Dual Booting Android and Linux on Asus Transformer Part Two
A few months ago I wrote a post detailing how to dual boot Android 2.3 and Ubuntu 11.04on the Asus Transformer TF101 tablet. This has become by far the most popular content on this blog. However, development has moved on and the process is now much, much easier than previously.
I am not going to go through all the steps required again, which may make this a short update. Basically, go to the Wiki page and follow the very good instructions there.
I did not care very much about the data already on my Android tablet, so I ignored the Backup sections, skipping straight down to “Installing Ubuntu.” Well, I did take the time to read the earlier sections very carefully, and one thing to note is that the described method is designed to be completed from a computer running Linux. Apparently it is possible with Windows too, the Wiki has a very short section on this, but if you want to run Linux on the Transformer, it is assumed you already have a machine with this operating system available. If you don’t, it may be best to create a bootable USB stick with Linux on it.
The new version of this process is as simple as downloading one 850MB file, extracting it, connecting your Transformer, running a script from the command line and following the presented instructions. The total time taken to have a dual bootable device ready for use depends on your available bandwidth for the download, but I was finished within an hour late one evening.
Despite what the Wiki intimates, I didn’t bother with building a custom kernel to activate the mousepad, this all seemed to work correctly using the OLiFE Prime download.
In terms of performance, I found Ubuntu 11.10, with the new Unity interface to be a bit slow and unresponsive at times. Instead, I installed the Lightweight Desktop Environment (LXDE). After making a few changes to the default apperances and theme, I now have a very nice looking Linux installation which performs admirable when compared with my three year old Asus eeePC netbook.
All default installed Ubuntu applications are available from the menu, and I am writing this within Firefox running in Linux on the Transformer. I have not yet tried all functions – webcam, mini-HDMI port, keyboard shortcuts etc – but I am assuming some will work, some won’t. The key thing to remember is that the Asus Transformer has an ARM processor and Linux development for this is still in its infancy.
Overall, this new process is a tremendous improvement over the old method. Steve Barker and associated developers have done a great job in making this whole thing much more accessible. And development hasn’t stopped yet! I wonder what the new Asus Transformer Prime, recently announced, will bring to the table.