Restore an Eee PC 701 back to factory Xandros from a USB stick with no ASUS Support DVD

My recently aquired (used) asus eee pc 701 came with XP installed and no support CD/DVD. I wanted to get rid of XP and have a play with the stock linux O/S instead: I expected this to be an easy gimmie, but it was not, and ate up an evenings worth of my time googling around for solutions so I’m going to lay out the shortcuts here to hopefully save someone else the pain.

As mentioned, the eeepc I acquired had XP installed (nlited) and no recovery DVD, so no option of using the built in rescue partition to restore the EEEPC back to the factory state. (Apparently you can hit F9 normally and it takes to to a ‘restore me from hidden partiton’ type GRUB menu). I figured this wouldn’t be a problem, I’d just go to the Asus support site and grab the image. Its linux, right, should be able to get the firmware images easily from the manufacturer, right?

Wrong.

I ransacked the official eeepc.asus.com support site looking for what I needed: at the other end of the search I can honestly say I found zero useful material or info there. (Don’t even bother visiting it, you’re better off going straight to google for this). The support/download section had BIOS updates and the like, but nothing to help with a reinstall. Even searching the forums for what I imagined to be blatantly obvious issues (eg: where do I download the restore cd?) came up with bupkis.

I concluded, to my chagrin, Asus has decided to withhold the support software (a linux distro?) for whatever reason, and the forums were evidently being policed according to this policy, removing any useful information pertaining to it. I expected to find at least a link to an outside site, as google was telling me about various helpful torrents: not finding even a whisper of this on the official support forums smells like seafood.

After a bit of googling and torrent searching I found a few ISO images which purported to be eeepc 701 flavored including a copy of Ubuntu, but I couldn’t get them to run from USB key: syslinux made the drive bootable but either the kernel options were wrong and linux would not boot, or I could get it to boot by plugging in manual options (specifying location of initrd etc) but only made it partway into a boot before falling over and restarting. (I didn’t bother noting or chasing down those errors as I didn’t particularly fancy my mission this evening to be going down the road of fixing boot issues in roll-your-own livecds booting from USB sticks). I realise I’ll probably have to suss this out properly for installing Ubuntu and other flavors down the road, but for now I just wanted the stock Xandros system restore.

I eventually found some downloads which solved the problem.

Heres the process in WinXP:

  1. The first thing you need is the EeePC 901 ASUS Linux USB Flash Utility available from eeefiles.com (Link updated! http://www.netbookfiles.com/574/eee-pc-8g-xp-asus-usb-flash-utility-version-v1131/ ). I guess this is the version which comes on the support DVD, but I don’t have that and it wasn’t available from the official site, so… (By the way, thanks a lot Asus, making me resort to downloading from a third party site instead of a trusted source).
  2. The next file you’ll need is the Xandros Eee Pc 701 Edition ISO. Get it from the eeepc 701 community project on sourceforge.
  3. Once you’ve downloaded both of the above its all pretty much downhill!
  4. Now either burn the ISO to a physical disk, or mount the image using a program like daemontools.
  5. Plug in your 2GB+ USB stick
  6. Run the USB Flash utility, select the detected USB drive,wait for it to format. If prompted, remove and re-insert the stick after the format. It will ask for the linux disk (either insert the physical copy you burned or mount the ISO into a drive).
  7. Linux will copy (it takes a few minutes) and at the end you should have a bootable restore on the USB drive.
  8. Power on the eeepc, hit F2 for BIOS options, go to “Advanced” and set the “OS Installation” to “Start”. F10 to Save and exit.
  9. Put the USB drive in your eeepc, reboot, hit escape on POST to get to the boot menu, and you’re off.
  10. Xandros will install (took about ten minutes on mine). Remember to go back into the BIOS and set “OS Installation” to “Finished” once its finished.

That really shouldn’t have taken me a whole evening of googling to get done =

50 Comments

  • Avatar
    Danny
    November 28, 2008 - 10:51 am | Permalink

    Thanks! I lost my restore dvd and I had been googleing a solution to restore back to the Xandros install and this saved most of my evening.

  • November 28, 2008 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    No worries, glad it helped! Ubuntu netbook remix (http://www.ubuntu-eee.com/ ) is even better and dead easy to install =)

  • Avatar
    Jon
    December 11, 2008 - 10:09 am | Permalink

    Is there any way to restore in the absence of a Windows machine? All mine are Linux only. The flash utility is for MS Windows.

