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Samsung NC20 and Linux Dual-Boot

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I recently bought a Samsung NC20, which I am very happy with so far. 

I am a long time Linux user, and wanted to replace Windows with a Linux distro.  Here are some of my experiences:


I tried installing several different Linux distros.  Many of them failed at the installation state; it seems that the NC20 screen resolution of 1280x800 is not recognized, or otherwise the X configuration file cannot be auto configured correctly.

Among the distros I tried are: Ubuntu 9.04, Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR), and Linux Mint.  None of these worked.  Google has some articles with people getting them to work, but they require a bit of hacking.

I finally tried out Fedora Core 11, and it installed completely, with no problems whatsoever.  I downloaded the 'Live CD' version, which is only 700 megs.


Since the NC20 doesn't come with a CD/DVD drive, I had to boot from a USB stick.  If you want to do so, you'll need to make a bootable USB stick.  Ubuntu has a utility which comes pre-installed called 'USB Startup Disk Creator', which is under Menu://System/Administration/.  However, this will not allow you to create non-Ubuntu USB boot disks.  In order to burn Fedora Core and other distros, you'll need UNetBootin.  This programs runs in Windows and most major Linux distros.

Once you've created your bootable USB stick.  Turn on the NC20, and repeatedly hit the Escape (Esc) key at startup.  You'll be presented with a menu, which will offer some boot options.  The name of your USB stick should be present.  Select your USB stick and it should boot without any problems.


Once you've booted Fedora, start with the 'LiveCD' version and first 'try out' Fedora by going to the desktop.  Do not launch the installer yet.  I would recommend first launching the partition manager in the LiveCD.  I think it's the 'Gnome Partition Manager' or, Gparted.  I don't recall the exact menu location, but it is probably also under Menu://System/Administration/.

You'll be able to resize the partitions on your HD, since it is not currently in use.  I would resize the Windows XP partition to 60GB or thereabouts (it's entirely up to you), and leave the remaining space without any partitions at all; this space will be used by the Fedora installer when you run the installation program.

There will be a 'Rescue' partition also present.  Ignore it.  It's very small anyway, and if you leave it, you can still use it later.

You should now still have only two partitions: the small 'Rescue' partition, and the resized XP partition.   You should also have 90 or so GB free space.   

Now reboot the Samsung with the Fedora Core boot USB stick again.  This time, run the installer.  When prompted for how you want to arrange your partitions, simply choose 'install on free space'.  The installer should take care of the rest.


Once this is done, Fedora will also install the GRUB bootloader, which will create a a menu for you so you can select which operating system you want to boot into.   

Nearly there!

You should be able to boot into the Fedora partition without any problems.  However, if you select the Windows partition (may be named 'Other' in GRUB), then the System Rescue program will kick in.  This is because Samsung has set the machine to boot into the rescue partition first, and then on to Windows XP if it doesn't detect any anomalies.  Unfortunately, the Fedora installation is considered an 'anomaly'.  

This problem is easily fixed by updating your menu.lst file in your GRUB directory.  You can do this by launching into Fedora normally, and then either using the command line, or an editor to edit the file located at: /boot/grub/menu.lst.


If you're doing this via the command line, then back up the file first with:

>cp /boot/grub/menu.lst /boot/grub/menu.lst.bak


You can edit the text file by either using vi, or nano (both these are commands from the command line - use nano if you're a beginner):

>nano /boot/grub/menu.lst


Or alternatively, launch Gedit (Gnome graphical text editor), by going to the command line and typing:

>gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst


Find the entry which refers to your XP installation.  It will look something like this:

title other
rootnoverify (hd0,0)
chainloader +1


It will probably be the last entry.  All the other titles are cleared marked 'Fedora (version number)'.   Don't  touch these.


All you need to do is change the line:

rootnoverify (hd0,0)


rootnoverify (hd0,1) 


And then save the file.  This will tell the bootloader to boot directly into the XP partition, rather than the Rescue partition.   Windows should now boot without any problems.


Hope this works for you!

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 August 2009 17:42