Ubuntu on the Asus Eee PC: Part 2 (or How to Install Ubuntu on the Eee’s Internal Drive)

Screenshot
If you followed all the steps in my last post about the Asus Eee PC, then you have a persistent and fully functional copy of Ubuntu on a USB stick. The problem with this (besides that USB stick jutting out the side of the Eee all the time)? Boot time is slow. Since the USB stick install is also an Ubuntu Live install , you can easily install Ubuntu onto the primary drive of your [[[Asus Eee PC]]]. The majority of this info is remixed from this page at the Eee User Wiki. Here’s how:

Step 1: Boot into Ubuntu Live and click Install on the desktop.—Make sure that you have a live Internet connection (it can be wireless for now, but when you reboot into the actual installation, you will need to have a live Ethernet connection nearby and ready for you to plug into, as you’ll lose the wifi that we set up in the last installation).
Step 2: At the partitioning screen choose manual.—Using the Guided option will work, but it set’s you up with an ext3 partition and some swap space. Since the Eee sports a flash-based drive, we want to avoid swap space, b/c it writes to the drive too much. Some people are saying you should avoid ext3 partition b/c it’s journaling and also does more writes. Most people advise ext2, but the Eee’s default installation uses ext3 for one of the partitions. Choose the internal drive (it’s the one whose partitions = 4GBs), choose to format it as a single partition , choose a format for the partition (I chose JFS b/c it’s supposed to perform well on processor light systems and it’s journaled; you could also go with ext2 or ext3. Some people are recommending JFFS b/c it’s good for flash drives, but I haven’t seen any “I did this and it works great” reports yet so I steered away from it). Set the mount point to / and ignore the warning that pops up about there not being any swap space.
Step 3: Go with the defaults for everything else—Click on through, set up the defaults for your username and password and start the full install. After it’s done, run your Eee over to your wired Ethernet internet connection and reboot. When it says Eject the CD at the end of shutdown, remove the USB stick. Notice that the boot time off the internal disk is about 52 seconds. Nice.
Step 4: Draggable Windows, Screen Real Estate, and Updates—After you reboot the machine into Ubuntu, log in with the account info you set up in the previous step. You’ll most likely get a “Your battery may be broken” error, a pop-up about an Atheros Restricted Driver, and another pop-up about Updates being ready to install. Ignore and dismiss the first two and ignore the updates message (but leave it there temporarily). This new install lacks the draggable windows we set up on the USB stick, so repeat step 4. Now (taking some ideas from here) go to System—>Preferences—>Appearance and click on the Fonts tab. Change the Application font, the Desktop font, and the Window title font from 10 to 8 size fonts. Next click on the Interface tab and change Toolbar button labels from Text Below Items to Text Only, then close the window. Now go to both the top and bottom panels on the screen, right click on them and choose Properties. Under Size, lower the pixels to 19. Now things aren’t crowding the screen that shouldn’t. Go ahead and start installing the updates.
Step 5: Post install command line clean up and tweaking—While the updates are installing, go ahead and navigate to Applications—>Accessories—>Terminal. At the command prompt, type:
sudo pico /etc/fstab
Type in your password. Find the line that reads:
/dev/sdc1 /media/cdrom0 udf,iso9660 user,noauto,exec 0 0
Type a # at the beginning of that line to comment it out. Type Ctrl+o to write the file, hit Return to use the same name for the file and then type Ctrl+x to close pico.
Back at the command line type:
sudo pico /etc/apt/sources.list
Type in your password. Find the line that reads:
deb cdrom:[Ubuntu 7.10 _Gutsy Gibbon_ - Release i386 (20071016)]/ gutsy main restricted
Type a # at the beginning of that line to comment it out. Type Ctrl+o to write the file, hit Return to use the same name for the file and then type Ctrl+x to close pico.
Both of these two above fix post install problems where Ubuntu will look for the Ubuntu Live CD when you are trying to update packages over the internet using apt-get or Synaptic Package Manager.
Back at the command line type:
sudo pico /etc/fstab
Add the following lines to that document:
tmpfs /var/log tmpfs defaults 0 0
tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults 0 0
tmpfs /var/tmp tmpfs defaults 0 0

Type Ctrl+o to write the file, hit Return to use the same name for the file and then type Ctrl+x to close pico.
This helps limit writes to the hard drive by keeping /var/log, /tmp, and /var/tmp in a RAM disk.
Back at the command line type:
sudo pico /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base
Add the line:
options snd-hda-intel model=3stack-dig at the beginning of the options section.
Type Ctrl+o to write the file, hit Return to use the same name for the file and then type Ctrl+x to close pico.
This will make the internal mic on the Eee work.
I ignored most of the information in this section of the Eee User Wiki, but I did replace /etc/X11/xorg.conf with the version listed in that section. To replace your copy simply sudo pico /etc/X11/xorg.conf
And delete everything and paste in the code from over there. However, I recommend at the end of the file you change one bit. I changed:

Section "Extensions"
# You may want to enable this.
Option "Composite" "Disable"
EndSection

to
Section "Extensions"
# You may want to enable this.
Option "Composite" "Enable"
EndSection

This preserves all the pretty effects of Ubuntu while maximizing the rest of the video.
Follow all the steps in this section to fix Suspend and Resume issues (hibernate won’t work b/c we didn’t set up any swap space) and then skip ahead to the solution to the shutdown / poweroff problem.
Step 6: Now that you’ve changed all these things and the updates have finished, reboot.
Step 7: After reboot—Now that you’ve rebooted all the above tweaks should be in place and we can start downloading some extra updates. Repeat Step 5 from my last Eee post to enable the Wifi

After you complete all these steps everything should be working as right as rain (except no flash in the browser yet; go to Adobe and download from there and follow the instructions). There are some other tweaks that can be done mentioned in this post, but I haven’t done any of them yet (although this was where I got the idea to use JFS).

I’m in day two of using this machine to do a *lot* of stuff. I typed this entire post on it. I’ll have more follow up tips for maximizing screen real estate in Ubuntu next time I manage one of these posts (which probably won’t be until next week. Busy week ahead).

About C.K. Sample III

I am a father, a husband, a blogger, a parrot owner, a pug owner, and the VP of Technology/Engineering 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 send me a micropayment via Bitcoin.
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