I was looking for a laptop which I can use everyday in class, and occasionally during my short outstation trips. Essential software I use on most days are LibreOffice, R, Python, TexWorks, and of course Mail and Chrome/Firefox, and needed these to run fine on the laptop. Also, I wanted the the laptop to be no bigger than A-4 size paper, be light, i.e., about 3 lbs or less, and not expensive (this ruled out all ultrabooks).
After spending couple of days browsing the Net, I came across ASUS X200MA: Intel Celeron @ 2.16 GHz, 2 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD, 64 bit, 11.6″ screen, 1 USB3, 2USB2 ports, VGA port, Ethernet port, HDMI and at a weight of just 1.2 Kgs. You can see the details specs here. Seemed promising, and very tempting. I ordered myself one of these with a vibrant blue shell at an all inclusive cost of Rs.17190.
The new laptop arrived in 4 days, and had only FreeDOS in it. Perfect. I decided to install Ubuntu 14.04. Let me summarise the experience.
- I created a bootable USB disk as per instructions in the Ubuntu site (used my wife’s Windows laptop for that!)
- I plugged the BootUSB in the ASUS laptop, turned it on. Since latest BIOS driver was already installed I didn’t have to do anything, and the USB drive was detected automatically.
- I got a DOS like command interface listing the options:
Try Ubuntu without installing Install Ubuntu OEM install (for manufacturers) Check disk for defects
I tried 1st and 2nd options, but it just went to blank screen and nothing happens. I tried pressing ‘e’ in Install Ubuntu, which took me to set params of ‘Install Ubuntu’
set gfxpayload=keep linux /casper/vmlinuz.efi file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper only-ubiquity quiet splash -- initrd /casper/initrd.lz
I googled the problem and the most common suggest was to replace quite splash with nomodesest nolapic. I tried it. Did not work. Tried various permutations such as only nomodeset, only nolapic, with “quite splash”, without “quite splash”. Still did not work. Very frustrating. After spending 2-3 hours, came across this blog which suggested to change the gfxpayload settings. The final setting that worked for me is:
set gfxpayload=1024x768 linux /casper/vmlinuz.efi file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper only-ubiquity nomodeset nolapic initrd /casper/initrd.lz
After about 10-20 seconds, lines of text started to scroll, and installation was in progress. Woohoo!
- Next, I got the Ubuntu 14.04 installation menu screens as outlined here. I connected the Ethernet cable to the router to get the all the green ticks on the “Preparing to install Ubuntu” screen. Tip: Keep your ethernet cable handy.
- The installation went smoothly. Updated the software, installed synaptic etc.
- However, the wifi was not working, or least I didn’t not get the menu options to access it. It seemed like the hardware driver were all installed.. After 20-30 mins of searching, I learned to do:
$ sudo apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r` dkms build-essential bcmwl-kernel-source
After this, the wireless connections were listed in the Network icon on the dropdown menu at the top right tray. I selected my router, and it worked.
Anyway, after 2 days I have got my new ASUS working, and it seems quite good (as of now).