UNR on HP Mini 110

I’ve been thinking about trying out Ubuntu Netbook Remix, the version of Ubuntu Linux made especially for netbooks like my HP MIni 110, for a while now. I was attracted to the idea of being able to run a real Linux distro on the netbook, as opposed to the tightly-controlled version that came on the Mini. HP’s version of Ubuntu–Mie–isn’t bad, so much as completely un-customizable: you can’t remove the screen-hogging front panels from the desktop, for instance, which left me staring a large blank space where Email was supposed to appear (I used Gmail, so a desktop-bound email program is useless to me).

So this week I finally bit the bullet, wiped the harddrive, and installed the latest version of UNR.

Thus far, things have gone well. I had some problems with wifi at first, but running the software updater and rebooting fixed that problem. I’ve been able to download and install Wine, which lets me use the Windows version of eReader for reading my ebooks. I’ve re-arranged the icons in the menus, ripped out some software I didn’t need, and in general had a good time customizing the hell out of the OS.

I feel like I’ve been given a new computer, one that’s more fun to use and easier to bend to my will. In the end, that’s always been the appeal of Linux to me: it puts power back in the hands of users, where it belongs.

eReader for Android!

They just released a version of the eReader software (formerly Palm eReader, then just eReader, now the Barnes and Noble eReader) for the Android platform.

It’s a little bit buggy: you need to wait for an entire book’s table of contents to load before reading/scrolling, else the book will get stuck partway through. Other than that, it works great on my G1. Nice to see a commercial ereader on a Linux platform. (Yes, the books still have DRM, but the format’s got some longevity behind it, and is supported on enough devices that I’m not worried about getting locked into one platform).

Sound Fix for MacBook with Ubuntu 8.04

After upgrading to 8.04, I found a strange bug: my sound worked normally from the internal speakers, but when I plugged in a set of headphones, no sound came out.

I scratched my head for a while trying to work this out till I found the workaround recommended here.

Basically all you need to do is right-click on the Volume Control applet, select Open Volume Control, then Edit -> Preferences. Check the box for “Surround,” then close the Preferences window and unmute the track marked “Surround.” That should do it.

How To Install Ubuntu on a Mac Pro

I got my hands on a Mac Pro at work over the holiday, and the first thing I did was install Ubuntu Linux on it. Everything went smoothly using the new 7.10 version of Ubuntu, so I wanted to post how I did it:

[Note: I’m assuming below that you’re running OS 10.5 and have already run Software Update to make sure your Mac software is current]

1. Download the Ubuntu 7.10 64-bit install disk from here.

2. Burn the Ubuntu ISO to a CD.

3. Download and install rEFIt. (Do this in OS X). I had to use their manual install. Don’t worry, it’s not hard; you just have to copy a folder from one location to another, then enter two lines into a Terminal window.

4. Run BootCamp (It’s in your Applications -> Utilities directory). Use it to partition your Mac Pro’s hard drive to make room for Linux. You can set the partition sizes to whatever you want; I left 100 GB for my Mac OS and 140 GB for Ubuntu. When the partitioning is done, quit BootCamp. Don’t let it to do anything else.

5. Insert the Ubuntu CD you made into your Superdrive and reboot. rEFIt should pop up and let you choose to boot from the CD. Do that.

6. Choose the first option from the Ubuntu CD menu. When Ubuntu boots, play around with it for a while to make sure it sees your hardware properly. I have an ATI X1900 video card that Ubuntu found and worked with perfectly; I can’t vouch for Nvidia cards, so make sure you can set your screen resolution okay.

7. When you’re satisfied that Ubuntu can “see” your hardware okay, double-click the “Install Ubuntu” icon on the desktop.

8. Okay, now comes the one scary part. Follow the install wizard’s instructions until you get to the partitioner. Choose Manual. When you see a list of partitions, find the one you made using BootCamp (you can tell from its size) and delete it. Now create a new partition of type ext3 using the rest of your available hard drive space. Set the mount point to “/”. You’ll get some warning about not having a swap partition. Ignore it, you’ll be fine.

9. Click through the rest of the installer and let it chug away.

10. When it tells you to remove the CD and reboot, do what it says. rEFIt should come up again and see your Linux install. Select it, watch Ubuntu boot, and enjoy your new Linux system!

That seems like a lot of work, but really it’s mostly just clicking a few default options and watching the installers run.

If you run into problems, or just want more information, check out this blog on running Linux on the Mac Pro, or the thorough Gentoo Linux Wiki page, or this helpful post on the Apple Forums.

How To Connect to iDisk in Ubuntu

For those Mac users who have switched to, or are trying out, Ubuntu Linux, here’s how to connect to your iDisk:

Step One:  Go to Places -> Connect to Server (from the top panelbar)

Step Two: Set the Service Type to “WebDav”.

Step Three: Enter “idisk.mac.com” as the Server.

Step Four:  Enter your .Mac username in both the “Folder” and “Username” boxes.

Step Five: Hit “Connect”.  A folder should appear on your desktop called “idisk.mac.com”.  Double-click the folder, and enter your .Mac account password when prompted.

That’s it!  You can access your entire iDisk from that folder on your desktop.  When you’re done, just right-click on the folder and choose “Unmount Volume” to Disconnect.