Upgrade Linux Eee PC 901 4GB SSD

Update 01/09/2013 Looks like the SX300 mSATA SSD is incompatible with the Eee PC 901.

That’s the device with the 4GB primary SSD and the 16GB secondary SSD.

In looking at Offensive Securities new improved OS Kali, I was keen to take it for a spin. I’ll go over that in a subsequent post. This meant I’d have to find a suitable host for Kali. Kali can be installed on a myriad of platforms. It just so happens that the Eee PC 901 is an excellent device for the purpose, providing it has enough space (8GB incl the 300 security tools it ships with) which it currently didn’t.

For a while now I’ve had a couple of old Eee Pc 901’s I purchased a few years ago… with the 4GB Phison Primary mSATA SSD 50mm x 32mm and the 16GB Phison Secondary SATA SSD (2.5″ (70mm) long). I had read and assumed it to be correct that the mini card, that’s the smaller one in form factor and storage capacity was soldered onto the motherboard and that swapping it out was clouded with mystery and danger.

Top of the 50mm and 70mm SSD’s


Bottom of the 50mm and 70mm SSD’s


First thing I did was to upgrade the BIOS.
ROM: here.
HowTo: here. I used the Easy Flash.

Now the 16GB is easily replaceable as it’s on the bottom of the notebook by the RAM, but I don’t care about that drive. The boot order can’t be changed from the 4GB to the 16GB which is disappointing. So I had to replace the 4GB with a larger drive. As SSD’s are getting faster now also, we notice a significant speed increase. The Atom CPU’s do really well for their size and age, and with the 901’s even though they came out with solid state drives, the newer ones are considerably faster.
For a lot of different applications, the 4GB is just too small. I’ve been waiting for a purpose to use these devices. Now after a bit of research, I found out that the 4GB can actually be replaced without any soldering as I had initially thought necessary.
So that’s what I did. The Epc 901’s are great hacking devices. Light, still reasonably fast CPU’s for what they are and the devices can take a bit of a beating and with the SSD’s you don’t have to worry about HDD’s crashing.

Dismantle the 901

As always, remove all power sources first. That means remove the power cord and the battery. Remove all 13 screws from the underside of the chassis. This includes removing the RAM and 16GB plastic cover and removing the two screws holding in the 16GB SSD. Remove the 16GB SSD and the 1GB (unless you’ve upgraded to 2GB which I had) RAM module. Now of course I didn’t care about voiding the warranty as that was voided years ago.
Now turn the device over and you need to prise the keyboard off.

Removing Eee PC 901 Keyboard

The (3) plastic clips holding the keyboard on are along the top of it. I used a steak knife on each side, but you can use a jewellers screwdriver if you have one (maybe a better option, but the knives worked for me). When you’re pulling the keyboard up at the top, try and keep the pressure on the top edge of the keyboard pushing toward the bottom edge of the keyboard, this helps the clips release. Once these are released, the keyboard can slide up. You can see the 3 retainers on the bottom edge of the keyboard in the below image.

Eee PC 901 keyboard chassis

As you can see in the  above image, there are another six screws holding the top metal piece down through the motherboard I think and onto the bottom half of the plastic chassis. Remove these. Including the one that has the sticker that voids your warranty covering it… providing you don’t care about that?
Now remove the top half of the plastic chassis from the plastic base. There are some clips along each side, which release reasonably easy with a bit of jiggling. Pull the bottom (nearest to yourself) of the top half of the plastic chassis up. When you have enough room to get in between the top and the base with a small set of long nose pliers, pull the keyboard ribbon out of the motherboard (largest socket highlighted below in red) and do the same with the mouse ribbon (socket highlighted below in red on middle of board). Taking note of which way around they were. Then unplug the cable that transfers signal between the 4 top buttons above the keyboard from the motherboard (socket highlighted below in red, top left of the board).

Top of Eee PC 901 Mother board

Now the top piece of the plastic chassis needs to remain intact with the plastic hinge covers which are also part of the plastic running along the top of the top four silver buttons. this can be seen two images above. So this means quite a struggle to prise the plastic parts apart. Take your time. Lots of wiggling rather than excessive force is recommended.
Now once you have the top half of the plastic chassis separate. You’ll need to unplug the CPU fan wire (socket highlighted above in green). Then remove the two screws holding the motherboard to the base part of the plastic chassis. These are by the hinges with white arrows on the motherboard pointing to them.
Now there’s another cable at the bottom edge of the motherboard that needs to be unplugged. This can be seen at the bottom of the image below in the green highlight box.

