Tuesday, February 7, 2012

ASUS Eee PC: Booting from USB: Second Cut: Ubuntu

I had previously done a lot of flailing around, in an effort to boot an ASUS Eee PC from a USB thumb drive (a/k/a USB stick, pen drive, jump drive, flash drive).  It was time to try again.  This time, there seemed to be some easier and more promising avenues of attack.  This post describes this renewed effort, with a particular focus on booting Ubuntu 11.10.

First, the basics.  In the BIOS Setup Utility, I had set my BIOS to boot first from the USB drive.  I got into the BIOS setup by hitting F2 repeatedly while the the Eee was booting.  I already knew that F2 or Del tended to be the keys to hit, on various computers, if I wanted to go into BIOS setup.  But if I hadn't known that, it would have been wise to get into BIOS somehow and change a certain setting, so that instructions and information would come up onscreen while the computer was booting.  The setting to change for that purpose would logically have been in BIOS Setup > Boot > Boot Settings Configuration > Quiet Boot > Disabled.  But that was greyed out and already set to Disabled on my machine, and yet I wasn't getting those boottime instructions.  The answer was to go, instead, into BIOS Setup > Boot > Boot Booster > Disabled.

With that done, I was all set to reboot the Eee and see, onscreen, the information that I should hit F2 to run Setup.  If it went by too quickly, I could hit Pause (note that, on the Eee, Pause was actually Shift-Pause).  For some reason, I had to hit it twice to make it pause.  Maybe I had bad timing.

I wanted to go into the BIOS Setup, for purposes of booting with the USB stick, in order to tell the computer to boot, first, from the USB stick.  If I didn't do that, it would default to booting from the CD drive (nonexistent, in my Eee) or from the hard drive.  The place to make this change, in BIOS Setup, was at Boot > Boot Device Priority.  The item that needed to be first on the list was "Removable Dev."

Now I was ready to boot my bootable Ubuntu USB stick.  Problem:  I didn't yet have one.  For this, I needed a 4GB USB drive (possibly smaller but not, I think, any larger) with Ubuntu installed on it.  To install Ubuntu on the USB drive, I went to the Ubuntu download webpage, downloaded the Ubuntu 11.10 ISO, and followed their instructions to install it onto the USB drive.  Their instructions were just to download and run the Universal USB Installer from Pendrivelinux.com.  That installer was, itself, a portable program -- no installation needed.  When that installer was running, I needed to select Ubuntu Desktop Edition and follow the instructions.

So I had done that, and therefore I had Ubuntu on my jump drive.  And the Eee was seeing the jump drive when I booted it -- I could see a brief flash of recognition, onscreen, before the stupid thing went ahead and booted into Windows as usual.  This was probably about what I had managed to achieve last time I had tried this.

But, as I say, there were new suggestions and possibilities.  One was that I should have put Eeebuntu rather than Ubuntu Desktop onto that USB drive.  The idea was that Eeebuntu was designed to make it as easy as possible to get Ubuntu working well on an Eee.

To be precise about it, some of the players had changed.  By this point, according to Wikipedia, Eeebuntu had become Aurora.  And, for that matter, Ubuntu Eee (apparently not the same as Eeebuntu) had become Easy Peasy, and Ubuntu Netbook Edition had been merged into Ubuntu Desktop.  A Wikipedia comparison table suggested that there were multiple kinds of netbook-oriented versions of Ubuntu:  some were designed for netbooks generally, some for ASUS Eee netbooks, some for specific kinds of ASUS Eee netbooks, and some for other portable devices (e.g., smartphones).  It made sense to get one designed for an Eee, so at the moment it seemed that an Aurora download (either the promised Gnome edition or one of the original Eeebuntu versions) might provide the road to the future, if I did need to try some other Ubuntu version on that USB drive.

I did not need to do that because, for me, the solution was simpler.  Before I got very far into this project at all, as advised, I tried hitting Esc when I booted, so as to bring up the boot menu.  That gave me an option to boot from the USB drive.  And it worked.  I didn't know whether this would address all of the needs and interests that had prompted me to try booting other programs (e.g., Hiren's, XBoot, Grub4DOS) in my previous try.  But for the moment, I was happy.



Thanks for this post. It helped me reset up my OS on the EeePC.


I'm going to try that. Inherited a ASUS eee from son, who forgot his admin. password.


Thanks so much!! This was the long seeked help. Crazy nowhere else this trick was mentioned.


In a later post, I worked through the creation of a multiboot USB drive that would run a number of operating systems and utilities from a single USB flash drive.


To any ASUS eee 1001PX users with a linux USB...disable bootboost in BIOS and make sure you use your non USB-3.0 USb port.

Worked like a charm! (using ubuntu 14.0 with livelinux)



This post, and the earlier one linked in it, contain steps on improved versions of bootable USB drives for the Eee.

Lars Buhl Schamaitat

A Million Thanks. You've saved me a lot of time.



"hit esc", ive been breaking my head 2 days, 50 websites, 20 youtube clips and nowwere have i read this!Thanks!!!!