After spending a few days playing with eeeXubuntu, I decided that I'd really like to have Xubuntu on my Eee PC. I'm almost ready to give up Xandros entirely, but it'd be nice to see what system updates and other tweaks eventually come from Asus. And there are still a few things that are easier to do in Xandros than eeeXubuntu right now, like use the internal microphone and webcam. But I'm pretty sure a bit of tinkering will get those working.

On the other hand, I've found that Xandros won't recognize my new Sony PCM-D50 digital audio recorder as an external flash drive, which is almost a deal breaker. When I'm using eeeXubuntu, all I have to do is plug the PCM-D50 into the USB port and it pops up as a mounted disk.

Although I don't expect to do a lot of audio editing in the field with my Eee PC, it would be nice to have the option. And using Xandros, there's no way to move audio recordings from the PCM-D50 to the Eee PC.

Anyway, so I've been shooting for the best of both worlds. I figured I'd keep Xandros on the SSD (internal memory), and install eeeXubuntu on a 4GB SD card that I had lying around. Unfortunately, I can't seem to configure GRUB properly. First I tried installing GRUB on the SD card, but I kept getting errors 15 or 21 on boot (which I believe meant that either GRUB couldn't find the Linux kernel, or couldn't find the disk at all).

So I decided to try installing GRUB on the SSD, figuring it would slow down my Xandros boot time a little bit, but that I'd be able to choose between operating systems without holding Esc during bootup to select which disk I want to boot from. After waiting about an hour for eeeXubuntu to finish installing to my SD card, I removed my USB stick, rebooted, and got an error. Great, now I couldn't boot into either Xandros or eeeXubuntu. Sure, both operating systems were sitting there just waiting for me to use them, but my boot record was messed up.

After a little searching, I found this life-saving tip at the Eee User forums: you can download a file that features just the first 64 sectors of a default Eee PC installation and restore your boot record. Thanks to Eee User Qatz for both hosting the file and explaining how to install it.

I still can't boot into eeeXubuntu on my SD card, but at least I have a working Xandros installation again. I'll let you know if/how I get my dual boot system configured. Or I might just decide to go ahead and wipe out Xandros and install eeeXubuntu soon.

Update: You ever bang your head against the wall for a good day or two trying to solve a problem only to realize that there's a pretty simple solution that's been staring you in the face all along?

Since I've been running eeeXubuntu from the LiveCD, when I install GRUB on my SD card, the card is labeled /dev/sdc by Xubuntu, and (hd2) by GRUB. But when I reboot my machine and tell it to boot from the SD card, GRUB thinks the SD card is (hd0), because that's what it's booting from. So all I had to do to boot into eeeXubuntu was hit E when GRUB came up to edit the first entry, change (hd2) to (hd0) and hit B to boot. And voila!, I'm writing this entry from eeeXubuntu on my Eee PC.

Of course, the developer behind eeeXubuntu plans to push out a new release sometime this weekend that will provide a bit more functionality. For example, the webcam will work and you'll be able to use the function keys to turn the volume up and down. So I'll probably be installing eeeXubuntu at least one more time before starting to customize it and make it homey.


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