Bottom of Eee PC 901 Mother board

Now wiggle the motherboard up left side first with the audio ports rather than the right side with the VGA port as the VGA port is sticking through the plastic chassis further.
Now you can finally remove the 4GB mini PCIe SATA SSD (socket shown above in blue highlight box) and replace with a larger faster one.
I used a 64GB A-Data SX300 mSATA SSD.

See my next post for Reassembly of the Eee PC 901

Interweb content I used which aided my decisions and the process:

Directions with images on how to pull the 901 apart but a little ambiguous and missing essential info
Pictures and speed test

In a subsequent post I’ll go through Setting up Kali Linux on the Eee PC 901


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32 Responses to “Upgrade Linux Eee PC 901 4GB SSD”

  1. Reassembly of the Eee PC 901 | Binarymist Says:

    […] Where Passion, Quality and Technical Expertise meet « Upgrade Linux Eee PC 901 4GB SSD […]

  2. Jaosn Says:

    I have 901 Linux version. I am having a problem in booting due to file system error. So, I have to fsck -y /dev/sdb5 every time I boot. Do you think it is due to wear and tear on ssd? The sdb5 is 16GB ssd. Thank you

    • Kim Carter Says:

      You’d have to provide a lot more detail. It could be hardware or software at fault. What have you used the SSD for? How have you had your partitions setup. How many writes have you done to the SSD, etc, etc. Did you modify the OS so it wrote less often?

      • Jason Says:

        Thank you for the reply.
        I have the root partition on the 4gb, and the home partition on the 16GB partition. I have ubuntu netbook edition, and these days every time I boot up, the boot process stops to command line due to fsck error on the 16gb home partition. I do not think the eeepc 901 is heavily used. In fact after my wife got the android smart phone about a year ago, is is hardly used. I bought it I think in 2009. Even if it is written to the 16gb everyday, which I doubt, it is about 1000 times. Thank you.

  3. Marcin Says:

    What speed (write/read) do you have with this SSD (64GB A-Data SX300 mSATA) on your eee pc 901? Is it SATA III? 901 can handle it?

  4. prz3mazz Says:

    Sorry but i test Adata SX300 in my EEEPC 901 and he dosen’t start. When i unplug the SSD, my 901 will start normally. I think the Adata SX300 is not compatible with this model.

    • Blackout Says:

      Adata SX300 is mSATA. Asus EEE PC 901 use mPCI-e port. You need a SSD mPCI-e. Although mSATA and mPCI-e are identical ports, the voltages are different. That’s why it does not work.

  5. grumbscut Says:

    great work! what ssd will work as an upgrade? the bios rom seems not to be available any more, do you still have it and can share it?

  6. guelao78@gmail.com Says:

    Hi! I would like also to upgrade the 4GB ssd of my EEEPC 901. I found this post from you which is very detailed, thanks. In the meantime I saw your update concerning the fact that the a-data ssd you used isn’t compatible. Did you find a compatible one? Thanks in advance.

  7. Nom Says:

    For anyone else wanting to do this upgrade, you’ll need a PATA SSD for the EEE 901. It doesn’t have a SATA interface on it’s drive ports – which is why the SATA SX300 drive doesn’t work.
    http://www.mydigitaldiscount.com/kingspec-32gb-extended-temp-series-50mm-pci-e-ssd-ksd-pmp.6-032/ should work fine !

  8. EEE Pc 901 with an Intel Core i7 CPU Says:

    Once you’re her, can you remove the original motherboard and install an Intel Core i7 Compatible Motherboard inside and use the screen and keyboard from this eeepc 901?

    I ask this question because i’m still using this computer made in 2008 because of the form-factor, but its nearly 2015 (+7years) now and things have evolved.
    I’d like to have a more powerful Laptop, but I can’t find it with the 8inch screen.

  9. Scott Says:

    The ssd CAN be a sata but it MUST be a mini sata PCI-E. The msata has the same form as the mini sata PCI-E but the pin-out is different.
    My 16gb card died so I tried the 64gb in it’s place but then BIOS (1203) could not find the primary. I cracked open the case and replaced the 4gb with the Kingspec 64gb ($64). It is listed as a 70mm card but it has perforations so it can be snapped off at 50mm. I used a toenail clipper to notch out the screw holes as they are a tiny bit too close together. IT WORKS PERFECTLY!! I love it. I have 4 901s that I use as chartplotters on my sailboat (redundency. I no longer carry paper charts.) I will be doing this upgrade to my others. btw, linux Mint works great.

    Kingspec 64gb ssd:

    I also used this video for guidence.

    Don’t give up on your 901.

