than it was in previous releases and nightlies, but it still has some rough edges. Mastodon still doesn’t render correctly and leaves blank boxes where the widgets for polls, images, tooting/publishing, and any other icon command for that matter. Still, those blank buttons work and I do believe you can see what it’s supposed to be via the tooltip once you hover over it. I decided to log into my ticketing system and that loaded fine as well and worked without issue, but some work sites were shown in a mobile format. Still, I’ll take it over what it was before this release.

I haven’t played much more with this release to get a full experience, but with what I’ve seen so far, it’s good enough to actually put it on some bare metal. Thinking of putting it on my Eee PC 901 netbook which currently runs OpenBSD/i386. Since I already have my Evoo as my main OpenBSD laptop, there’s no need for the i386 install on the netbook, so it’s a perfect candidate to receive some Haiku love. πŸƒ πŸ’•

That’s going to do it for this post. Time for me to get ready and head over to the apartment to get things done. Until next time! πŸ‘‹

Merry eve(ChristmasEve)!

December 23, 2022

Hello, friends!

Been a very long time since my last post, but mainly because I haven’t had anything of interest to post about lately. Work has been busy with state computer-based testing and other projects, and lots of positive changes within the last three months on a personal level. So much going on before the year ends and 2023 begins, and I’m very excited about it all.

Of course, some of those changes will bring some downsizing, but as David Bowie sang, “Turn and face the strange (ch-ch-changes!).” All of this is good and I’m embracing it.

I guess the only tech thing I have to post is that I fired up PinePhone after months of sitting in a dresser drawer and updated postmarketOS with Sxmo to the latest version. I also managed to migrate my configs without any issues and it’s looking really good now. Going to see if I can also upgrade the firmware on the PinePhone Keyboard and make some more use of this mini-combo in the coming weeks.

With that, I’d like to wish all of you that celebrate it a very Merry Christmas! May you all be blessed!

Until next time…

Hello everyone. It’s been a good while since I’ve posted something on here, but honestly, I haven’t really had much to write about. I guess I could talk about how everything at work has gotten rather hectic now that school is back in session, but that will just trigger me, so I’ll just post an update on something I mentioned about my Slackware laptop.

So, as you know, I moved to Slackware-current from the default 15.0 installation on the Dell Latitude E6410 and the kernel upgrade caused a snag. I thought the solution was to simply copy the kernel and initrd.gz image over and all would be fine. That seemed to work in that instance, but about a few weeks ago there was another kernel upgrade in -current from 5.18 to 5.19, and that threw my system for a loop. Literally! My machine would load elilo and then reboot, and get stuck in this boot loop. Well, what was happening was that the initrd.gz was for the wrong kernel and it would crash, causing the boot loop.

Now, there was an issue with kernel 5.19.1 which had to be reverted back to the 5.18 branch, but when they moved back to the 5.19 branch with 5.19.3 (I believe), I was still experiencing this problem. This time, it wasn’t the kernel packages.

After scouring the Internet for a while along with forum posts on the Slackware section of Linuxquestions.org, I realized I needed to run eliloconfig to copy both the kernel and initrd.gz image over to the EFI partition. I did that and, feeling somewhat relieved, I rebooted the laptop. Elilo came up and went through, and I saw the 4 Tux images with text flying by as my laptop booted…

…To an emergency shell. 😭

Had I done my due diligence by reading the README.initrd file in the /boot partition, I would have known to run mkinitrd to create a new initrd.gz with the necessary kernel modules. But, how would I know what modules to include? Well, by accident, I came across the mkinitrd_command_generator.sh script. This is a script that pretty much detects what modules your system is running and, depending on the kernel version you specify with the -k switch, will generate the correct mkinitrd command that will build the corresponding kernel modules for the new kernel version and create an initrd.gz image. After that, running eliloconfig will copy both the kernel and updated initrd.gz to the EFI partition. A little more involved than it was with LILO, but at least now I won’t be borking my Slackware installation again.

