Changing to linux on the MSI WIND
February 20, 2009 8:23 AM   Subscribe

I recently bought an MSI Wind u100 160G 3 Cell netbook, and am very happy with the little thing. I used to have a mac, am familiar with windows, but am considering going the LINUX route.

What are the advantages of Linux?

I must mention that I´m not terribly computer savvy.. Is this a change I could do myself? If so, what´s a user friendly distro that can be booted from a USB (no CD drive on the wind).
posted by maca to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
DamnSmallLinux can be booted from USB....
posted by JTKestrel at 8:27 AM on February 20, 2009

Ubuntu can also be booted from USB or SD card. For a server or workstation I prefer RHEL5 but for a cute netbook I like Ubuntu.

You can do this change yourself. Installing Ubuntu is not too much harder than installing Windows; for your netbook you may need to acquire a UVC driver for the webcam to work, but aside from that, easy.

The instructions here: suggest that you need to create your own USB ISO to install on the MSI Wind; I don't know about that but I'd expect someone else has already made an ISO, so for you it would be as simple as downloading the ISO to the USB stick and rebooting.

There are a lot of advantages to Linux, so listing them here is prohibitive :) You'll have faster boot times, a more configurable OS, and a command line prompt around whenever you need it. Solving simple tasks will get a lot simpler.
posted by doteatop at 8:44 AM on February 20, 2009

Ubuntu is currently the most popular desktop linux disto, and has a large netbook following. A wiki is going to be able to run down the advantages better than here, so you can read this or get my condensed conclusions as a new 2-year ubuntu user: software repositories are the greatest thing ever and are only available with linux.

As for installation, here's a guide. It'll go like:
1. You download and burn a Live CD.
2. You boot a desktop computer from the Live CD
3. You use the Live CD to make a bootable USB drive
4. You boot the Netbook from the USB
5. You install Ubuntu from the USB
6. You boot the Netbook from the internal storage and you're done.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:52 AM on February 20, 2009

as with all things linux, be prepared to fiddle: the wireless card isn't supported out of the box in ubuntu, which means you have to compile it (and recompile it everytime the kernel gets upgraded)... also on my u100, the mic doesn't seem to work automagically, i'm sure i could make it work but i haven't bothered...
posted by geos at 9:10 AM on February 20, 2009

You can put any ISO onto an SD card, and boot from that, using unetbootin (versions exist for Windows an linux).

Look into the linux distributions for the eee, particularly EeeBuntu or Cruncheee. These are adaptedt a smaller screen, and may take care of issues with wifi, etc.

I'm using the former (on my Eee 901), as it's Hardy, which gives me KDE 3.5.10 instead of the more resource hogging KDE 4.2. Not an issue if you prefer Gnome or Cruncheee's OpenBox.
posted by orthogonality at 9:18 AM on February 20, 2009

The things that would strike me as biggest advantages to Linux on a netbook (I write this as someone who preferentially uses Linux on every machine):

(relative) ease of setting up whole-disk encryption, which I'd want on a highly portable machine that could be stolen fairly easy

(relative) ease of paring down what's running on the machine to get better responsiveness out of limited hardware. I expect you'd very much notice the difference running a lightweight window manager on Linux as opposed to Windows XP (not so much if you're running Gnome or KDE.)
posted by Zed at 9:57 AM on February 20, 2009

It used to be an old joke that linux made easy things hard, hard things easy, and the impossible possible.

These days, my mom uses ubuntu on her EEEpc netbook and loves it. I also have an vnc and ssh server running in the background so I can login and do updates and all that jazz. Basically, nowadays with Ubuntu linux even the hard stuff is easy and the impossible stuff is just hard.
posted by Freen at 10:11 AM on February 20, 2009

I have made my MSI Wind into a triple boot machine, with XP, Ubuntu, and Windows 7.

The easiest way to install a different OS, is from a USB-stick. I've found the program UNetBootIn extremely helpful in creating a bootable USB-stick with a Linux-distro on it.

You may need to change the boot order in the BIOS, before the MSI Wind will boot from USB-stick before it does from harddisk.

When you run Ubuntu, or any other Linux-distro, from USB first, it will offer you a so called live version. This means nothing is installed on your harddisk yet, but you can play around with most things, to see and feel what they look like.

My MSI Wind ran Ubuntu more or less out of the box. The one problem I had was that my WiFi-card wasn't recognized immediately. MSI Wind can be shipped with any of three brands of Wifi cards, mine was a Ralink, and it took a lot of Googling and fiddling to make it work.

The single thing that may be frightening and confusing when you install a Linux distro on a computer with another OS on it already, is that you may to create a separate partition for it on your harddisk [and another one for the memory swap]. Ubuntu's installer isn't the most friendly program for doing this, to say the least.

I am naming Ubuntu in particular, because it is user friendly -- Linux with training wheels as some nerds call it -- and HP has made an excellently usable desktop theme for it to use on its own netbooks; which is much better than any standard Windows desktop theme.

The main reason I am using Ubuntu on my netbook is that I consider it much safer to use, on the road, than any Windows version. Apart from that, I am no big friend of any OS really. They all have their pros and cons. As long as they allow me to surf the web, and write my words, and mail, and watch my videos, it is alright by me.
posted by ijsbrand at 10:22 AM on February 20, 2009

If it has a SSD drive instead of a typical hard drive, be aware of how you install the swap. If you do it incorrectly, it could write too much on the SSD and burn it out after only a short time.
posted by brenton at 10:25 AM on February 20, 2009

I assume you're aware that people have successfully put OSX on the Wind. It wouldn't be hard for you to google up a howto if you are interested in going that route.

I've been a redhat user for many many years as a development/deployment platform but only recently started working with linux as a desktop solution. In my case I'm using Easy Peasey on a Asus 900 but I believe it's well supported on the Wind as well.
posted by phearlez at 12:52 PM on February 20, 2009

I'll nth Ubuntu, but also remind you to either make sure you know how to reinstall Windows, or make a dual-boot system, because Windows is MUCH harder to get working from a USB stick than Linux is. So plan your safety net before you leap.

(I use OSX, Windows and Ubuntu every day. I like OSX best, but they're all fine enough.)
posted by rokusan at 2:54 PM on February 20, 2009

What are the advantages of Linux?

Security from windows nasties.
User-supplied support which doesn't go away when MS decides they need everyone to upgrade.
General network-centric outlook.
Loads of free software.
The hugely powerful Unix command line.
posted by pompomtom at 3:24 PM on February 20, 2009

« Older What was that painting I saw at the Met?   |   Goo Goo Ka Google Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.