11.6-inch Asus laptop runs Ubuntu, costs $314

Here I was, thinking netbooks—especially Linux-powered ones—had long since been relegated to the history books. Maybe that was a little hasty of me. As Liliputing reports, two U.S. e-tailers have started carrying an 11.6" Asus laptop that’s awfully similar to the netbooks and consumer ultraportables of old—and has a price tag to match.

The Asus X201E is listed at PC Mall for $315.99 and at Compsource for $314. Compsource offers a pretty complete run-down of the specs, which include an 11.6" 1366×768 display, an Intel Celeron B847 processor (clocked at a blistering 1.1GHz), two gigs of DDR3 system memory, 320GB of 5,400-RPM mechanical storage, 802.11n Wi-Fi, a 0.3-megapixel camera, HDMI out, and a two-cell battery.

The kicker? This cheap and cheerful little machine ships not with Windows 7 or 8, but with Ubuntu Linux. Cue flashbacks of circa-2008 Asus Eee PCs with 7-inch screens and dumbed-down Linux distros.

Laugh if you must, but the X201E is a whole lot of computer for just over 300 bucks. And unlike the anemic Atom chips of even recent Eee PC models, the system’s Celeron B847 is a dual-core Sandy Bridge chip that ought to be reasonably capable. Throw Windows on there, or even stick with Ubuntu, if you’re one of those people, and you’ve got yourself a perfectly decent little workhorse. I hope the RAM is upgradeable, though.

Comments closed
    • Washer
    • 7 years ago

    $314 for that hardware honestly doesn’t seem that impressive to me. I fail to see the point of small laptops with terrible battery life. Which is almost certainly the case here given the 2 cell battery.

    • NeelyCam
    • 7 years ago

    This sounds a lot like the 11.6″ CULV I’m still using (except faster). I’m sure it would be ok as a netbook, but that HDD would need to get replaced with an SSD

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 7 years ago

    People interested in Linux, I suggest watching videos on YouTube by Nixie Pixel. She does wonderful tutorials. I’ve used her videos to teach my wife many things.

    • ermo
    • 7 years ago

    I wonder how this compares to the 1.7GHz E2-1800 (Brazos 40nm) version of the HP dm1 11.6″?

    I had a look at it the other day, and if it were possible to get a discount for choosing to delete the Windows 7 license and reroute the savings towards a decent 128GB SSD instead, it would be a nice little Unity (or GNOME 3) 11.6″ 1366×768 netbook++, I think.

    I’m personally surprised at how used I’ve gotten to GNOME 3, tbh. Between Unity and GNOME 3, I find that I tend to find the latter less annoying to use on a day-to-day basis.

    But tastes differ, I suppose.

    • shaurz
    • 7 years ago

    Well it’s nice to see someone is making affordable notebooks that aren’t 15.6″ monsters. I’ve been looking for one recently and there are very few on the market now, but I went with the Samsung 305U1A.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    Neckbeards rejoice!

    • jjj
    • 7 years ago

    Smells like Asus is testing the waters after M$ Surface

      • absinthexl
      • 7 years ago

      [url<]http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2002/07/22[/url<] (wow, over ten years, and it still manages to be relevant)

    • willmore
    • 7 years ago

    Two cell battery? So, as small of a battery as a cheap tablet? That’s, uhh, wow.

    I’ve got a Pentium B940 based craptop and I’ve not really wanted for CPU. The C-50 has had moments where more would have been appreciated. 1.1GHz of a SB era core? Yeah, that’s pretty nice for a very low end box. $300+ is a bit much, though. The 10.1″ C-50 only cost $200 and has a better camera and a 6 cell battery–the rest of the specs are the same.

    Edit: Spelling, it’s not just for breakfast anymore.

    • dean
    • 7 years ago

    That’s awesome, I’m glad your article spotlighted CompSource they are a GREAT company that we have used for years!

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 7 years ago

    Actually, most people wouldn’t notice if the system had 4GB. Apple used 2GB until recently in their lower machines. My wife only hits 2+GB because she opens a crap-ton of tabs in FireFox (she has 8GB and I haven’t seen swap used yet).

    • Alexko
    • 7 years ago

    This would be so much better with a Trinity chip, and they happen to share the same 17W TDP.

