Ubuntu 8.10 on the Eee PC 1000
Wow, you know you haven't posted in awhile when your intro paragraph to your next post talks about how Christmas went. In case anyone still cares now that it's almost Easter, it went well. Very well. I still want to take this time to thank Santa for his enormous generosity this past year, as he was kind enough to get me that netbook that had been dancing around in my dreams for awhile: the Eee PC 1000.
I've spent the past few months playing around with my shiny new Eee PC, and I am duly impressed. Wireless N, 8GB SSD + 32GB built in flash, 7 (yes, count them, 7) hours of battery life, Bluetooth, webcam + mic, the list goes on and on. All of this technological goodness kept within a sleek, 12 inch wide frame that even Steve Jobs might not deem "junk". Oh, and did I mention that all of this wonderful hardware has native Linux driver support? Can you say "portable hackstation"?
Yes, it was a good Christmas for this Linux user, and judging from the experience I had with the Eee PC 1000, it's been a good year for Linux users in general. With netbooks being the fastest growing segments in the computing arena, Linux's superior memory and power management, combined with it's endless configurability and ever-improving usability, is starting to make Microsoft fear the penguin more than usual. This is not without reason: Ubuntu 8.10 has completed my netbook.
Now, before you all cry out in unison that I can get netbooks with Linux preinstalled, I know. In fact, mine came that way. However, the distribution that shipped with my Eee PC made it feel less like a computer and more like a toy, and a very useless one at that. I really hope that Asus wises up, and starts shipping something that isn't intentionally crippled for some miguided notion of usability. I am thoroughly convinced that an install of Ubuntu would have been easier to use for anyone than that worthless POS that came preinstalled.
However, as great of a fit that the Ubuntu/Eee PC union is, it was not without some small hurdles to first overcome. The following is a short documentation of how to take your nifty new Eee PC and install the latest release of Ubuntu, Intrepid Ibex.
As I'm sure you've figured out, installing from CD isn't going to work so well without a CD drive, so we first need to find another way to get Ubuntu onto the netbook. The easiest way to do this is with a flash drive. These are many ways to get Ubuntu on a flash drive, as documented here, but I will only be covering how I did it, using the installation tool built into Ubuntu. If you don't have a flash drive, well, buy one. Seriously, it's like 5 bucks.
Once you've gotten a hold of a flash drive, make sure you've backed up any important files, because we're going to wipe it and put Ubuntu onto it. You are also going to need to get an ISO of the latest version of Ubuntu 8.10 (32 bit) from here. While that's downloading, you might run off and get an ethernet cable if you don't have it, you'll need it later.
It should be mentioned at this point that there are lots of ready-made distros out there specifically for the Eee PC, including a number based off of Ubuntu. In addition, a default installation of Ubuntu does not have driver support enabled for all of the Eee PC components. However, these ready-made distributions strip out a lot of kernel features that you may need at some point, so for most users it's a better idea to just install the standard edition and install a custom kernel. After all, it would be rather annoying if, for all the Eee PCs portable goodness, you plugged in some device that normally works under a standard Ubuntu 8.10 install only to find out that support for it has been removed. It's better to at least have a backup of the original kernel, with all of its driver support, and then run a slimmed down version with the Eee PC drivers compiled in for day to day use. Now, I know what you're thinking to yourself right now: "I have to replace my kernel just to get this working? What is this, Gentoo?" Do not fear, the Ubuntu community has your back, and has made this process a piece of cake.
Now that you have the ISO downloaded, we can move on to the fun part - installing it on a USB drive. If you already have Ubuntu installed on your desktop/laptop, then you're all set to start. If not, you need to burn the ISO to a CD, and then boot into it before you can start. Once you have Ubuntu up and running, go to System -> Administration -> Create A USB Startup Disk. This will look slightly different on the Live CD, as you don't have to select an ISO (it uses itself), but the concept is the same:
Now, simply select the ISO file that you downloaded, the USB drive that you want to install, and click "Make Startup Disk". Go get yourself something to eat, as this can take awhile, depending on the speed of the disk.
You should now have a bootable USB drive with Ubuntu 8.10 installed, congratualtions! You're well on our way to having it up and running. Now, go ahead plug it into your Eee PC and power it up. You may need to set the USB drive as the default boot device in the BIOS, so it's best to check. F2 at the bootup screen does the trick. For some reason, my Eee PC reports USB drives as hard drives, so I would check to make sure that USB is first in the Hard Disk boot priority list.
Once you've booted up into Ubuntu using the USB drive, simply install Ubuntu as you normally would, by clicking the Install icon on the desktop and following the prompts. Make sure that your 8GB partition is the one that your root partition is installed to, not doing so will result in slow performance and possibly data loss later on.
Restart, and you're almost done! Hook up your Eee PC to a wired connection (your wireless most likely won't work), and follow these instructions to install the custom Eee kernel.
That's it! I hope you all have found this informative, and I know you will all enjoy Ubuntu on your Eee PC as much as I have.
If you want some tips on configuring your Ubuntu install to deal with the small screen, please see the Ubuntu wiki. Its tips really helped me, and I'm sure they will be of use to all of you as well.