Another week, another OS: Setting up Ubuntu on the Eee-PC 901

Windows XP was slowish, and I didn’t want to deal with virus scanner updates, etc. XEPC was great, but in simple mode it wasn’t quite a real operating system, whereas in full desktop mode it didn’t work so well. So I decided to try Ubuntu. To me, Ubuntu’s Netbook Remix seems like the ideal user interface to run on netbooks, but for starters I decided to give ‘Ubuntu Eee” a try. Here’s how I went about it.

The only thing that’s really difficult about setting up Ubuntu on the 901 is the amount of (often conflicting) info you’ll find when googling. I spent days reading installation tutorials, fixes, etc before finally coming to the conclusion that there’s really only very little you need to know.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Get Ubuntu Eee here. (there’s also a competing eeebuntu distro, but it seems this one is maintained more actively).
  2. You’ll need Netbootin to create a bootable usb stick (1GB or bigger). Use it to put the downloaded iso file on the stick.
  3. Insert the usb stick into your 901, press ESC during boot, and choose to to boot off of it.
  4. Choose ‘Install Ubuntu’ and follow the instructions.
  5. Choose manual partitioning, remove the existing partitions from both SSD drives.
  6. Create new ext2-formatted partitions on both disks. I created two on the 8GB drive, a small one for swap, the rest for my data.
  7. Set the mount point for the 4GB SSD to ‘/’, the data partition 8GB (or 16GB) one will be ‘/home’. This will put your files on the larger disk, and leave more room on the system disk.
  8. Finish the install
  9. Your 901 will boot into Ubuntu quite nicely, but with no working wifi or ethernet.
  10. This is where the custom kernel from array.org comes in. Follow these instructions to the letter.

That’s it. Ubuntu runs great on my 901, even with the ‘advanced desktop effects‘ (a.k.a. Compiz Fusion). I needed to re-enable the webcam in the BIOS, but after that all major functions worked.

My only remaining issue is that some keyboard functions do not work. There’s an on-screen equivalent for all of them, but I’ll look into tweaks to get them working. Array.org has some I might try.

5 Comments

  1. Excellent guide Roy, thanks a bunch for writing this up. I had Ubuntu up and running with no problems whatsoever, in no time.

    Comment by Kars — September 15, 2008 @ 7:23 am

  2. I’m not the most linux savy person in the world, but I love Ubuntu. Only thing I had problems with during the installation is my USB flash was formatted with FAT16 and unetbootin didn’t pick it up. Other than that, your instructions were great. Thanks.

    Comment by Tom — September 24, 2008 @ 3:12 am

  3. Hi! You should try eee-control for keyboard functions.

    Comment by Filipe Correia — October 8, 2008 @ 10:17 pm

  4. I followed your instructions, but the eee901 locked during install and now all I can get is “error 15″, Any ideas or any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks.

    Comment by Andrew — January 2, 2009 @ 3:42 am

  5. Hmm… all I can think of is to try another clean install. I’m not a Linux expert, so perhaps anyone else cares to step in here?

    Comment by Roy — January 3, 2009 @ 7:38 pm