    • Ron Says:


      I recently got a KingSpec 64Gb SSD for my 901 and like you my BIOS would not then find the Primary. I swapped some emails with KingSpec (well, whoever I got it from via Amazon) and we’re going to try another one. Sounds like I won’t have any joy with that either.

      So if I replace the 4Gb with the KingSpec, it then detects that happily as the Primary/Master?

      Have you installed a second SSD in place of the 16Gb SSD, or did you leave that empty? I was wondering what would happen if I put a second KingSpec 64Gb SSD in there, would it be unable to find the Primary again, or would it be happy now that the original 4Gb one had been replaced?

      You may not have any idea about this, but thought I’d ask.


      • SR Says:

        Exactly. My 64gb was instantly recognized as the primary when I replaced the 4gb. I left the old 16gb slot empty so I don’t know if it works or not. I don’t see why it shouldn’t. I’m running Linux Mint and Win XP in dual boot mode. I choose Linux for going online and use the XP for my navigation software. I love my 901s. All four.

      • Ron Says:

        They are great bits of kit, so I’m keen to upgrade and give mine a new lease of life. I’m going to follow your successful upgrade route (when I get my replacement back), then see about trying another big SSD in the 16Gb slot and see what happens. The SSD are so cheap it won’t kill me if I have to fall back to just having the one.

  10. captainphilmorris Says:

    Guys, anyone knoiw how to upgrade this superb !!! device for sea nav..as has been said…to a 64bit motherboard. i want to use ubuntu 64bit

  11. captainphilmorris Says:

    guys, any clue on upgrading the processor /motherboard to 64bit?

  12. LMS Says:

    To Ron and SR, i just upgraded my with a kingspec 32gb. The other slots no longer seem to work. Have you guys tried putting in a second drive, with the KingSpec Sata as Primary?
    Also, I installed a custon AHCI Bios and was able to install Win 7.

    • Ron Says:

      You put it in the 4Gb slot?
      I haven’t gotten round to trying the 16Gb (easily accessible) slot since upgrading. Still playing with my Debian set up.

      What is a custom AHCI Bios? Is this an non-Asus Bios upgrade? Does it offer anything beyond allowing installation of Windows 7 (which isn’t an issue for me, as I run linux on mine).

  13. iain Says:

    I have tried to install the 32gb Kingspec module in my 901 without any luck . in neither position is it seen as a valid drive. I am fed up as I have wasted many hours on what should be a simple task!

  14. Dave Mitchell Says:

    I’ve had success replacing the easy-to-get-to 16Gb SSD with a 128Gb one:
    from amazon.co.uk: “Kingspec Smp Solid State Drive 128GB SSD for ASUS Eee PC”.
    Once I replaced that, it can no longer see the internal 4Gb drive, and on
    power up it complains that it cannot find a master device and to “press F1
    to resume”. However, pressing F1 causes it to successfully boot from the
    128Gb device. I’ve installed Fedors 22 on it.


    • Lms Says:

      The KingSpec drives work and the best results come from installing it in the same slot as the 4gb drive, requiring that you dissasemble the netbook. When installing in the 4GB slot, you might need to snap off an extender and then file one of the screw holes so it lines up with the screw holes on the motherboard. The 4GB drive is thinner. Once the KingSpec is installed, the other drive slots become deactivated. That’s why people installing KingSpec under the netbook get an error stating that the master drive is undetectable. I think then issue is that the KingSpec drives are Sata and the motherboard can only take 1 Sata drive and the delivered drive is pata.

  15. Ian Says:

    When I found cheap replacement SSDs for my Eee901, I was delighted. I am still in love with the form factor, but the original SSDs ones are a bit small. And slow.

    As with a couple of other people, I went for a Kingspec, but I put it in the easy to get to slot, replacing the 16GiB drive. As a result, it looks like the Eee can no longer see the 4GiB one but the only effect of this is that I have to press F1 on each boot.

    As I usually leave it in suspend mode anyway, that’s no problem – and it’s a price well worth paying to avoid the process in this and the next article (it probably works out as shorter overall too!) I am very glad that the instructions for the ‘proper’ way are here, but I am even more glad that I didn’t have to follow them!

  16. Marek W Says:

    Is Crucial M550 128GB proper replacement for internal SSD of Eee PC 901?


    Hi to all Ive replaced my 12Gb SSD with a Kingspec 64GB and yes correctly as everyone mentions who did the same I too get the “Primary Drive undetected please press F1 to continue”.
    Now I have managed to get Windows 7 Pro reinstalled on this drive but again to reiterate it sees it as Primary Slave and have to press F1 to continue to boot from it. If I could really be arsed and I think I might because this machine will ultimately be for my handicapped pc illiterate father, I think I might try this 4GB swap out so he doesnt have to do the dumbass F1 bypass, it would just confuse him. My question to you is: Can I take out the newly installed 64GB Kingspec SSD (with WIn 7 Pro OS already installed) from the easy to reach slot and swap out the 4GB card (with the snapping and filing holes etc.) or would I have to reinstall windows all over again?

