A Few Notes on the Asus TP401MAS Running Debian SID Linux
Asus TP401MAn Running Debian Linux
Kernel : 4.19.0-6-amd64
Sold: Office Works
This low cost netbook works well without hiccups running Linux.
This PC comes with a fair number of variants with the same model numbers, but different internals. The variants are outlined on the Asus website, but not clearly on the packaging.
The variant I tested had a 1366x768 touchscreen which can fold backwards to flip, and a solid-state drive of 128G. The wifi was a QCA377 and the cpu was an intel Pentium N5000.
There is no RJ46 ethernet cable socket; an ethernet to usb adapter is required if cable connection is needed. I used a mobile phone link to download the wifi drivers, which are non-free ,and not in the debian boot image.
Debian linux loads without bugs, so long as a recent version is used. The touchscreen and glidepad work well. The glidepad has genuine 3 button hardware.
A number of steps were required, as follows, to get a bootable USB stick with a full debian installation. This can be easily copied to the internal SSD drive.
The bios starts with the usual nonsense of loading Windows as a default. It is necessary to ask Windows to boot an external device. The ASUS bios logo appears and an ESC will enter the bios menu. This is a bit obscure, but it is possible to turn secure boot off in this menu. The bios screen is a bit cranky and needs patience.
The onboard 128G ssd appears as /dev/mmcblk0, and the installation USB stick as /dev/sda.
Debian linux-image-4.19.0-6-amd64 installs correctly without patches. this version is recent enough to run the wifi,touchscreen and glidepad.
A Debian boot image loaded "Grub" without problems.
The touchscreen is good. Its brightness is controllable using /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/ .
There are no normal USB ports, instead there is one of type "C", another of the "OTG" type. An OTG or type "C" USB hub or cable is a necessary adjunct.
The wifi NIC is an Atheros QCA377 . It needed both the proprietary firmware-atheros and the firmware-linux packages, together with a recent kernel. A few distracting kernel messages about missing wifi modules can be safely ignored. Once properly configured, the wifi is reliable.
Very occasionally the WiFi is disconnected when opening the laptop. The answer is simple: Close and reopen the lid, and it reconnects.
The power supply is the (now) standard 19 volts DC, but it has a non-standard power connector.
Sound and Bluetooth ran without issues.
The sound quality from the internal speakers is quite good. The absence of mechanical hard disk noise makes the onboard microphone more useful.
The inbuilt webcam is good.
Battery lifetime and wifi range are also good.
The fingerprint sensor has no obvious existing Linux fprint support yet.