Like every good Microsoft-agreement-bound PC manufacturers, HP preinstalled the Windows XP Home SP2 with my new laptop. What to do then? Well, simple enough, I decided to go with dual-booting. I still need Windows because some of the software that I wrote runs on Windows and I am still working on them.
I went online and actually found couple of reviews about installing linux on this particular laptop. I eagerly read all of them but I got mixed signals, one guy can't resize the Windows XP partition successfully using Partition Magic, the other had the hard drive repartitioned from the factory. So I am back to square one. Then after searching some more, I came across this site, which assured me that NTFS resizing is completely doable from linux, which is good because I have no desire to fork out money for Partition Magic. The site also suggested this cute linux distro.
After downloading the .iso and burning it onto a cute 180MB mini-disc (yes, I'm a sucker for cuteness), I inhaled deeply and stick it into my new laptop to boot from. No go! it hangs when attempting to detect some pci stuff. Then, tapping into The Force (also known as "Google" lately), I gather that I need to put "noapic" as one of the kernel parameter when booting. While I was there, I also disable the network detection (using a nice curses-based menu interface, I might add) because all I'm interested in is repartitioning the hard drive. Voila! a minute later, I'm in.
Then, firing off QTParted (by typing run_qtparted in the prompt), I proceeded to resize the Windows XP partition. Simple, eh? well hold on, QTParted said that it can't resize the partition because of some "accounting error." After scratching my head and mumbling inside "what on God's green earth does accounting has to do with a disk partition??," I searched the net and found out that the error basically tells me that I need to run chkdsk from Windows. True enough, after rebooting into Windows, chkdsk /f detected and recovered some lost sectors. And then I was able to reboot, rerun QTParted and resize the partition without a hitch.
NOTE: Wait a minute, doesn't this mean a linux program just correctly detected inconsistencies on a Microsoft proprietary file system? Amazing isn't it!
- "noapic" is typically required as boot parameter when installing Linux on laptops
- QTParted is able to safely resize NTFS partitions (no partition move, though)
- Sys Rescue CD (very small) rocks!!
Having created a living space for Ubuntu, I went ahead and pop in the Ubuntu disc -- which unlike Knoppix, will fit in a 650MB disc -- and then rebooted. Greeted with the Ubuntu boot screen, I eagerly watch the boot process scrolls by until it hits a snag... duh! didn't I learn anything, I forgot to put the "noapic" parameter! By the way, I connected the laptop to my local network, thinking that there is *no way* Ubuntu will be able to detect let alone automatically install drivers for the internal wireless adapter (more detail on this in the "Hardware" section below).
Another thing that I notice about Ubuntu installation, I did not experience file copy errors that I usually see when installing Knoppix. Before you guys say "it's your cd-burner, dude!," may I point out that I use the same one to burn the Ubuntu disc.
Since you guys can read the numerous Ubuntu installation experiences, (you can't throw a stone without hitting one of them Ubuntu reviews these days) I won't belabor on the installation process itself. Suffice to say that it's pretty uneventful (I like it that way), Ubuntu detects automatically the network cards (both the wired and the wireless), the sound card, touchpad (even the turn-on/off button works), the only abnormality is the laptop's unusual resolution (1280x768), Ubuntu does support 1280x800 (ouch!). Thanks to the info in this review, I was able to tweak the XF86Config-4 and Hello... native resolution!