Its always interesting to look back on hardware from the prior decade, late 2007 delivered us the Netbook; the promising but short lived micro-laptop that existed in the void prior to Apple’s iPad.
The other day I recalled This awesome project and wondered if I could combine it with This also awesome project and have a tiny 2015 device (I’ll be using the original Pi-Zero not the new Zero W) inside a relatively tiny 2007 device.
I thought it would be cool to put something like Lubuntu on the Netbook itself and be able to remote into the Pi inside to access the probably-faster but much-tinier hardware it provides.
You can also catch this project on Hackster
What we need.
- A Pi Zero (x2 is helpful but not necessary)
- Micro SD Card x2
- Three Port USB Hub with Ethernet – microB connector
- Asus eee 2g surf (Ebay is your best bet here.)
- Decent sized USB stick for Linux installation
- PiBakery – for a nice easy way to configure a Pi Zero as an OTG device.
- The usual tools, screwdrivers, tape, spudger, soldering iron/solder etc.
What we’ll do.
First thing is to configure a PiBakery install for a Pi.
Obviously here change the user password and hostname to something you desire.
Burn the image to an SD Card and slam it into a Raspberry Pi zero connected to the internet (I use a separate Pi Zero for this but you can obviously just use the one that’s going into the netbook itself):
While that is going pop open the Asus, storing the screws in a safe place (mouse hover photos for more details):
Removing all screws from the metal plate will break the yellow void warranty sticker, so be aware… although I am sure the warranty ran out on these years ago.
The sides of the netbook should be opened carefully with a screwdriver (flat head) or better yet the spudger listed above. You will be able to click off the sides (pay close attention to the left side with the audio ports, this can be tricky) and move the main frame upwards (ensuring the keyboard and touch pad ribbon cables have been removed as above):
In order for the Pi to fit inside the bottom right panel, the USB and HDMI connectors will need to be torn off – there is probably a better way to accomplish this but I did it with pliers (be very careful if you choose to do this I take no responsibility for any broken Pi’s).
The below photo shows where I soldered the Pi in, from the above links the pins are (from top to bottom) – +5V, Data -, Data + and Ground:
Snipped, tinned and soldered:
Just a case of soldering up the D+ to the D+, V+ to V+ and etc etc. as per the above links. As you can see above the Pi will fit nicely in the bottom left of the case in a horizontal position. Once placed its time to put some electrical tape on the bottom of the Pi to prevent any of the PCB contacting with the circuits of the netbook:
There is also some material and a screwdriver peg that needs to be removed from the upper chassis of the netbook in order to give enough room for the Pi:
Perform a test fitting of the chassis to make sure the Pi fits and that the metal casing still contacts the CPU/GPU on the motherboard – this acts as a heat-sink for the components so is quite important, also ensure the chassis sits flush against the bottom half:
If you were using a separate Pi-Zero for the PiBakery setup it should be finished by now, so go ahead and put it into the Pi going inside the netbook.
At this point its time to slot in the ribbon cable for the keyboard and semi-assemble for a test run:
If everything boots you are sorted, check the green LED is on on the Pi by peeking into the chassis before clicking it together fully – bear in mind at this point any shutdowns on the netbook will uncleanly shut down the Pi – so its a risky job to do so. Next up grab a USB stick and put Lubuntu on it with These instructions – these are for Ubuntu but should work fine for a Lubuntu .iso file. Also put in the second SD card at this point into the SD Card reader (the links on Amazon above should include a standard SD adaptor for the micro SD’s which will fit into the eee nicely).
Also at this point it would be handy to plug the netbook into your network via ethernet in order to get updates and software for Lubuntu – you can obviously use the netbooks Wi-Fi also if you prefer.
When booting the Netbook press F2 to go into setup mode – into IDE configuration and select the SD Reader as the primary drive, then into the boot tab and choose the 1st bootdevice to be the on-board reader. With the Lubuntu USB from above plugged in, reboot and tap ESC until the boot selection menu appears – at this point chose the USB stick and it will boot into the Lubuntu installation. (We are using the SD Card Reader as the installation point/boot point for Lubuntu as the onboard 2GB drive in the netbook isn’t big enough for Lubuntu and extras).
Once Lubuntu is in run the following commands from the command line:
sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade -y
sudo apt install net-tools
sudo apt install avahi-discover
If everything has gone well you should be able to type:
This will show a list of attached USB devices, keep scrolling down until you see an entry for an ‘RNDIS Ethernet Device’, this is the Rasperry Pi.
Will bring up a small window showing a number of devices available on the network along with their MAC addresses, you should see the Pi as an ethernet RNDIS device, note down the MAC address and type:
Which will show all networked devices, I noticed that the Pi has an IPv6 address assigned to it only – match the MAC address from above with one in the results here and you can be sure the networking has… net-worked; note down the name of the interface associated with it here too.
This is where my lack of Linux networking experience becomes apparent; in order to be able to connect to the Pi I found I had to enter in a manual IP address for the Pi, with the MAC address noted down from earlier along with the interface name go to menu > preferences > network connections and you should see a number of wired connections, highlight them one by one clicking ‘edit’ until you find the MAC/Interface name from above.
When you find the Pi’s MAC address edit and click on IPv4 settings and setup as below and hit Save:
Now it’s time to download VNC-Viewer – open the .gz file in the zip utility included with Lubuntu and drag the file inside out to wherever you like (Desktop is easiest), then go into the terminal and navigate to the file and type:
sudo chmod +x VNC-Viewer-6.1.1-Linux-x86
This command allows the file to be executed with:
Now the VNC EULA will load, this is where you will need to use the keyboard to navigate and accept the terms and conditions as the buttons are off-screen on the 800×600 display on the Pi – I clicked the main terms section, hit TAB, then SPACE, then TAB twice more and then finally ENTER. These cheat-code like keyboard presses tab to the checkbox to agree, space ticks it and then the 2 more tabs select OK and enter, of course, enters.
Right click on the tab in the task bar and click ‘Maximise’. Now click on file > new connection – under ‘VNC Server’ put in the hostname of the device you chose earlier; for example ‘raspberrypi.local’ and then under ‘Name’ choose an easy to read name for the connection and hit OK.
You should now be able to right click the connection and hit ‘Connect’ and fingers crossed:
Now you can freely muck about on the Pi with Raspbian via the VNC connection. Everything works smoothly for the most part, however I can’t get Minecraft to show at the moment, I imagine if I did the frame-rate would be appalling any way:
All back together now
Now everything is in place and working its time to fully click the chassis back together and put all the screws back in, with the exception of the bottom screw marked in red below (the other cross on the chassis was a mistake by me, you should only need to worry about the one in the red circle):
And put all the screws back into the plate below the keyboard:
Snap the keyboard and mouse click buttons back into place and its done, with one final step of adding in a USB cover for that left port so no one accidentally plugs something into it – I’m not sure what harm this would do but better to be safe than sorry:
As usual this is a project that can be expanded on, so if you choose to try and make your own be careful as always – I can’t take responsibility for any broken hardware if you try this. But do let me know what happens and if you get Minecraft working or more.
Another thing I tried getting to work for a number of hours was sharing the internet connection from the netbook to the Pi, however I was unable too – I am sure someone out there more familiar with Linux networking will be able to find a way, or you could switch it up to a Raspberry Pi Zero W and use the Wi-Fi on board that for the Pi’s connection to the outside world.
Also do let me know if there is a cleaner way to set up the networking for the Pi in Lubuntu.