Monday, May 10, 2010

Dual boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux 10.04 LTS on a Dell Inspiron 11z

STEP 1: Testing out Ubuntu without making changes to your computer.
(this first step actually applies to any computer, not just the Inspiron 11z)

First thing you need is an empty USB drive with about 2 gigs of space on it. They're cheap. Buy two in case you put one through the wash.

Download the Linux Live USB Creator, it's free, it works great.
Download the latest version of Ubuntu, making sure you click "Alternate Download Options" and select the 64-bit version before you start the download.

Install and run the Linux Live USB program, and make sure it can find the USB drive in the first step. If your drive isn't popping up in the drop down, click the arrow circle to the right to refresh and try again. Found it? Good. Remember that it will get erased, so back it up and empty it first.

Once the Ubuntu ISO is downloaded, click the ISO button on the USB Creator, and select the Ubuntu download file (it should end in ".iso") Drag the slider to 300-500MB of persistence depending on how much space you have on the drive. The persistence will make it easier to make adjustments to the live environment if you want to play with it before you pull the trigger on the install.

Uncheck all the options in the USB Creator Step 4, we don't need them for this.

Click the lightning bolt and grab a sandwich!

When it's done just reboot with the USB drive still plugged in, and boot to USB. On the Inspiron llz, you press F12 when it starts turning back on, and you'll get a boot menu. Select the second option; USB drive.

Ubuntu will load and log you in automatically. From here, you can get a feel for Ubuntu, test the suspend, etc. Know that my 11z had intermittent issues with the Live session around the wireless card and even the wired connection. If you have these issues too, don't worry. The full install works fine.

At any point you can click on the power button in the top right corner of the screen, select reboot, and boot right back into Windows without it ever knowing you cheated on it. The Live USB doesn't even touch the harddrive, it only uses your RAM.

STEP 2: Making it stick.

Ok, it's time to get our dual boot on. First thing we need to do is make some room for Ubuntu to live on. Since windows is picky, we're going to have to use its repartitioning tool. Follow these instructions to reduce the size of the primary partition (your c: drive in most cases). Ubuntu only needs like 10GB (10000MB) of space, but you can (and probably should) go over that. I ordered my 11z with 300GB of space, so I just gave it 100GB (100000MB). When you've selected the size, click Shrink and let Windows shrink the partition. When you're done, just leave the space unpartitioned, and reboot back into windows.

Do not load Ubuntu after you're done shrinking the partition, you NEED to reboot back into windows to let windows get comfortable with the new partitioning. Once you are logged in, you can reboot back into Ubuntu, and select the install function.

The setup is pretty obvious until you make it to the partitioning, simply select the "largest available free space" button, and Ubuntu will set itself up on the free space you made when you shrunk the partition in windows. The rest of the install is also obvious, and shouldn't take too long. When it's done just reboot. :)

Your box will restart, and the new bootloader will open up with the first selection, Ubuntu, as the OS it's going to load by default unless you select Windows 7 before the timeout. Select Ubuntu, or let it load on its own.

Once Ubuntu is loaded, your wireless card will not work, this is because Ubuntu needs to check the internet for the proprietary drivers it needs to run the Broadcom wireless card. So just plug it into the internet using a wired connection and wait. Ubuntu will find the drivers, and a pop up will let you know there are some proprietary drivers available for your hardware. Just accept both those drivers, and reboot. You'll be good to go.

As for battery life, I got the 6-cell battery, and Ubuntu at rest with wireless on, and screen at a normal brightness setting should run for 6.5 hours. With the screen dimmed, 7 hours. With the screen dimmed and wireless off, 8 hours. Not bad at all.

1 comment:

Gudis said...

Wow, I actually downloaded that very same utility and Ubuntu ISO right before reading your blog, that's fucked up.