I bought an Acer Aspire One ZG5 netbook a few weeks ago. This model has the 120GB hard disk, 1GB RAM and runs Linpus Lite Linux, a Fedora-based Linux distro. Reading around various forums, it seemed a number of people were having problems installing software on their Aspire One running Linpus so I thought I’d install a Ubuntu distro as I already have an old desktop PC happily running Ubuntu 8.10. I had seen a blog post by Knightwise some weeks ago on his favourable experiences installing Easy Peasy Linux on his Acer Aspire One so I thought I’d have a go with this too. Easy Peasy is the new name for the UbuntuEEE distribution. It’s a Ubuntu Network Remix (UNR) of the standard Ubuntu release to enable it to work better on devices with small screens such as netbooks. It installs Firefox with Flash and Java, Skype, Google Picasa, Songbird etc. out of the box and Knightwise had no problems with the installation on his netbook and seemed quite pleased with it.
I’m going to go through the steps I took to install Easy Peasy, aimed at the new Linux user, like myself. I believe quite a few inexperienced users will be ‘sold’ this netbook/Linpus combination because of its price (somewhat cheaper that the Windows XP version) and the straightforward user interface and then may well run into problems when they try to install software. So here goes. It might look a bit daunting but it’s quite straightforward when you work through it.
Before you start, you will need two USB sticks or thumb drives and access to a desktop PC with a DVD optical drive because the Acer Aspire One doesn’t come with an optical drive. The USB sticks must be configured to use the FAT32 file system. If necessary, to change the file system of the USB drive, you just need to right-click on the drive icon in the My Computer screen and select Format, then choose FAT32 for the file system. Of course, reformatting your drive means nuking any data on it, so save whatever you need first. You’ll need a 2GB USB drive for the Linpus recovery drive and another 2GB drive for the Easy Peasy install. Once you are happy with the new Easy Peasy install, you can overwrite the USB stick with the Linpus install. You can always recreate it again from the DVD if required.
So first, we have to create the Linpus recovery USB stick should we run into problems with the new Easy Peasy install. You may have already done this when you bought your Aspire One, if so skip to the next section.
Creating the Linpus recovery USB drive
Your Acer Aspire One should have come with a Recovery DVD. Put this in your PC’s DVD drive and plug in the first USB stick. Reboot the PC. Your PC should boot from the DVD (if it doesn’t, you’ll have to change the boot order in the BIOS so that the PC boots from the DVD first). To enter the BIOS, you’ll need to press the Delete or F1 key (depending on your PC) while the PC is booting.
Once the PC has booted off the Linpus recovery DVD, choose the option Create USB recovery drive. Follow the on-screen prompts to select the USB drive. Takes about 3 minutes to create the Linpus recovery USB drive. Then remove the DVD and press Exit. Leave the USB drive plugged in. The PC then reboots back into Windows.
Check the boot order on your Aspire One
To check the boot order so you can boot your netbook off this USB stick, plug the Linpus recovery USB drive into one of the USB ports on your Aspire One. As the netbook is booting, press the F2 key for the BIOS setup. You’ll see the prompt on screen as the netbook boots. Go to the Boot menu, select your USB drive and use the F5 key to move it up to position 1. Press F12 to save this set-up and exit.
The netbook will now boot off the USB drive and you can reinstall Linpus Linux onto the netbook hard drive from here should anything go wrong. If your USB drive is unplugged, your system will boot off the hard drive.
Creating the Easy Peasy USB drive
Now we’re ready to create our Easy Peasy install on the second USB drive but first we have to download the Easy Peasy iso file. Boot your Aspire One with no USB drive attached, open your browser and go to the Easy Peasy website. Download the iso file to your Downloads folder. It’s about 860MB so may take a couple of hours to download depending on the speed of your internet connection.
To install a bootable copy of this iso file on your USB stick you will need a bootloader program. I’ve used UNetbootin and you can download it here. Make sure to download the Linux version. Again, download to your Downloads folder. You’ll need to make UNetbootin executable. In the File Manager, highlight the file and go to Properties, Permissions tab and check the box against Allow file to be run as a program.
Now, when I double clicked UNetbootin, I got the message: UNetbootin must be run as root. Use:
But when I tried this command in the Terminal, I was advised I needed to install the programs mtools and p7zip.
To add these programs, I first enabled right click desktop menus by clicking on the desktop, selecting the Behavior tab and under menus, checked Show desktop menus on right click. Then right clicking on the desktop, I chose System and then Add/remove programs. This runs pirut which needs your admin password. I searched for the software I needed to install: mtools and installed it, then p7zip and installed it. I found I also had to install p7zip plugins before UNetbootin would run.
So back to the terminal window and type:
Click Disk Image, keep ISO in the drop down box and browse to the Easy Peasy iso file in the Downloads folder. Select your USB drive from the drop down box then click OK. Easy Peasy Linux will now be installed on your USB drive. Once installed, close all windows and restart the netbook with the Easy Peasy USB drive in place.
The netbook will boot off the USB drive and you can now install Easy Peasy Linux. On the partitioning screen I chose Guided – Use entire disk as I didn’t want to retain the old Linpus install on a partition.
I’ve been running Easy Peasy for a couple of days now with no problems. Connected to my wireless network without problems and straightaway I could share files with my Windows PC over the wireless network. YouTube videos play without problems and Skype is loaded ready to go.
And that’s about it. Hope this guide is clear enough to get you through the install. If you found problems following it, let me know and I’ll update it. Although I’ve used an Acer Aspire One, the procedure should work to install this Ubuntu distro on any netbook. If you found it useful, please Digg, Stumble, tweet or bookmark on Delicious using the links below.
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