I have to say that I was slightly disappointed by the 8.04.1 version of Ubuntu-eee. I know I blogged about how the Netbook Remix version of Ubuntu would probably be ideal for netbooks, but now that I’ve actually played around with it I feel differently. The 901’s 9″ screen is big enough to use the regular UI, and having even the smallest little popup window be maximized bugged the hell out of me.
That’s why I decided to go ‘back’ to my old setup with regular Ubuntu made ‘eee-friendly’ using the array.org kernel. I put the word ‘back’ between quotes in that last sentence because this also allowed me to go with the newer 8.10 version of Ubuntu (Intrepid Ibex). It may not be as easy as installing Ubuntu eee, but I found it to be well worth the extra effort.
Installing Intrepid Ibex
This really couldn’t be any simpler. Ubuntu’s installer is even easier than the one that comes with Windows. I chose to pay a little extra attention to the disk partition setup (like with 8.04), but other than that there’s nothing to it.
Once you’ve successfully installed the OS and rebooted your Eee-PC you’ll find that the wireless network adapter doesn’t work. Luckily the wired one does, so I grabbed an old UTP cable I had lying around and used that to install the array.org kernel.
Installing the Array.org kernel
The installation instructions will guide you through this. It will require you to type in a bunch of cryptic terminal commands, but it won’t take more than five minutes or so. After that, all the hardware on your Eee-PC wil work.
I went with the ‘lean’ kernel. Why would you want support for all sorts of hardware that the Eee-PC does not have? A high end video card won’t fit into your tiny little laptop, so there’s no need for nVidia drivers. It’s currently marked as ‘experimental’, but I’ve had no trouble with it so far and it does make your 901 boot faster (mine now takes around 40 seconds to boot from power on to login prompt).
This step is of course optional, but if you want control over the Eee-PC’s performance modes and the ability to toggle wifi and bluetooth on or off you’ll need Eee-control. It’s a simple .deb installer download, so nothing tricky here either.
Ubuntu 8.10 has Firefox 3, A newer version of Transmision (the older one worked OK but lacked essentials like a ‘time remaining’ estimate) and lots of of other updates. Unlike with Ubuntu eee you’ll need to manually add Skype by downloading the client from Skype’s website. Ibex was set to medium eye-candy by default on my 901 and you can easily bump it to ‘high’, making it a very sleek OS to work with.