So you want to install Eeebuntu 2, the new custom version of Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex designed for Asus Eee PC mini-laptops that was released a few days ago. You’ve downloaded the disk image from the Eeebuntu homepage or BitTorrent. But now what? Eee PCs don’t have optical disc drives, so even if you burn the disk image to a DVD, how do you use it to load the operating system onto your netbook?
Well, if you happen to have a USB DVD-RW drive all you need to do is burn the image to disk, plug the DVD drive into your netbook, and hit Esc during bootup in order to choose the DVD as your boot device. A LiveDVD version of Eeebuntu will load, allowing you to explore the operating system. If you want to install it, just click the Administration tab and choose install. One of my favorite Windows utilities for burning the Eeebuntu ISO you downloaded to a DVD is CDBurnerXP.
But here’s how to do it if you don’t have a USB DVD drive:
- Download the Eeebuntu disk image.
- Download UNetbootin for Linux or Windows.
- Insert a 1GB or larger USB flash drive into your computer.
- Launch UNetbootin and you’ll get a window that looks like this:
- Select the location of the disk image and the location of your USB flash drive.
- Click OK and UNetbootin will copy all of the installation files to your USB flash drive and make it bootable.
If you’ve been following all of these steps on your Eee PC you’ll need to reboot your Eee PC in the next step. If you’ve been using a different computer, unplug your USB flash disk and insert it into your Eee PC.
- With the USB flash disk inserted into your Eee PC, hit the power button.
- Hit Esc when the Asus splash screen shows up.
- Choose your USB flash drive from the boot menu.
After a few moments a fully functional Eeebuntu desktop will load. You can explore the operating system, launch applications, surf the web, or do pretty much anything you’d like now. But you will not be able to save your settings unless you install the operating system to your hard disk or SSD. You can do this by navigating to the Administration menu and hitting the install button. You’ll find several options here, including the option to wipe whatever operating system is already installed on your Eee PC and replace it with Eeebuntu, or the option to install Eeebuntu in whatever free space exists on your system. you can find more information about the installation process at Ubuntu’s official help page.
After playing with Eeebuntu 2 for a bit, there are a bunch of things I like. You can easily choose between versions preconfigured with the Ubuntu Netbook Remix interface or a typical GNOME desktop. There’s also a stripped down version that comes with few applications prloaded that’s ideal for netbooks with little storage space.
The developers have also added a custom start menu button that makes it easy to access Ubuntu’s menu system without dedicating space to separate applications, system, and places menus. And there’s a handy Eeebuntu EeeConfigure application that gives you easy access to hardware settings like your netbook’s fan speed controls, hotkeys and WiFi, Bluetooth toggles.
I installed the NBR edition which comes with the Ubuntu Netbook Remix program launcher. But for some reason it doesn’t include the Maximus utility that automatically opens applications in fullscreen and eliminates the top toolbar to save space. Ubuntu Eee 8.04.1 includes Maximus and while I wasn’t thrilled with the utility the first time I installed that operating system, it grows on you as you realize how valuable every millimeter of space is on a laptop with a 10.2 inch or smaller display. Still, it shouldn’t be that hard to add Maximus and any other applications you like the to the startup options for EeeBuntu.