    E.g.:
    A6-4455M with 2 cores, 2.1GHz base with 2.6GHz Turbo, and most importantly on the GPU side 256 shaders running at 327MHz base with 423MHz Turbo.

    Intel lists this Celeron for $134, so unless Asus somehow got a *huge* rebate, it wouldn’t even be (much) more expensive.
    [url<]http://ark.intel.com/products/56056/Intel-Celeron-Processor-847-(2M-Cache-1_10-GHz)[/url<]

      • DragonDaddyBear
      • 7 years ago

      That would be great, except Ubuntu doesn’t ship with the AMD driver. And, even if it did, you would have to add the xbva to VA-API to watch GPU accelerated.

      It actually has a “restricted” package that is the first thing I add, so it lacks a few things. They don’t enable anything that could get them into trouble.

      While I love AMD for the price and performace ratio, the best option for anyone looking to try Ubuntu is Intel. If not for the ease of video, then for Steam because Valve is developing their Source engine around Intel. Though, I’d look to 12.10 for a very noticable inprovment in the Intel driver.

        • grantmeaname
        • 7 years ago

        They don’t ship laptops with stock, (edit: proprietary-)driver-less OS installs. They install the (edit:proprietary) drivers before they ship, just like windows laptops.

          • DragonDaddyBear
          • 7 years ago

          No, there are open-source drivers and propritary drivers. They ship only open-source drivers, which are part of the Linux Kernel.

            • Ringofett
            • 7 years ago

            I remember I looked in to linux immediately after getting my dm1z, only to find linux driver support lagging like it always had. Do proprietary, functional drivers for the latest trinity chips exist yet? The latest APU drivers on their website appear to predate the desktop trinity launch.

            • DragonDaddyBear
            • 7 years ago

            [url<]http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=amd_5800k_linux&num=1[/url<] That link will show you how Trinity does on 12.10.

            • grantmeaname
            • 7 years ago

            Default in Ubuntu, yes. I’ve used it every day for half a decade, so I’m aware. But since the audience of this product is “computer users” and not “FOSS evangelists”, there’s no reason they couldn’t include proprietary drivers on the default installed image the laptops ship with. It’s not unprecedented, it’s found elsewhere in Linux, and it’s exactly the same as how things are done in Windows.

            • DragonDaddyBear
            • 7 years ago

            I disagree. That goes against what the core of Linux is. I propose there be a notification and a simple click-to-install button to remedy that problem (it’s not far from what it already is). Not to mention, there are possibly some legal ramifications from doing things the “Windows” way. Things like texture compression, MP3, and H.264 all have licencing issues. While I doubt AMD or Nvidia would object to such a notion, the supporters of the code for Ubuntu might. Considering much of the work is free or on the cheap, that would be an unwise idea.

            Also, please don’t down-rank a response just because it clarifies something. You comment on driverless-OS was indeed an inaccurate statement. A driverless-OS (as we know it) would not function. (EDIT: I’ve used the Dell imaging software, and it installs the driver as it installs the OS, too, done in one step).

            And to correct your last statement, the default drivers barely work. Much is done with software rendering to cover the parts of the video acceleration that is not able to be done by the default open-source driver, assuming you get that far.
            [url<]http://askubuntu.com/questions/166538/problems-with-ubuntu-and-amd-a10-4655m-apu[/url<] Intel was this way with SB graphics, but that was an entirely new arch. They have been working on Hanswell code and it should be supported to some degree when it is released next year. When 12.10 comes out soon, that will have better support for Trinity out of the box. That kernel is 3.5 I think Trinity should work with anything 3.4 or newer, but proprietary drivers are still recommended. Unless you want to risk having to use command line (a scary thing for people new to a CLI), I'd advise you wait. Currently, Canonical is looking into the driver issues for video cards because the open-source ones are difficult to update without updating your kernel and the LTS versions only use whatever proprietary driver was stable at release. EDIT 2: found extraneous words. I type faster than I think when I get heated. I'm a very passionate Linux user, if you sleuths reading my rant haven't yet deduced that.

            • grantmeaname
            • 7 years ago

            I didn’t downvote you. Turns out, anyone with an account can hit those little plus and minus buttons, not just the person you respond to.

