The Asus Zenbook UX305 is a thin and light laptop that offers a pretty great value. For $699 you get a 2.6 pounds notebook with 8GB of RAM, 256GB of solid state storage, a 13.3 inch full HD matte display, and an Intel Core M Broadwell processor.

You also get Windows 8.1 software… but what if you’d rather run Ubuntu?

Sure, you can do that.

ubuntu ux305

I was able to download a recent daily build of Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet 64-bit, load it on a USB flash drive using UNetbootin, and then boot the Zenbook UX305 from that flash drive.

The operating system loaded quickly and most of the hardware worked without any problems. I was able to connect to my WiFi network, surf the web in Firefox, watch YouTube videos, and install apps using the Ubuntu Software Center, among other things.

I did all of this while running from the Live USB image, but you should also be able to install Ubuntu to internal storage to either dual-boot Windows and Ubuntu or to replace Windows altogether.

Note that while the keyboard shortcuts for volume, mute, and disabling the touchpad were all recognized, pressing the buttons to adjust the screen brightness did nothing. I suspect folks who spend a little more time testing Ubuntu on the Zenbook UX305 than I’ve spent will be able to find a workaround for that issue though.

Another thing to note is that not all GNU/Linux operating systems will necessarily run smoothly. Before running Ubuntu 15.04 I tried 32-bit and 64-bit builds of Linux Mint 17.1, and couldn’t get past the boot screen using either version. In fact, I couldn’t even boot Linux Mint from a USB flash drive — I had to burn the operating system to a disc and use a USB disc drive. But after choosing the “try without installing” option from the GRUB boot menu, I was greeted by a blank screen.

I also accidentally tried using a 32-bit build of Ubuntu before switching to the 64-bit build. That didn’t work either.

The good news is that Ubuntu 15.04 64-bit works whether you disable secure boot or not.

All you need to do is prepare a flash drive, insert it, reboot the computer, and hit the Esc key during boot to bring up the boot options menu.

boot

From here you can go into the UEFI settings if you want to make changes. The system default settings have Secure Boot enabled and Legacy Boot enabled and Ubuntu works with those settings, but you may need to make adjustments to run some other operating systems.

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23 replies on “Ubuntu on the Asus Zenbook UX305 ultrabook”

  1. Nice post, Have you actually installed Ubuntu? What about temperature, when I try Ubuntu in this laptop I think it-s getting too hot, and, given that this does not have cooler, I do not know if it is a good idea.

  2. Webcam doesn’t seem to work under ubuntu 15.04 over UX305. Did anyone had this issue?

  3. UX305F here, Ubuntu 12.04, after upgrading to a more recent kernel 3.19.8-031908 brightness controls work, however Wifi wasn’t. 3.13.0-55 Wifi works but no brightness controls. In order to get Wifi working under the new kernel you’ll need to add the driver from https://wireless.wiki.kernel.org/en/users/Drivers/iwlwifi#Supported_Devices which corresponds to the kernel you’re upgrading to. uname -a. Hope this helps others I spent way too much time looking for such info thought I’d take the time to post findings here. BTW, UX305F has the 7265 Intel Chip.

  4. I disabled Secure Boot in the BIOS and Linux Mint 17.1 (64-bit) installed from a USB thumb drive with no problems.

  5. Simple workaround for getting the backlight special function keys working under Ubuntu on ASUS’s UX30x models (I have a UX301):


    sudo sed -i 's/^(GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash[^"]*)/1 acpi_osi=/' /etc/default/grub
    sudo update-grub

    This appends the string ” acpi_osi=” to the end of the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT variable assignment line in /etc/default/grub. After rebooting into Ubuntu you should find that Fn-F5 and Fn-F6 work.

    1. I appended “acpi_osi=” to the boot command line on my UX305 (running Mint 17.1) but it did not work for me.

  6. I’d like to see some battery life numbers that can be compared to the ones you posted in your review where you ran Windows. Would be nice to see if Linux is catching up to windows or not

    1. Out of box I don’t think Linux would do nearly as well. But I just did simple apt-get to install linux power management tool TLP ( https://www.noobslab.com/2013/0… ) and it works great, If its not as good as Windows it’s close. I see 10:00 hours remaining with Windows at 100% charge, and on Linux I see 9:57. Draw down seems comparable to me on similar settings, though I haven’t bothered to measure it.

      1. It would be interesting to see if the battery difference is effected by any difference in CPU usage and the required cooling fan runtimes.

        1. Does the UX305 have cooling fans? I was under the impression from advertising that it did not.

  7. The brightness buttons don’t work in Windows on this unit — so don’t beat yourself up.

    1. They work fine for me. Are you sure you’re using in combination with the ‘fn’ key (not, e.g., the windows key)?

      1. I mean the brightness keys don’t work by themselves. The way they do on Dells, Acers, HP, Apple, etc. It’s 2015.

  8. Ubutu always had problems with brightness control in notebooks (in my case, from Samsung), and i don’t like Unity interface, Gnome 3 is much better. In any case users can install another desktop.

    1. I have a HP/Compaq Laptop, and Lubuntu manages the brightness controls very well.

    2. I just apt-get xbacklgiht utility and bind to the brightness keys: up: xbacklight inc 10% ; down: xbacklight dec 10%

      1. In my case this method helps control brightness with only to states -min, max and nothing in between.

        1. Strange, it definitely does small increments for me. I can do ‘xbacklight -get’ and it shows 90.0, meaning 90%. I then do ‘xbacklight -dec 10%’man and screen dims slightly, and then ‘xbacklight -get’ returns 80.0.

    3. I have a zenbook from 2012 intel core i3 model. running ubuntu 14.10 runs very well no slow downs. The brightness control is a really easy fix. Just got to google it.

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