Ubuntu on the Asus Eee PC: Part 1 (or How to run a functional Ubuntu install off a USB drive)

Ubuntu USB pen drive on the Asus Eee PC
I’ve been combing over various guides and instructions online for installing Ubuntu on the [[[Asus Eee PC]]], and I ran into a few kinks along the way since I don’t have a USB CD-ROM to install from and opted for a USB flash drive instead, so I thought I’d write the process out in this post in the hopes of helping those of you out there who are thinking about taking the plunge, but unsure of how it’s going to work. All of this information is available elsewhere, but I found it somewhat scattered, so I’m documenting it all here for my future self.

Step 1: Make a bootable Ubuntu USB Pendrive—First thing I did was follow all the instructions over at Pendrivelinux.com for installing Ubuntu 710 Gutsy Gibbon to a USB flash drive. I recommend printing out the full page and checking off each step as it is completed. The really great thing about this USB pendrive installation solution is that the install remains persistent. You can make changes to it, save changes, and it can always serve as a backup drive for your Eee or as a fully functional Ubuntu install that you load from time to time. To take full advantage of that we’ll activate the WiFi on the Eee PC for this pendrive install in a few steps.
Step 2: Make sure you have an active Ethernet connection—With the completed USB pendrive install completed, plug the USB drive into one of your Eee PC’s open USB ports. IMPORTANT: Make sure your Eee PC is plugged in to an active Ethernet connection via the Ethernet port. The WiFi doesn’t work right away (we’ll fix that in a few steps) and the Ethernet connection needs to be present at boot for Ubuntu to have an active internet connection.
Step 3: Boot into Ubuntu Live Persistent mode—Start up the Eee and hit the Escape key (ESC). This will bring up a dialogue asking which drive you want to boot from. Choose your USB pendrive and hit enter. It will take very little time to boot to the Ubuntu Live option page. Select the first choice (Persistent mode) and hit Return. Ubuntu will start unpacking the kernel and this can take a few minutes.
Step 4: Make those windows draggable—The most important tweak to do is to make sure all the windows in Ubuntu are draggable, so that windows that default to a taller size than the Eee PC’s default screen can be moved into a useable position. Fortunately, there are some pretty useful instructions for doing this on the Eeeuser wiki that I found via this helpful blog post. Launch the Terminal by navigating to Applications—>Accessories—>Terminal via the menu bar at the top of the screen. At the command line type in gconf-editor and hit Return. This will launch a GUI window with a long list of items in the left side bar. Follow this path:


Then uncheck constrain_y
As soon as you do this, you should be able to hit the Alt key while clicking on any window to drag it wherever you like. Since we did this on persistent mode, your USB pendrive will remember this setting whenever you use it again, however, you will need to repeat this step after you install Ubuntu onto the Asus Eee PC itself.
Step 5: Enable the WiFi—To enable WiFi on the Asus Eee PC running Ubuntu, you simply need to follow the instructions found here:

sudo apt-get install build-essential

wget 'http://madwifi.org/attachment/ticket/1679/madwifi-ng-0933.ar2425.20071130.i386.patch?format=raw'

wget http://snapshots.madwifi.org/madwifi-ng/madwifi-ng-r2756-20071018.tar.gz

tar zxvf madwifi-ng-r2756-20071018.tar.gz

cd madwifi-ng-r2756-20071018

patch -p0 < ../madwifi-ng-0933.ar2425.20071130.i386.patch?format=raw

make clean


sudo make install


After rebooting repeat step 3 above to get ready to install.

This post was getting pretty long, so I decided to split it up into sections. This above post includes all the introductory steps. If you stop at this point, then you already have a pretty nice Ubuntu alternative to your default Xandros installation that you can boot to via USB whenever you like.

Update: For instructions on installing Ubuntu to the internal drive see Part 2.

About C.K. Sample III

I am a father, a husband, a blogger, a parrot owner, a pug owner, and the EVP of Technology & Development for Chaotic Moon. This site has no comments. If you want to talk to me, send me an @cksample on Twitter. If you like this post, feel free to become a patron or buy me something off of my wishlist.
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39 Responses to Ubuntu on the Asus Eee PC: Part 1 (or How to run a functional Ubuntu install off a USB drive)

  1. Timothy Tuck says:

    Mike, just to correct you. There is no complications or violation in selling a Linux Distro reinstalled as Dell is doing. The GPL specifically allows you to charge for it if so you wish. Which is why Best Buy is able to sell copies of Ubuntu for 20 dollars.

