Just thought I’d write a few lines here to document experiences with the excellent little eee pc that arrived just before Christmas.

It was going great – I had done some preliminary investigations at getting it to run Solaris from an external disk, and posted the same to the laptop-discuss list. Garrett had suggested some ideas around getting wifi to work, and I was planning on looking into those more while I’m still on vacation.

However something happened the other day that’s left me with a warm brick! I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but on a reboot, I was presented with a screen saying that the bios was corrupted, and that the system was looking for a new rom on an attached USB disk. Not having one to hand, and running on battery power anyway, I turned off the machine (thinking, that if it’s managed to restart once with a corrupted bios, it’d do so again when I’ve had a chance to download the latest bios image)

Bad move. The machine now doesn’t start at all – it doesn’t even get to the bios splash screen. No combinations of:

  • removing the battery and power supply and leaving it for a few hours
  • hitting alt+f2 during boot to flash the bios from an attached usb disk
  • pressing the ‘reset’ button on the bottom

have helped so far – on powering on the machine, I get the green power light and the blue wireless light showing, and that’s all that happens – no bios splash screen, no output to the display or the attached vga display :-(

So, I’ve logged a ticket with Asus tech support, and have dropped a mail to my reseller to see what the story is at getting a replacement under warranty – my machine shouldn’t have broken, and I haven’t messed with the factory-installed linux OS nor have I altered the hardware in any way.

In general, this sort of thing is what I hate about PC bioses – there should always be a way to rescue a dead machine. Something like a hardware switch you can use to boot the machine from a read-only bios that has enough smarts to allow you to flash the redundant bios chip with a fresh image, or at the very least bring the machine up to a state where you can save your data somewhere (in my case, since the SSD in the machine is soldered onto the motherboard, getting my data back isn’t just a simple case of popping the hard disk!)

So, for now, I’m back to being without a laptop – oh well, it was nice while it lasted. Excellent start to 2008 – it can only get better :-) If anyone else has come across an eee pc in this bricked state with a potentially corrupted bios, I’m all ears, comments welcome!