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Installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix on the OLPC XO

Installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix on the OLPC XO

Ubuntu Netbook Remix on the OLPC XO

Ubuntu Netbook Remix is a slick new user interface for Ubuntu on sub-notebooks like the Asus eeePC and the OLPC XO. Installing Netbook Remix on the XO is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re looking to get some extra geek points then strap in: it’s going to be a long ride.

This guide assumes that you are intimately familiar with your chosen flavor of Linux and at least somewhat familiar with Ubuntu or Debian.

Stuff you’re going to need:

  • An OLPC XO and developer key.
  • A host machine running some flavor of Linux.
  • An empty USB stick or SD card with at least 2GB capacity.
  • A whole lot of patience.
  • A whole lot of time on your hands.

Overview

The installation can be broken into the following stages:

  • Install QEMU on host machine.
  • Install Ubuntu 8.04 “Hardy Heron” on QEMU disk image.
  • Install QEMU disk image to removable media.
  • Configure Ubuntu installation to boot on the XO
  • Configure the XO to use Netbook Remix.

Stage 1: Install QEMU on the host machine

QEMU is a platform emulator that allows you to emulate a variety of different kinds of computers. We’re going to emulate an ordinary PC and install Ubuntu onto our fake PC, copy the installation to a disk, and boot the OLPC into the copied installation. This works because Ubuntu packages are all built for generic x86 machines.
I used an AMD64 architecture machine running Gentoo Linux for my host environment. If you’re running something else you’ll need to find specific instructions for your distro.

Installation on Gentoo is best accomplished by reading and following the QEMU article in the Gentoo Wiki.
Running QEMU is a lot easier with a GUI launcher like qemu-launcher that lets you configure all the QEMU command-line switches through a convenient interface. Unfortunately, qemu-launcher isn’t in portage so you’ll need to install it in your overlay. If you don’t already have one, go read the Gentoo Wiki article on installing 3rd party ebuilds.

Download the qemu-launcher ebuild from Gentoo Bug 151228, and save it as qemu-launcher-1.7.4.ebuild.

Create the directories app-emulation/qemu-launcher in your overlay and install the qemu-launcher ebuild into it. Add app-emulation/qemu-launcher ~amd64 or ~x86 to your /etc/portage/package.keywords and emerge it.

Ubuntu users have an easier time; nearly all the “Ubuntu on OLPC XO” articles describe how to install qemu on Ubuntu hosts in excruciating detail.

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Comments

  1. drasnor
    drasnor I forgot to include the xorg.conf file from my XO. Here it is. Also, there's been an update to ume-launcher since I wrote the article and it's definitely getting faster. The RAM usage isn't so bad but my processor is showing near-constant 100% load.

    -drasnor :fold:
  2. fffftr
    fffftr Yeah this doesn't really address anything new. There have been instructions on how to install ubuntu on XO since at least January: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Ubuntu_On_OLPC_XO

    Or does your process magically fix the sd-card corruption on suspend and resume?

    Didn't think so.
  3. drasnor
    drasnor This article is different because it covers installing GNOME with the Netbook Remix packages. The early stages of the procedure come directly from the article "Ubuntu on the OLPC XO" on wiki.laptop.org, as mentioned several times in the article and evidenced by linking it twice, once embedded and once at the end. I feel that that constitutes giving Francisco Athens and all the people over at Free like GNU the credit they are due. You don't need to remind me that I'm standing on the shoulders of giants.

    All of the existing articles address installing Xfce as the desktop environment with Gutsy. None of them explain the difficulties I encountered with a Hardy installation, specifically the error screen I get during installation. I'm sorry you feel that the article has no merit but I could've saved two days of my own experimentation if I had had it initially. My article is intended to document my experiences with Netbook Remix on the XO and provide a starting point for further experimentation with that UI. In that regard I believe it has merit.

    -drasnor :fold:
  4. primesuspect
    primesuspect People like "ffffft" who go through the effort of registration just to post crappy comments amaze me.
  5. Thrax
    Thrax Loser ethugs are a dime a dozen.
  6. Shorty
    Shorty While I had it installed onto an EEE rather the XO, notebook remix is very slick. Thanks for that Drasnor, you did a good job on my EEE and the article is good reading :)
  7. fffftr
    fffftr XFCE can be installed on the stock XO OS with yum. It's in the repository.

    As for the error screen, you never would have seen it if you hadn't done things the hard way. This is what debbootstrap is for.
  8. tinkertim
    tinkertim
    fffftr wrote: »
    XFCE can be installed on the stock XO OS with yum. It's in the repository.

    As for the error screen, you never would have seen it if you hadn't done things the hard way. This is what debbootstrap is for.
    Well, he was doing this from Gentoo .. it's not quite as easy as just calling debootstrap unless your already working on an apt based system.

    I do agree however that debootstrapping the installation disk is a much better approach. You'll save quite a bit of package bloat (and room) if you go from Ubuntu minimal up to a minimal desktop.

