Spectralcat's Blog

July 1, 2009

Part V: Liberating the Asus 1000HE: Optional Eeebuntu Customizations

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — spectralcat @ 11:22 pm

Now I’m going to make some optional customizations to Eeebuntu. I find the default behavior of the touchpad to be very difficult to get used to. So I’m going to configure my touchpad using the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. I want to make two-finger tap for left-click and a three-finger tap for a middle-click. This way I will be less likely to open files by accident. First backup your /etc/X11/xorg.conf file by opening Terminal (Applications: Terminal) and typing this command:

sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.old

Next, if you would like, you can copy my xorg.conf settings into your /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Open your xorg.conf file for editing my typing this:

sudo gedit etc/X11/xorg.conf

Next, replace the contents of your xorg.conf file with the following:

# xorg.conf (X.Org X Window System server configuration file)
# This file was generated by dexconf, the Debian X Configuration tool, using
# values from the debconf database.
# Edit this file with caution, and see the xorg.conf manual page.
# (Type “man xorg.conf” at the shell prompt.)
# This file is automatically updated on xserver-xorg package upgrades *only*
# if it has not been modified since the last upgrade of the xserver-xorg
# package.
# Note that some configuration settings that could be done previously
# in this file, now are automatically configured by the server and settings
# here are ignored.
# If you have edited this file but would like it to be automatically updated
# again, run the following command:
#   sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg

Section “Device”
Identifier    “Configured Video Device”
# Uncomment the following options if lspci returns 915GMA
# Option “HWCursor”    “False”
# Option “MigrationHeuristic”    “greedy”
# Option “XAANoOffscreenPixmaps”    “true”
# Option “XaaNoPixmapCache”
# Option “DRI”    “true”
# Option “XvMCSurfaces”    “6”
# Option “May_Need_ForceBIOS”    “1”

# Uncomment XAA if you are using 8.10 w/ the 915GM
# Option “AccelMethod”    “XAA”

# Uncomment UXA if you are using 9.04 w/ the 915GM
# Option “AccelMethod”    “UXA”

Section “Monitor”
Identifier    “Configured Monitor”
# Uncomment if your screen resolution is 1024×600
# DisplaySize 195 113

#Added for Touchpad
Section “InputDevice”
Identifier “ETPS/2 Elantech Touchpad”
Driver “synaptics”
Option “SendCoreEvents” “true”
Option “Device” “/dev/psaux”
Option “Protocol” “auto-dev”
#Option “HorizScrollDelta” “0”
Option “MaximumTapTime” “0”
#Option “ClickTime” “50”
#Option “MaxTapMove” “320”
#Option “MaximumDoubleTapTime” “5”
Option “VertTwoFingerScroll” “1”
#Option “VertEdgeScroll” “1”
#Option “HorizEdgeScroll” “0”
#Option “SingleTapTimeout” “1”
#Option “FastTabs” “1”
#Option “VScrollEmuOff” “1”
#Option “VertScrollDelta” “80”
Option “SHMConfig” “1”
#Option “CircularScrolling” “1”
#Option “CircScrollTrigger” “8”
#Option “CircScrollDelta” “0.14”
Option “TapButton3” “2”
Option “TapButton2” “1”
Option “TapButton1” “0”

Section “Screen”
Identifier    “Default Screen”
Monitor        “Configured Monitor”
Device        “Configured Video Device”
DefaultDepth    24

#Added for Touchpad
Section “InputDevice”
Identifier “Configured Mouse”
Driver “ExplorerPS2”

#Added for Touchpad
Section “ServerLayout”
Identifier “Default Layout”
Screen “Default Screen”
InputDevice “Configured Mouse”
InputDevice “ETPS/2 Elantech Touchpad”

You can configure the behavior of your touchpad by changing the Options following the phrases:

Section “InputDevice”

Identifier “ETPS/2 Elantech Touchpad”

(If you want to enable a feature, but sure to erase the # symbol before the word “Option.”)  Save the file and log out and log back in to try out your new settings.  You can return to the Eeebuntu default settings by typing the following into the Terminal and then logging out and logging back in:

sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf.old /etc/X11/xorg.conf

A Series of Small Tweaks:

I really hate having the log out button in the upper-right hand corner of the screen because I have more important uses for that space.  To get rid of the log-out button, right-click on it and select “Remove From Panel.” “Log out” will now automatically show up under the System menu.

Now that I’ve made more space on the top panel, I want to add the following to it: a list of all the open windows on my current workspace, a switcher to allow me to quickly change workspaces, and a weather forecast. To add these, do the following: Right-click in the middle of the panel on the top of the screen and select: “Add to Panel”. Then add these features to the panel: Windows List, Weather Report, Workspace Switcher. Right-click on them and move them where you would like or remove them.

Next I want to stop programs that I don’t use from automatically starting when I log in: select System:Preferences:Start Up Applications. Uncheck the applications you don’t want running when you log in. I don’t want Bluetooth or Visual Assistance so I get rid of these two.

Now let’s configure the computer to go to sleep when the lid is closed. Go to System: Preferences: Power Management. On the “On AC Power” tab change “when laptop lid is closed” to “Suspend”; do the same on the “On Battery Power” tab. Click Close. When you close the lid, the computer should now automatically Suspend. Open the lid and press a button to wake it back up. (You can also adjust the back light on tis tab.)