Sure, it was a bit frustrating, but I treasured the learning experience. This is what Slackware is all about for me, and it always will be.

Until next time! πŸ‘‹

Greetings everyone. Been a while since I’ve posted anything, but I haven’t had the urge to do much of anything, honestly. However, I figured I’d post about a new acquisition and an old makeover.

Since the beginning of the year, I was looking to get a replacement for the Eee PC 901. Even though it’s still quite useful due to its size and upgrades, I wanted to get something just a little bigger and with more recent hardware. One day, I walked into BrandsMart and came across this laptop, an Evoo Elite Series EVC-141-12BK (the BK stands for black, though it’s more of a charcoal gray). The basic specs are the following:

  • AMD Ryzen 5 3500U
  • 8 GB DDR4 RAM (replaceable on the only SO-DIMM slot)
  • AMD Vega 8 graphics
  • 256 GB mSATA SSD with Windows 10, and a M.2 slot for a NVMe SSD.

I was quite impressed with the specs given the price at the beginning of the year (around US $300). Unfortunately, having spent money already on Christmas gifts for everyone, I had to wait before jumping on it. The keyboard had a nice feel for me, and it felt quite sturdy in spite of the price. As time went on, I noticed that it was very hard to come by and was no longer available at BrandsMart or even online. For the ones that were available, like the EVE-141-12SL (SL for silver), the price jumped up to over $400 (thanks, inflation). At this point, I thought I’d never be able to get this machine, until one day I searched and found a refurbished EVC141-12BK for US $255 on Walmart’s website ($273 after taxes and shipping at the time). I jumped on it and, within a week or so, I had the laptop in my possession.

Since it came with Windows 10, I figured I’d use a NVMe SSD on the available M.2 slot to install OpenBSD. Once that was located, I finally got OpenBSD 7.1-current installed on it. All that was left was to move my files from my current OpenBSD 7.1-current laptop, the Dell Latitude E6410 mentioned in my previous posts, once I got home.

My Evoo EVC141-12BK laptop running MATE Desktop on OpenBSD.

So far, OpenBSD has worked surprisingly well on this laptop. Even OpenGL games like Quake and others are well supported with amdgpu(4) with nary a crash, though I do notice that running MATE Screensaver with the Pop Squares screensaver has a tendency to freeze the machine on occasion. Battery life is about 4-5 hours depending on how intensive the applications are, which is fine for me. Suspend and resume works, but only when I use “zzz”. If I just close the lid, it can’t resume and I have to force-poweroff the laptop. I should see if I can get some system information and post it on the openbsd-misc or openbsd-bugs mailing list for the devs to look at. For now, though, “zzz” is an acceptable workaround.

Now, as for the Dell Latitude, it was “out with the old, and in with the new,” with something old, but new!

The Slackware Linux logo.

I know you’re wondering, “WTF?!,” but hear me out. Since I no longer needed OpenBSD on this laptop, I decided to give another OS a try. Relatively recently, Slackware 15.0 was unleashed to the world after 6 years of development in Slackware-current, unbeknownst to the mainstream FOSS world. I used to run Slackware as my primary Linux OS before moving over to Fedora for a number of years, but I always wanted to revisit Slackware on one of my numerous machines. Now, with Slackware 15.0 available and the Evoo taking over OpenBSD responsibilities, the Latitude was free to “achieve Slack.”

My Dell Latitude E6410 performing a terse installation of Slackware 15.0.

I made a USB installation disk with Slackware 15.0. and proceeded to go through the install. I wanted to take advantage of the UEFI support on the Dell which worked fine on OpenBSD. I partitioned everything as necessary, but once the installation was done, I realized that I had used cfdisk to partition instead of cgdisk for GPT partition tables (UEFI must use GPT tables), hence not being able to boot. Once that was corrected, I was finally able to boot to the login prompt without issue. During all of this, a feeling of nostalgia was hitting me, and I was so happy to be back in the world of Slack.

