Trying out Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala beta: netbook and VMWare Fusion/Mac

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Yesterday I tried out the new beta of the forthcoming Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala” desktop release. This is a beta, so of course there are some nits. I installed it for two configurations: a 2008 Asus eee 4G Surf with an additional 8Gb card disk, and under the latest VMWare Fusion on a MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard. In both cases I was working with the full desktop edition and not Ubuntu Netbook Remix. I’ll play with that next.

After installing the beta, be sure to check for and install any updates.

Asus eee 4G Surf netbook

My plan with this was to install it via a bootable USB key and though I tried it with three different keys, it never worked. Even though I modified the BIOS to boot from the USB key, it would look at it and then go right to hard drive and boot Ubuntu 9.04. Though I had put 9.04 on the machine last Spring, I never much used it because wifi did not work. I’ve had this problem with other machines with the Atheros wifi chipset and one of my hopes was that the new Ubuntu would have wireless networking.

After doing some research around the web, I realized that the problem was user error. That is, I was being stupid.

I should have been using the instructions for building a bootable USB from an ISO file, but instead I was following the steps for an IMG file. Once I used the correct instructions on my downloaded ISO file, the USB memory key booted just fine. Duh.

I went through the usual steps for installing Ubuntu though sometimes the the buttons on the bottom of the dialog boxes were off the netbook’s small screen. Since I was typically just using the defaults, pressing the Enter/Return key usually worked. One tip for working with Ubuntu windows here is to hold down the Alt/Opt key and then drag the window so you can see more.

The installation proceeded normally and the machine rebooted. On this first reboot, extra installation steps were being performed, so it was slower than later ones. I did notice that many more messages were being displayed, presumably for debugging the beta.

The start-up and primary Ubuntu window looked good, as did the new graphic design. I didn’t get too deeply into it, but I did notice that Firefox did not terminate and restart correctly after installing addons. I suppose I could have killed the process but instead I rebooted. The new addons were present after that.

Another oddity was that I got an alert about a possibly damaged battery that supposedly had less than 2% capacity. Since the battery actually had more than 60% charge, something odd was happening. Ignoring the message caused no problems.

I started looking around the new Ubuntu Software Center but didn’t get too far. Being a beta, I suppose, it had fewer apps than I thought would be there.

The wifi worked! This is a major win for me.

All in all, this was a pretty successful installation and I’m looking forward to the final release version for this netbook machine.

VMWare Fusion on a MacBook Pro

I did the usual installation of a Linux image under VMWare Fusion. I even installed the very latest VMWare Fusion version before I started. VMWare wanted to do an “East Installation” and I let it. Evidently my initial password was too short and this froze the installation when Ubuntu asked if I really wanted such an insecure word for password.

I shut down VMWare Fusion, went to my Documents folder and deleted the VMWare image that had been created, and started again.

This time I got all the way through the installation with no obvious problems. However, on reboot the window went black and nothing I could do seemed to bring it back. Even shutting down the virtual machine and restarting it failed to work.

So this was a total fail. I’m not sure if the problem was with Ubuntu, VMWare, or me, but it was unusable. I’ll try again in a few weeks.

(Evidently other people have had this problem as well, judging by a comment to this entry.)

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4 Comments

  1. Hi. Had the exact same experience on a MBP with VMWare. Probably not a problem with you then. :)

  2. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for trying out the Beta and helping to improve Ubuntu!

    Did you report the problems you found as bugs?

    Also, catch up for a chat sometime soon. It was great to see you at LinuxCon!

    Jono

  3. Installed Koala as a Sun Virtualbox virtual machine with no problems. (Jaunty host on a Dell Studio). Agreed that KK is much quicker. The KK virtual machine behaves much better than a similarly configured Jaunty guest installation.
    I expect to try the dual-boot option shortly

  4. I did Other Linux 64-bit instead of Ubuntu to avoid the vmware-tools installation, then installed open-vm-tools from the ubuntu repos and it works successfully under VMWare Fusion 2.0.6. vmware-tools seems to be the cause of the blank screen.

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