Thursday, January 29, 2009

Impressive = KeyJnote

I'm glad to see that KeyJNote has returned as Impressive. A while ago it seemed like KeyJNote had fallen off the face of the earth, but now its back with a new name. I'll have to try it out some more now that I can find it again.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ubuntu on a Stick

I got a Patriot Xporter 32Gb thumb drive for Christmas and I finally got around to installing Ubuntu 8.10 on it. This was my first experience with installing any Linux distro on a thumb drive and booting from USB so it has been an interesting experience, here is what I encountered when trying to get my thumb drive working.

8.10 USB Startup Disk Creator

Of course, the first place I started was the USB Startup Disk Creator, which has been available since Ubuntu 8.04. The process is simple:

  • Popped in my USB drive.
  • Went to System>Administration>Create a USB Startup Disk
  • Selected my USB drive and selected the option "Stored in reserved extra space"
  • Adjusted the extra space slider to the full 32 Gb
  • Clicked "Make startup disk"

Easy.... and slow. It took a pretty good amount of time for the drive to be completely setup. Nothing too bad, but enough to get up and find something else to do for a while. Unfortunately something went wrong in the process or my laptop is messed up (which it could possibly be). When I restarted my computer and selected the USB drive as the primary boot device, I would only get that the drive was corrupted. I tried to troubleshoot the problem and also tried to recreate the startup disk to no avail.

I'm not sure what happened, but I'm pretty sure its something on my end (perhaps the USB drive) and not that of the USB Startup Disk creator. Fortunately, I found an alternative method that I did get working for me.

UNetbootin to the rescue

While searching around for clues to my problems from the startup disk creator, I ran across UNetbootin so I decided I'd give it a try. Here are the steps I took with UNetbootin:

  • Downloaded and started UNetboontin on my XP laptop.
  • Downloaded the Ubuntu 8.10 iso - (I actually already had an iso on the laptop, doh)
  • Selected my Distro - Ubuntu 8.10
  • Checked Disk Image and pointed UNetboontin to the Intrepid iso
  • Selected my USB drive as the device to be installed to
  • Pressed ok and sat back

The UNetbootin process was extremely easy to follow and it seemed to me that it took less time to format the disk and get the USB drive set up. After I finished, I rebooted XP and switched the boot device to USB again. This time it dropped right into the Ubuntu live menu where I started Ubuntu right up. Success! Both methods were extremely easy to use and weren't very time consuming.

Ubuntu from a thumb drive

Ubuntu takes quite a while to boot up from my thumb drive, but once it does its very responsive and quite fun to work with. Unfortunately you don't want to do too much disk intensive work since it seems like the writes are a little on the slow side, but bearable. Its been really fun to set up my own portable Ubuntu install with a decent amount of storage. In the coming months I'll try running the portable install on several computers to get a feel for how actually portable it is. For now though, I've been very pleased with the results and I look forward to using this as my portable Linux haven from now on.

This also has prompted me to consider picking up a couple 4 Gb thumb drives so I won't have to burn another install disk. I hate having so many piles of CD-Rs with different distros on it when I could just slap it on a thumb drive and go. (unless I can't boot from USB, but thats besides the point) So congrats to the Ubuntu team on a lovely tool as well as the Fedora team who helped motivate the Ubuntu team to improve their USB install tools as well.