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I'm planning to buy a netbook, and I am considering to install Ubuntu on it. It would mainly be used by my wife at home for web browsing and email at home (lightweight is important, hence a netbook!), and we'd occasionally bring it along on travels (mostly as digital photo dropzone).

I want to use Ubuntu instead of Windows because I'm sick of all the Windows hassle and updates. I'm not concerned about Windows applications; I'd switch to native alternatives as far as possible because really only Firefox and something like Picasa are needed.

I'm considering an ASUS Eee PC 1001P or an MSI Wind U100 or an Point of View Mobii II (click the links for specs; nevermind that the rest is German). I'm not in the USA.
Whatever I buy will most likely have Windows 7 on it but no optical drive. I would also buy a large-ish USB stick but not an external optical drive.

  1. Should I (and can I) install Ubuntu alongside Windows 7, or remove Windows?
  2. If I remove Windows first, how would I be able to reinstall it if I change my mind? Can I make a backup? Is a recovery CD usually provided?
  3. Should I choose the regular Ubuntu, or the Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR)? Does UNR allow me to install additional applications just as easily?

Note: I'm asking about Ubuntu vs. Windows; let's skip the hardware discussion for now.

Edit: I'm assuming that Windows is already installed; if it isn't then I would only install Ubuntu and this question is irrelevant.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. Yes, you can dual-boot it. I know ubuntu plays nicely if you install it after win7, I don't know if win7 is as friendly... but it's very possible either way.
  2. Yes, you can always reinstall. You'll lose your programs and such of course. Yes, Netbooks usually come with a recovery CD. If not, you can always make one.
  3. Didn't even know about UNR... looks pretty cool. I'd try it out :)

I guess I wouldn't really recommend it just yet. but ChromeOS aims to serve this purpose someday.

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1  
Thanks for these answers. (2) How can I make a recovery CD myself? I'd like to grab the factory installation before I do antyhing else with the machine (and put it onto USB stick if possible, since I don't want to invest in an optical drive). –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Feb 24 '10 at 9:47
2  
You can easily make a backup image of your current install, search SU there are plenty of posts about this. Just make the image an iso to make it easier to then put on a usb drive. –  MrStatic Mar 17 '10 at 0:06

Ubuntu has several advantages, the main points being it's free and easily installed.

Yes, you can install it along side your Windows setup, provided you partition your hard drive during the installation.

If you change your mind, the computer should come with a restore or reinstall disc that can be used to replace your Ubuntu installation.

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I forgot the obvious, that I would need a separate partition. To revert, I could remove that partition -- or even simpler just have the boot loader default to Windows instead! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Feb 24 '10 at 9:50
    
Correct, that would be easiest. –  Josh K Feb 24 '10 at 15:38

Hallo Torben

  1. Should I (and can I) install Ubuntu alongside Windows 7, or remove Windows?
  • Yes, you can. But remind that Win7 will overwrite GRUB Bootloader (as usual). So start by installing Win7 and continue installing your favoured Linux Dist. A Bootloader will be added.
  1. If I remove Windows first, how would I be able to reinstall it if I change my mind? Can I make a backup? Is a recovery CD usually provided?
  • Better start with Win7 Installation. If it's already on your PC, perfect, go on installing your Linux Dist. A recovery DVD... Please ask your Computer Seller... And you can always make a backup. Usually it's enough to backup the Users folder, because most M$ Apps save their stuff in there. Please make yourself sure, that you keep the rule to save your stuff into your User Folder (C:\Users\YOUR_USER_NAME).
  1. Should I choose the regular Ubuntu, or the Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR)? Does UNR allow me to install additional applications just as easily?
  • Depends--- If you have a small screen, then you should better use the UNR. The GUI is adjusted to the limited screen space. Of, course you can install everything, there are no limitations, except these GUIs exceeds your screen... ;-) But you can use this Command to move your window easily: Drag Mouse while pressing ALT + Left-Click.

