Installing Ubuntu 9.10 from a USB Stick

Linux distributions tend to come as ISO images – files which are images of CDs/DVDs. I’ve always burned the images to a disk to install, but I’ve been meaning to try setting up a bootable USB stick instead.

Better for the environment, right? More importantly, I never seem to have a blank CD knocking about when I decide to do an install.

I expected some hassle, but it turns out to be trivial if you’re already on a Ubuntu machine, so long as your BIOS supports booting from USB devices. So…

  • Check the computer you want to install into supports booting from USB; if it doesn’t I guess you’re stuck with the CD option
  • Slap a USB stick with 2GB space or more in a slot on another Ubuntu machine (make sure there’s nothing on the stick you’ll miss if it gets lost!)
  • Start up usb-creator from the command line (just type usb-creator, or sudo apt-get it if it’s not installed)
  • Choose the .iso in the usb-creator utility
  • Choose the target USB device
  • Wait while files are copied and stuff
  • Pull out the USB stick when it’s ready, plug it into your target machine and reboot.

The familiar installer screens should start up.

More details here.

Ubuntu 9.04 Teething Troubles

Update:

This seems to be a fairly Dell-specific problem, but there just might be a fix, as detailed in this ubuntuforums thread.

Long story short: you need to update your menu.lst file (mine’s in /boot/grub/menu.lst), and append the entries

i8042.reset i8042.nomux i8042.nopnp i8042.noloop

to the line beginning with the word kernel for your current kernel version. So far, it seems to be working… but that’s only a couple of boots later.

There’s more detail in the thread I mentioned, and if anyone wants any more detailed instructions feel free leave me a comment with your question and I’ll try and help.

Original Post:

I made the classic mistake of changing more than one variable at a time – installed Ubuntu 9.04 over my 8.10 installation, and went 64-bit – and now my laptop doesn’t recognise its keyboard and trackpad on some boots.

On top of that, I had that thing happen when you quickly log off, shut the laptop lid, and put it away… but some darned dialog popped up as it shut down, keeping my laptop powered up all night. Unfortunately I left it with the exhaust kinda blocked, so it was toasty by the time I picked it up the following morning. Probably didn’t help.

Maybe there’s a setting or something I can use to override this behaviour, but as an aside…

Dear Mr. Ubuntu (/Windows/whatever), if I’ve hit shutdown and then shut the laptop lid or done nothing else for an hour, it’d be great if the thing would just shut down by default, regardless of how many things want to pop up and clamour for my attention.

As opposed to toasting my laptop and potentially burning my house down. Thanks.

Anyway now on boot, my keyboard works just fine through the POST and the GRUB menu. By the time I’ve got to a login prompt though, I can’t type or do pointery things anymore.

Sometimes.

I’ve seen a couple of other folks referring to the same problem with 9.04 on forums, so for now it looks like it’s a bug. My money’s on a timing issue during boot.

If anyone else is having the same problem, I have a couple of things to try that have made my system just about usable for now.

  • Stick a CD in your drive – I put the 9.04 32-bit CD in and switched from 90% bad boots to maybe 70% good boots. Maybe it changes the timing of events during boot or something.
  • Hit ESC just after the POST – this gives you the option of selecting recovery mode from the GRUB menu. If your input devices work in the recovery menu, select normal boot. This shortened the boot time to find out if it was going to boot OK.

Roll on a fix!

Flickering Wireless LED in Ubuntu 8.10

A quick solution to that darned flashing wireless light in Ubuntu 8.10 – works on my Dell Vostro anyway.

This solution didn’t work for me – I had to make a slight adjustment to the directories updated. It does give some background on how it works if you’re interested though.
Save the following file as “/etc/network/if-up.d/iwl-no-blink” and make it executable for all.

#!/bin/sh
if [ "$IFACE" = "wlan0" ]; then
  for dir in /sys/class/leds/iwl-phy*; do
    echo none > $dir/trigger
  done
fi

Now the wireless light is off when disconnected, blinks when I’m connecting, and is steady on when I’m connected.

Updated, 23th March 09
…but it doesn’t work on resume from suspend. When my Vostro 1310 resumes from suspend, it’s back to the defaults. I fixed this behaviour by adding a script /etc/pm/sleep.d/00wireless, executable for all.

#!/bin/sh
case "$1" in
        resume|thaw)
                /etc/network/if-up.d/iwl-no-blink
        ;;
        *)
        ;;
esac

Continue reading “Flickering Wireless LED in Ubuntu 8.10”