My Dell Latitude E6410 sitting at the Slackware 15.0 login prompt.

Once I brought the laptop home, I decided to move from the 15.0 stable branch over to -current. Doing that was easy (edit the /etc/slackpkg/mirrors.conf file accordingly), and I was then able to download the updated base packages since 15.0’s release. However, I did hit a snag when the kernel was updated. Previously, I was used to running “lilo -v” to update the kernel entries after the kernel was updated. However, since I’m using UEFI, I had to use elilo which I wasn’t familiar with. Thus, I ended up booting to an older kernel that had no working modules. I had to boot from the USB installer and manually move over the kernel and initrd image to the EFI partition after I was able to mount it. Once that was done, I was back in business with the correct kernel and initrd image. It seems the process is much easier now and you don’t have to run anything; just copy over “vmlinuz” and “initrd.gz” from /boot over to the mounted EFI partition in /boot/efi before rebooting to the newly installed kernel (for me, that’s /boot/efi/EFI/Slackware).

So, how does Slackware 15.0 fare on this old hardware? Well, all I can say is that it’s FAST! Really FAST! Considering this laptop is running with a Core i5-520M, I was extremely impressed. Much faster than OpenBSD (though OpenBSD is known to be slower compared to Linux). Heck, I’m even using KDE Plasma 5.25 as of this post and I’m also impressed at how far Plasma has come along in terms of speed, so much so that MATE Desktop’s dominance might be threatened in my future! There are still some things that I’d like to see on Plasma before I move over completely, but otherwise, it’s become a formidable contender to MATE for me. The same goes for Fedora’s dominance on my main systems. Slackware has really come a long way since I last used it a few years ago on much older hardware (32-bit Pentium-M laptop a few years ago and my desktop rig before it until I moved to Fedora).

My Dell Latitude E6410 running KDE Plasma 5.25 on Slackware 15.0.

So that’s pretty much it! Thus far, I’m very happy with these two laptops after they’ve had their makeovers. I still use my Fedora laptop (HP ProBook 4540s) as my workhorse, especially for work, but this trifecta of systems will keep me well-armed for many years to come.

Now to see what I can put Haiku on… πŸ˜‰

Hello, friends. πŸ™‚

Two months after my last post, I’m back with another update. Nothing to stop the presses, really, but now that I’m officially on Spring Break from work, I figured it was time for a post.

So, what have I been up to? Nothing much, really. Same ol’ stuff, that being work and life. However, I did tend to some care and feeding of my OpenBSD laptop, a Dell Latitude E6410, specifically the one shown below which was taken this morning as I enjoy my coffee. β˜•

Me on the couch with my black Dell Latitude E6410 laptop on my lap and my black mug of coffee with milk held by my right hand. On the laptop screen is MATE Desktop with Firefox maximized and focused on the default page for Firefox which shows the Firefox logo and brand, a search bar below it, and 8 icons for most visited pages below the search bar.
My Dell Latitude E6410 laptop on my lap as I hold my cup of coffee on my right hand.

This laptop started off with 4 GB of RAM which was good enough for a while, but I noticed lately that it was becoming rather cramped for my uses. On top of that, I noticed that the laptop was getting rather hot which I thought was also contributing to the lag. Thus, I decided to open it up and check the state of things with the CPU and cooling system.

