AB9IL.net: Eee PC 1215N with Ubuntu Netbook Edition

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A Netbook That Achieves Its Full Potential

Netbook computers are convenient, lightweight, and power efficient devices enabling one to access the internet and be productive while on the go. While Microsoft Windows is the operating system installed on most netbooks, Linux offers signifigant performance and security advantages over Windows. Presented here is a tutorial on converting the operating system of an Asus EeePC 1215N netbook from Windows to Ubuntu Linux. Though Ubuntu NetBook Edition was installed, a number of other linux distributions (Debian, Slackware, Knoppix, etc.) are just as easy to install. The newly converted netbook computer is fast, with cutting edge software, and highly resistant to the malware infesting the world of Windows.

The Asus EeePC 1215N netbook was an attractive conversion candidate because it has plenty of computing power for its size along with excellent graphics capabilities. These are important for high definition multimedia, gaming, or flash heavy web applications. It is equipped with the Pine Trail 1.8GHz dual-core Atom D525 CPU and NVIDIA Ion 2 GPU. The hard drive is large: 320 GB, enough for plenty of virtual machines, multimedia, or anything else that can be digitized and stored. There are 2 GB of RAM on the stock machine, though users with BIOS update 0605 or later may upgrade to 4 GB.

Ubuntu Netbook Edition

Ubuntu Netbook Edition is a Linux distribution derived from Debian, with a new interface named "Unity." It is an intuitive and fast way to access your favorite applications while enjoying a clean desktop without the clutter of dozens of icons. A basic installation contains the most popular software for netbook users; other applications are available in the vast Ubuntu / Debian repositories.

Ubuntu NetBook Edition runs quite well on the EeePC 1215N. It boots much faster than Windows, and its operation is free of annoyances such as user access control, memory hogging services, and vulnerability to viruses and malware. Expect about 16 seconds to elapse from pressing the power button until the system is fully up and running.

Installing Ubuntu Netbook Edition on the EeePC 1215N

There are a number of stages in the installation process. It is necessary to download the Universal USB-Installer and latest Ubuntu Netbook Edition iso file. Then create a live Linux USB device which will be used to reformat the hard drive and replace the operating system on the EeePC 1215N. You can use the original Windows installation to download the iso file and Universal USB-Installer utility.

Then Review the latest Installation Information and then obtain the following software and hardware in preparation for installing Ubuntu Netbook Edition:

1) A 1GB or larger USB flash drive.
2) Download the Ubuntu Netbook Remix ISO image file.
3) Download the Universal USB-Installer.

Creating the Ubuntu Netbook Remix live USB flash drive is accomplished by following these simple steps:

4) Launch the Universal USB-Installer and follow the onscreen instructions.  It will format the USB flash drive, make it bootable, and installs 
    Linux from a live CD or DVD image.
5) Once the Universal USB-Installer has finished, restart your PC and set your BIOS or Boot Menu to boot from the USB device, and save 
    your changes.

After installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix, it is time to test it out:

6) Reboot the computer with the USB flash memory plugged in, and observe the system operating with Ubuntu Netbook Remix.
7) Test it out!  Surf the web, play a game, or send an email or two.  How do you like Ubuntu Netbook Remix?
8) To install to your computer\'s hard drive, click on the "Install" icon on the desktop.
9) If you don't like Ubuntu Netbook Remix, simply shut down the computer and disconnect the flash drive - the next start will boot your regular system.

First Impressions After Installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix on the Asus EeePC 1215N

Most things work perfectly right away including wireless with broadcom driver. Operation is fast and stable.

Operation is not perfect, however, and a few important points should be kept in mind once the initial installation is finished. The Nvida video driver DOES NOT WORK! It enables the Nvidia chipset, and causes a blank screen when Gnome starts. To get the Nvidia chip working you would need to figure out how to install/use vga_switcheroo. As of this time, the Optimus technology is not fully supported in the operating system. Developers will fix the bugs and get it running properly. Until then, stick with the default Intel video system. To get console switching to work (ctrl+alt+Fn) you need to disable KMS as described here. Install the linux-alsa-driver-modules package in order to properly configure the audio jacks.

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