Tag Archives: linux

The choice of netbook OS…

So, having just ordered my Eee PC 1005HA (black), I am wondering what I should load onto it’s tidy 160GB hard disk. I will be using it for blogging, web browsing, writing (in LaTeX) and email, in particular while on the move (train carriages, the bus, etc,) so it need to be an OS with established credentials in these areas.

It comes with windows XP home, which I will shrink down to 20GB and leave there for emergency “this needs to be done in windows” situations (sad, but unfortunately required…) but XP simply fails the LaTeX test without any further questions.

So, where from there? Well, Chrome OS isn’t quite ready yet (and there is no way my primary OS is going to be beta – this thing has to be stable), so I had a look at Ubuntu Netbook Remix. I like the idea of window switching being relegated to a corner of the screen (given that you are only ever going to have 3 or 4 things open at once, tops,) and it comes with special Eee PC hacks (woo!), and of course, being Ubuntu underneath, it has access to all of Donald Knuth’s finest typesetting packages.

…and it looks shiny…

We will see when it arrives whether or not it is speedy like the wind or it sucks. If the worst comes to the worst I can always fall back on debian or gentoo with XFCE, and have my ultra optimised little beast ready with a few hours of painful command line wrangling. I think that openSUSE would be overkill (installed size of like 4 GB usually) for such a petite laptop of awesome. I will of course install with seperate / and home partitions, just so I can switch OS without the need for backups and other nonsense (loyalty to a particular flavour of Linux?! Never!)

After it’s arrival (being cheap that could be any time between now and this time next week, as I refuse to pay postage where possible out of principal…) and my successful installation I will blog again form the device itself with instructions for the intrepid netbook explorers among you, who wish to follow in my jungle-like path.

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How to run Ubuntu on your Intel Mac, from a USB stick.

When I discovered Virtual Box I vowed never to install Linux again. But then came the crashes. And then I upgraded to Snow Leopard. Screw this, I need some kdevelop goodness now….

So, today I found myself installing ubuntu on a USB stick. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Download, burn and boot from your ubuntu disk of choice. Running a MacBook Pro from July this year I chose the amd64 disk, as a liveCD. To boot from CD just hold down “C” when you hear the angels as your Mac turns on.
  2. Choose “try ubuntu without changing your system” from the menu to boot the OS from the liveCD.
  3. Run the install as usual, specifying the USB drive you plugged in as your disk and selecting “use entire drive” from the partitioning options.
  4. This is where it gets tricky. Restart, and hold down left option (alt). Observe that only the “proper” hard disks are listed – intel Macs don’t natively support USB booting. 😦 cheer up and boot OS X – there is a solution.
  5. Download and install rEFIt – an open source EFI bootloader for just this type of occasion.
  6. Reboot one more time, holding down option, and choose refit.
  7. Choose your “legacy” OS (it only says it in that patronising manner because it’s jealous of the MBR goodness) and fly all the way to open source Heaven without breaking your precious OS X install!

I hope you enjoy this one – you’ll need a fairly decent USB stick though. Cheap ones are terribly slow to write to, so installing and updating may take you well over the 2 hour limit of my how-tos. If you can, I recommend a proper USB HDD in an enclosure – much less worrysome and much quicker.

EDIT: This actually isn’t complete and leaves you with a grub error because the ubuntu installer is a moron and overwrites the MBR on the bootcamp drive, even though you haven’t installed it on that HDD. (my way around this on my previous laptop was to remove the HDD before starting – but I couldn’t quite bring myself to on the shiny new unibody MBP…) you need to resync the MBR with the refit EFI data using the partitioning tool here on the boot menu:

Apologies for the brokenness and thanks to bagellord (see comments) for pointing this out!