Installing Ubuntu 5.10 on a Mini-ITX VIA EPIA ME6000 (just for fun)

I can see

Optiquest Q7The other day I discovered a great deal on a 17″ flat panel monitor (with integrated speakers!) on buy.com (only $150 after googling around for a $10 affiliate discount).

Granted it only takes VGA input, but I’ve had this little VIA EPIA computer hanging around without a monitor that I’ve been meaning to install Ubuntu on. It arrived Friday so I plugged everything together, burned an Ubuntu 5.10 install ISO onto CD, and got the process underway.

Round 1

The installation went smoothly, if not sluggishly (the VIA EPIA is not big iron) while I did the dishes. It finished the first phase of the installation, ejected the CD, and rebooted. Again, things went smoothly until at some point it started producing the following error messages:

/usr/sbin/termwrap: line 140 $tmpfile: ambiguous redirect
/usr/sbin/base-config: line 31 /var/log/base-config.timings: read-only file system

…in succession, followed by:

Id "1" respawning too fast: disabled for 5 mins

…and then the whole process would repeat. Round about that time, Stephanie came over, so I gave up for night and we went out for dinner.

Round 2

I started over again this evening, and this time I got the following error during the partitioning phase of the installation:

Input/output error during read on /dev/ide/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/disc
ERROR!!!

Well we all know when operating systems output an error message like ERROR!!! we’re in teh trouble. I tried it once more and got the same message. A little Googling around didn’t turn up much except that I might have a bad IDE cable (or possibly hard drive?).

Conveniently my dad just returned my old, circa-2002 X-series Thinkpad, it having been rendered non-functional for the last 2 years thanks to a busted system board, so out came its 30GB Travelstar hard drive and into the VIA EPIA system it went (which conveniently takes a laptop size hard drive). We have liftoff!

Took a heckuva long time (we’re talking 600 MHz here folks) but at least we got to a GUI. And then I went to check out the networking settings the system froze. Hard reboot.

Networking

So I’m probably not going to set this thing up within reach of my cable modem-cum-router-cum-wireless access point, so I ran out and picked up the cheapest USB 802.11G Wireless adapter I could find, a Hawking HWU54G for $34. Now the question is, can I get Ubuntu to detect it and get me online.

Just futsing around, I went to the Ubuntu device database collection. The system freezes again. Hard reboot. Things are not looking promising. Conveniently however Hawking actually offers drivers for Linux but they require the kernel source and following like 5 pages of broken English instructions to get everything configured. Yuck. Meanwhile checking some other innocuous setting, the system freezes again.

Next step: direct cable connection to my router, just to see if I can play around with Firefox. But sadly it doesn’t look like this VIA EPIA was intended to power a Linux desktop.


My 1st post in a series about running Ubuntu on a Mini-ITX.

Part 1: Installing Ubuntu on a Mini-ITX VIA EPIA ME6000
Part 2: Giving Ubuntu another go with Dapper Drake
Part 3: Ubuntu on a Mini-ITX, take 3
Part 4: Slowly chipping away at unknowns
Part 5: Ubuntu up and running!

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