Now I want to set Firefox up to work better on a small screen.  Go to: Tools: Ad ons: select “Compact Menu 2” and disable it. Then install the “Hide Menubar” extension in its place; this hides the menubar until you press “alt.” I also hide the bookmarks menubar and instead add a bookmarks icon next to my address bar: View:Toolbars:Customize and drag the bookmarks icon to where I want it.

Firefox customized for a small screen.  Note the missing menubar, the bookmarks icon, and the missing Google search window.

Firefox customized for a small screen. Note the missing menubar, the bookmarks icon, and the missing Google search window.

Clicking the bookmarks icon displays bookmarks the on the left side of the screen.  This is ideal for monitors with wide screens.

Clicking the bookmarks icon displays bookmarks the on the left side of the screen. This is ideal for monitors with wide screens.

I also recommend turning on autoscrolling in firefox (as it is turned on by default in Windows). Go to: Edit: Options: Advanced and under Browsing select “autoscrolling.”  Finally, I’ve gotten rid of the Google search bar and replaced it instead with keyword search bookmarks.  This is a neat trick.  You can go to any window that you enter search terms into (such as the search bar on Google’s main page or the search bar on Wikipedia’s page) and right-click inside of the search bar.  Then select “Add a keyword for this search…”  Give the search keyword a name (for instance Google) and then enter an abbreviation that you want to represent that search (for Google I use “gg”, for Wikipedia I use “wp”).  Now instead of clicking on the stupid Google search bar, you can do a google search by typing “gg name-of-thing-you’re-searching-for” in the address bar at the top of the screen.

Adding a keyword search phrase for Google.

Adding a keyword search phrase for Google.

Next I want to remove the Home and Trash icons from the Desktop as they’re already under Places and on the bar at the bottom of the screen!  Press Alt + F2 and type gconf-editor, then hit enter. You will be presented with the configuartion editor for Gnome. Select Apps: Nautilus: Desktop. Now uncheck the Icons you don’t want to see. (From: http://dreamlinuxforums.org/index.php?topic=679.0)

Next I want to turn off the annoying tooltips on the bottom of the screen: Alt+f2: gconf-editor: apps: panel: global: untick tooltips _enabled.

Now let’s add some card games for when I’m stuck at the airport.  Open Synaptic and search for: gnome games. The gnome-games package includes Aisleriot solitaire which plays most versions of solitaire (including conventional solitaire (Klondike) and Spider).

Next I want to set up Evolution to manage my e-mail. (Thunderbird works nicely too.) I’ll explain how to use Compiz to give Evolution it’s own workspace in the next blog post.  First use Synaptic to install Evolution; then you can set up Evolution to do IMAP by using the instructions your e-mail provider gives you for Outlook or Thunderbird. You just have to remember to specify the ports by adding a colon and then the port number to the end of the imap and smtp address. Specifying port 993 for incoming mail on gmail, would look like this:


and using port 465 for outgoing smtp would look like this:


You can also install evolution-rss to use Evolution to read your RSS feeds.

Finally, let’s turn off that annoying help agent in Open Office! Open Office Office Writer, then go to Tools: Options: General: Help Agent: uncheck. You may also want to set up the Open Office programs to save by default to the older Microsoft office file formats (.doc format); otherwise, Open Office writer will save to ODT format and most people won’t know what the resulting file is or how to open it.  Though, if you’re unfamiliar with the OOXML ODT ISO wars I’d recommend reading about it at groklaw.

In the next entry we customize Compiz, our Window Manager.



  1. Great guide! I’ve done just about everything you suggested, but the xorg.conf you’ve posted doesn’t seem to work on my 1000HE. When I log out or reboot eeeUbuntu just wants to go into low graphics mode. When I switch back to the original xorg.conf everything is fine so I compared mine with the one posted here and the only real difference is the settings you’ve added for the touchpad. I went back and reviewed part iv of your blog that refers to the touchpad and shmconfig.fdi What I found at /etc/hal/fdi/policy/ is a preferences.fdi file instead. Should I create a new file called shmconfig.fdi or edit preferences.fdi? Also is there a driver that should be downloaded for the touchpad like gsynaptics or something? I’d really like to get two finger tapping action going because I keep selecting things accidentally because the default behavior is a bit clumsy. I appreciate any suggestions you might have and this is an excellent guide for someone who doesn’t claim to be a techie. Thanks!

    Comment by chris — July 20, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

    • Chris, Thanks for pointing this out. In part IV I did indeed create a new file called shmconfig.fdi that’s located in the directory /etc/hal/fdi/policy. But I don’t think that’s the problem you’re having as my girlfriend’s 1000he has the xorg.conf file on it as I didn’t bother creating a shmconfig.fdi on her computer. The final two sections at the bottom of the xorg.conf file called #Added for Touchpad are necessary for the xorg.conf file to work properly. Maybe you left sections those out? You don’t need a separate driver for the touchpad to work, but a program gsynaptics or qsynaptics might help you configure the touchpad in a way you like. I tried using one of those programs about a year ago and decided that I was getting better results by just directly editing the xorg.conf file.

      Comment by spectralcat — July 20, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

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