New Netbook - Opinions on Linux for a newbie?

Hi all!

I’ve recently bought myself a new Netbook. Packard Bell dot s2. It came with Windows 7 Starter pre-installed, but after using it for a while (and having used Windows all my computing life) I’m wanting to change to Linux.

So my main questions are:

Considering the specs (listed below), would it be possible to install Linux on my Netbook? Obviously I’d want to wipe all trace of Windoze from my system.

As I’ve never used Linux before, what distribution of Linux would be best for me to use? I’m mainly going to be using the Netbook for word processing (I’m a Writer and it’s better to write with than my laptop/PC). And not even internet browsing. I already use so no problem with using that.

Thanks in advance!

OS: Windows 7 Starter 32-bit
Processor: Intel Atom Processor N450
Memory: 1GB
Graphics: Integrated GMA 3150

I can’t seem to find a definitive answer to how well the intel GMA 3150 graphics card is supported in Linux, past some references to the drivers working (with 3D support) on kernels 2.6.33 onwards.

It WILL work on earlier kernels for what you want, but won’t give full 3D support for games etc.

My suggestion would be to try Ubuntu 10.10, or Linux Mint 10, as both of these have the 2.6.35 kernel… or the latest Ubuntu 10.10 UNE (Universal Netbook Edition)… if for no other reason than you’ll find support easier to come by, and (as with most distro’s) OpenOffice is installed by default… there are quicker distro’s but Ubuntu/Mint are always a good choice for Linux beginners.

You can always test drive them first by installing them to a USB memory stick (LiveUSB)… see here:

(I know it says it’s for 10.04 but it works for 10.10 too)

Download the ISO directly from Ubuntu or Mint, and coninue from step 2 on the Pendrivelinux link… then once created, boot directly from the LiveUSB stick by using the Boot Device Selection screen (usually accessed by hitting the F10 key whilst booting)

If you want to be able to save files, drivers, and configuration changes to the LiveUSB stick, make sure you include a persistence file.

Don’t expect it to run as fast from a LiveUSB as it will from the hard drive… it will be quite a bit slower… but you can test drive it and see if it works OK before installing it to the hard drive.

The rest of your hardware should be OK, I can’t seem to discover which wireless card is used but I’m guessing it will be a Broadcom BCM43xx chip… this just requires that you enable the “Partner” repositories, and then install the b43-fwcutter package… if you need instructions, just ask :slight_smile:

Another option for test driving Ubuntu would be to download the WUBI installer (or run it directly from an Ubuntu LiveCD/LiveUSB):
This will install Ubuntu in a folder inside Windows… it can be removed through the Windows “Add/Remove Programs” control panel app… this will allow you to choose whether to boot into Ubuntu or Windows at boot time.

Linux Mint also has a Windows installer included on the LiveCD/LiveUSB called Mint4Win… that does the same thing… just fire it up from within Windows.

Again, once you’re sure it all works, you can then install Ubuntu from a LiveUSB and get rid of Windows completely… if you want.

Or you could try PCLinuxOS 2010.12 as this uses the 2.6.33 kernel… see here:

Wow! Thanks very much. That’s a real help. I’m downloading Ubuntu ISO as we speak and have the USB Converter ready to use. Hopefully before long I’ll be running it on my Netbook.

Thanks so much again for your help! :slight_smile:

You’re welcome… if you need any further help just ask :slight_smile:

And don’t forget… when test driving from the LiveUSB, select “Try Ubuntu” and not “Install Ubuntu”… kinda obvious really :slight_smile:

Thanks again!

But now I seem to have run into a bit of a major problem. I started up Ubuntu on the Netbook just fine. Had a look around and I liked it. So I selected the icon to install Ubuntu fully. During the install it asked me if I wanted to install alongside Windows or erase everything. So I chose to erase everything. Then configured everything during the install process until I got to setting up the Admin user account. I entered everything in and the status changed from “Copying Files” to “Ready When You Are”.

So I had no idea what it meant, I tried having a look around but nothing seemed to have changed or be waiting. The account setup had the “Forward” button greyed out and unclickable. I even tried going back and then forward again but nothing. So I thought it was fine and rebooted the Netbook.

Nothing. Got a black screen and that is it. Tried with and without the USB stick in the drive, still does nothing. On the few occasions it starts booting Ubuntu it comes up with green text full of the word “Error” all over the purple backdrop. Other times it comes up with the Packard Bell logo and then a black screen.

I also tried formatting the USB stick on my laptop (this machine) then reinstalling the Ubuntu ISO, tried to boot using that and got to the Ubuntu loading screen. Then it just stopped there, didn’t access anything and didn’t get past it for a while.

So it looks like I might have a dead Netbook? I’ve got a warranty where they will fix any problem with the machine regardless of what caused it, including me. So it’s not fully hopeless. I was just wondering if there is something I can do to fix this without having to put it in for warranty. I had thought of trying to format the hard disk but can’t seem to get an option to do so, not even a command line option when booting.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. :slight_smile:

You shouldn’t have formatted the USB stick… Run the LiveUSB creator again, but tick the “check this box if you want to format the drive” option.

(sometimes the LiveUSB creation goes wrong… so make sure to recreate it… once created, you can test it if you want by holding shift just after booting from the LiveUSB, and selecting “Check the disk for defects”)

Once recreated… boot from the LiveUSB again.

When you get to the desktop… click the “Install Ubuntu” icon… when you get to the part about partitioning the drives, just tell it to use the whole harddrive, and to format it

When you get to the bit about entering your name and password… read this:

and rest assured, you haven’t killed your netbook :slight_smile:

Also… no matter what is on the hard drive, or how messed up it is, you will be able to boot from a LiveUSB, as long as you select it as the boot device.

Thanks very much. I think I’ve identified another problem. My USB drive has stopped working. So neither machine recognises it being plugged in. My laptop recognises it long enough to tell me it would run faster in a high speed USB port, then it tells me there’s nothing there.

So it looks like I might have to resort to buying a new USB when the shops open. Either that or I could install it from CD using my dad’s External DVD drive when I see him tomorrow.

I’ll keep this updated. Thanks again. :slight_smile:

Problem solved (in chat)… it was a mixture of capital letters used in the username, see here:
(Canonical really NEED to fix/include a warning about this in the 10.10 Ubiquity installer)

And a USB stick with a bad connection.

Tell me about it. My hand was REALLY sore after having to hold it in at a certain angle the whole way through the LiveUSB install and the Ubuntu install. Big grooves in my fingers too!

But everything is all set up now! Can’t thank you enough for the huge amount of help! :slight_smile:

I have a PB dot s and have installed and have been using Ubuntu 12.04 LTS for best part of a year. Currently using LM 14 Cinnamon on the same machine without any problems whatsoever.

Holy necrobump Batman! :o

FYI - Linux Mint 14 is out of support, you should really replace it with Mint 17 if it will run on your hardware (check a LiveUSB)