Upgrading the SSD on an old Eee PC 901

On 2012/08/24, in Linux, SysAdmin, by Greg Woods


The Eee PC 901 XP edition comes with a 4Gb SSD for booting Windows, and a slower 8Gb one for storage. To reinstall XP Home with SP3, you will need more than 4Gb unless you want to spend weeks of your life trimming down a custom “XP Lite” installation disc.

The 8Gb disc is not installed to be easy to access. I read somewhere it is even soldered onto the motherboard, so replacing this is a no-go.

The 4Gb is easily accessible under the “maintenance” cover on the back of the netbook, so this is the solution. A 70mm long SSD was purchased to enable me to screw the card down.

Once installed, due to the way the Eee PC’s hard disk interfaces are designed, the new SSD is recognised as a Primary Slave. This has 2 negative effects:
1) You 8Gb secondary SSD now “disappears” from the BIOS, and cannot be used. I can live with this.
2) At every boot, you are interuppted with a message to the effect of “Primary Master not found, Press F1 to continue” – this is a pain in the backside.

Fixing it

Reading around, it turns out you can enable a feature in the BIOS called Boot Booster. This gets around the HiIt F1 error, and does make bootup a lot faster. Before the option even appears in the BIOS, you need to set up an EFI partition. Below are the steps to do this.

  • Boot GParted, shrink your Windows XP installation partition so that have at least 8Mb free at the end of the disk. I ended up with 39Mb
  • Make this parition ‘Primary’ and unformatted.
  • Note the location of the partition. Mine was /dev/sda2 (disk: /dev/sda. partition: 2)
  • Still in gParted, open a Terminal window
    • sudo sfdisk –change-id /dev/sda 2 [note the space before the ‘2’]
  • check it worked…
    • sudo sfdisk –print-id /dev/sda 2
  • Reboot, press F2 to access BIOS

You should now have a Boot Booster option available




7 Responses to Upgrading the SSD on an old Eee PC 901

  1. Neil Hoskins says:

    Surely, should read:
    sfdisk –change-id /dev/sda 2 ef
    sfdisk –print-id /dev/sda 2

    You then get some warning about the extended partition not starting at a cylinder boundary, but it seems to work anyway.

    Tried this and now get boot booster option in the BISO, but still get the “hit F1″ issue.

  2. Greg Woods says:

    Sorry, I can’t be any more help. The EeePC has long gone. I just remember that getting the Boot Booster to work made the Hit F1 message go away


    Thanks Greg

    Works like a charm!

    Thanks Neil Hoskins for your edit about “ef”
    I suspect Greg maybe forgot to type that detail, we all make mistakes.
    Also thank you Rickou for adding the comment about waiting for second reboot!
    I now have Win 7 Pro running beautifully on my asus Eeepc 901, its not even a trimmed down version as you well know the reason we started to get this error message was after an ssd upgrade and couldnt be arsed to change the 4GB one too much hardwork! so just swapped out the 12GB one. Dont you just love Linux?! btw anyone know of a good flavour of linux that will run in a behaved manner on this machine. I used to have saluki running on it but just saluki and nothing else. some suggest bohdi, others suggest tiny core, while still others suggest ubuntu, really ubuntu? how would it fit and operate with a mere 16Gb left to play with? I want to dualboot off the same SSD from /dev/sda2 as I made the efi partition /dev/sda3 after Id already created the 2 partitions for win /dev/sda1 and linux /dev/sda2 respectively? Would I be right in assuming there is a light version of mint that could suit the 901? as in does the light version of mint only need 1 parttion as opposed to 4 like 17.2?
    MATE? hapy for any pointers in the right direction, thanks in advance.

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  5. Hazel says:

    This didn’t work for me. Terminal said -change-Id not recognised.

    This did work (from an Ubuntu forum). Have just got a 901 running Windows 10 and used this to get boot booster with the larger drive. As above, use parted magic and shrink the main windows partition in gparted ( I gave myself a 15mb partition at the end). Left it unformatted (didn’t understand the bit about labelling it “do not use” so just set it to informatted. Then close gparted and open a terminal and followed this: Always leaving a space between ads and the number in every command (or whatever your drive name is – mine was sda 3):

    “This how to is to show you how to enable boot booster on the eee pc for faster boot ups.
    this involves partitioning and it can really mess up your system if done wrong so USE AT OWN RISK!

    1. partition hard drive
    open up gparted (or any partition manager you’re comfortable with) on the first PRIMARY partition (this is very important) create a 16mb partition with the type set as “Do not use”. it doesn’t matter where just as long as its on the first partition

    2. open terminal

    3. formatting partition
    type sudo cfdisk /dev/THEPARTITION (mine was sda7)
    then use the left and right keys to select “TYPE” and for the type select EFI and press enter then select “Write” then exit

    4. naming the partiton
    run sudo sfdisk –change-id /dev/THEPARTITION ef in the terminal (FORTHE DEVICE use this format e.g. sda7 = sda 7 notice the space between sda and 7)

    5. Enabling bootbooster
    reboot computer and press F2 till you get to the bios setup. go to boot and enable bootbooster. then save changes and exit . AND YOU’RE DONE!”

  6. Hazel says:

    Note! My phone keyboard turned a double dash into a long single one! The command is dash dash change-id.

    – -change-id (two dashes – no space between them).

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