Vista on an Eee PC?

I am sure you have all heard of the Asus Eee PC series of netbooks.  They seem to be the hot gadget lately and not one to miss out on a gadget trend I picked up an Eee PC 901 the other day.  It arrived on Tuesday and I’ve been toying around with it all week.  Before I get any further the specs…

  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU
  • 1GB DDR2 (can be upgraded to 2GB)
  • 20GB SSD drive (1x4GB and 1x16GB)
  • 8.9” widescreen at 1024x600
  • 1.3MP Webcam
  • USB (3), LAN, 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, VGA out, SDHC
  • 6 Cell battery

All that in a tiny 2.3lb, 9”x7”x1” package.  This is it sitting on my Dell Latitude D830!


Not bad specs for a $450 PC.  Now I did buy the Linux based system running Xandros.  The price was the same as the XP unit but the difference is the onboard storage, the XP unit is only 12GB and since I have a TechNet subscription I went for the Linux unit with the “large” HDD.

Now the Xandros Linux installed was quite interesting with a highly customized UI that made it pretty simple and straight forward to do everyday things, it did not allow for much post setup configuration.  I quickly removed Xandros and tried the customized Ubuntu Eee distro and while there have been some big changes since the last time I used Ubuntu (Ubuntu Eee is based on 8.04) there were still some challenges.  Couldn’t find a good Twitter client, blog editor that supported all the different platforms I post to, Pidgin is a decent IM client but can’t compare to the new Live Messenger beta or Yahoo Messenger.

So I thought about installing XP and then figured I must be able to install Vista on this thing.  Hard drive space was the only real concern I had so I downloaded vLite to shrink the install.  I figured I could remove all the language support (other than English), most of the drivers (besides the Intel IDE drivers) and even a few of the services like FireWire (since it doesn’t support it).  I was able to get a Vista Business small enough to install from a 1GB SD card.  I used this old tip from a previous blog post to make the SD card bootable and then the following command to copy the contents of my newly created vLite ISO.

xcopy x:\*.* /s /e /f y:\

Pop in the SD card, boot up and start the install.  Now by default the 4GB drive is the one the OS installs too but I chose the 16GB drive and will put my data on a 16GB SDHC card.  The 4GB drive will be used for Temp files, WU files and the page file.  It took a bit longer than normal but the install was complete and then after looking at the list of hardware, went about downloading drivers.  Surprisingly enough the Asus driver downloads, even though I chose XP, all had a Vista driver included in the download and it was up and running in no time.

So how well does Vista run on such a tiny PC?  Quite well in fact.  While I may bump up the memory to the 2GB limit since I have spare laptop memory laying around (I mean who doesn’t?) it does quite well as is.  As you can see the Vista Experience Index scores are pretty good!


OK not a gaming PC but not too bad but I think I am going to try XP Pro next just for fun!

Comments (16)
  1. m_paulin says:


    Trying it myself, with a USB Stick… and vista install is stuck after the first reboot… Now, I think this is at the step when the Vista Setup program access normally the DVD to copy all the files over…. and I see no access to my USB Stick….

    Got a hint to share?

  2. Rodney Buike says:

    Patience!  I had the same issue, it just takes a long time.  I am not sure why, if it is a USB related thing (although it did the same thing for me using SD) or something I did with my vLite build of Vista or just the EeePC.

  3. Gis Bun says:

    And I though Microsoft doesn’t support vLite. 🙂

  4. Rodney Buike says:

    Just because Microsoft doesn’t support it doesn’t mean it won’t work 🙂

  5. m_paulin says:

    A long while…

    But after 5 hours… Vista came up…

    Superb !!!!

    Love iT.

    Thanks for a great set of hints….

  6. Rodney Buike says:

    Glad to hear you got it to work.  I was messing around with some hacks I found online and ended up pooching my install.  This gave me the chance to play around some more and now I have it triple booting 🙂

    Windows XP Pro SP3 on the 16GB drive

    Ubuntu Eee on the 4GB drive

    BackTrack 3 on a 16GB SDHC card

    Works like a charm!  Oh and I upgraded to 2GB of memory but didn’t really notice a huge difference…

  7. oo.boon.too says:

    an abomination!

    why would you WANT to install Windows ME 2 (or vista), on a perfectly good Ubuntu install? Do you realize all Ubuntu software is free and extremely easy to use? Why let Microsoft steal more money from you? You need to eat and support your family! Keep ubuntu on your eee PC if you want it to work the fastest and most efficient it can, and keep your children healthy. In these hard economic times, why waste more money than you need to?

  8. Rodney Binder says:

    Rodney Been there done that only on the acer version with a 120 gig hd. My score is at 2.7 I have totally abandoned my 20 lb 17 inch (with case). I used magic iso to do the install. I am running office 2007 ultimate vista biz with trend micro 2009 security suite. With 7 hours of battery lifeI use this for all my It work. I just took a trip to Vancouver on the Harley 17 hours each way with the MID (new tla Mobile internet device) bouncing on the back seat. No damage its running fine. Even in a pelican case my 17 inch would not have survived the trip. For sale one 17 inch heavy laptop.

  9. Rodney Buike says:

    @Rodney Binder

    I agree Rodney, the netbook is the ideal travellers PC.  I can’t wait to have this on my next flight.


    I agree Ubuntu is easy to use but IMO it is still lacking in a few areas and that is why I installed Windows on the Eee PC over Ubuntu.  How about access to a good Twitter client, a good blog editor, a good IM client and a good Office suite?  Windows is also extremly easy to use and when you compare the cost of a Windows netbook to a Linux netbook the price difference is minimal.

  10. PDC says:


    I bought the same unit and overall I enjoy it.  I have learned Linux, but I can’t say it is natural for me… yet.  Perhaps I have been a windows user for too long!

    I am an extreme novice at computers.  I would like to try Vista but I am afraid I will encounter complications and then end up with nothing.

    Is there a chance I can dowload the version of vista that you have on an SD to try it out??

    If it works, must I buy a new VISTA or can I use the one I have on my main computer at home??

  11. Graham Jones says:

    I looked at the Eee PC but decided that the Acer was a better bet. I got the 120GB HD Linpus version with 0.5 GB RAM on a great deal for $320. I added another 0.5 GB RAM which I had lying around. I have to admit that is an interesting challenge with the Acer!! Whilst I admire all of these knowledgeable folks using SD cards and USB drives, it seems to me that the easy root is still OK, ie. I borrowed an external CD drive to load XP Pro SP3 having burned the iso to a CD. I did consider Vista but I figured 1 GB RAM might be a bit marginal. Perhaps I will go for a dual boot later. After that I loaded Office 2007 by mapping to a CD drive on another PC on my LAN. It will go with me on my next trip. My older son is now desperate to get one.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’d been wondering about picking up a netbook of some kind to test Windows 7 performance on a really

  13. joseph says:

    Is it possible to just have everything on the 16GB drive instead of some of it on the 4gb one?

  14. Rodney Buike says:


    Yes it is but I suspect they used slower flash memory chips as the performance of the OS (any OS I’ve tried XP, Vista, 7, Ubuntu Eee, Xandros) when installed on the 16GB memory to be a bit slower.

    Rodney Buike

    IT Pro Advisor

  15. Anonymous says:

    As you may have read I recently jumped on the netbook bandwagon and have been playing about with the

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