How do I install free eeeBuntu or Ubuntu Linux on a Netbook?

Improve your netbook’s performance and options with this easy step-by-step guide to installing Ubuntu Linux on a netbook (with pictures).  The Ubuntu Linux operating system upgrade that I describe in this article is free and only takes about an hour to download and try out (or install).  You can try Ubuntu Linux on your Netbook before with the option to install it later.  Upgrading to the Ubuntu Linux operating system can provide the following advantages:

  • Better drivers for Netbook Video and Audio
  • Faster Netbook operation
  • More control over the Netbook’s desktop
  • A wider choice of Linux programs and games
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You can buy a refurbished netbook for less than $150, here

The ASUS’ “Xandros” Linux OS that was preinstalled on my netbook included the Firefox browser, Open Office with a Word Processor and Spreadsheet program and a few other games and utilities.   The netbook worked out of the box, and may have been fine for most folks, but I wanted more control over the programs and desktop.  So, within two days I was using eeeBuntu, which is a special version of Linux Ubuntu which includes the Asus hardware drivers (sound, video, usb) and it has been pre-configured for the Asus’s small screen.

One of the primary advantages of installing Ubuntu Linux is that you can choose and install a greater number of programs and games that are available for the Linux operating system.   Many of the Linux programs look very similar to programs you may already use with Microsoft Windows.  For example

Also, Ubuntu Linux’s drivers for the screen and USB port may be an improvement over your netbook’s original operating system.  For example, my Netbook’s original operating system allowed me to attach an extra monitor for a larger viewing area, but the upgraded Ubuntu Linux driver for the external monitor works better and provides a larger selection of external monitor resolution choices.

 

Instructions

Summary: Convert Windows Nt/2k/XP/Vista to eeeBuntu or EasyPeasy Linux
Operating Systems: Windows Nt/2k/XP/Vista
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 45 minutes to locate files and make bootable memory card.

Things you’ll Need

  • A USB flash drive or a SD Memory Card (to transfer the programs to your netbook)
  • A free program to format your USB flash drive or SD Memory Card (Panasonic Disc Formatter)
  • A free .ISO writing program to write an .ISO file to the flash drive (UNetbootin)
  • A free eeeBuntu, free eBuntu eee, free EasyPeasy Linux program to install


Part A: Search The Internet  for the best version of Linux for your Netbook then download it.

Step 1 .
Find and download Ubuntu Linux.    Ubuntu Linux is an open source operating system and multiple versions exist.  The versions of Ubuntu Linux that have been created for Netbooks usually have a designation with the initials “NBR” which means “Netbook Remix.”  I recommend that you  search using the words “Ubuntu” and “Netbook” with your computer model number or Netbook computer brandMost versions of Linux can be sampled in a “trial mode” from a  bootable CD or flash drive before you install it.  So, If you are undecided which version of Linux to install, you can download and try more than one before you choose which to install to your notebook.Here are some search term examples:
.
Asus eeeBook LinuxAsus eeeBook Ubuntu


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Step 2
.
Download Ubuntu Linux.  Follow the Ubuntu website’s links to the download area where you can download the .ISO or .ZIP file containing the Ubuntu Linux installation program to your computer’s hard drive.A file with an ISO extension is generally a disk image.  When you download Ubuntu Linux, you will generally download an ISO file that you will copy to a disk or flash drive using a special program that will make the disc or flash drive bootable.  ISO files can be quite large, so depending on your Internet connection, so it could take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to download the file depending on your Internet connection.
Step 3
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Prepare your Flash Drive or Memory Card: You can skip this step if you are creating a bootable CD or DVD.  If you will be copying your Ubuntu Linux to a flash drive or SD card you will need to take some special steps to make sure that the copy you create a bootable.  Be aware that the format option within Microsoft Windows may not sufficiently wipe the media so that it will work correctly.  Instead of using the Microsoft Windows format command, I recommend that you use a free program called “SD Formatter” from Panasonic.  I can confirm that using the Microsoft Windows format command prevented my sample Ubuntu flash drives from booting correctly.  However, the same flash drives booted successfully after I first formatted them with the free  “SD Formatter” from Panasonic.  To find this program, use the search term “SD Formatter Panasonic” using Google or your favorite search site.


panasonic-SD-formatter.jpg
Step 4
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Make a bootable copy of Ubuntu Linux on your prepared Flash Drive or SD Memory Card – If you are creating a bootable CD or DVD you can use a program such as Nero to create a bootable disk.  When creating a bootable disk, make sure to burn program is aware that you are burning an ISO file, otherwise the disc may not be bootable.Be aware that you must use a special program to write the ISO file to the flash drive or SD card so that it is bootable.  If you just copy the ISO files to the flash drive, it will not boot.  A popular program to make the ISO bootable from your flash drive or SD card is called, “uNetBootin” which can be found at www.sourceforge.net .  In the uNetBootin program, the disk image is the ISO file you downloaded, and at the bottom of the screen you’ll select the destination flash drive or SD card.

unetbootin
Step 5 .
Set your NETBOOK BIOS BOOT Order.  Your computer’s BIOS menu is always accessed shortly after the computer is powered on, and always before Windows or any operating system starts.  Carefully watch your computer when you switch on the power, and you will usually see a message at the very top or very bottom of the screen that will tell you which key to press to access the BIOS menu.  For example, the key to access your computer’s BIOS could be [F1] or [F2] or [Del] .  Once your BIOS menu is active, search for the menu item at the top that says” boot” or “boot order.”   You will want to change the boot order so that your Netbook boots first from the external flash drive or SD Drive first before trying to start from the internal hard drive.  By the way, the  Asus eee PC Netbook has a seemingly undocumented method for changing boot order temporarily that I learned about in one of the user forums.   Begin with the power off, and the Ubuntu Linux formatted SD card in the slot. Power on the Netbook and when the very first screen appears, tap the [escape] key once, wait a few moments, and a menu will appear that will allow you to temporarily select your “USB: Single flash Reader” (SD Card) as the first boot device.


please-select-boot-device
Step 6 .
Try Ubuntu Linux on your Netbook If you have successfully booted your Netbook from the flash drive or SD card, you will see the eeeBuntu logo and desktop instead of your original desktop.  Don’t worry, your old operating system is still intact.  You’re simply running a test version of Ubuntu Linux to try it out.    In the sample version of Ubuntu Linux, you can navigate the menus and try out some of the programs, but because Ubuntu Linux has not yet been installed, none of your changes to the settings will be saved.  Also when running the trial version of Ubuntu Linux, you won’t be able to install any new programs.  However the trial version will allow you to try out the Firefox browser and other programs such as the word processor in the free “open office” suite of programs.
Step 7 .
(Optional) Permanently install Ubuntu Linux on your Netbook If you are happy with your trial of Ubuntu Linux, you can navigate to the administration menu, then click the “install” icon to install Ubuntu Linux as your Netbooks permanent operating system.  Note that any previous files and settings from your old Netbook operating system will be lost, so you may want to back them up, and you may want to locate a disc copy of your original operating system in case you have to reinstall it.


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Resources

Photo Credit

Photos by Chuck Eglinton

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