One of the things I noticed was that it had an excessive amount of thermal paste, with a good amount of it caked on the outer surrounding areas of the die. There was also a good amount of dust by the fan and radiator since it hadn’t been opened this way since it was probably purchased new. While I was able to clean everything out, I was left without thermal paste because I couldn’t find the one I had “lost” earlier this year when working on my old Celeron D 335 PC. I tried putting it together to see if the copper heat spreader would suffice, but unfortunately, the system would freeze up right after logging in to MATE Desktop due to overheating. So, I decided to leave the system unused and ordered some thermal paste from Amazon. I also bit the bullet on 8 GB of DDR3 RAM since I was on a mini buying spree. πŸ˜›

Two days later, my RAM and thermal paste was delivered just as I arrived home from work. I unpacked everything and ripped open the Latitude to get that thermal paste and RAM installed, this time with proper thermal paste application compared to how it came from the factory. Once everything was ready and the laptop was closed up, I booted up and ran some tests before running sysupgrade to move to the latest OpenBSD snapshot. Running Firefox with a number of tabs and stress-testing the system via a stress-test website, the system’s thermals topped out a little over 70C. Things got noticeably slower, but that’s expected when stress testing. During normal use, things were a lot cooler without any slowdowns, and the extra RAM definitely improved performance. After some time using the laptop without any lockups, I decided to run sysupgrade and bring the system to a current state.

Having breathed some new life to this laptop, I decided to do one more upgrade to it down the road. During the process of removing the old paste, I noticed that this laptop has the CPU on a removable socket, so I plan to upgrade this from the i5-520M CPU to an i7-620M CPU. Granted, I’m sure this might introduce more heat, but hopefully not by much (or at all). For now, though, I’m glad to have this beater laptop in good and working condition. πŸ’»

Well, that’s all for now. Hope to have some more interesting stuff to blog about soon. Maybe how I redid my PinePhone with postmarketOS running Sxmo? We’ll see… πŸ˜‰

One week down, …

January 11, 2022

Well, I’m a bit late on this post, but better late than never. Managed to make it through the first week of 2022 in spite of being out of it due to 2 weeks off. Even going to the gym after work was a struggle! Thankfully, though, that’s in the past and this week has been much improved.

So, what have I been up to? Well, not too much until today. Sometime near the end of 2021’s days, I had posted on Mastodon that I was looking for a replacement keyboard for my Dell Latitude E6410 laptop which runs OpenBSD. This laptop used to belong to one of my sons when they were younger, and all three of them had one of the same model. Of course, kids being kids, they took quite an amount of abuse. After some years, they stopped using them because Windows 10 was just too slow on them (they each have a Core i5 M520 CPU).

At the time, I was still using my old Toshiba PortΓ©gΓ© M400 that I’ve talked about in the past, but that was getting quite long in the tooth with pretty much any OS, so I decided to put one of the E6410s to use. I say one because I had to take two of the abused ones and create one somewhat-working one, meaning the final machine had a keyboard missing a “3” key. It still worked, but I had to make sure I pressed it correctly to generate either a “3” or an octothorpe (aka, the hash or pound sign). Anyway, once that was done, the SSD was moved from the Toshiba over to the Latitude and it’s been in use ever since. However, I did want to replace the keyboard at some point, but I was never compelled enough to spend money on one (plus the ones I’ve seen on eBay and Amazon were disappointing).

My black Dell Latitude E6410 with the missing "3/#" key on the keyboard sitting on my dining room table.
My Dell Latitude E6410 with the missing “3/#” key on the keyboard.

Fast forward to my Mastodon post about the keyboard, and a Masto friend was kind enough to offer me the keyboard from one of his Latitude E6500 laptops. Since mine and his are of the same series of Latitude (the E6410 being a 14″ model and the E6500 being a 15″ model), the keyboards are interchangeable. He sent me, free of charge, the replacement keyboard and the hinges from the E6500, the latter in the hopes that they will work with this one since the hinges on the E6410 are a little loose and the screen is a bit wobbly. I was ever so grateful for his gesture and waited patiently until it arrived yesterday.

After getting home from work today, I decided to tackle the replacement before heading off to the gym. Replacing it was easy-peasy thanks to the iFixit page for replacing the keyboard on the E6400 (again, they all fall under the E6000 series), and I now have a fully functional keyboard with all the keys in great shape!