            I didn’t mean literally driverless, I meant without proprietary drivers. I would have thought that would be clear from context, but clearly you’re so enthralled with looking for little holes in the big picture of what I was saying that you’re willing to disregard context to score an empty rhetorical victory. Good job!

            The default AMD drivers work fine in most cases, though I can’t speak for the APUs. I’ve used them for years on a whole handful of computers with mobile AMD solutions. You’ll notice that I didn’t say anything anywhere about the suitability of the open source drivers, though. So I’m not sure what “last statement” you’re responding to.

            • DragonDaddyBear
            • 7 years ago

            Ringofett was referring specifically to Trinity. Trinity has problems on 12.04 right now. See my link for just one example. Suggesting someone with reservations on Linux try something that will likely fail the out-of-the-box test will do nothing to help our penguin friend’s adoption rate or the user. Your suggestion lacked any fact, personal experience, or reference.

            Your comment on drivers was ambiguous, IMO. There is no such things as installing drivers before anything ships. Unless you roll your own distro, they will be there. That, however, doesn’t imply they will always work.

            Considering you were bickering over details with me, I wrongfully assumed it was you that downranked me. My apologies.

            Last note, put your e-peen away, please. I’m trying to provide a more clear, useful answer. For the sake of all things Linux, you should work with me, not against. Your short, arguitive, (IMO) ambiguous, and incorrect (Trinity) answer are not going to help the adoption of Ubuntu or any Linux distro. It’s crap like this that makes me think twice about putting any useful or witty comment on any forum.

            • grantmeaname
            • 7 years ago

            It’s people disagreeing with you that keeps you from blessing the world with your insight and wit, really? Look, I’m not waving around an e-peen here, and your attitude that you’re God’s gift to computer users is off-putting.

            • DragonDaddyBear
            • 7 years ago

            It’s arguments like this that kill my desire to participate in a forum. This isn’t about the subject any more! People let these converstations morph into something unrelated and I spend my time contributing to the issue rather than moving on (which I plan to do) to something more constuctive. I only hopped into this one to give some good insight into this because it’s something I’m actually passionate about and work with daily at home and work.

            I’m well researched and thorough. My intention wan’t to start a debate but correct what I felt was incomplete information and give a more complete picture of the situation (Trinity and Ubuntu). It’s very possible to interperate a concrete reasoning as “God’s gift” (shocker, you’re not the first one) but I call it being thorough.

            • grantmeaname
            • 7 years ago

            It’s great that you’re being thorough, and I appreciate your contributions when viewed from that angle. I feel like you jumped down my throat for leaving out a word that I felt should be obvious, and when I responded you threw up your hands and said “I’m special and genius and nobody here appreciates me. How dare you?”. 🙄

        • Washer
        • 7 years ago

        What is preventing Asus from including additional drivers?

      • phileasfogg
      • 7 years ago

      If they (Asus) bring out a similar AMD Trinity A6 17W machine, and if it’s upgradeable to 4GB or 8GB, a lot of buyers would be all over it. It’s a heck of a lot more “computer” for the money than any tablet.

        • DragonDaddyBear
        • 7 years ago

        I don’t disagree. I still don’t have a tablet because of Linux’s ability to run efficiently on old-ish hardware.

        I think, for support reasons, this would do much better in Ubuntu 12.10.

    • bthylafh
    • 7 years ago

    Aside (possibly) from the battery, it looks about like a mildly upgraded Acer Aspire 1410 circa 2009, which is still a pretty good machine.

    I’d pay a little extra for a 120GB SSD, though, and I think I’d switch the distro to Mint.

    • WillBach
    • 7 years ago

    The only computer I tested Unity on is an i7-2600 so I have no idea whatsoever how it would work on a Celeron. Maybe pretty good? Maybe very well once Wayland hits…

      • grantmeaname
      • 7 years ago

      I’m running it on a 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo mobile. It’s just fine.

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    Meh, got a Acer 13″ i3-2350M based system with 500 Gig HD 6 Gig ram for $300 after I refunded the windows license and slapped on openSUSE.

    • Delphis
    • 7 years ago

    “One of *those* people”

    F**k you, Cyril 😀 .. I mean that in the nicest way 🙂 I have a lot of Ubuntu machines I use – for actual work too -, and it’s great.