    Thanks even if the answer is not encouraging. (The restore DVD should be made freely available, as it would do no good to anybody without an EeePC anyway. It’s astonishing that they take this course.)

  • December 11, 2008 - 10:29 am | Permalink

    Hey Jon

    Yeah its possible using something like syslinux:

    http://syslinux.zytor.com/wiki/index.php/The_Syslinux_Project
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syslinux

    I have not done it myself (with this distro) but I imagine you probably have to do *something* like the following in linux:

    1) Format your USB drive to FAT32
    2) Mount the .ISO file somewhere (using loopback?)
    3) Copy all/part of the contents of the mounted ISO to your USB drive
    4) Set the USB drive bootable using fdisk
    5) Install and configure syslinux on the USB drive – this will likely involve customising the kernel parameters etc

    There are probably tutorials for this out there but they probably cover specific distros rather than the eeepc restore. I’d trawl google and see what comes up:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=convert+livecd+usb+linux

    I may look into this a bit more and post more about if I get time…

    -Glen

  • Avatar
    Nick
    April 5, 2009 - 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Hi Glenn

    I’m in the process of putting my Eee PC onto eBay and wanted to revert it to Linux from WinXP. I suspect your clear, detailed instrctions saved me a lost weekend! Much appreciated.

    Cheers
    Nick

  • Avatar
    Fil
    April 15, 2009 - 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this, super useful!!

  • Avatar
    Lee
    May 1, 2009 - 3:48 am | Permalink

    I’m having a problem with this, I followed all the steps, & everything goes fine until I boot the eeePc, it says “uncompressing Linux…OK, booting the kernel.
    Wait 15 sec. for USB subsytem…
    Trying disk sdb…
    Trying disk sdc…
    Found EEEPC image on USB flash memory [/dev/sdc]..
    Could not find a valid EeePC installation image on the USB/SD device.
    please create the EEEPC USB or SD-card image & retry.
    Press enter to reboot…

    Any ideas?
    Thanks

  • Avatar
    Lee
    May 1, 2009 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    Ok, I got it.
    I had to re-burn the ISO, must have been something wrong with the first one.

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  • Avatar
    Richard
    May 13, 2009 - 2:12 am | Permalink

    Just a quick note to say thank you, followed the instructions to the letter and worked like a dream. Cheers :-)

  • Avatar
    Simon
    May 13, 2009 - 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Glen …. Thats the man who saved my life, my Eee was ALL dead. Thanks a lot.

    • May 13, 2009 - 11:29 pm | Permalink

      No worries, this stuff really should be documented and downloads available on the asus site…

  • Avatar
    phil
    May 20, 2009 - 2:27 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much. worked waaaay better than the unetbootin tool which didn’t work at all!

  • Avatar
    Shyam
    June 3, 2009 - 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much for the detailed tutorial. I will be completing this restore this evening and greatly appreciate you taking time to put this together!

  • June 16, 2009 - 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this guide! I’ve been curious about using Xandros for the past year (my 701 came pre-installed with XP from Asus) and I’ve wanted to try it out. Now I can! Thank you so much- you’ve definitely saved me an evening of google-ing.

  • Avatar
    SlovenianGuy
    June 30, 2009 - 4:45 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much!

    When i bought the EEE PC 701, i got bored too quickly off the installed linux and installed Windows XP SP2. After 4 months i got bored, and decided to get the preinstalled linux back to work. I tried different things, but no sucess. Thanks to you, i got it back to work.

  • Avatar
    Room
    July 28, 2009 - 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much for this “howto”. Very usefull, fast and safe.

  • Avatar
    nick
    July 31, 2009 - 2:01 am | Permalink

    Everything runs okay until I get to this error:

    Home partition (sdb1) exists already. Formatting this partition may reslt in data loss. Enter ‘yes’ if you would like to format this partition.

    Format parition? [yes/NO]: yes
    Formatting home partition…
    mke2fs 1.40-WIP (14-Nov-2006)
    cp: cannot create directory ‘mnt/mnt/user’: Input/output error

    Ready… Press ENTER to reboot

    Does anyone know how to correct this? I installed Ubuntu and have to switch it back to Xandros so I can ship it back to the factory otherwise it’s not covered under warranty. When I reboot, it goes to the “Starting system” screen with the ASUS logo (as if in Xandros) but then flashes a cursor and the black screen shifts back and forth from dark black to just black. I’m at a loss! Please help.

