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Just the other day it was the ninth of September. If you write that with a two digit year, it becomes 09/09/09 in whatever date format (YYMMDD/DDMMYY/MMDDYY) you care to pick.


Xubuntu on the Azumi, sort-of

It is an interesting idea, to make a bootable media device and use this to start the eeePC instead of Windows XP. I wanted to "have a play" with Ubuntu.

Actually, I chose the xubuntu version. This could be thought of a "ubuntu-lite", in that it is geared to older, slower systems. That's not to say I don't think Azumi is capable of running the real deal, it's more an issue of playing with the essentials rather than the bloat.

The target media? A 4Gb SD card.

How to make it bootable? How to get Linux on it in the first place? Well, actually there's a nifty little program that will sort out all of this:

I set it up to download and install xubuntu, then left it running overnight.


Booting into the alternative system proved to be tricky. It appears that the hotkey to select the boot device (hold ESC as the machine starts) only seems to work when starting 'from cold'. If just rebooting, the ESC-press does not seem to be registered. And once that darned XP loader comes up, no manner of Ctrl-Alt-Del is going to work. You can either hammer on the power switch (and have Windows throw a hissy fit next time it starts) or you can wait for Windows to start so you can shut it down again...

Finally we got to starting xubuntu. It was a bit slower than booting XP, most likely because we're using an SD (serialish data) via USB (serialish data) instead of an SSD harddisc. In any case, when it was running it was pretty nippy.
The WiFi did not work until it was registered - this meant digging up the Orange booklet and entering a ridiculously long key (like 1AF7 637B 1F5D 226A 97AD 154C 66!). Luckily I could do it all from sitting in bed, the Livebox didn't need to re-auth, perhaps because the MAC address was the same?
The desktop - easy to make look XPish (theme "Redmond XP"). Firefox, piece of cake. Horrible icky nasty filesystem, but this is Ubuntu's fault only in that it is based upon Un*x. In fact my dislike of the filesystem is the main reason I've not been very involved with Linux, Minix, or any of the myriad of clones.

But, then, problem. I installed the eeepc kernel (don't think I'm a pro - I just followed instructions on a web page! ☺) and restarted. Erm... Into Windows. Hehe. After restarting back to xubuntu - NOTHING HAD CHANGED!
This was when it became clear to me that what was placed on the SD card was, essentially, the "live install" of xubuntu, which is designed to be burned to a CD and run directly off that - hence it is intrinsically read-only.

If I might make a suggestion to the Ubuntu guys - could you make a tiny write attempt? If it fails, it really IS a CD-ROM. If it works, it is likely an SD card.

Now you might be thinking "hang on, you expect to write to an ISO image?"
Not so. The unetbootin software extracts the files and places them into a FAT32 volume. I only expect to write to a FAT32 device, which can't be that hard given the system is running from it!

This functionality would then make it possible for a user to have a 'personal' version of Ubuntu with all their settings and preferences held on a device that is absolutely tiny. Forget PortableApps - this would be PortableOS!


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