This page has been written to explain the steps required to install eComStation to a Asus EeePC 900. While other documents are available on the net, the method explained here allows you to perform a new install directly to the EeePC, without installing it on your current pc and cloning the partition.

  • eCS 2.0rc5 install cd-rom
  • gparted boot live usb, get it here
  • dfsee 9.x for os2 and linux, get it here
  • Non-Destructive install of eCS 2.0RC4 to ASUS EeePC, get it here
  • Veit Kannegieser memory emulated boot disc, get it here
  • SD card, at least 1GB

SD card setup
To make the SD card bootable, I followed the steps described here, but probably they can be reduced.
Start with reading the 'Non-Destructive install of eCS 2.0RC4...' pdf document, and erase the SD card as described.
Make the SD card bootable running the demo.cmd script from memdisk package (in the memdisk\exe directory): this will clone you current os2 install and makes a bootable SD (you just need to boot to console, no graphics required).
Testing the SD card is easy, just put it into the SD-slot of your EeePC and press ESC after power on: choose Usb Reader 2.0 from the boot menu and you will see the eCS boot logo. If you don't see the logo, something is wrong and you can't go on.
The SD card must hold two partitions: one with FAT filesystem to boot, the second with HPFS partition to hold all the eCS cdrom files. I used dfsee to shrink the existing boot partition down to 100MB, and created a 900MB in the free space. Leave the FAT partition intact and format the HPFS one: don't forget to label the HPFS partition as ECS_CDRUN, otherwise eCS installer will fail. Also keep in mind that LVM letters assigned to the partitions will be used also on the EeePC, so choose carefully.

Now it is time to copy files from eCS cdrom: copy "bootimgs" directory to the SD card, delete *.pf files on SD card root, copy bootimgs\memboot.bin to root (replace existing file).
This is enough to boot the SD card, but not enough for the installer, so copy all cdrom files to the HPFS partition (this partition will be cloned).
Why do you need this? because current eCS boot process is not able to read the USB stick while DEVICE statements are processed: once you get the console prompt your partitions will be readable but not before. I don't know why they are ready only after reaching the prompt, but I'm working to a new memdisk boot process which should allow full boot from SD. Stay tuned!

EeePC setup
We need to setup the EeePC to make some space available for installing eComStation. As you know, the model 900 comes with 20GB on SSD, the first 4GB on the mother board, and 16GB on the minipci card.
I installed eCS on the second partition of the first disk, /dev/sda2 under xandros linux. To save some disk space, I removed UnionFS from the EeePC standard setup, using /dev/sda1 as the only xandros partition. In the EeePC, asus decided to mount /dev/sda1 (2.4GB) as readonly, and merge the filesystem from /dev/sda2 (1.4GB) as read/write: so when you modify a file, the changed version is written to /dev/sda2; this makes system recovery much easier, just erase /dev/sda2 and you get a clean system.
More details about this and instructions for removing the UnionFS filesystem are here. Follow instructions carefully.
I also converted my /dev/sda1 filesystem from ext2 to ext3 as suggested in the same page.
Don't forget to create a Rescue entry in the boot manager (grub for xandros).

Now /dev/sda2 is free, and you can install eCS to it. You will probably need more space for your data files, and here gparted is required. Create the live usb SD, boot with it (gparted cannot work if the disk is in use), and shrink the user partition (/dev/sdb1) from 16GB down to your minimal size required for linux. I shrinked mine to 2GB. This leaves 14GB free for something else. With standard xandros kernel, both hpfs and jfs modules are not compiled in the kernel, so you can't currently share partitions between xandros and eCS. Recompiling kernel is in the todo list :-)

Now reboot to xandros, and install dfsee: with it you can install OS2 BootManager and clone the ECS_CDRUN partition.
The first disk already has 4 primary partitions, so you need to kill one and make space for BootManager. The first two partitions are already known, the third it seems to be used for bios updates, the fourth is labelled EFI and usage is unknown. I used the last one for BootManager, use dfsee to delete it and install the required BMBR code.
UPDATE the 4th partition is used to store boot informations: while changing bios boot flags to disable POST tests (and allow faster boots), my Boot Manager partition has been overwritten and restored to previous state. So I suggest to install Boot Manager on 3rd partition, but remember this could give you some headcaches for updating BIOS.

This reminds me that xandros linux is using grub boot code in the disk MBR instead of partition boot sector (as usually done in most linux distros). You need to install grub into /dev/sda1, otherwise OS2 will never boot. Follow instructions from section 3.2 Installing GRUB natively of the Grub manual. ("setup (hd0,0)" is your key!).

The MBR is still using older Grub code, so your BMGR partition cannot boot, even if you set the partition as active. Installed OS/2 BMGR using DFsee, make it active and clear the MBR boot sector of disk 1: open disk0, 'Mode=FDISK' menu, 'MBR area operations', 'New MBR code, keep tables', Disk 1. Then add partition 1 to BMGR boot menu, otherwise your Xandros will no longer start.

Now create a new partition at the end of the free space, give it a LVM drive name, and clone the HPFS partition from the SD card to the new one on the SSD. So when the SD card will boot, it will be able to read ecs cdrom files from the SSD partition.

Installing eComStation
Since the EeePC is ready, your SD card is bootable (try it), it is time to install eComStation.
Insert the SD card, power on your EeePC and boot from SD. The usual choice menu will show (boot from HD/boot from ecs cd), select boot from cd; you can boot the cd using default values, unless you want to change country or codepages (screenshot 1).

If everything is ok, you will reach the eCS Installer welcome screen (screenshot2).

screenshot 1 - preboot menu screenshot 2 - welcome screenshot 3 screenshot 4 screenshot 5

screenshot 6 screenshot 7 screenshot 8 screenshot 9

Required drivers
You need some drivers not currently included with eCS 2.0rc5 to complete eCS installation; here is your list:
- panorama with intel widescreen activator (download here)
- uniaud
- genmac (get hacked 2.20 driver from Hamburg TeamOS2/2, here).

Current tests shows that EeePC 900 is well supported, I have problems with wifi but it seems someone else fixed it, LAN cabled connection works very well.
ACPI support is working, it detects battery/ac powered mode and when you close the screen, the LCD goes off. Standby/suspend still untested, CPU performances too.
Boot time (around 40 seconds) is slower compared to xandros single user (around 20 seconds), but if you compare it with multi user xandros configuration, difference is not so great.
Installation is quite simple, unfortunately it requires the HPFS partition cloning (but future improvements for boot sequence could remove this).
Overall system performances are good, also the Panorama driver is fast and you don't notice speed problems (I didn't test video playback or games until now). Audio is known to be working, but it require mixed versions of uniaud16.sys and uniaud32.sys, I still have to fully test this.
Recompiling the xandros kernel with hpfs and/or jfs modules will allow you to easily exchange files between the two platforms.

Future plans
- improve SD card boot;
- recompile xandros kernel with jfs/hpfs support;
- fix wifi connections;
- test external monitor (low priority);
- use a ram disk for temporary files (to save SSD life);
- report correct uniaud drivers to use;

Enjoy your EeePC with eComStation!
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