    Nick

  • July 31, 2009 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    Nick, I would try a complete wipe of the onboard disk first and try the Xandros install again.

    Probably the best way to do this is by booting in with another livecd/liveusb and using fdisk to remove all the partitions, or you could use something like DBAN (http://www.dban.org/) – can use USB version or the livecd should work with Unetbootin for USB boot (http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/).

  • Avatar
    steve
    August 3, 2009 - 3:46 am | Permalink

    i always get the message
    Linux…OK, booting the kernel.
    Wait 15 sec. for USB subsytem…
    Trying disk sdb…
    Trying disk sdc…
    Found EEEPC image on USB flash memory [/dev/sdc]..
    Could not find a valid EeePC installation image on the USB/SD device.
    please create the EEEPC USB or SD-card image & retry.
    Press enter to reboot…

    please help, i’ve done this at least 10 times and still i get this message

  • Avatar
    rankin
    September 18, 2009 - 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for your guide .I tried eeeubuntu but found the wifi signal was poor with that o/s.Found the recovery disc had crack on it,so was glad to find your guide.Followed instructions to the letter and worked fine.Found that I had to download image twice,that was only problem.

  • Avatar
    Chris
    October 19, 2009 - 3:25 am | Permalink

    This was exactly what a I was looking for today! Thanks a lot!

    Steve-
    I was having the same issue. Are you sure you properly mounted the .iso image into your virtual drive?

    Chris

  • November 2, 2009 - 11:25 pm | Permalink

    For those of you having trouble to access Eeefiles.com

    We changed our address to Netbookfiles.com

    To download the Flash utility goto : http://www.netbookfiles.com/ASUS

    Sorry about the inconvinience caused!!

  • January 9, 2010 - 12:01 am | Permalink

    I really thank you ..

    it saved me hours of time !

    not that i want to give other faqs a bad name the are just not cleary enough !

    thx

  • Avatar
    Ray
    January 26, 2010 - 1:27 am | Permalink

    I’m getting this error too where it can’t find a valid image on the USB drive. I did notice that in your instructions you say the copying will take a few minutes, but mine only took a few seconds. I’m thinking something is wrong with the copying, but I don’t know what. I’ve tried two .iso file now. I am mounting them using magicdisc and they are mounted properly as I can browse them and when it is not mounted the copy program asks for the disc. After mounting it the copy program continues.

    Linux…OK, booting the kernel.
    Wait 15 sec. for USB subsytem…
    Trying disk sdb…
    Trying disk sdc…
    Found EEEPC image on USB flash memory [/dev/sdc]..
    Could not find a valid EeePC installation image on the USB/SD device.
    please create the EEEPC USB or SD-card image & retry.
    Press enter to reboot…

  • Avatar
    NeedsHelp!
    March 24, 2010 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I have an Eee PC 701. A while ago it just crached. Now I have to reboot in last known working config.

    When I do so, I don’t have a start menu, to get anything to come up at all I have to ctrl+alt+delete in order to bring up my windows XP task manager. From there I have to run task etc. in order to get anything to run (Firefox, notepad, etc.)

    Any Ideas on how I can get this thing to a stable OS? (LINUX!!!)

    Any help would be awesome!

    • April 13, 2010 - 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like your Windows install is corrupt – I would suggest you follow the procedure in the above article to install Xandros, or this other article to install Ubuntu.

  • Avatar
    John Celli
    March 31, 2010 - 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Format goes fine but it copies too quickly and in fact nothing copies. F appears in drive window of flash utility. This is USB for me. Should that be D (my CD with burned ISO)? If so there does not appear to be any way to switch to D.

    Any thoughts you might have would be very much appreciated.
    Thanks,
    John

    • April 13, 2010 - 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like you are having trouble at the initial stage of creating the boot disk? As per screenshots at the unetbootin page, make sure the “Type” is set to USB Drive and the correct drive letter (d:) for your usb device. “Disk Image” should be ISO and point at the downloaded ISO file.

      If the settings are correct and there is still the same issue, I’d suggest trying another USB device, verify the checksum on your downloaded ISO to make sure it is valid (if not re-download), and try again.