Of course, I didn’t notice some other goodies until I unpacked everything from the box! This person was kind enough to also send a letter along with a sticker to use on something! What makes it even more special is that the letter was typed and printed on a VIC-20 and MPS-803 printer, respectively! And the sticker? It’s a Realms of Quest sticker from Psytronik Software (maker of new games for vintage computers)! So cool!

A letter from the sender with a Realms of Quest sticker with the words "Psytronik Software" on the bottom of the image. The letter behind it has printed text from what seems to be a dot matrix printer. It reads the following: "Hey Claudio, Hope this keyboard reaches you in one peice (sic) and works for you. Also hope the hinges are compatible. If you ever need other parts for this system please let me know I have many. I also included a nice sticker that I also hope you will like. Be safe always! [name redacted] PS: This was written on my VIC-20 and printed on my MPS-803 (ASCII image of a Christmas tree) MERRY CHRISTMAS!"
The letter addressed to me by the generous person who sent me the keyboard and hinges along with the Realms of Quest sticker.

A big THANK YOU goes out to this person for the wonderful Christmas gift and I wish him all the best in 2022. You’ve made this graybeard geek very happy. πŸ˜€

Until next time, y’all!

Yesterday was my first post at the end of 2021, and today is my second post at the beginning of 2022. Thus, this is my first post of the year. 😝

Anyway, enough nonsense. I thought I’d post something of interest (or at least I hope it is).

Sometime last year (or was it the year before πŸ€”), I received a PinePhone as a gift from a friend. It’s been a lot of fun tinkering with the PinePhone, but it hasn’t gotten much use in the last few months for various reasons. First, I already have a daily driver, my OnePlus 6T. Second, the battery life on it is quite poor compared to my OP6T, but that’s not too much of a concern since it’s not my daily driver. Third, I’ve borked the version of Mobian I had installed on it (it originally came with postmarketOS since this phone is the pmOS Edition), but isn’t that what this phone is all about? Tinkering and breaking things (though not physically, thank goodness)?

As a side note, I’ve been looking for a replacement to my Asus Eee PC 901 (I’ve blogged about it in the past, so you can check my previous posts here). While the Eee PC 901 still works quite well, it’s really showing its age at this point. I was looking at the HP EliteBook 2170p as a replacement, but I waited too long on getting it and the ones I’ve seen now are rather beat up, more than I’m willing to tolerate. Today, I came across this Mastodon toot from Pine64 about some accessories they now have available, and one of them is the new keyboard case that was manufactured last year. That keyboard case was something I’ve coveted since it was announced, and today was the day where I finally bit the bullet and got one. Besides, I was overdue for a birthday and Christmas present, neither of which I gave myself in 2021. πŸ˜…

While I’m still not convinced about using the PinePhone over my OnePlus 6T, I am convinced that it would work nicely as a replacement for my Eee PC 901, especially with this keyboard case. From what I’ve read, it comes with its own battery which is a nice addition, and it comes with a USB-C port that allows you to charge both the battery on the keyboard and the phone. I might go back to postmarketOS given some of the changes in the latest release, but I may opt for a traditional GUI (likely MATE or something lighter) this time around or even just a command line interface. It’s also easier to tote around compared to the Eee since I can likely just put it in my pocket when not in use, but I’ll have to see for sure once I get it.

Other than that, 2022 is looking good so far, and this two-week winter break I’ve had has been even better, so much so that I’m actually ready to go back to work on Monday.

Let’s see if I feel the same on Monday. πŸ˜¬πŸ˜‚

Happy New Year! 😁

Hello from the End of 2021!

December 31, 2021

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged anything, and here I am at the end of 2021. It’s been quite a year, though nothing compared to 2020. Just thinking about 2020 gives me anxiety. πŸ˜… Anyway, we made it through another 365 days and, hopefully, 2022 will bring some good news for all of us.

