Sunday, 21 June 2009

How to install Easy Peasy on a bootable 8GB SDHC card

Well. It had me up till 3 o'clock in the morning, as these things are wont to do. But I got there in the end.

I have an Eee PC 900 which I wanted to use with Easy Peasy, a netbook version of Ubuntu. But I didn't want to touch the original Xandros installation. After much fumbling and surfing, I worked out how to do it. The solution is to install it to an 8GB SDHC card which you can then leave in the card slot and conveniently take around with you. It's also persistent, so files, settings and updates all work as one would expect with any standard install.

Here are the (currently) pertinent links. All I can say is this worked for me. I take no responsibility if it doesn't work for you!
  1. Go to geteasypeasy.com and click on the download link
  2. Download the iso file to your computer of choice
  3. Follow the instructions to create a USB stick installation. The instructions you follow will depend on which computer you're using to create the USB stick in question. If it's Windows, you'll need to download this helper application (unetbootin). If it's any flavour of Linux, then you'll need to click here
  4. Run the helper application with an empty USB stick plugged in. Install the iso to the USB stick
  5. Once everything is installed on the USB stick, cancel the reboot on unetbootin, safely remove the USB stick and go to your Eee PC 900 (I assume it works with 701s - but I am awaiting feedback on this)
  6. Make sure your Eee PC is switched off
  7. Plug in the USB stick. Turn it on. At the first grey start-up screen, press the ESC key. Choose the USB stick to boot from. Wait a bit - it takes a little longer than the normal Xandros installation to boot up
  8. If you haven't already, put your 8GB SDHC card (I used a Maxell Class 4 - I'm sure other cards by reputable manufacturers will however work) into a USB card reader. Do not put it into the card slot itself - if you do, you will probably not be able to install Easy Peasy to the card. Then plug the card reader into one of the other USB ports
  9. On the Easy Peasy screen, go to the Administration tab and click on Install. Follow the instructions until you get to the page which asks you how to partition the hard drive. Choose the second Guided instructions radio button and then ensure you select the drive option which says something like "sdg" (in my case, it was the third in the list) - this will be the external card reader
  10. Continue by following the instructions on the Install program. Ensure that the booter is installed to the same "sdg" (or equivalent) drive
  11. The program may take between half an hour to forty minutes to copy the files from the USB stick to the SD card in the card reader. The Eee PC's own hard drives should only be accessed right at the end as grub looks for other operating systems. If the hard drive light lights up during installation, something is surely going wrong! But it may be too late to do anything about it ...
  12. Once it's installed, you can quit the USB version of Easy Peasy, power down the Eee PC, remove the USB stick from the USB port, the card reader from the Eee PC and the SD card from the card reader. You can now put the SD card directly into the Eee PC's own card slot
  13. Go through the same process to boot up as before - wait for the first grey start-up screen, click ESC, choose the SD card option to boot from and you'll now be booting up Easy Peasy from the card
  14. You can now configure your wireless connection by inputting the passphrase or passkey by clicking on the network icon at the top right of the screen. Once configured, go to Update Manager and update your software. I haven't gone as far as updating Ubuntu itself but I was able to install all other 69 packages that required updating with no problem whatsoever
Yes. It runs a little slower than Xandros - but it's a safer way of migrating from one system to another and it can allow you to keep your options open. It worked for me anyhow.

I ran unetbootin under Windows Vista and installed Easy Peasy from the USB stick to the SDHC card via the card reader under a live version of Easy Peasy running on the Eee PC itself.

As always, the only caveat you should really keep in mind is to back up any important data before you try new installations of operating systems. If in doubt, back out!

Comments and rewrites of the above most welcome.

14 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The easypeasy installer has to be used with the netbook interface. If you use the desktop interface then the 'Forward' 'Back" etc buttons are hidden on some screens.

    ReplyDelete
  3. How big a USB stick do I need for the installer?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks so much for the detailed instructions. I have a Asus 900ha (its fantastic.) It is running Windows XP on a 160gb hard drive. When I used your method, I got stuck on the partitioning section. It would not recognize my sd card (which I had in a card adapter.) I had read that it is best to format the sd cards with fat32. That did not work in this case. After reformattin the sd card NTFC, the installation program immediately recognized the sd drive.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi c-lo - sorry for the delay in replying. You caught me on unpaid leave. :-( An 8GB stick worked for me - a Kingston Traveller I think it was which I bought from Amazon. I didn't pre-format it or anything - just used as is.

    Any further comments are most welcome, and I promise - this time - to reply rather more promptly!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi jwatts - thanks for the comments and I'm glad the instructions have helped. I think getting the install program to recognise the SD card is the most curious part of all the process and something I am most definitely not qualified to comment on. Your suggestion may help others who do have problems. I used what I believe was a pre-formatted Maxell Class 4 card - not sure what format it will've had. Anyone any pointers?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi! I wonder if it's possible to turn off the internal HDD while running easypeasy from the SD for silent working. The HDD on my Eee PC 1000H is really noisy and for the common surfing habits, easypeasy would be just fine.

    btw. thanks for your handy tutorial! I will try it out tomorrow!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you. I am waiting for Easy Peasy to finish installing. It was all new to me and I am a EZPZ Ubantu, Xandros novice. Some things were daunting. It wasn't until I realized the DRUM light on the 900 was not lighting as I bounced from screen to screen and back several times that I felt secure the Transfer would go from the Installation Thumb Dr. to the 8GB Card. Waiting for my Mail Order 32MB I practiced using a 2 GB LOL Stick. It would boot in the Left USB (as you face the screen) but the 32GB would only boot from the right side, rear USB. I bought a USB universal card read write gizmo. It lights when the USB is properly attached to the PC and the second light works when the card is installed properly, flashing as the card is written to. The final flashing assured me the HD was not being over-written.
    Again thanks for your hard work and I hope this little note helps others.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you, the part about using a SD card reader in the USB port instead of card in the card slot was a life saver

    ReplyDelete
  14. I realize this is an old thread but do find any that are newer. I followed steps 1-8 and when I got to step 9, Easy Peasy only showed the built in ssd as a place to install it to, the SDHC did not show up. What am I doing wrong?

    My specs: eeepc 700 2g surf, 512 mb RAM, 2gb sdd, 8gb SDHC card in usb card reader, unetbootin and easy peasy 1.6 on usb stick

    ReplyDelete