  18. Santiago Says:

    I’m using it with the original 4 and 16GB with LVM, so Debian has 20GB available at installation.
    Hope someone finds this useful.

  19. Gary A Says:

    The instructions here were a good guide, but here are some additional comments on upgrading an eee PC 901. I replaced the RAM with a 2 GB stick (~$25) and the 4 GB C: drive with a Kingspec 128 GB disk (~$70). In the (scary) disassembly, I suggest once the keyboard is lifted, release the keyboard ribbon cable by sliding the clamp out a bit, then do the same with the mouse cable. This can be done without lifting the metal tray. You can also slide out the tiny plugs that are identified in the process above via the holes in the metal tray. Then lift the metal tray out easily to get to the SSD.

    The hardest part is getting the keyboard out. I used a very thin knife blade on the side of the keyboard to get it started upward, then a tiny screw driver to push on the three small detents at the top of the keyboard to loosen it. You do need tiny tools and small needle-nose pliers to get the job done. An eye loupe helps.

    The Kingspec 128 GB SSD has the mounting holes too far in to mount into the 901’s standoffs, but a little sideways filing with a tiny rat tail file will get at least one hole close. The screws should have Loctite or Crazy Glue on them to be sure they stay in place. The tab extension breaks off easily once the SSD is mounted.

    When you replace the metal tray, be sure you can see and get to all of the tiny plugs and ribbon cables. Do the little plugs first, then the small mouse ribbon cable, then the keyboard ribbon cable, pushing the clamps into place while pushing the ribbons in as far as they will go.

    Everything booted OK. It no longer recognizes the other 8 GB SSD D:/ drive, but that is OK. I installed a Windows 7 ISO file (~$60 on line with key from Software Plaza) using a Rusfus-prepared USB stick. It took a couple of days for all of the Microsoft updates to load. Don’t let the machine go to sleep at night. Microsoft eventually wanted a telephone automated process to confirm a key and enter a long confirmation code, but it all worked.

    After Windows 7 said it had downloaded all of the available updates, I hit the button for the Windows 10 free upgrade. It took a few hours to download and install, but it does run – and it runs pretty well. I have Apache OpenOffice loaded, Mozilla Firefox along with IE11 and Edge. It even runs some 1998-vintage programs that ran under Win 98 and XP using compatibility mode.

    So, I spent about $150 to upgrade the tiny machine to current software. With Windows 10 and many other programs loaded, I have 27 GB of files with almost 100 GB free. It may be good for another 10 years.

  20. Gary A Says:

    Some footnotes to Windows 10 upgrade:
    I had loaded ASUS BIOS version 2103 before doing the WinXP to Win7 upgrade. After doing the Win10 upgrade, I noticed the Fn keys didn’t work, but loading the V4.00.0010 ACPI driver (MSI file) in the ATK folder at the ASUS Support website fixed it. The Windows 10 video driver works fine on the PC 901 screen, and supports duplicating or extending the screen on an external monitor. I tried it on a 1440×900 external monitor with extended desktop, works fine.
    The Kingspec 128GB SSD is used is part number ACJC2M128SMP, bought on Amazon. The 2GB RAM chip is PC5300 DDR2 667 MHz SO-DIMM 200 pin, Amazon ASIN B0026S91DG.
    I am extremely happy with the results of the upgrade.

    • Leo Says:

      Are you finding that web browsing is working adequately? I upgraded a 1005ha to Windows 10. Everything but web browsing worked find. Once I opened a browser, any browser, my CPU load went up to 98% and scrolling down a page was painfully slow, even after the page finished loading. I decided to downgrade to 7.
      Now I’m looking for a good linux distro for my 901, since i used the Win 7 key i had installed on it for the 1005ha.

      • Gary A Says:

        I’ve been using Firefox as a browser to minimize the CPU workload. If I go to a graphics-heavy page, the CPU does go up near 100% at first but settles down to 10-20% once the page loads. Having the 2GB of ram probably helps. I’m not sure how to set the page file size to the best value for the current configuration, but that might also help.

        The older ASUS notebooks are not going to be good for heavy web surfing or gaming while running Windows 7 or 10. It’s like watching an elephant dance: it isn’t expected that he does it well, it’s just amazing that it happens at all. It will show YouTube videos.

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