And speaking of good news, you might want to join in on the Hacker Public Radio NYE Show which runs for 26 hours. It’s already quite into it right now (10:48 AM EST, 15:48 UTC as I write this), but you still have time. All you need is a Mumble client and the information below to connect and participate:

Server: chatter.skyehaven.net
Port: 64738
Channel: HPR

More information on the NYE live show is available on the HPR page linked above. And if you can’t make it or missed it, fear not! You’ll be able to download the show in chunks as they’re released either from the HPR website or on your podcatcher of choice.

With that, I wish you all a safe, prosperous, and Happy New Year for 2022! πŸŽ†

ΒΏQue pasa?

May 22, 2021

So, it’s been roughly 7 months since I’ve posted on this blog. Thus, a Happy New Year is long overdue. Lots of changes since then, but thankfully, they’ve all been good. I just haven’t had the desire to blog about anything in all that time. Pandemic and all just kind of took a bit of the joy from a number of things, but that’s slowly changing for the better in every way conceivable.

In short, I’m still here, just lurking. Hopefully, I’ll have something interesting to talk about in the near future. πŸ™‚

Greetings, everyone!

Yes, it’s been quite a while since my last post. Lots of personal trials have gotten in the way since I last blogged about anything, but thankfully (big thanks to “The One Above”) those trials were overcome. I’ve also been busy with work and getting things ready for Phase II of our return to in-person instruction.

Now that all of that is done, it’s time to get back to some geeky stuff.

Or better said, “gEeeky stuff!” πŸ€“

As you’ve read in my previous posts, I’ve revived my venerable and battle-scarred ASUS Eee PC 901 so I can have a really portable laptop to run OpenBSD. Over the summer, it was running as an OpenSSH server as it sat atop the PS4 Pro in the room. However, I decided to buy a new battery for it so that I could take it on the go once again (another blog post is in the works about what took its place πŸ˜‰).

While the Eee PC 901 has been great since I’ve gone mobile with it, the 901’s internal storage was becoming a problem. My Eee PC 901 configuration has an internal primary 4 GB SSD (more on this later) and an easily accessible but significantly slower secondary 16 GB SSD underneath. I had the 4 GB SSD configured as the root partition and the 16 GB SSD configured as my home partition. With all of the software I installed, I had about 10% or so of available space in the root partition, so while things were tight, I still had some room to play around with.

One day, out of nowhere, I noticed that OpenBSD was complaining that the root partition was out of space after I conducted a sysupgrade to a current snapshot. Once it managed to boot, a quick “df -h” showed something rather odd. All of a sudden, my root partition is only showing 3.6 GB of space and I’m “over capacity” at 103% capacity!

My Eee PC 901’s screen showing only 3.6 GB on what should be a 4 GB partition.

The only explanation for this is that the internal SSD was failing (remember, this is a 10+ year old netbook and most of these components were cheaply made). The only way for me to claim back some space was to uninstall Firefox and a few other packages. I had my space back, but I’ve now lost the whole reason for using my netbook. Sure, I could use lynx/links/etc., but I wanted to access my Mastodon timeline and other “modern” web sites from here. I did install Luakit and used it for a while, but as great as that was, there were some rough edges that didn’t make it useful enough to replace Firefox (Chromium was even bigger so that was out of the question). All of that on top of data loss validated my decision to purchase a new SSD for this netbook.

I already knew that the secondary SSD was attached to a Mini-PCIe slot. I started my search for a replacement and came across a lot of affordable mSATA SSDs and was about ready to make a purchase when I became hesitant of what I was reading. I noticed that many vendors were referring to these as “Mini-PCIe mSATA” SSDs. Something didn’t seem right, so I decided to investigate further before committing to a purchase.

