January 14, 2008

Ubuntu on my eee

I bought an eeepc a couple of days back after my thinkpad was stolen. While it is considered to be a secondary computer at best, it seemed worthwhile trying it out. I think it was an unfortunate choice of linux distribution by asus and there was no way I was going to be stuck with xandros. So the decision was only between Ubuntu and Archlinux. I decided on the former because it seemed to be better documented on the eee and would take less time to set up (so I thought).

It was finally 4 hours before I had Ubuntu running. Briefly, what learned were -

1. Netboot does not work
Well, the eee can PXE boot once boot from lan is enabled in the bios, but the netboot image of either gutsy or feisty dont seem to have the modules for the ethernet card, so its a no-go after that.

2. Cannot find casper/.vml
If you followed the instructions here to make a bootable USB drive and get the error message 'cannot find casper/.vml' when trying to boot, just move vmlinuz and initd.img from the casper folder into the root directory of the usb drive and then modify the locations accordingly in syslinux.cfg.

3. Booting from the usb drive
I struggled a bit to boot from the usb drive - it wouldnt boot even after setting 'removable drive' as the first in boot order in the bios. It seems like the usb drive was being added as a second hard drive. The more reliable way to boot into the drive was to hold down the Esc key which offers a choice of devices to boot from.

4. Nothing older than gutsy
I had a gutsy beta iso already downloaded, so used it the first time. Which was unfortunate because it does not have the module for the ethernet and so I ended up without a working wired or wireless connection. Re-installing with the final gutsy iso solved the issue.

After all these unexpected difficulties, I finally had Ubuntu on the eee and spent the next day tweaking it. It boots in just under 40 seconds and seems to last about 2hrs30min on the battery.

All in all, it looks like a good deal!

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