Netbook Linux Installation: Difference between revisions

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*purchase a brand-name PC, having no pre-installed software. The best known example is HP Proliant Microservers
*purchase a brand-name PC, having no pre-installed software. The best known example is HP Proliant Microservers

--[[User:Rpeters|Rpeters]] 12:16, 21 August 2012 (EST)
--[[Category:Technical Info]]
--[[Category:Technical Info]]

Revision as of 02:16, 21 August 2012


Netbooks that are pre-installed with Linux are still available from specialist retailers. The price, availability and configuration might not be attractive.

A plethora of suggestions will be found on the Internet for installing Linux on popular netbooks, that come with Windows XP/7 pre-installed. These procedures are provided as a convenient summary for our members and outline our experience with this process.


No Warranty

These procedures are provided in the hope that they may be useful, but with absolutely no warranty whatsoever

Note, in particular, that:

  • if a computer is to be returned for service under supplier's warranty conditions then it may be necesary to restore the software to that which was pre-installed by the supplier
  • the market for second-hand netbooks not having Windows pre-installed is very limited

It is not feasible, in a brief HOWTO, to cover the idiosyncracies of all models from all manufacturers.

  • the following procedures are know to be successful with various common models
  • but might not be successful with some obscure models

See Prerequites below for suggested precautions.


The procedures, described herein, are not directly applicable to netbooks and other computers that are pre-installed with MacOS, which uses different firmware. Although it is possible to install specially compiled Linux on those devices, advice should be sought in an Apple forum.

Windows 8 Devices

All Windows 8 devices have a function in firmware that prevents other Operating Systems from booting. Consequently, although the options for creating space for Linux, described herein, will probably complete those might be to no avail.


These prerequisites are recommended for all Options outlined below, including the zero option

  1. Boot to Windows and use the inbuilt utility to burn at least one copy of the recovery DVD\
    • supplier's guideline is that this be done at the first use of Windows on the netbook
      • if done at a later stage, the DVD may not be identical to the original installation
  2. ensure that you have an up-to-date backup, on external media, of any data within the Windows system


Overwrite Windows

  1. are you certain ?
  2. so - you have done Prequisites above
  3. all of the other Options below are beyond your skill/resources
  4. are you still certain ?

Replace Hard Disk Drive

Argueably the most reliable way of retaining an unchanged Windows intallation, however:

  • requires substantial dissassembly of most netbooks, which is relatively difficult



  • relatively quick solution
  • no change to installed Windows system


  • cost
  • toting a portable HDD somewhat defeats the purpose of a netbook
  • booting can be unreliable
    • must always use same USB socket
    • presence of other USB storage devices can prevent booting

Create Free Space on Existing Drive

Gather Tools

  1. Software utiilities will be required to shrink at least one existing partition. A recent release of gparted is recommended and the most conventient way of obtaing this is on a PartedMagic or SystemrescueCD CD.
  2. Few netbooks have CD/DVD readers. It will be necessary to either:
    • borrow or purchase a USB CD/DVD drive or
    • make a bootable USB memory device containing the utility software

Additional Backups (Optional)

  1. use "dd" to make an image of the unmounted HDD to a file on an external/network drive
  2. use "clonezilla" or similar to clone either:
    • entire HDD
    • key partitions


  1. Boot the netbook to Windows and then from the Control Panel:
    • disable virtual RAM (swapper.exe/dat)
      • ? is there any such thing under Win 7
    • make a hard-copy note of the total size of the C: drive
    • if the netbook has had more than trivial use with Windows, then de-fragment the entire C: drive
      • be aware that this might take many hours

Count Existing Partitions

Case - 3 or fewer

  1. Boot the netbook to the USB device containing the utility software
  2. use gparted to shrink the Windows C: drive, to the extent desired
    • this will usually be the largest partition, but will not be /dev/sda1 on all netbooks
    • invariably NTFS filesystem
    • cross-check with the size of the C: drive noted earlier

Case - 4 Partitions

  1. try your luck with gparted, as above - yes really
  2. if after shrinking C: gparted is unable to create extra partition(s) then you will need to delete one pre-existing partition
    • the only candidate is the "manufacturer's crud" partition, that contains optional utilities, games and other "freeware"

Don't Proceed (Zero Option)

If uncertain of your ability to compete one of the above options, other options include:

  1. don't proceed
  2. seek assistance
  3. purchase separate hardware for a portable Linux system
    • netbook having Linux pre-installed
    • tablet computer, most of which have Linux/Android pre-installed, although the functionality is somewhat different from a netbook.


A better option with Laptops can be to remove the original HDD/SSD and store it in a safe place. This procedure can readily be done by an end-user in most cases. Then install a replacement storage drive for use with Linux.

Alternatively, the above procedures can be implemented


Dual-booting Windows and Linux from the same storage device has many limitations including.

  • Windows continually overwriting LInux bootloader
  • configuration of bootloader is more complicated
  • choices for disk partitioning are constrained

Better solutions for recent desktop computers are:

  • in the case of PC having Windows pre-installed, purchase and install a second HDD for exclusive use with Linux as well as a Linux bootloader
    • first check that the PC can boot a second HDD - this is usually selected via key F11/F12 at POST stage
  • get a generic PC, having no pre-installed software, assembled by a computer shop
  • purchase a brand-name PC, having no pre-installed software. The best known example is HP Proliant Microservers

--Rpeters 12:16, 21 August 2012 (EST) --