After doing some extensive searching and researching (be sure to skim the comments; very important), I realized that replacing the original drive was not as easy as it seemed. I won’t go into too many details, but the gist of it is that while Mini-PCIe and mSATA connectors look the same physically, they are wired differently. Thus, inserting a mSATA SSD drive into a Mini-PCIe won’t work. Additionally, the Eee PC 901’s Mini-PCIe SSD interface is PATA, not SATA! Thus, I’d need to find an adapter to make this work.

My Amazon order for the mSATA SSD and the mSATA to Mini-PCIe adapter.

I did manage to find an adapter on Amazon that was specifically for using mSATA SSDs on the Eee PC netbooks, so I finally decided to purchase that along with a cheap 120 GB SSD. Granted, the read-write performance on this SSD was paltry compared to the Samsung 860 EVO I purchased for my PS4 Pro, but it was way faster than the 15 Mb/s that the original secondary SSD gave me. So, the order was put in and, in time, the SSD and the adapter arrived.

The SSD and adapter in my grubby hand.

The time came for me to crack open the Eee PC 901 and get to work. I flipped the Eee PC over and removed the bottom cover exposing the RAM, SSD, and other components. The old secondary SSD was removed and the adapter and new SSD was inserted. I closed everything back up, fired up the Eee PC, and hoped for the best.

My left hand holding the new SSD as I begin the replacement process. The bottom of the Eee PC 901 is exposed as I replace the old SSD still attached.

After turning the Eee PC on and going into the BIOS, I checked to see if it detected the new drive. I was pleased to see that the new drive was detected, but noticed that the old primary one was now disabled (not sure what’s happening here, but I imagine it has something to do with the adapter). Not a problem since I wasn’t going to use the 4 GB partition anyway, but I could not find a way to change the boot priority of the new drive. So now, whenever the Eee PC goes through the BIOS checks, it complains that there’s no primary boot drive and prompts me to hit F1 to continue. I guess I can live with this for now since my main concern was whether I could boot from it at all, so I plugged a USB drive with the OpenBSD 6.8-beta snapshot installation and off I went installing onto the new SSD with one large root partition since I had enough space to do so.

The installation went through without a problem, but the moment of truth was still to come: will this SSD boot even though it’s not the primary? After everything was installed, I rebooted and the BIOS warned me again about the lack of a primary drive and to hit F1. After hitting F1, I was happy to see the OpenBSD bootloader at the prompt running from the new SSD! It booted just fine and a LOT faster than the original internal 4 GB drive. I proceeded to bring my files back from the backup I made before starting this process and configure everything the way I had it previously as well.

The Eee PC 901’s BIOS showing only the 120 GB SSD detected as the “primary slave”.

Remember earlier in this blog post when I mentioned the 4 GB internal SSD? I learned that this is actually a removable SSD just like the 16 GB SSD! All this time, I was under the impression that the 4 GB SSD was soldered to the mainboard, and mainly because that’s what I had always read online! I guess some models do have it soldered to the board, but mine was on another Mini-PCIe slot on the inside of the 901. Since I had to open it up to resolve an issue that I thought was related to the internal power cable for the power jack, I figured I’d get in there and see if I could move the new SSD to that primary slot. Unfortunately, the 4 GB SSD is half-height, which means that my full-height SSD with the adapter was not going to fit at all. I did manage to find a Mini-PCIe extender ribbon on Amazon, so I may get that in the future to have it finally work as the primary and bypass the F1 message. For the time being, I can live with that minor nuisance.

I also found out that my power issues were related to the new SSD touching the aluminum foil plating on the inside of the bottom cover (the adapter brings the SSD up off the mainboard so it’s close enough to possibly make contact), and a piece of thin cardboard between the SSD and aluminum foil solved that problem.

To date, I’m completely happy with my upgrade purchase and it’s breathed some real life into this little netbook. I’ve been able to use it for some work-related tasks, but I can’t push it too much due to its lowly CPU and RAM. Still, it performs a lot better than it did with the original drives and it continue to be a great attention grabber when I take it on the go. 😊

Coffee and computing on my upgraded ASUS EeePC 901.