As I reported earlier today, Lee over at the MiniNote User forums has posted a custom version of Ubuntu 8.04 that includes out of the box support for the HP Mini-Note’s WiFI and video hardware. The MinBuntu download link is pretty slow, but after a few hours of waiting (im)patiently, I managed to get a disc image.

But since I don’t have a USB CD-ROM drive, burning it to a disc wasn’t really an option. I was hoping to mount the ISO under Windows XP on my Mini-Note using Virtual CloneDrive and install MinBuntu using Wubi. But while the full version of Ubuntu 8.04 includes Wubi, it looks like it’s missing from this image.

Luckily, there’s one thing that this image does that the standard Ubuntu install disc doesn’t: It installs perfectly using the PendriveLinux method. Basically, all you have to is download the Ub8convert.exe utility from PendriveLinux using a Windows system and follow a few easy steps. When it comes time to copy your ISO, just copy the MinBuntu ISO file into the Ubuntu8 folder and keep following the directions.

When you go to boot your MinBuntu liveUSB the first time, everything should work right out of the box, including the WiFi. But more importantly, you’ll get past the bot screen. A few weeks ago I tried making a liveUSB using a full Ubuntu image, and instead of bringing up a full Linux desktop, I got a screen full of nothing. What you’re supposed to do to prevent this is force Ubuntu to use xvesa, but the PendriveLinux splash screen looks different from the typical Ubuntu 8.04 splash screen, making it harder to choose this option. You can install Ubuntu from within Windows using Wubi. But then you’ll have to configure your wireless and video drivers manually, which is a bit tricky for Linux newbies.

So as of today, I’m going to say that the easiest way to shoehorn Ubuntu 8.04 onto the HP Mini-Note without a CD-ROM drive is to download MinBuntu and follow the PendriveLinux instructions for creating a LiveUSB. If you’re not running Windows, PendriveLinux also has instructions for creating a persistent USB installation (meaning the disk will save your changes), from a liveCD or from Linux.

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