Having played with the Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) OS on a USB stick, I was keen to get it installed on my Lenovo IdeaPad to give myself a break from WindowsXP. However, I was very keen to keep Windows as I’ve paid for it, and as we know the big drawback with the Lenovo IdeaPad is that they don’t ship a Windows system restore disc – so not trashing my Windows partition would be desirable.
So here’s how I did it:
I downloaded WUBI – this lets you install Ubuntu from within Windows. It doesn’t repartition your drive, keeps Windows safe and makes it easy to remove Ubuntu. This now gives you the Netbook Remix as an option. I installed version 9.10
Having installed that, I rebooted, gulped a bit as it said it was making partitions – but it didn’t harm WindowsXP at all. You just get an option to boot into Windows or Ubuntu when you switch on. WindowsXP works just fine as before.
Then I found that in Ubuntu the wireless networking didn’t work, which was pretty much a deal-breaker. Manually updating to the commercial Broadcom driver didn’t work after a reboot – the old drivers reloaded and it wouldn’t let me blacklist them as suggested on the Broadcom instructions. I got round this by connecting to the internet via old fashioned ethernet and going to the Synaptic Package Manager under ‘System’ and installing the Broadcom driver listed under ‘restricted’. This seems to have done the trick and my wifi is now working.
So far so good… audio playback seems to work ok. Trackpad ok, and scrolling works ok. The SD card reader works a treat; it even recognised my Macintosh (HFS+) formatted iPod Nano 4th Gen when I plugged it in – it was mounted read-only, but I could play music off it and frankly I wasn’t expecting anything at all. Not tested its power modes yet to see if sleep works – I think that might be a no-no in WUBU. Firefox seems to be wasting some precious screen real estate where the Favourites were – I had to turn the bookmarks toolbar off. This is odd, as the UNR is supposed to be tuned for small screens and the default web browser doesn’t seem to be that well set up in this regard. Looks like there’s no Flash support in Firefox by default either, but that’s a simple fix with installing a plugin within Firefox; pity it didn’t have Flash support out of the box, though. I found it was a good idea to get the ‘panel’ at the top of the screen to auto-hide, to save some more precious screen space. The panel is the thing like the OS X menu bar or the toolbar at the bottom of the screen in Windows.
One other odd thing in WUBI is where to find the partition you installed it on. I put it on the C: drive as this was the largest partition, but it doesn’t show up as a drive in the file manager. Annoying as all my photos and Windows software are on the C: drive. Well, it is there but you have to hunt for it – it’s under File System > host.
I’m going to play with UNR on the Lenovo IdeaPad for a few days and see if I miss Windows at all. I was suprisingly happy with Windows – after all I was mainly using free software which is cross-platform. But I was nervous about Windows viruses and Windows seems to have a very heavy overhead in terms of virus-scanning and the like, which slows it down awfully.
Update: got Spotify working – yay! I think that deserves a ‘yay’. Used the Ubuntu software installer to get WINE installed, then had to follow the specific WINE audio settings given on the Spotify web site: http://www.spotify.com/en/help/faq/wine/
Update to the Update: adverts don’t work on Spotify running under WINE. This might sound like a good thing, but if you have a free Spotify account, as soon as it tries to play an advert it grinds to a halt. Bother. Restarting it doesn’t fool it either, Little Boots remains in limbo, waiting for the Lexus advert that never comes. Back to WindowsXP for Spotify then :-(