Ubuntu 8.10 – fully working on an Eee near you

So you’re probably aware that I’ve been doing quite a bit of tinkering with Linux recently, and you’re also probably aware that I installed Eeebuntu 2.0 NBR onto my EeePC. Whilst it’s a good solution, it does need rather a lot of tweaking to get it working correctly (which, by rights, it shouldn’t) and after using it for a few days I’m really not convinced by the NBR interface any more (it’s a bit prescriptive).

What I really wanted was to run the latest 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) release of good old plain vanilla Ubuntu on the Eee rather than “making do” with the cut-and-shut Eeebuntu version. However, it’s a known fact that the Eee hardware simply doesn’t work properly with a standard Ubuntu install – most notably the wi-fi and audio don’t work. I knew there had to be a way to overcome this though, and after some prodigious Googling, I’ve found the answer.

First, get the Ubuntu 8.10 ISO onto a USB stick using Unetbootin (I’ve explained how to do this before, so if you’re confused, see previous posts). Boot up the Eee using this USB and install Ubuntu onto your chosen destination drive – I’m still sticking with the SD card for the time being. Once the install is complete, you won’t have an internet connection so you’re going to need to hook the Eee up with a trusty bit of CAT5 until we get things working.

Reboot into your fresh new Ubuntu install, and then fire up a Terminal window. You’re now going to install a custom Eee-specific kernel (courtesy of the wonderful people at www.array.org) which will get all your hardware working properly.

In Terminal, type the following lines, one at a time – there will be some downloading and reconfiguration in between each one when you hit enter, so be patient:

wget http://www.array.org/ubuntu/array-intrepid.list
sudo mv -v array-intrepid.list /etc/apt/sources.list.d/
wget http://www.array.org/ubuntu/array-apt-key.asc
sudo apt-key add array-apt-key.asc
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install linux-eeepc

Once this is done, you’ll need to reboot the machine back into Ubuntu, but when your bootloader comes up, you’ll now see the option to boot into either standard Ubuntu, or the newly-installed Ubuntu Eee kernel (should show something like “Ubuntu 2.6.27-8-eeepc”). Choose the latter, and once it has loaded you’ll now have fully functioning hardware! Easy when you know how…

*** UPDATE ***

I can’t get a definitive answer, but from what I’ve been reading around the interwebs, Ubuntu 9.04 “Jaunty Jackalope” (due for release on 23rd April) should have full hardware support for netbooks out of the box, so no need for any tweakery at all. Now that *would* be something…

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