Wednesday, November 11, 2009

UNR 9.10 and Lenovo S10-2 - Bad Karma

This blog describes my adventures with trying to install Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook Remix (codenamed Karmic Kaola) on my trusty Lenovo S10-2 Ideapad netbook. As most of the world knows by now (except those living under a coconut shell :)) Canonical recently introduced their latest incarnation of the Ubuntu Linux OS version 9.10. One of the release is meant specially for installation on a netbook and this is the one I used for installing on my S10-2. For the test I used a spare blank 160Gb hard disk that I normally used for trying out new OS.

Using my desktop PC, I downloaded the ISO image of the Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook Remix (UNR for short) and burnt it to a CD. As mentioned in my previous blogs, I have a Samsung external slim DVD drive for use with my S10-2 netbook and I will use this drive to boot up UNR on the S10-2. The reason why I wanted to do this was to create a USB startup or boot disk version of the UNR - the Ubuntu web site did mention that the UNR CD is a "Live CD" with the ability to create such a disk. I powered up the S10-2, pressed F12 at the BIOS screen and selected the DVD drive as my boot drive.

Now is a good time to mention a peculiarity of the S10-2 when using an external CD or DVD drive as a boot drive. Normally, you would not have a disc (CD or DVD) in the drive upon startup and the tray can only be opened when power is present (ie, when you power up the netbook). Entering the BIOS boot drive selection menu (via F12), the tray can then be opened and the disc inserted into the drive and then the tray closed. The drive then goes through a normal "read" process and the drive light will blink while it is doing this. When the drive light goes off the drive should be ready for use. Selecting the DVD drive as the boot drive in the BIOS menu and then pressing the Enter key should enable the boot process using the DVD drive - instead the netbook chose the network boot (via PXE) or from the hard disk, if you happen to have a bootable hard disk in the S10-2 - NOT what you expected. This ALWAYS happen unless the netbook is restarted (via the Ctrl-Alt-Delete method) with the disc in the DVD drive and prior to selecting the DVD drive (via F12) as the boot drive. Then, and ONLY THEN, will the netbook boot from the DVD drive. I did not know whether this is caused by the S10-2 or the Samsung external DVD drive - in any event, users of the S10-2 need to remember to restart before attempting to boot off an external CD or DVD drive.

Anyway, back to the test. After booting from the UNR CD, I selected English as the language, and then the first item (Try UNR) in the start menu. After the UNR GUI appeared, I inserted the USB drive that I wanted to use, which was recognized by the OS and a file browser appeared. I closed the file browser. Then I clicked on System in the left-hand pane and then scrolled down on the right-hand pane until I saw the "USB Startup Disk Creator" icon. Double-clicking on this started the creation process where I had to specify the source and destination drives. After the process has completed, I shut down the netbook and then disconnected the DVD drive. I then rebooted the netbook using the USB drive as my boot drive. Again selecting "Try UNR" (first item on the startup menu), I waited for the desktop GUI to appear. Note that I did not connect the S10-2 to my home network via the ethernet - I wanted the S10-2 + UNR to automatically discover my wireless AP - at least I hope it will. If the previous version of UNR (ie, version 9.04) can do it, why not this latest version?

The UNR GUI appeared with the startup sound - a good sign that sound worked with the S10-2. However, wireless connection was not detected (see picture below).

After a few minutes, a message popped up saying proprietary hardware drivers are available for my S10-2. Clicking on the icon on the taskbar opened a dialog box listing 2 Broadcom (my wireless network chipset) drivers. Not knowing which one was the correct one I selected the "B43 wireless driver" and then click on the "Activate" button. It then showed a message "Downloading and installing driver..." which I assumed it meant it was accessing the USB drive for the driver since there was no network to download from. After a while the message disappeared and I was back at the dialog box, which still showed that the drive was not activated. Figuring that I had selected the wrong driver, I then selected the other item "Broadcom STA wireless driver" and pressed the "Activate button" (see picture below).

It again showed a message "Downloading and installing driver..." After a while when nothing happened, I found out that the system had frozen - I could move the mouse pointer but clicking on any item produced no result. I then tried the Ctrl-Alt-Del method to restart the S10-2 but was not successful. The only thing I could do was press the on-off button to power off the netbook. Not a good introduction to the new OS!

I restarted the netbook in order to try again - perhaps the problem was caused by me choosing the wrong driver at first. This time at the hardware driver dialog box, I selected the "Broadcom STA wireless driver" and then pressed the "Activate button". It again showed a message "Downloading and installing driver..." but now a brown bar began moving back and forth on the message box and the whole system froze again!!!! At this point I said several expletives at Canonical (which I shall not repeat here). Hey Mr. Shuttleworth - why fix something that wan not broken in the first place? If the wireless drivers was working in version 9.04, why change it to not working in 9.10???? Stupid idea!!! Anyway I decided to stop here and do some research on this issue. Stay tuned...


  1. Hi. The issue here is the order in which the drivers are installed, as far as I understand it. I tried and succeeded. If you read the description of the drivers, the B43 driver is needed to load the STA driver, so you start with the B43, then do the STA, then reboot and it works. At least mine does!

  2. Hollinch,

    I did try installing the B43 drivers first but was unsuccessful. I think there is something wrong with the 'Hardware Drivers' utility. If I install the drivers using 'dpkg' or Synaptic Package Manager then I get 100% success (see my newer blogs) all the time.

  3. Very interesting post. I did manage to get wifi working in UNR on WUBI using the Broadcom driver in Synaptic Package Manager.

    Can I ask which model Samsung external DVD drive you have? My UNR install got corrupted and I'd like to make an XP restore disk before doing a proper clean UNR installation. I've been unable to burn disks with a non-branded slim USB DVD burner or with a DVD burner in a USB caddy, and I also need to be sure I can boot off the USB drive as I gather this can be a problem.

  4. Giles,
    The Samsung external DVD drive that I have has the model number SE-S084. I can boot off this drive but due to some peculiarity of the S10-2, I need to make sure that the disc is recognized as a boot disk upon powering up. See my blog on installing UNR 9.10 using an external DVD drive for my comments on this.