GNU/Linux on HP Mini 1116NR

I got an HP Mini 1116NR. It has a solid state drive (16GB), so I hope I can commute more easily with it, even if I’m cycling or even running (it fits snugly in my very small camelbak-like pocket!).

It came with XP (yes, I actually paid for something that is bundled with Microsoft)… ugh, even though it could just as easily be sold with MIE.

So I had three obvious choices of what to use for overwriting the bundled OS:

  1. HP’s own version of (Ubuntu) GNU/Linux: “MIE”
  2. Ubuntu NBR
  3. Ubuntu desktop

I created a bootable USB (in Ubuntu, use System-> Administration-> Startup USB Creator;  or for a slightly better option, install unetbootin) for installing (each of) these.

I installed MIE, creating a separate partition for /home (you should always do this, on any platform!) and two partitions for operating systems that will share the same /home.

The wireless worked immediately.  Then I let the OS
update itself. After that, there was no driver for the wireless card. I have tried a lot since to make it work again. No luck.

I installed Ubuntu NBR.

There was no working driver for the wireless card.

I installed Ubuntu Desktop.

There was no working driver for the wireless card.

It’s not immediately obvious why to install NBR over the Desktop version of Ubuntu; the desktop looks fine on the normal version.

Getting basics working under Ubuntu NBR

wireless

The wired network worked immediately after installation of Ubuntu (9.10) NBR. I added more (all) repositories, ie through System->Admin->Software Sources.

I used package manager (in System) to search for “broadcom”. Alternatively, “apt-cache search broadcom” gives the same list:

b43-fwcutter – Utility for extracting Broadcom 43xx firmware
bcmwl-modaliases – Modaliases for the Broadcom 802.11 Linux STA driver
bcmwl-kernel-source – Broadcom 802.11 Linux STA wireless driver source
bcm5700-source – module source for Broadcom’s bcm5700 ethernet driver

I installed bcmwl-kernel-source (ie “sudo apt-get install bcmwl-kernel-source” from the command line), rebooted, and Voila! Wireless works perfectly (N.B.: there’s a switch on the front to turn on power to the wireless antenna — this is needed if wireless appears to be working but you see no networks).

[Update: in Ubuntu 10.04beta / Lucid Lynx, you can just use the hardware drivers option under System/Admin.  But what if you don’t have a wired connection?]

Graphics abilities?

Now, went to software centre, searched for compiz; installed simple settings  manager (apt-get install simple-ccsm)…
Then system->preferences->appearance-> visual effects ->custom

So… compiz with transparent 3D windows on  multidesktop cylinder, etc. works fine on this little netbook.
But can I drive an external monitor? There is no such port… According to the specs, it looks like the graphics could drive a second display, but I will need to find a hardware cable adaptor.

Update: I bought the cable adaptor (30$ or so). The graphics card drives a full-sized monitor with 3D, etc. But I had some trouble [update: only with 9.10]  with extended desktop. Worse, it seems to need to boot attached in order to find the display? Worse, , when it sleeps it loses the display. Worse, when I run “Display settings” from the System menu, it immediately changes the settings or locks up. Hmm..

Update: With Ubuntu 10.04, there are no problems. A hot-plug connection to an external monitor works perfectly. Just running “Monitors” dialog immediately jumps to full extended desktop..

Sound

The microphone didn’t work immediately.  Easy fix, though: Under “sound preferences”, there were three choices for the hardware: line in, mic 1, and mic 2.  Choosing “line in” worked perfectly, and then the default Skype settings for audio/video work perfectly.

Mouse

I asked Ubuntu to make multi-touch scrolling work (the mouse menu offers such) but it didn’t.  Scrolling down the side of the touch pad works.

offline gmail

I installed gears and then offline gmail. I got a notice that I could not run gears due to my operating system not being compatible (linux-x86-gcc3  … what is the gcc3 doing there?), yet it seems to run and sync.

Other

I installed lyx, emacs, offlineimap, sshfs, skype (and the medibuntu repositories, which for some reason didn’t provide skype), compiled the maildir-enhanced version of alpine, …

The fan

The fan seems to be working fine. At least, it does automatically throttle to different levels. There has been some talk of the fan on this model staying on high. But not so under Ubuntu NBR, at least…

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4 Responses to GNU/Linux on HP Mini 1116NR

  1. Randall says:

    Good to hear you’re getting this sorted out, and thanks for documenting your progress to help out others.

    Just want to let you know (and others in Vancouver too) that we have a very active local Ubuntu group that meets regularly. Join us here: http://meetup.com/ubuntuvancouver

    Cheers,
    Randall
    Ubuntu Vancouver Buzz Generator

  2. SeattleSteve says:

    Hey thanks for the info. The fix for wireless works.

    I have the HP MIE and Ubuntu 9.10 netbook remix dual booted.

    I like that HP MIE works perfect (drivers etc), but I had problems tethering a Nokia cellphone as a modem since it is 8.04lts.

    The Nokia tethers perfectly on 9.10 netbook.

  3. redterp says:

    Great writeup.

    I have the same HP Mini 1116nr and just put in Ubuntu NR. The trouble I am running into is with the wireless setup.

    I tried to follow your instructions but since I have no connection the steps fail with a connection fail error.

    The only driver I see (and installed) is bcmwl-modaliases – Modaliases for the Broadcom 802.11 Linux STA driver

    Any idea on how I can d/l and instal bcmwl-kernel-source ?
    Thanks.

    CJ

    • CJ,

      I just had the same problem as you; the bcmwl-kernel-source package was not available to me. It became available, however, after I enabled all repositories and ran sudo apt-get update while connected via wired ethernet, of course.

      Alternately, you can grab the .deb file for the package here. You’ll also need to find karmic .deb files for the following packages as well:

      dkms
      fakeroot
      patch

      as these are dependencies of the broadcom drivers.

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