    The Second paragraph of the GPL v2 specifically says.

    When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for them if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs, and that you know you can do these things.

    I would venture to guess if Dell is having any issues what so ever, its more a support issue in regards to have knowledgeable support staff.

    In fact there is nothing in the GPL that would prevent you from doing exactly the same thing as Best Buy is doing, going onto ebay and doing a search for linux distro’s would bear that fact out.

    Ethically my feelings is if your making money off of selling it and your not even buying it yourself you had better be contributing somehow back to the project, either with support in the forums or better yet with your wallet and donating back to the Distro itself.

    Just so the facts are straight, With the popularity of the Eee PC many new people are getting exposed to linux for the very first time.
    Personally i would rather pay for linux than be getting windows for free.
    Long live the Penguins!

  2. Oyunlar says:

    I have three comptuer using in my office and home. One of them installed kubuntu 7.10 others are ubuntu 8.

    I really love using them.

  3. Lida says:

    thanks 4 ppost

  4. Erling says:

    I have just installed Ubuntu on my EEE using a USB-pen, following the instructions on top of this page. But I cannot get the Wifi to work. When executing the line ‘wget http://snapshots… the reply is ‘permanently moved’ – and I am stuck. Where do I find that code posted now? Or an alternative route?

  5. c.k. says:

    Erling, ah they must’ve moved it. I’d search wiki.eeeuser.org to see if anyone knows where it is now. Sorry!

  6. Magnus says:

    When I boot my eee i can’t get to the menu to select where to boot from… When do i have to hit esc ?

  7. c.k. says:

    Hey Magnus,

    Right after the BIOS screen pops up.

  8. sohbet says:

    Erling, ah they must’ve moved it. I’d search wiki.eeeuser.org to see if anyone knows where it is now. Sorry! Thank you very much for this information.


  9. raymr says:

    Hi, I have an Eee 1000 with Xandros that I got a week ago. I created a bootable ubuntu eee 8.04.1 usb stick several times, but each time it gets to the drive selection screen, then the unetbootin screen, then nothing. None of the menu selections do anything. The BIOS has been upgraded to the latest version.

    I formatted and loaded the Cruzer 1GB usb stick from my windows 2000 machine, since Xandros doesn’t have the correct glibc version. I also ran syslinux on it and tried 2 different versions of unetbootin. So far, no boot.

    What are my options besides buying an external CD drive?

  10. Graham Watkins says:

    For those who have complained that their bootable pendrive does not save changes. I’ve found that if you create a new user and log in as that user, you can then save changes. I have no idea why this is necessary but it seems to work.

  11. WS4 says:

    Line wget 'http://madwifi.org/attachment/ticket/1679/madwifi-ng-0933.ar2425.20071130.i386.patch?format=raw&#39; is not working because of wrong server so this is not enough.

  12. madaerodog says:

    the newly launched ubuntu 9.04 desktop remix works out of the box for the eeepc 1000h that I have

  13. cksthree says:

    Nice find! Thanks!

  14. Steve Mills says:

    I bought my Asus Eee PC 1000h to learn Linux but I find that the installed Debian/Xandros hybrid does not conform to many of the Linux basics. Standard packages won’t install because their libraries are incompatible with those already on the m/c, after setting up a DB service I find that standard mechanisms for setting up a swap partition or swap file don’t work, if I boot straight into KDE then it never asks for a login, printing didn’t work properly, and many other annoying things.

    So inspired by this article I decided to wipe the machine and install Ubuntu 9.10. Fortunately it was helped by the fact that I have a USB CD drive. Anyway it all went very well and everything works a dream.

    So I would say (if asked) that it was the best thing I’d done with my Eee PC.

    The only problem that remains is that if I connect it to my hi def ASUS screen, it detects the screen and offers the full range of resolutions, but anything other than the same resolution the Eee PC uses doesn’t work. If I choose 1024×768 then the monitor has not top or bottom to it – just the desktop with those bits trimmed off. If I choose 1920×1080 then both laptop and monitor screens go dark, the USB mouse stops working and everything dies. Power off is the only thing that works.

    So I’m looking to fix that. If and when I find the fix then I’ll post it here.

    Wifi, Bluetooth, Printing, Sound – just everything else worked “out of the box”.

    Kind Regards

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