[sf-lug] Ubuntu User wannabe!

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Jan 6 16:37:37 PST 2011

Quoting Molly Bee (mountainoceansky at hotmail.com):

> HP Mini 110-3100

Intel Atom N475 CPU, SATA hard drive, Intel GMA 3150 video using
'shared' (stolen from main supply) memory.  Northbridge chip:  Intel
NM10.  Southbridge chip:  Intel ICH8M.  1GB DDR2 RAM (and there's one
user-accessible slot if you want to add more).  Unstated wireless,
bluetooth, and webcam chipsets.  Wireless chip is probably something
from Broadcom, if I had to guess -- but it could be Intel or Atheros,
who knows?  SD/MMC/MS card reader is based on Realtek rts5159 chip.  No
optical drive by default.  (HP will sell you an external USB-connected
DVD-RW drive, but there's no reason why it would need to be an HP.)

HP ships it with MS-Windows 7 (with 'reduced-functionality versions of
Word and Excel that include advertising'), with four primary partitions
defined, taking up the entire drive:  

Label           Type    Size
-----           ----    ----
'C:'            NTFS  217   GB
'HP_TOOLS'      FAT32   0.1 GB
'RECOVERY (D:)' NTFS   16   GB
'SYSTEM'        NTFS    0.2 GB

This layout poses some significant obstacles for dual booting, because
it's highly likely you won't want to lose what's in the in the HP_TOOLS,
RECOVERY (D), or SYSTEM partitions, and standard partition tables max
out at four primary partitions.

The standard way to make room for native Linux partitions on such a
system, _normally_, would be to delete one of the primary partitions
and recreate it as an 'Extended' type, which is a sort-of container
capable of being further subdivided into additional partitions, which
further slicing-ups are then dubbed 'logical'-type partitions.  But 
obviously you want to ensure that you don't lose what's on any partition 
you repurpose.  (You could use, for example, the gparted non-destructive
repartitioning tool provided with Ubuntu.)

This page explains how to create a set of discs, or create stuff on a
16 GB USB flash drive, from the files on the RECOVERY (D:) partition.
(The page also details how to purchase a preburned recovery disc from HP
at nominal cost.)  You presumably would then be free to repurpose the
RECOVERY (D:) partition on the hard disk without losing anything.

What's on the HP_TOOLS and SYSTEM partitions?  Dunno; you should
probably figure that out.   But it shouldn't be very hard, anyway, to 
make safety copies of whatever's on them, so that (again) you are freed
up to repartition as you prefer.

But there are two alternative ways to avoid partitioning entirely.  One 
is the one you referred to:  Run Ubuntu (or Kubuntu, or whatever) as a 
'live' system from a USB stick or from a CD or DVD disc.  That's
actually a typical tire-kicking measure to find out if you like a
Linux-based system at all, though you'll need to be aware of the
performance overhead from running Linux off slow media with big

The other method is a 'Wubi' installation, where Linux treats a file
the installer creates inside one of the MS-Windows NTFS partition as if
it _were_ a partition.  This definitely works, but is kinda ugly at a
technical level.  ('Wubi' is the name of the special installer program
that does this, I think.)  

Of the two, Wubi is better, I'd say (a good bit closer to native Linux).

So, basically, you should contemplate whether you want to go with a Wubi
install, or whether you want to do a real, genuine native Linux
installation (for dual-boot).  Going for a proper native solution would
necessitate repartitioning -- and, because of the corner HP has painted
you into with the four primary partitions, not just the 'Oh, just used
gparted to make C: a bit smaller' repartitioning most Linux user groups
(LUGs) are used to walking you through, either.

You might want to do a Wubi installation for now, and then at a later
date re-do your setup as fully native if you like Ubuntu.

_Or_, if you really don't care about MS-Windows 7 and all the preloaded
junk at all, then you can just blow away _all_ of the four partitions
while installing Ubuntu, which makes things really simple and is of the
'Just do it and be happy' variety of solution.  As you said, it's a
pretty dirt-simple process, even if using a USB flash drive as your
installation medium.  Here's a link that covers it.  (There are
many others.)

The LUG that meets this Saturday at my house in Menlo Park, CABAL, can
walk you through the process, and we already have the latest Ubuntu
Netbook Remix release, 10.10 Maverick Meercat, burned to a CDR in our
Linux distribution library.  Details are here:


Here's a page that details how to do a Wubi install of Ubuntu Netbook
Remix without even an optical disc drive, and without even needing to
have a flash drive.  However, if you don't have an optical drive, this
method _does_ require you to put the 'ISO' (raw image file) of Ubuntu
Network Remix on your MS-Windows hard drive in the same folder as

CABAL can help you around all of those things (including lending you my
USB-attachable CD/DVD/BluRay burner drive, during your visit).

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