Archive: August 2008

Ubuntu on my Eee 1000

Last week I got an Asus Eee 1000H, and this weekend I installed Ubuntu on it (this is the "Windows" version and came with XP installed--NewEgg had a $100 instant rebate on the 1000H). Thanks to some fantastic software and how-tos from the community, it was mostly straightforward.

The following is not a how-to. I'm documenting my experiences so that knowlegeable users can compare, and so that I have a reference for future linuxy exploits.

  • I got a 4 GB flash drive and turned it into an Ubuntu Live USB. Right on the Eee, I downloaded the Ubuntu ISO via bittorrent (linked on the get Ubuntu Eee page) and UNetbootin, and used UNetbootin to put the ISO stuff on the flash drive. I also downloaded the Ubuntu Eeee kernel from these installing the Ubuntu-eee kernel manually which should fix Eees with Ubuntu but no internet access.
  • How to put a live Ubuntu image on a USB stick
  • I saw instructions to hit escape during startup to switch the boot device, but it wasn't working for me, so hitting f2 (over and over) let me enter the BIOS and switch the boot device.
  • Originally I couldn't seem to boot to the flash drive... to make it work I dumped the contents of the file from this Pen Drive Linux boot test on my freshly formatted flash drive, running the makeboot.bat file (from the flash drive only!) and then putting the Ubuntu ISO on again with UNetbootin (and choosing to overwrite the exisiting syslinux). So that worked, but may not have been necessary, because I also twiddled some BIOS settings--I'm a total PC noob, and I wasn't exactly sure what needed to be changed.
  • In the BIOS I also disabled "quick boot" and "quiet boot" for the time being. I re-enabled "quick boot" but I haven't paid attention to any difference it might make.
  • I installed Ubuntu over the whole Windows partition.
  • Once I rebooted into my new Ubuntu installation, my flash drive refused to automount--it kept saying "Invalid mount option". It turned out that the fstab (a file that describes how the OS should deal with mounting devices) was messed up. Apparently a bunch of Ubuntu users were having similar issues after installing 8.04.1. My fstab had my USB devices trying to mount as a CDROM (I suspect because Ubuntu assumed that my install device was a CDROM rather than a flash drive).

    First of all I read this page on understanding and editing fstab. fstab is a plain text file located at /etc/fstab. You can only edit it with root permissions, because messing it up can prevent your system from booting.

    Basically, I had a line that looked like this:

    <code>/dev/sdb1       /media/cdrom0   udf,iso9660 user,noauto,exec,utf8 0       0</code>

    that needed to look like this:

    <code>/dev/sdb1       /media/usb      auto    auto,user,exec,rw,utf8  0       0</code>

    I examined the fstab with:

    <code>tail /etc/fstab</code>

    I confirmed the device path (in this case, "/dev/sdb1") by plugging in my USB drive, opening a terminal, and typing:

    <code>sudo fdisk -l</code>

    This will prompt for a password, then spit out a block of info about each available drive; the block describing my 4 GB flash drive looked like this (note the "device" and "system", which in this case are "/dev/sdb1" and "W95 FAT32" respectively):

    1. <code>Disk /dev/sdb: 4009 MB, 4009754624 bytes
    2. 255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 487 cylinders
    3. Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
    4. Disk identifier: 0x00000000
    6.    Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
    7. /dev/sdb1   *           1         488     3915733+   b  W95 FAT32
    8. Partition 1 has different physical/logical endings:
    9.      phys=(1023, 254, 63) logical=(487, 124, 63)</code>

    I created the mount point (/media/usb), made a backup, then edited my fstab with vi (for gui, use gedit):

    1. sudo mkdir /media/usb
    2. sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.bak
    3. sudo vi /etc/fstab</code>

    This made my flash drives automount as expected.

  • Once I could automount my flash drive, I followed the instructions I mentioned earlier on installing the Ubuntu-eee kernel manually and using the ubuntu-eee repository. This got internet access (and swishy UI effects) working.
  • I updated installed programs via the clicky red arrow and didn't bother to find out the consistent way to access this.
  • I installed Apache, MySQL, and PHP according to these instructions for LAMP on Ubuntu. Basically:

    <code>sudo tasksel install lamp-server</code>

    Patience is a virtue. I think that after installing AMP via tasksel, you can stop and start Apache and MySQL via the Services panel (in the menus at System > Administration > Services).

fish list

Consumer Guide to Mercury in Fish. Also notes whether the species are "in trouble".

subnotebook purchase

Since I won't be able to get the MSI Wind before I go out of the country at the end of the month, I need to get something else to travel with (am not taking my main laptop out of the country with current border policies). I almost got the HP Mini-Note, but then I settled on the larger/faster Asus eee 1000. Pros: ships now. Cons: having to settle.

the future of shopping malls: take 'em away

Daydreams for redeveloping closed shopping malls: The Future of Shopping Malls: An Image Essay. This made me think of visiting that huge posh empty mall in downtown Vancouver.

I think the fallacy here is that the mall construction is fundamentally shitty. First, malls are built with a short lifespan in mind--I'd guess 20 years or so. Second, they're built without considering environmental factors; for example, they have flat roofs and the plan for dealing with snow is to heat the building enough to melt it off; they don't take advantage of solar energy for heat and light, or of trees for shade. If the power is out, you can't heat, cool, or light a mall. Runoff has nowhere to go. Third, many of them aren't accessible without a car: they're surrounded by acres of baking asphalt and have their own exit off the freeway. Unfortunately, malls are a sunk cost, the results of a series of horrible decisions that we need to move past rather than investing ourselves in revitalizing. Rip it up, recycle the parts, and put something green and growing there.

link via boingboing.

topo maps

free topographical maps - kmz layer for google earth, also pdfs of USGS topo maps. Also mentions "Teslin paper", which is extra-durable and waterproof paper, perfect for printing maps and probably plenty of other things, too. thx kb.


Sheldon Brown on freewheels, how to replace a freewheel (youtube). Turns out I have a freewheel, so I don't have to replace the whole wheel.

"business mohawk"

this story stuck in my head--I read it years ago but it came up in discussion last night so here it is: The Business Mohawk by Ben Brown.