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Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty on Asus UL20A

December 11th, 2009 subogero

I’ve just purchased an ASUS UL20A-2X022V notebook. Or netbook. I don’t know. It’s actually the best of both worlds. On one hand, it has a small 12″ display, weighs in at 1.5 kg, has no CD/DVD drive, and runs 5 to 7 hours on battery. On the other hand, its small display’s resolution is 1366×768, it has a Core 2 Duo ULV SU7300 processor, 3 GB RAM, a 320 GB hard disk and a fully functional keyboard with all the special keys on the right side.

A short summary of how the different hardware components work with ubuntu:

Component                    Status  Notes
Intel Core2 Duo ULV SU7300   OK
12.1" WXGA LED display       OK      resolution autodetected
Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics   OK
3 GB RAM DDR2 800 MHz        OK
HD 320 GB 5400rpm SATA       OK      install with manual partitioning
battery Li-ion 5600 mAh      OK
power management             OK      battery life 5-6 hours
ethernet Atheros 8131        OK      see below
WLAN Atheros 9285 802.11bgn  OK      see below
Bluetooth                    OK
Sound AC'97 16bit            OK      Audacious mp3, speaker or headphone
Synaptics touchpad           OK      scrolling OK too, see below
webcam                       OK      see below
card reader                  OK
Linux kernel                 2.6.28-17

It came with Windows 7 Home Premium, which is a joke. A huge monster of an OS with the functionality of Google Chrome OS: it has a web browser.

First thing was to install ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope. As the laptop has no CD drive I had to create a bootable Ubuntu 9.04 LiveUSB on my other ubuntu-box. The tool to use is usb-creator, which uses the iso image of the ubuntu LiveCD.

I installed ubuntu with manual partitioning. I shrank the Win7 partition from 80GB to 50GB (automounted to /windows), added a 2GB ext3 swap partition, a 50GB ext3 root partition and the rest as a /home partition. The boot menu was added, and even Win7 ran fine after a chkdisk.

The network cards were not detected upon installation. Neither LAN, nor WLAN. So there I was with no connectivity, reading with a sad irony all those posts about fixing this with apt-get xxx-backports and the likes.

I ended up downloading compat-wireless-2.6.30.tar.bz2 on another box to a USB stick, and then unpacking and compiling it on the laptop. I realised too late these kernel modules were for a newer kernel. Nevertheless I did “make install”, I did “make unload” and I did “insmod ath9k.ko”. It did not work due to incompatible kernel versions. I sadly rebooted to Windows, but later gave it another try. Miraculously, all network cards worked like a breeze! Don’t ask me why…

Touchpad: everything works, but it’s hard to feel where is the scrolling area. And the left button is too hard.

Keyboard (Hungarian): OK, but it will be swapped for a US layout, whose Hungarian is worse, but speaks better Code.

Webcam: I installed the UCview package to record videos with it. Skype works too.

I downloaded all the updates, then SynapticPackageManaged Rhytmbox/Evolution out, Audacious/Thunderbird in, I installed basic development stuff, and last but not least git-cloned and compiled the newest Midnight-Commander master with utf8-support.

One more thing: it is very very quiet. Summary? Bloody marvelleous!

Linux On Laptops

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  1. Thomas Hennings
    December 16th, 2009 at 00:59 | #1

    Thank you for the helpful post!
    Could you do me two favours. First, i would like to know if suspend to ram works. Also i am interested in the battery name. I mean the long one.


  2. December 16th, 2009 at 10:47 | #2

    Suspend to RAM works. I tested it this way: Suspend while connected to the home WLAN. Power button blinking in blue. Check. Switch on. Login screen same as when unlocking the screen. Check. Login. WLAN reconnected. Open Thunderbird, it connects to the server. Check.

    Note: we were advised with the office HP laptops, not to carry them while suspended. Reason: the HDD is not parked, and the accelerometer which would park it automatically upon movement, does not work while suspended. HDD damage possible. But I don’t know about ASUS.


    Label 1:
    ASUS Li-Ion Battery Pack A32-UL20A, 5600 mAh, 63Wh

    Label 2:
    SN: 9AN0AS656246448
    CN: 3804

    Label 3:
    0B20-00PF0AS Production Date 2009 10

    Label 4:
    UL2 LA91 07GO 16 DB1875M-00A20-942-00E6

    Note: on Labels 3/4 I could not differentiate zeros from O-s.

  3. Thomas Hennings
    December 16th, 2009 at 10:57 | #3


    I wish you a lot of fun with that great device.


  4. nasko
    August 12th, 2010 at 19:03 | #4

    Hi subogero

    I have UL20a with Windows 7 HP, iv got recovery partition 14.5GB and everything is by default factory settings. I want to install Linux but I want to keep my Windows 7 recovery function with F9 key. You said that u have splitted windows’ partition to ext3 and swap. If i do the same and install linux boot loader into windows parition or MBR. If something goes wrong with Windows, Linux or the boot manager and I want to restore my windows, install linux again and etc. Do u think F9 key will works.
    Is this restore functionality located in C: drive or its in a lower level like BIOS?
    For example If I format Windows partition do u think it will be working or not (the F9 restore function)?
    Is it possible from Windows 7’s Boot manager to boot linux partition?

  5. August 12th, 2010 at 21:58 | #5

    as I remember, the W7 recovery stuff is a separate partition. So formatting C:\ should leave it intact.
    I did not split the W7 partition, I just shrank it. On the other hand, I’ve got no clue whatsoever about W7’s F9 hot key. Guess how many times I’ve started W7 since the Ubuntu installation. Exactly. At the moment I’m rather regretting having left W7 and its recovery stuff eating up 65GB of my disk space.
    Windows boot managers are not able to boot Linux. GRUB, on the other hand, is able to boot Windows. How nice…

  6. August 24th, 2010 at 07:23 | #6

    Hi nasko I’ve had the same concern on my dual boot T130 as W7 crashed. But F8 (for Toshiba Windows recovery) worked fine. Actually there is a recovery partition as well. U can create a recovery cd/dvd best way to bkp the system. However reinstalling Windows isn’t a little bit of job and there is quite a failure rate when using images… but what you need Ws for? :-) @nasko

  7. August 24th, 2010 at 22:20 | #7

    Exactly. What do you need Windows7 for? When I first installed Jaunty I left it, but I regretted it later. It’s completely useless. So now I completely removed it along with its recovery partition, when I made this fresh Lucid install.

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