ubuntu

One A110 mini-laptop with pre-installed Linux for 199.- plus Debian installation HOWTO

One Mini A110 subnotebook

OK, so I've spent my last money on the One Mini A110 subnotebook recently. Yep, yet another ASUS Eee PC clone, but this one has the great benefit of costing only 199.- Euros and has similar specs as the Eee PC 2G Surf (700), I think.

This is really a great little machine as far as I can tell. It's a VIA C7-M ULV 1GHz with 512MB DDR2 RAM and a 2 GB Solid-State-Disk (SSD), 7" screen at supposedly 800x480, VGA out, card reader slot for SD/MMC/MS, 2x USB, wireless, modem, audio. No webcam, no bluetooth.

Yesterday I created a wiki at a110wiki.de (for the A110, but also the A120 from the same vendor, which has a 4 GB SSD), where A110 users can collect information, HOWTOs, photos, etc. There's already quite some content there, especially some early tutorials and photos on the inner workings of the A110.

Today I've installed a stock Debian unstable distro on the SSD with 2.6.25 kernel, and I'm currently checking which parts of the hardware work out of the box, and which need further fixing. There's a a bunch of source code tarballs and patches on the vendor website, but most of it seems to be meant for 2.6.22, we'll see if and/or how much work it'll take to merge all this upstream (if it's not already done)...

My Debian Installation HOWTO is also available from the wiki, of course; I'll add more info and photos during the day.

Now for all interested parties: The vendor of the A110 has (again) announced a special weekend offer (valid until Sunday, June 1, 2008, i.e. tomorrow) where they'll sell the A110 for 199,- Euros again, the regular price will be 229,- Euros after that. So if you're thinking about buying one, now is probably the right time.

Check the wiki for issues which are important to you, some quirks remain at this point (but will probably mostly be figured out sooner or later), e.g. the wifi seems to have issues (the vendor said they'll send a driver update to all affected customers), the RAM is builtin and can't be upgraded, and some other, more or less important issues, depending on what you expect from the laptop.

For real-time communication there's also the #a110 IRC channel on Freenode.

OS Install Experiences - Part 4: Ubuntu

Note: This article is part of my OS Install Experiences series.

Next OS — the recently released Debian-derived distribution Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake).

Install

  1. First, I downloaded a Ubuntu 6.06 CD image, burned it on a CD, and booted from that.
  2. The first installer screen allows you to choose between a normal install, "safe graphics mode", "check CD for defects", "memory test", and "boot from first hard disk". If you hit enter and wait a few minutes, you're dropped right into a fully working GNOME session (think Live-CD). No user-iteraction is required at all...
  3. If you like you can use the system for normal tasks already (web browsing, whatever). If you want to install Ubuntu, you click the "Install" icon on the desktop...
  4. After choosing the language, timezone (by clicking on your country on a nice graphical world map!), and keyboard layout, the installation begins.
  5. You must enter your user password (no root password, in Ubuntu you have to use sudo for everything which requires root permissions), user account name, and (ugh!) you must enter a full name (same annoying behaviour as with PC-BSD).
  6. The partitioning tool is graphical and quite easy to use. It takes ages to scan the disk(s) and partitions though (yes, I have quite a lot of them, but still)...
  7. That's mostly it, the installation of the packages starts now, and after it's finished, a window pops up asking you whether you want to reboot or continue using the Live CD for a little longer.
  8. What's noticeable is that I was not asked where or how I want to install a bootloader, Ubuntu simply scans the disks, tries to detect the OSes and writes itself into the MBR. Which sucks quite a bit, especially for more complicated setups like I'm using here. For example, it didn't detect the PC-BSD installation, so I can no longer boot that for now (need to fix GRUB manually).
  9. That's it, after a reboot you're dropped into GNOME and the installation is done. Pretty impressive how easy such Linux installations have gotten recently...

Security

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