Greetz from Berlin, Semo

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(2) Backing up the Windows "user" data is easy; the question is where I would get the installation medium from or whether I could make a snapshot of the factory installation, so that I could recover back to that later (and then restoring any backed-up data afterwards). (3) Good to hear that only the GUI is different! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Feb 24 '10 at 9:45
    
Please ask the Shop, if they could give you a DVD of your OS. Sometimes there is a special partition on the Notebook, keeping an image of the OS. Sometimes, it is also allowed/possible to burn it to a DVD. Sometimes you have to buy a Copy at the Shop... They should help you. And there are Tools to make forensic backups: oo-software.com/home/de/products/oodiskimage/index.html which I use. But there are of course many more tools in the wild... –  Semo Feb 24 '10 at 10:06

I installed ubuntu on our laptop which had vista on it very easily and since my wife has never asked about windows to point where the partition where windows was installed has been scrubbed.

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  1. Yes, you can dual-boot Ubuntu and Windows 7 together, as an earlier answerer mentioned -- but since you've mentioned that the only two applications you will use are Mozilla Firefox and Picasa, I don't know if you should or shouldn't. I do note that the user experience for people with Ubuntu is a little rougher than Windows and Mac OS X, so if your wife is not tech-savvy expect that you'll need a little more time for support.

  2. Yes, you can, but be warned... you may be given a recovery disc, but there is a distinct possibility that you may need to either get an external optical drive or use another PC to create a recovery USB stick.

  3. I use UNR for my Asus Eee 1001HE, actually. I've used Ubuntu vanilla before, but the interface for UNR feels a little better for the small screen real-estate I have. I don't really see a difference in how difficult it is to install applications. If you install applications using the Synaptics Package Manager, there is no difference between vanilla Ubuntu and UNR. There is a little bit of shenanigans in trying to install the application from source or without Synaptics, but mostly in working out how to create a link on UNR's menu.

I have to warn you though, if you're considering the Asus Eee PC. Some of the newer models have issues with their wireless working properly, so there exists this possibility that you'll need to work on patching the system with the required drivers.

I've seen one other user with an Asus Eee 1001HE have the same problem in connecting to wireless as I did (his problem went away automatically), and I spent a bit of blood, sweat and tears trying to get wireless up on mine. As information about how compatible UNR is with the Asus Eee 1001P hasn't been updated on the official Ubuntu site, I can't tell whether you'll face any problems or not with your UNR installation.

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  1. Whichever you like! Both are doable, as has been mentioned. Will the wife need Windows apps?
  2. My Asus Eee PC 900 HA came with a recovery CD. Some models don't and have recovery partitions that would be lost if you formatted the drive. The Asus forums have great info on the permutations of this.
  3. Are you aware that eeebuntu.org has Eee PC-specific distros that install beautifully on Eee PCs?
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(1) No need for Windows, hence the urge to try Linux. However, Linux-Picasa's lack of movie support is really bad. (2) I ended up deciding on an Asus. I'm looking forward to seeing how it works out. (3) Thanks for the link!! I'll be sure to check that out in comparison with UNR. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 17 '10 at 13:03

If you want to have a taste of ubuntu before taking the big decision, you can try the following: - Transfer your ISO into a bootable USB disk or SD card (unetbootin is great for that. Just google the word "unetbootin") - Boot from it and install Ubuntu on another USB disk / SD card - Play with an installed linux (not Live version) and see for yourself

When you are ready to make the big jump, go ahead, remembering that Windows will overwrite your Linux boot record if you re-install it. There are ways to recover from such situation, but they are not the easiest ones. As for the version of Ubuntu, it depends on the power of your netbook. Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) is supposedly optimized and setup to do a faster startup. But you may prefer the regular desktop. For myself ( and I have an older less powerful netbook - the 900), I run the regular Ubuntu with a small number of other applications installed on it.

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