    Edit: Ditch the HD for a 60 to 120GB SSD and this one would be sweet. I have my laptop and also work machine (Ubuntu 😛 ) both with an SSD and it’s wonderful

    • LauRoman
    • 7 years ago

    I’m not sure Unity can run on a dual core 1.1.

      • grantmeaname
      • 7 years ago

      I run Ubuntu 12.04 on an early ’08 Macbook Air and it’s smooth as butta. A 1.1GHz Sandy Bridge part could handle it fine.

      • xeridea
      • 7 years ago

      It would, but who voluntarily runs Unity?

        • WillBach
        • 7 years ago

        I actually like Unity :-/

          • grantmeaname
          • 7 years ago

          Me too. I love it.

          • DragonDaddyBear
          • 7 years ago

          Don’t diss Unity. Unity is what sold my wife on using Linux daily. And it usually doesn’t cause her any problems.

            • grantmeaname
            • 7 years ago

            Some clown went through and downvoted everyone who said something positive about unity.

            Pretty funny guys. Pretty funny.

            • adisor19
            • 7 years ago

            It’s ok, i just restored the balance in the force. Everyone got a +1.

            Adi

            • Ringofett
            • 7 years ago

            I’ve only used Unity briefly, and before doing so I’d heard that a ton of controversy surrounded it, so I was curious what it was going to be like… Then I got to the unity desktop for the first time, and felt right at home; on my laptops, I’ve long since started anchoring the windows taskbar on the left side. The rest of the differences weren’t huge, I kinda liked it. Definitely not worth all the hate its garnered, at least IMO, especially when Lubuntu and other spin-offs are so abundantly available.

            Plus, at least Ubuntu innovated with something! There’s only what, 5000 distros that look nearly identical to one another with KDE or gnome?

        • flip-mode
        • 7 years ago

        It doesn’t bother me and doesn’t seem worse than classical desktop. I’m not in love with it either, though.

      • Narishma
      • 7 years ago

      It runs fine on my single core Atom with 1 GB of RAM.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    wonder if the CPU is in a socket? It’s a 17W part, so maybe in theory it could be replaced with an i5-2537M. Definitely needs to have an SO-DIMM slot though, so you can get up to 8GB of RAM. Then it becomes really interesting.

      • Thorburn
      • 7 years ago

      All the 17W parts are BGA.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        My hopes, they have been dashed.

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 7 years ago

    2013…THE YEAR OF LINUX!

      • Grigory
      • 7 years ago

      You may think that’s a funny joke but with Windows 8 it has never been more likely than now.

        • adisor19
        • 7 years ago

        Well it’s either that or OS X and since i don’t see Apple putting out cheaper Macs, i tend to agree with you.

        Adi

        • Ringofett
        • 7 years ago

        People thought the same thing about Vista. 😉

        I actually had a brief bout of rage with Win8 and, specifically, Metro and its obvious long-term goal of locking the platform in to their Windows Store, and thought about dropping off the Windows grid and going linux. Mint, Ubuntu, Sabayon, all interesting.

        Then came back to sanity. I’m definitely a somewhat intense user, but then thought about how my graphics drivers would probably never be up to snuff, thought about how installing anything thats not conveniently available through included repositories can be a pain, how configuring things properly requires a command line and editing text files vastly more often then in Windows, the lack of *quality* alternatives to certain apps, the improving but still inferior gaming situation, thought about the FOSS zealots that just can’t help themselves… and decided to wait for SP 1 or stick with Win7 until Win9 drops.

        If I were a developer and enjoyed some of those things, I’d have a totally different opinion. Works for some people, but I suspect Win8 will be annoying to power users, well received by grandma, and a sales disappointment.. but not a disaster.

          • Grigory
          • 7 years ago

          I fully agree with you, Ringo! Please note that I wrote “never been more likely”. Of course that doesn’t mean it is likely in absolute terms. 🙂

            • axeman
            • 7 years ago

            It’s less unlikely than ever before!

            • Grigory
            • 7 years ago

            I like that! 🙂

            (Or is it “lesser unlikely”?)

    • questionlp
    • 7 years ago

    “(shouldn’t that be 3-kilopixel?)”

    Nope, 0.3 megapixel would be 300 kilopixel… if my brain is working properly today.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      Now THAT sounds impressive.

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