Saturday, November 29, 2008

EeeUbuntu Frustrations

Day 25 and 26

Things have not gone well so far with my transition away from Xandros. 

It seemed simple enough. Download the .iso and then use Unetbootin to load it onto a flash drive. I first tried this from the Eee - after all, it only seemed appropriate to have the Eee do all the work. I followed the directions to run Unetbootin, but nothing happened. More tinkering, but still no luck. I decided to give in and create the bootable usb from my wife's HP pavilion laptop. 
I re-downloaded everything I needed and successfully loaded it onto my Kingston DataTraveler 8gb flash drive. I even rebooted it on the HP and it booted the live version of EeeUbuntu. I was ready to install it on the Eee. 

First, I had to figure out how to boot to a USB. The boot order didn't say anything specifically about a USB, only a generic "removable device." I went to the Eee forums for an answer and learned that there should be a USB boot option during the grub splash screen. Since I didn't see this, it caused all kinds of headaches for me. About two hours' worth, to be exact. In the end, I think I got the USB boot option by powering up the Eee and then holding down both the esc button and the power button, but I did so much random button pressing during start up that I'm not sure what really did the trick. 

So I now had my USB good to go, and the Eee was ready to boot to it. Only one problem - it didn't detect the USB. Apparently the Asus Eee doesn't like Kingston brand usb drives. I went back to the HP and started the process over again with a new flash drive. 

The only other flash drive I had handy was my 2gb watch drive I got for Christmas last year from thinkgeek. I use it constantly for transferring files to and from work. I cleared all other files off of it and reformatted it for good measure, and then loaded EeeUbuntu onto it. After it finished I returned to the Eee and booted it up. 

Running EeeUbuntu from my wrist watch

Ureeka! the USB watch was detected and I was allowed to boot to it. With little success. The grub bootloader started but stopped at what looked like some sort of command line. Posts lamenting about similar errors on Eeeuser resulted in no easy fix. By now it was 4am, so I decided to call it a night. 

This is the mess I left on the kitchen table after I gave up for the night. The next morning I awoke to find my wife setting the table for breakfast around the laptops. 

This morning I decided to give it another go. I had read that Unetbootin isn't completely reliable and can sometimes load files incorrectly onto the USB. I reformatted my watch and tried again. This time it loaded quickly and booted no problem! I was ready to install. 

EeeUbuntu booted nicely on the Eee, and I quickly went through the 6 installation steps. I didn't change any of the settings and just let it go with a default install. It took about 25 minutes for it to finish installation. When it prompted me, I removed the flash drive and rebooted. 

I saw the grub bootloader but then got this message:

Error 21: Selected disk does not exist. 

That's bad. I shut it down, plugged the USB back in, and then restarted and booted to it. It worked perfect. Conclusion - I had accidentally erased Xandros from the internal SD memory, but then installed EeeUbuntu to the flash drive instead of in Xandros' place. Oops. I know some people do just that intentionally by using the removable SD care slot, but a fricken' watch plugged into the side of the lapotp is just a bit more cumbersome. 

To make matters worse, I was generally unimpressed with EeeUbuntu's user interface. It's based on the netbook remix, so it reminded me more of Xandros in easy mode than what I had been using in advanced mode. 

By now, I was feeling a bit desperate. I had a laptop that was essentially useless and I wanted it back up and running as soon as possible. Since I didn't like EeeUbuntu, I figured I'd look into EeeXubuntu. It was similar in layout to Xandros. I found a torrent of the iso and the process began all over again. 

Xubuntu installed nicely, and in the right place on the internal memory. I was pumped. Until I noticed that the wireless wasn't working, and I kept getting repeated warning errors about the battery being dead (I was plugged into the wall, so this didn't make much sense). More dead ends. 

So I give up. During the past two days I kept comparing everything to the Xandros advanced desktop I had running. It made me realize how much I liked it. I plan to pull out the restore DVD and see if I can get it to boot from a usb. 

Lesson learned - If it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

5 thoughts :

  1. John. said...


  2. Patrick said...

    I'm browsing this page using Eeeubuntu standard version 2.0 on an eee pc 900A. It works really well and is much nicer than the advanced desktop on xandros. The only problem is that the sound and microphone volumes are not as high as on xandros. Network connection works although I haven't tried wireless yet. I would recommend that you try this version - you can run it off the USB stick without installing it (which is what I am doing now).

  3. Patrick said...

    By the way I used the System->Administration->Install on USB Stick option on Ubuntu 8.10 to install the downloaded ISO image on USB stick.

  4. Anonymous said...

    I can confirm that indeed the Power and Esc combo mentioned above does in deed work

  5. Anonymous said... why didn't you burn the .iso to DVD and install? I don't get the whole watch usb thing. Then you wouldn't have had the BIOS issues. Do you not have an external CD/DVD drive?

    All these issues seem like the normal growing pains many linux users experience.

    I was able to put 2.0 NBR on my eee 1000HE with no problem at all. In fact I installed 4 different OS's until I found one I liked. BackTrack 4 Beta was the only one to give me wireless networking issues...everone else worked straight out of the box (All Debian derivatives)