  • Avatar
    Matt Spalding
    May 4, 2010 - 12:19 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this guide! I had similar problems to you (not being able to find any official info) and your guide made it so easy.

    You’re my hero!

  • Avatar
    paulr
    July 29, 2010 - 9:50 pm | Permalink

    To those asking for a usb flash tool for linux,
    most repos have Unetbootin, you can use this to create a bootable flash usb stick.

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  • Avatar
    tom
    July 11, 2011 - 10:43 pm | Permalink

    hi,where can i download the xandros iso?

    Tom

  • Avatar
    julia
    July 25, 2011 - 6:29 am | Permalink

    need help restoring a asus eee pc 701sd-004x to factory when my son got it, it did not com with a recovery cd. tried torrents and got no where. please help.

  • Avatar
    Dave McK.
    September 7, 2011 - 3:53 am | Permalink

    Worked flawlessly – Wish I’d found this site a lot sooner! Thanks! Dave.

  • November 12, 2011 - 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Glen

    I followed the instruction to restore my eee pc 701 8GB.

    I installed the cd and when the pc boots up. XANDROS DESKTOP OS 4.0 shows up and ask me for Username and password. Till now I am not able to move forward.

    Please any help I will appreciate.

    Miguel

  • Avatar
    Josh Butler
    November 27, 2011 - 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Perfect – took a while longer to finally install – so anyone at the point where it says “type yes to continue…”

    Be patient – it took over 15 minutes to complete for me on my original 4GB 701 and there is no status / progress meter to let you know that the install is still proceeding. Have faith – it WILL complete and then reboot you in to a nice, fresh XANDROS install!

    Many thanks to you Glenn!

  • Avatar
    Ignacio
    December 7, 2011 - 7:08 am | Permalink

    ¡Gracias!
    Necesitaba instalar Linux y, realmente, me salvaste

    Thank you again!

  • December 8, 2011 - 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Just wanted to say thanks for posting this. Saved me a ton of time.

  • December 12, 2011 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    I do have an original ASUS EeePC Xandros Recovery CD, along its Drivers CD (for installing XP). If it could help someone out there, I can share the ISO. But where should I upload them to?

    I need to re-install my Xandros (I’ve played a LOT with it and its a bit unstable now), but I don’t have a SATA-USB cable connector. Your tutorial saved me. Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Jesse
    February 13, 2012 - 2:38 am | Permalink

    This didn’t work for me (Feb 2012). The exe that was supposed to create the bootable flash disk did that, but the copy step happened way too quickly for it to actually be copying the files over.

    My eee PC would be and then I got the same error as many people above:
    Could not find a valid EeePC installation image on the USB/SD device. please create the EEEPC USB or SD-card image & retry.

    So I used unetibootin instead of the file listed in step (1) and it worked. Unetbootin also runs on Windows 7 and Vista, which the other program listed above does not.

    Thanks for the basis of the tutorial — it helped me along the way.

  • Avatar
    Phil
    March 18, 2012 - 9:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m a bit stuck with this! I’ve downloaded the files to a memory card, not USB stick.

    I don’t know how to do point 4 onwards.

    I wonder if there are any friendly experts in London who would want to help me!!

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  • Avatar
    daDren
    November 21, 2013 - 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Same problem with Asusetup that made me seek this site out, that it will not run on Windows 7. I have the supplied support DVD and it will not run either. I opened the folder in the settup program called ‘BootTool’, and used the application called ‘FreeOSTool’ and that will run on Windows 7.

  • Avatar
    Chris
    February 21, 2014 - 3:18 am | Permalink

    You can get the recovery software from ez93 dot com.

    This site has all ISO downloads. I paid 9.99 for my eee pc 8GB restore disc ISO. Works great! I saw tons of ISOs for ASUS there.

  • Avatar
    iLmAc
    January 8, 2018 - 3:22 am | Permalink

    Just use 2 usb pendrive 4gb(fat32)

    unebootin
    file .iso

    write usb1 with unebootin selecting iso file
    copy all original iso files in usb2

    turn on eeepc with usb1 and usb2 connected
    select install

    enjoy ;-)

    sorry fo my english :-P

    byebye

  • Avatar
    Adrian Solis
    July 9, 2018 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    So much tanks for the guide, 2018 and i just set up the netbook again for mi little kids.

    Old memories back to me.

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