    You'll also be able to script 90% of the work which makes subsequent installs that follow your example much easier :)
  9. redchief
  10. BuddyJ
    BuddyJ Welcome to Icrontic tinkertim!
  11. Gani-Bhagavathula
    Gani-Bhagavathula Anyone trying this, Please note: As of 16 July 2008 when I followed this guide, I am having two problems:

    1. The maximus package installation fails with error Broken Package, with reference to libfakekey - This is resolvable by using the command "apt-get install libfakekey0". Normally Ubuntu is pretty good at figuring out dependencies, but it fails since its looking for the dependency libfakekey, and the package is named libfakekey0.

    2. The ume-launcher fails with a message "Broken Package", with reference to libclutter-0.6.0. Unable to fix this, so I fail to install Netbook Remix - Any help would be appreciated.

    Gani

    Edit: Just found the package libclutter at this address: http://launchpadlibrarian.net/12821476/libclutter-0.6-0_0.6.0-2_i386.deb
    Download that file, and install it using dpkg -i libclutter-0.6-0_0.6.0-2_i386.deb.

    After that the installation of ume-launcher works.
  12. drasnor
    drasnor That's very strange; I just double-checked it on a fresh QEMU drive and couldn't duplicate your problem. I'm glad you found a solution that works though. You might also try doing another apt-get update and apt-get upgrade.

    -drasnor :fold:
  13. BuddyJ
    BuddyJ Welcome to Icrontic Gani!
  14. Gani-Bhagavathula
    Gani-Bhagavathula Buddy J: Thanks.

    Drasnor: I repeated the procedure last night, and I didnt get those two errors again either. Something odd happen there, not sure what.

    However, the experience of Netbook Remix was OK on the Qemu, not too good. Enough to give me something to look forward to. On the OLPC itself, the ume-launcher sucked big time! Every click would bring screen flickering, register 30 seconds after I clicked etc., Mind you, all the apps had acceptable response once launched, while ume-launcher response was beyond bad! Beta software and all that, but still I have come to expect better from Ubuntu. The end experience was bad enough for me to ditch remix and go to XfCE, which looks nice and polished.

    One query for those in the know: All the guides say I need a developer key for OLPC. There was one odd note buried somewhere in a google search that said I didnt need it. I decided not to get one. I am still able to boot into the SD card as long as I hold the game key when I switch on the OLPC. Does the developer key get me out of holding this key? Is there any other advantage to having it? (In other words, is it worth the trouble of getting one if I already have working Ubuntu?)

    Gani
  15. drasnor
    drasnor
    However, the experience of Netbook Remix was OK on the Qemu, not too good. Enough to give me something to look forward to. On the OLPC itself, the ume-launcher sucked big time! Every click would bring screen flickering, register 30 seconds after I clicked etc., Mind you, all the apps had acceptable response once launched, while ume-launcher response was beyond bad! Beta software and all that, but still I have come to expect better from Ubuntu. The end experience was bad enough for me to ditch remix and go to XfCE, which looks nice and polished.
    Yeah, it's slower than molasses. It helps a lot to have hardware acceleration turned on in X but that requires you to hand-tweak your xorg.conf file or find someone else's that works. I posted mine earlier in this thread but ume-launcher is still pretty slow even with it. The mouse doesn't jump as bad though.
    One query for those in the know: All the guides say I need a developer key for OLPC. There was one odd note buried somewhere in a google search that said I didnt need it. I decided not to get one. I am still able to boot into the SD card as long as I hold the game key when I switch on the OLPC. Does the developer key get me out of holding this key? Is there any other advantage to having it? (In other words, is it worth the trouble of getting one if I already have working Ubuntu?
    Nice find! The developer key is used (in my understanding) to allow the XO to run unsigned code. I have one because it seemed like the thing to do at the time and wasn't a huge hassle. If you already have a working Ubuntu installation though and it doesn't require one, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

    -drasnor :fold:
  16. pbouf What's the equivalent of this under Xubuntu?
    Add “maximus” to System > Preferences > Sessions
  17. Tim Jones Thanks for the detailed tutorial! I've tried this tutorial and a number of other ones for installing Ubuntu onto both SD card and USB flash drive and I always follow the instructions to a "t" (or at least I think I do), but in every case, after the step to copy the installation image to the SD card or USB flash drive, something goes wrong and both Linux and Windows "think" that the media is blank/unformatted. Do you have any ideas/suggestions about what I'm doing wrong? Also, if you have any pointers to a good (and simple) tutorial on the Linux/Unix <i>mount</i> command, I'd be grateful!

    Thanks!
  18. Gxis I have a question, does the newest version of Ubuntu work with the XO and if so, how well does that run? According to you Netbook Remix doesn't run that well on the XO, Has anyone attempted to install JOLICLOUD on the XO yet? its based off the Ubuntu Netbook Remix, but i think its suppose to be more efficient.
  19. drasnor
    drasnor The new version of Ubuntu should work just fine, but this guide is pretty out-of-date so don't use it if you're going to give it a shot. This is actually the first I've heard of Jolicloud but it looks like they've got something going there. I doubt it's more efficient than Netbook Remix though since it's based on Netbook Remix and adds features (rather than slimming down.)

    -drasnor :fold:

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