Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Installing Ubuntu EEE with Compiz on the EEE PC

Editor's note: Today we have a guest blogger on One Click Linux. Michael Szorady is a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University with a degree in Computer Science. His computer expertise covers multiple platforms and computing languages. A Linux fan and advocate, his article discusses the installation of an Ubuntu distribution to his own Asus 701 netbook. We hope you find the information a helpful guide for customizing your own Asus netbook. 

There's a lot of computing power packed into the EEE PC 701 4G. Over the last year the 4G has been replaced by bigger and better models, but many still regard it as a pioneer in netbooks. I had used the default Xandros installation (with full desktop mode enabled) for quite a while, but recently I was tempted to try my luck at getting EEE Ubuntu installed. After some tweaking, I can say that I am greatly impressed by the functionality it provides on the EEE.  Keep in mind that this is a different distribution from Eeebuntu, and since I haven't tried the latter I can't really compare the two.

Anyway, through the process of switching OS's I found myself collecting information on the web from various sources, and the purpose of this post is to bring all of that together to provide a more concrete guide. My 701 4G is the stock specifications down to the 512 mb of ram. Regardless, this guide should be applicable to most EEE models. Below is a short video I made to demonstrate how Ubuntu EEE functions on my 701 (The first part of the video is the game "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis" running in ScummVM, one of my favorites):

 (If the video does not display, click here to see it on

OK, so you want your EEE to function the same? Here's how I did it:

  1. Visit this link. From here you can download the .iso file for EEE Ubuntu. You will need a flash drive with at least 1GB of space. There is a small utility that will properly extract the iso image to your flash drive for installation on the EEE PC on that page as well. Once extracted, go ahead and stick the flash drive in your EEE. Installation is a breeze, and is done by booting from the flash drive. I used the installation option that uses the whole disk and doesn't simply resize your EEE's partition. Once the installation is finished, remove the drive and boot into Ubuntu. You will first see the Netbook Remix desktop, which is nice, but isn't what we want for the purpose of utilizing compiz.

  2. You will need to switch from the Netbook Remix desktop to the full blown Ubuntu 8.04.1 desktop. This wiki entry describes how this process is done. Once you uncheck Maximus and UME Desktop Launcher, go ahead and reboot (I'm assuming you can just restart X via the Ctrl+Alt+Backspace method).

  3. Now that Netbook Remix is out of the way, you'll notice that the toolbar is on the top. If you want to move it, go ahead and do so. You can right click on the toolbar and add applets (such as the actual menu bar) and also remove unwanted ones. If they aren't positioned correctly you can right click them and select move. Play with it until you are happy on how it looks.

  4. Here is a little glitch I found off the bat. When I inserted my flash drive, Ubuntu told me that I needed to have superuser priviledges to mount it. If you are experiencing the same, I found the answer on this thread. All you have to do is open up a terminal and edit /etc/fstab. Find the line that reads "/dev/sdb1 /media/cdrom0 udf,iso9660 user,noauto,exec,utf8 0 0" (most likely the last line) and remove it. Problem solved for me. Special thanks to B3n3v3nt3.

  5. Ok, let's install compiz. To do this correctly, follow the instructions here starting under the Installation section. After running the second apt-get command and installing all the packages (I ignored the Tweaks part, couldn't find anything that resembled it), I configured compiz the exact way it is described in the guide with the exceptions of some effects (for instance, I'm not a huge fan of wobbly windows so I left that off).

  6. After the test run and you are confident it is working correctly, set it to autorun at startup. This is done differently than the guide explains with my version of EEE Ubuntu. For my distro, you will find startup applications under System-->Preferences-->Sessions. Go ahead and put the command "compiz --replace" in there and it should boot every time.

The rest is all personal customization through the Compiz Config Settings Manager, and programs I added through add/remove applications.

If at any point you want to disable compiz, you can do so by going to
System-->Preferences-->Appearance and selecting the "Visual Effects" tab. Set this to "None" and Compiz will go away. The only reason I have found for disabling Compiz thus far is when playing Youtube videos in full screen. For some reason, full screen mode quickly jumps back out to the browser. In the meantime, I'll be looking for a solution to this. Also, my EEE's webcam wasn't functioning after I installed EEE Ubuntu. This is an easy fix, just make sure it is enabled in the bios as it disables during EEE Ubuntu's installation. The webcam works great, even with Compiz enabled! I hope this helps anyone who wants to get EEE Ubuntu installed on their netbook. I'll try to answer any questions you have, and if you have any other comments or solutions to problems please post a comment. Good luck!

1 comment:

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