The Samsung NB30 is a great little machine and if you get the model with a touchscreen it can be a nice way to fully enjoy the new Ubuntu Unity netbook interface. I recently treated myself to one of these and now have Ubuntu 10.10 installed with (hopefully) everything working. I'll be writing much more about this netbook and touch screen interfaces in future blog posts but first to get the features working that don't work out of the box, or don't work well straight after installing Ubuntu. These include WiFi, the touch screen, screen brightness adjustment and the hotkeys.
The first step is to install Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition which has the new Unity interface (although you can switch back to the traditional Ubuntu interface on the log in screen if you wish). Not everything will work smoothly but thanks to OMG! Ubuntu! I found an answer to these issues in the form of the “Linux on my Samsung” forum and Personal Package Archive maintained by Fortunato Ventre. Follow the instructions at https://launchpad.net/~voria/+archive/ppa to add this PPA to the software sources for your machine. Once configured I installed the kernel image (open Synaptic and click on LP-PPA-voria/maverick to see the contents of the PPA and find the kernel image and other files required). It might be necessary to reboot after this step.
The NB30 contains the RTL8192E WiFi chipset. There are plenty of reports of problems with this chipset on the Ubuntu Forums and even though Ubuntu comes with a driver for this chip I had lots of problems with WiFi connections being unreliable and connection difficulties. Fortunately the Linux on my Samsung PPA contains a driver that seems to work (it has worked so far anyway). The steps needed are to install the new driver and make sure any conflicting drivers do not load.
Firstly install the samsung-wireless package from the PPA. Now edit the file /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf and add the following lines:
Hopefully upon reboot the WiFi should start behaving itself.
This turned out to be easier than I thought to get working. The basic method I used came from Samiux's Blog, but I found I did not need all of the steps and it seemed to be a simpler process on the NB30. The touchscreen is an Egalax device it seems but it had a different model number to the one in the post. Typing lsusb in a terminal showed the entry for the touchscreen:
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 0eef:480e D-WAV Scientific Co., Ltd
I could use these hex numbers and adapt the instructions in the Samiux blog post. I amended /etc/default/grub (sudo nano /etc/default/grub) and made sure the “GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT” line said this:
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash usbhid.quirks=0xeef:0x480e:0x40"
After saving the file run this command:
Don't reboot yet though. We now need to stop a conflicting driver from loading, in the terminal enter:
sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
At the end of this file add this line:
Save the file and reboot the machine. The touch screen should now (fingers crossed) work. I haven't tried anything to do with multitouch yet, if you want to explore this topic have look at: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Multitouch.
Screen Brightness Control
Install the samsung-backlight package from the Linux on my Samsung PPA and the brightness control should work.
Install the samsung-tools package from the Linux on my Samsung PPA. If you open a terminal and enter samsung-tools-preferences you can map the hotkeys as you wish.
So a little bit of extra work in addition to the normal Ubuntu install to get the NB30 working but thanks to the work already done by others in the open source world it is possible to overcome the final few hurdles. Now it is working, I'm looking forward to seeing what the NB30 is capable of!