Over a year ago I attempted to install Ubuntu to my Toshiba NB205 and failed miserably. I would recommend extreme caution if you attempt to do this, but I finally got it working (though it took most of a day, spent simultaneously browsing and watching Deep Space 9 reruns). Problems/solutions below. I’m not going into details since frankly, if you’re not already very familiar with Linux, it’s a bad idea to try this.
I’m quite happy with my current Linux install, but I don’t know if I’d actually call it Ubuntu anymore. Calling it Ubuntu is like taking a VW bug, taking off the body, rebuilding the engine, turning it into a dune buggy, and then calling it a VW bug still. What I finally ended up with is a very small kernel running Fluxbox for a GUI (with conky, transparent aterm, and all the other fancy Fluxbox features).
Problem: failure to boot without pressing keys nonstop. It’s like the kernel just falls asleep while you’re booting, maybe waiting to probe some hardware, and pressing a key (shift, enter, whatever) seems to wake it back up.
Solution: I compiled a custom stripped down and Atom optimized kernel. The instructions for compiling your own kernel are too long and complex to put here, but instructions can be found on the internet here. Basically, I stripped out anything that wasn’t needed for my hardware, and I really have no idea which of the dozens/hundreds of things I stripped out actually fixed the problem. An easy workaround is simply to press the shift key repeatedly while booting so it’ll stop pausing.
Problem: Unable to boot with error “ALERT! /dev/disk/by-uuid/84b7f9ae-e9b3-44a5-8709-37f5bfb7d8e6 does not exist.”
Solution: When grub loads up, type ‘e’ on the Ubuntu entry and change the root=/dev/disk/blah/blah/blah to /dev/sda3, or whatever your Linux partition number is. For some reason using the UUID instead of the actual partition file was buggy after I installed. I haven’t gotten around to figuring out how to configure the new version of grub to stop using UUIDs and go back to the old schema.
Problem: Once Ubuntu is installed, Windows XP will blue screen of death with a STOP error when booting.
Solution: Use a Windows CD and get to the recovery console or command line, and then run “chkdsk C: /R” in order to fix the corrupted NTFS partition. Resizing the partition with gparted is the cause of this error, and it happens every time on this model of Toshiba for some reason.
Problem: Ubuntu netbook remix is too slow to be usable on the NB205.
Solution: For some reason, the NB205 just can’t seem to handle Gnome, and actually seemed to perform worse on the netbook remix GUI rather than the standard Gnome GUI. It’s not usable, but it is annoying. The solution is to switch to a lightweight window manager or GUI. I’m using Fluxbox right now, but you might prefer Xfce if you still want a lot of functionality.
Problem: Battery life is terrible.
Solution: When recompiling your kernel, change the default CPU governor to “ondemand” instead of “performance”. This will let the kernel use the Intel speedstep technology in the atom and lower the clock speed when it’s idle, increasing battery life to something that almost rivals windows. I’m sure there’s a way to load the needed modules and change the CPU governor without recompiling the kernel, but you’ll have to resort to Google for that one.