Dual booting an Asus eeepc 1011px with Windows 7 and Ubuntu Oneric Ocelot

Published on November 21, 2011

£200 pounds lighter from PC World (I just like to be able to walk back into the shop if something goes wrong) and I walked out with an Asus EeePC 1011px. It wasn't quite the exceptional deal I was after, some confusing posters made me think that I was buying the 320GB six cell battry version as opposed to a 250GB three cell one. After an initial stand off they didn't have the other in stock and didn't feel like waiting so I paid the money and took the 250GB version.

The attraction to EeePC is because I wanted a small, affordable netbook to run Linux. ASUS introduced the original EEEPC Linux netbook back in 2007 typically running on a 4GB SSD. Pretty avant guard, despite the small amount of space and today the 1011px is still officially supported by Ubuntu.

Fast forward to 2011 and one of the first practical things to notice is that Asus no longer include a recovery. Instead the recovery is handled by a hidden, 16GB partitioned drive. This is easily backed up to a 16GB USB stick however that will mean providing the media yourself.

The remaining partitions out of the box in my case are as follows:

Although very basic and limited to 1GB RAM usage (even if you install 2GB) I had paid for a Windows OS licence and didn't feel like binning it, especially as the machine is also under warrenty. 250GB is plenty for two OS systems on a netbook, it's not database or media server and the main aim is for connectivity, portability, and interoperability. Given the data data drive was not expected to be used for anything installing Linux on it would let me keep the factory layout including the reovery partition, and would give me the bonus of having both operating systems.

After some online research the following plan seemed appropriate:

  1. Make an offline recovery disk
  2. Back up the originl partitions
  3. Flattern the data partition
  4. Install Linux onto the empty partition

Make an offline recovery disk

Requires a 16GB usb key.

Tap F9 slowly unti recovery mode starts (screen shot). Select 'Backup' and follow instructions to backup the recovery partition to the usb stick.

Back up the original partitions

Probably didn't need to do this but I wanted another backup rather than relying solely on the USB recovery key created previously.

Requires a usb key (~200MB).

Install Clonezilla onto the usb key following the site instructions. I installed Clonezilla Live onto a USB key using the Tuxboot method.

Restart the netbook and boot to the USB key.

The look and feel of Clonezilla is pretty rudimentary but the instructions are pretty clear.

Flattern the data partition

Requires a usb key (~700MB).

Install GParted Live onto the usb key following the site instructions. As with Clonezilla Live I used the Tuxboot method.

Restart the netbook and boot using the key.

GParted has a decent GUI that is pretty self explanatory. There are instructions on how to use it on their website. I simply removed the data partition, not forgetting to save the changes... Boot Windows again to check that the drive is no longer mounted or discoverabe.

NOTE: I ended up putting both Clonezilla and GParted onto the same USB key. To use one or the other I simply created two folders named Clonezilla and GParted in the root of the drive containing each appliction. Which ever I want to use I simply move from the named folder into the root of the drive. Crude but seems to work fine and saves having to have two separate usb keys for each application.

To get them on there in the first place I started with an empty usb key and installed Clonezilla. Then I copied those files onto another drive, cleared out the usb, and installed GParted. From here it was simply a case of copying Clonezilla back onto the same usb.

Install Linux

I went for Uuntu 11.10 Oneric Ocelot but take your own pick.

Requires 4GB usb key.

During the install selected the option to install alongside the current operating system.

The install automatically took place on the unused data drive formatted using GParted.

One the next reboot the GRUB loader (screenshot) appeared with the choice to use either Linux or Windows.

Pleasingly the option to boot from the orginal Windows recovery partition is also present, though I haven't needed to test whether this works. Eitherway it should be enough to argue a case if there turns out to be a problem with the disk. Failing that reverting to the USB recovery key or backed up images using Clonezilla provide additional alterntives.

NOTE: On hindsight this seems like a pretty archaic way to dual boot Linux. See this link for alternative ways to think about. Wubi looks pretty good...


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An entry posted on November 21, 2011.

Category: Open Source

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