Meego 1.1 on Toshiba nb 200 rocks

I recently axed Ubuntu on my netbook. Even if it perfomed correctly, I felt it was a bit overkill with netbook and did not cope well with the small screen. Panning with alt+mouse is ok, but I didn’t feel right.

I decided to go with Meego, a Linux from the Linux foundation. I just love the new interface, but I must say the stock system (speaking of 1.1) is a bit limited. You cannot simply expect to use the package manager to add missing things, it’s gonna be a little more complicated than this.  Please read carefully the Disclaimer before trying anything…messing with partition is dangerous for your data…always do a backup first.

Packages aren’t so many at the moment and even understanding what to install can be a problem. Installation is easy (instructions provided here) and uneventuful. The image is a liveimage, you can try before installing. I tried the interesting option install on “existing linux partitions” and it worked without damaging the XP and Vista recovery partition. I used automatic partitioning, no custom partition scheme this time, as Meego is peculiar, and uses btrfs file system. I choose to have the XP partition as default boot option. At reboot I discover this is not the case, meego will boot itself. More messing with the boot manager to have the chance to use XP again. So I googled and found where to mess with the bootmanager.

My /boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf now looks as (changes in bold):

# extlinux.conf generated by anaconda

prompt 0
timeout 100

default vesamenu.c32
menu autoboot Starting MeeGo…
#menu hidden

[… color and graphic stuff]
label 2.6.35.3-12.1-netbook
menu label MeeGo (2.6.35.3-12.1-netbook)
kernel vmlinuz-2.6.35.3-12.1-netbook
append ro root=/dev/sda6 quiet vga=current
label meego
menu label MeeGo (2.6.35.3-10.3-netbook)
kernel vmlinuz-2.6.35.3-10.3-netbook
append ro root=/dev/sda6 quiet vga=current
label Other
menu label Xp
menu default
kernel chain.c32
append boot 1

After a quick glance at it, I realize that:

  • Interface is fantastic. Much better than Ubuntu Netbook Remix :)
  • Meego does not mount NTFS partitions. No way, out of the box :(:(
  • Boot is slow, compared to Ubuntu 10.10 x86 :|
  • Mp3, videos and stuff won’t play out of the box :(:(
  • Package management (Zypp) is decent  :)
  • There aren’t many packages yet :|. Use the source, Luke.
  • Build environment is fine, so building from source is not a problem :). Even for kernel modules, no problems
  • Wpa2 Enterprise seems to be unsupported :( :( :( :(
  • Wine can be installed from Fedora RPM and works :):):):)
  • /home/<user>/bin is included in $PATH by default, so putting programs there will make them available immediately :)
  • Archive manager does not support RAR files by default (can be fixed) and encrypted RAR at all (cannot be fixed afaik) :(
  • Omnibook kernel modules for Toshiba aren’t in the stock kernel :|
  • sound speakers work out of the box. This is great as they didn’t use to work even in Ubuntu 10.10 (at least without messing with hda-intel. Didn’t try to). Those speakers are embarassing, so I think it’s a plus but not a big deal. Hey, it’s a netbook not high end hifi!

Basically Meego reminds me of Slackware, with a marvellous interface. There’s a lot of work to do to have a decent system, it lacks things that you would count on nowadays, but there’s no problem building them. I’ll try to outline what I had to do, but I took no notes so your mileage may vary.

  • MP3 and videos: meego has a marvellous media area, very userfriendly. Mp3 is mandatory today, so I decided to build the relevant gstreamer plugin to solve the empasse. Rather than going thru this by hand (it takes more than an hour) I used the excellent script from Setup Guides. The script requires superuser priviledges, so your best bet is to download and have a look to it before launching. As a bonus it will install some building tools you will require later.
  • NTFS: follow the obligatory forum thread. NTFS now works and I can mount my XP partition.
  • Firefox: it’s not in the repos. Just download the .tar.bz version from Mozilla and put it in /home/<user>/bin where <user> is your username. Firefox can be launched now. I suggest to do this before installing Wine.
  • Wine: I downloaded and installed RPMs from Sourceforge. You will need both Wine Gecko and wine. LTSPICE, EUREQA work normally.
  • RAR: archive manager does not support it. Instead of messing with rpm packages, I choosed to just download RAR for Linux. from Rarlabs and extract it into /home/<user>/bin. Archive manager now opens correctly unencrypted RAR without installing anything. No luck with Encrypted RARs.
  • Omnibook: can be solved, but it’s gonna be itchy. First install git from the repos using package manager. Then download the latest source from sourceforge:
    git clone git://omnibook.git.sourceforge.net/gitroot/omnibook/omnibook
    please note that the tarred sources won’t work.  As this is a kernel module, you will need kernel headers for the stock kernel to make it work. You can find them in the repos at the elaborate voice “Development package for building kernel modules to match the kernel”. If everything goes well,  

    sudo modprobe omnibook ectype=12

    should do the trick and enable bluetooth. Unfortunately you have to do this at boot,  and omnibook module doesn’t support MODULE_ALIAS, so at the moment I have to do this by hand. No way to make omnibook load at boot. Meanwhile I created the file /etc/modprobe.d/omnibook with:
    options omnibook ectype=12
    loading omnibook will make the BT module alive and you can use it. If you have any idea on how to launch omnibook at boot, please comment it out. Of course it’s gonna be recompiling this module every kernel update…let’s hope they include it sooner or later.
    It’s everything for the moment.

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