My Netbook and Ubuntu Linux


A couple of weekends ago I was working on my Asus 901 netbook, and it was just running dog slow and spitting up multiple errors at boot after logging in. I loaded Windows 7 on it (using nlite) last summer, which was kind of a pain to load, but was a fun experiment and got my feat wet with Windows 7. Initially Windows 7 worked OK, but just started to slow down and give out random errors, then I would get Windows Update notifications that would not install for various reasons. It was becoming frustrating, as at times I just wanted to boot the thing up and check my e-mail or send out a tweet.

The netbook’s drives where a 4GB and 16GB. There might be ways around it now, but I had to load the Windows OS partition on the 4GB drive and do multiple links to program files on the 16GB partition. I upgraded the netbook to the max physical memory allowed, 2GB, but that was really the only thing I did to it. I also had a heck of a time searching out drivers for the Asus that would work properly. Again, to be fair, this was last summer so there may be a better way to do this now.

I browsed around on the web, contemplated various linux distributions (eeebuntu, which I think is now Aurora and easypeasy was another, and a slew of others). I decided to try out Ubuntu 10.04, the netbook edition, from a USB thumb drive to see how it would work. I picked the netbook version of Ubuntu because I didn’t see a need to load a bunch of applications that I wouldn’t be using my netbook for. I primarily use my netbook to check e-mail, surf the web, etc, not any real “hardcore” stuff. I backed up the original netbook, then downloaded a copy of Ubuntu, and got a running copy going on a USB thumb drive. After the first boot up, I was hooked. I was amazed at how things just worked. No messing around with drivers. The netbook’s wifi found my access point, I entered in my security info, and was out on in the Internet in seconds. After playing around with it for about a hour, I decided to select the install feature from the system menu, and had a clean system loaded in about 30 minutes.

I really like Windows 7, but after seeing what this did for my netbook, for me making it useful again, I am contemplating trying it out on my desktop (the full version) at home as well. I don’t really play video intensive games anymore (no time, grrr), so this maybe the way to go. It is an older machine, so I might be able to get a few more years of life out of it. I really like the fact I can try it out on a USB thumb drive and give a run through its hoops.

For reference, take a look at this blog for tweaking certain things for your SSD drives and this article for how to load the eee-control features as well.

Home/Small Office VPN Solution – OpenVPN

A few months ago I was asked by a couple of people, “What is a good product for connecting remotely to my machines at work/home, but isn’t going to cost me a bundle”. Good question, as I really never had a solid utility for my home lab environment. At work, we have always had some sort of enterprise VPN product like CheckPoint, F5, or Sonicwall. So I did some searching around, and of course there are many solutions out there. The criteria I was setting for myself was I wanted something somewhat easy to install, preferably open source, and something that could expand and/or grow if needed. I also wanted something that would work with my Windows boxes and Linux boxes. After playing around with a couple of products, I settled on OpenVPN ( The access server is available as Linux or Windows, or as a VMware or VHD appliance. The clients available are for Linux, Mac, and Windows. The server install was rather simple as I just downloaded and VMware image and added it to my existing ESXi environment. Made the proper changes after the install and on my firewalls and that was good to go. Of course you have to make sure you register so you can get your free 2 clients. The client software was pretty much the same. I loaded it on my Windows 7 laptop and my Linux netbook. I also tested it on Windows XP and no complaints there as well. The web GUI interface for the admin piece was pretty straight forward. Only problem I had going on was with setting up the profiles for downloading the client. Once I figured that out, I was good to go. Also one of the other things I really liked about the product is I could really test drive it and buy more licenses as I saw fit. Right now I don’t have a need for more than two connections, but that could change. I think this could be a happy medium solution for some home office/small business environments. They also have a pretty good community out there for help in case you get stuck.