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The Official Ubuntu Book, 5th Edition: Mobile and Netbook Editions

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Installing Ubuntu on a netbook is different from installing it on a typical laptop or a desktop. This chapter outlines how to create a bootable USB flash drive to help us get the Ubuntu Netbook Edition installed.
This chapter is from the book
  • Installing on a Netbook
  • Using the Launcher
  • Window Listing
  • Maximized Windows
  • Switching Back to the Regular Ubuntu Desktop
  • Applications to Make Your Netbook Better
  • Other Changes from the Desktop Edition
  • Summary

Netbooks are small computers, designed for portability and long battery life, that have recently become quite popular. As this has happened, it is logical that many people want to run Ubuntu on them. There are already netbooks on the market that ship with Ubuntu preinstalled, like the Dell Mini 9 and the HP Mini 1000. Most come with other variants of Linux or with Windows. Due to their small screen, netbooks require a custom interface, like the netbook launcher that Canonical has been working on for over two years. Along with some custom software, installing Ubuntu on a netbook is different from installing it on a typical laptop or a desktop. For one thing, most netbooks don't come with internal CD or DVD readers. We outline how to create a bootable USB flash drive to help us get the Ubuntu Netbook Edition (formerly Ubuntu Netbook Remix) installed.

Installing on a Netbook

As with any other flavor of Ubuntu, you need to download the specific image for the Ubuntu Netbook Edition. However, because many netbooks lack a CD drive, you will need to take the downloaded .iso image and copy it to a USB key. Thankfully, there is a special tool in Ubuntu for that. We outline how to begin the process using another computer that is running Ubuntu, but the task can also be done from a computer running a recent version of Windows, Mac OS X, or other modern operating systems.

The Netbook Edition is now officially supported, so it can be downloaded from the same location as the other editions of Ubuntu at http://releases.ubuntu.com. After you have downloaded the ISO, you need to copy it to a USB flash drive. The Create Startup Disk utility in System > Administration is designed to copy an Ubuntu ISO to a USB key (Figure 9-1).

Figure 9-1

Figure 9-1 Create Startup Disk main window

At the top of the screen is the box showing the source CD or ISO. Click the Other button and select the Netbook .iso file. After it has been added, make certain you select the .iso file you have just added.

The bottom box shows the list of USB keys currently connected to your computer. To prevent accidental data loss, make certain you disconnect any other USB drives from your computer.

Finally, at the bottom is a slider for persistent storage on the USB key. Unless you need the space on the USB key for something else, simply choose the maximum amount by sliding the slider all the way to the right.

After you create the USB key, you need to restart your computer and instruct it to boot from the USB flash drive. This requires either (1) changing a setting in your BIOS to change the boot order to prefer booting from USB before all other methods or (2) holding down a key at startup to choose the device to boot from. Consult your computer's manual to learn how to do this.

Much like a live CD, netbook will work in the same manner as a typical laptop or desktop computer. However, because USB flash drives may be written to as well as read, you can install new packages and download files, and they won't be lost when rebooting.

Once you are ready to install Ubuntu on your netbook, either choose the Install Ubuntu menu option that appears when first booting or launch the installer, called Ubiquity, by pressing Alt+F2, typing ubiquity, and pressing enter. When the installation is complete, you can reboot (removing the USB flash drive while the computer is powered off), and you should find your netbook now runs the Ubuntu Netbook Edition. Congratulations!

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