Skip to content

Documenting EeePCs S.O. upgrade to dual boot system with Linux Mint 12 (Gnome / MATE) without partitioning HD


  • Introduction

  • Motivation

  • Technical procedures description

  • Step by step description of system install and cloning of the units

  • Procedures to be repeated in all units for basic dual boot setup

  • Procedures to be used only in the master unit for imaging purposes

  • Procedures to clone the virtual disks in the different units

  • Basic performance tests carried out so far

  • Instructional use of the units under the new configuration

  • Intended instructional use of the units after testing period

  • Problems found and solutions adopted

  • How to undo the whole process in the units

  • Links used to download the software

  • Useful information links

  • Hardware description

20 EeePCs (netbooks) have been set-up to have a dual boot system with Windows XP / Windows 7 Professional and Linux Mint 12 (Gnome - MATE) without partitioning the hard disks to prevent significant system modifications in the units. Linux Mint 12 is based on Ubuntu 11.10.

The option has been chosen to support the “wubi-style” installation method. This type of installation of Linux distros has the advantage of using virtual disk and the NTFS (windows advanced file system), avoiding the need of creating o resizing existing partitions.

Whereas Wubi only supports Ubuntu original distros, there is an old version of Linux Mint (currently in its version 17), version 12, that has a wubi clone available and compiled for the installation of this ubuntu-derived version in Windows systems (mint4win).
Linux Mint has been chosen because Ubuntu standard versions do not include certain proprietary software necessary for our everyday instructional use, such as Shockwave, Flash and others. Linux Mint includes all this software in the basic install so there is no need to configure these tools beyond the distro default config. Besides, the general appearance of the distro is not so far away from the environment the students are used to (Windows-based environment vs. Ubuntu Unity touch screen interface).

Advantages of using this wubi-style approach are obvious. No partitions are needed so all processes are reversible. On the other hand, the main disadvantage is that virtual disk storage is very sensitive to forced shutdowns. However, in this case, having a master unit that will be cloned, the only problem this situation may imply is the need to clone again the unit following the steps that will be explained below.


The units are too old for upgrading to newer O.S. and present several maintenance problems. Being unsupported, no hardware update is affordable or assumed as a possibility. Starting and keeping sessions alive without blocking the units is difficult, and they take between 10 and 15 minutes to start up or come awake from suspended status. However, the hardware is still usable.

The hypothesis is that those units could come alive again using a low-resource demanding O.S. as Linux. Installation, troubleshooting and maintenance will be under the project person in charge responsibility.

The premise is that all units must be able to be restored to the original setup if the project does not prove to be useful or functional.

No further permissions are granted to the Responsible person beyond the current AD / group policy restrictions and limitations.

For installation purposes, all machines will be started and logged in using the protected network student user / password combination except for the installation of the software in which administrative rights are required. In this case, the responsible person will use his personal user account and all administrative programs will be run under this account.


  1. Creation of “Master image”.

  2. Setup of the original master to meet the basic configuration expectations (system upgrades, user accounts, administrative processes, wifi connection, browser home page setup, basic software needed to run the web apps used in the instructional process).

  3. Installation of the wubi-style software in all the units.

  4. Dual boot configuration with Linux Mint as default S.O.

  5. Cloning of the virtual disks into the units to avoid individual setup.

  6. Production status and analysis of performance in real classroom environment / use.


Each machine is identified sequentially (#1, #2, #3…) to describe the moment in which they have been set up. Unit identified as #1 is the “Master image”. All modifications of Master images that involve remastering all the units for major system upgrades will be applied in the Master unit first. This unit is not intended for everyday use although it could be used with students if needed under teacher’s supervision.

As the wubi / mint4win install generates an unique identifier for each virtual disk (UUID) the cloning of the units will require additional setup steps to modify the MBR / Grub config so the start process can find the virtual disk to start the system.

These IDs are required to re-clone the units if any of the virtual disks are broken or damaged. If any of the UUIDs are not available, the unit will require to uninstall and reinstall the mint4win software that allows Windows to use the virtual disks and allow Linux Mint to run under the NTFS (Windows file system).



These require about 35 minutes but for the most part is unattended.

  1. Start the unit and login into the Windows environment using the student user / password combination.

  2. Install Linux Mint 12 (GNOME - MATE 32 bits) using mint4win (“run as” user “ad\teacheraccount”).

  3. Select 5Gb for virtual disks size.

  4. Modify the admin user of the virtual S.O. to "adminaccount" and the admin password to “xxxxx”.

  5. Install the app.

  6. DO NOT reboot the system yet.

  7. Open a cmd.exe console (using the file explorer, we cannot use the menu link because the “run as” option in the menu link needs to have set up environment variables that we cannot modify by system policy). Go to WINDOWS - SYSTEM32 - CMD.EXE, use the contextual menu to “run as”. User “ad\teacheraccount”.

  8. Type “sysdm.cpl” and press ENTER.

  9. In the “Advanced” tab select the option of “Linux Mint” for the Windows boot loader.

  10. Reboot the machine.

  11. Allow the linux system to install entirely (takes about 20-25 minutes per unit but it is an unattended process).

  12. Reboot the unit.

  13. When the boot loader shows the menu (Linux Mint [default option] / Windows XP or Windows 7) allow the system to boot in the default option after the timeout or press Enter.

  14. The system is installed and running with the default options. No customization entered yet beyond the admin user and password combination. Although the "adminaccount" user has been entered in the mint4win window selection, the admin username is “teacheraccount”. It’s probably a version issue that has not been solved. It will be changed later in the master unit. Use the admin password selected to log in if needed.

(require between two and three hours, being the update process the slowest. That part may be unattended.)

  1. Modify username from “teacheraccount” to "adminaccount" (admin user).

  2. Create standard account student with password student.

  3. Modify software sources to “old-release”. See more information below in “useful links”.

  4. Update system.

  5. Optional: delete “guest account”.

  6. Optional: configure wifi network for all users.

  7. Optional: change login screen background.

  8. Optional: change default windows manager (GNOME or MATE).

  9. End of Admin session. Close "adminaccount" user session.

  10. Login as student user.

  11. Optional: Change background.

  12. Create Firefox homepage resource index page mantained by the project responsible person.

  13. Create Firefox shortcut on the Desktop.

  14. Add Firefox to StartUp Applications.

  15. Close session.

(Require between 15-20 minutes per unit but the most part is unattended).

Steps that must be used only once to obtain the master image of the virtual disks from the master unit.

  1. Start machine using a “live CD/USB” distro.

  2. Copy “c:\linuxmint\disks\root.disk” and “c:\linuxmint\disks\swap.disk” to external storage (need approximately 10 Gb).

  3. Close session.

Steps to be carried out in all imaged / cloned units:

  1. Power on the netbook.

  2. Select “Linux mint” or wait for default option to start.

  3. When grub menu appears, press “e” to access grub options configuration file.

  4. Write down the unit UUID (it should appear twice. It is an alphanumeric sequence of 16 digits and letters in Hexadecimal notation).

  5. Power off netbook.

  6. Start netbook using a “live CD/USB” distro.

  7. Copy the master “root.disk” and “swap.disk” files to “c:\linuxmint\disks\”. Overwrite the original files.

  8. Reboot the unit.

  9. Select “Linux mint” or wait for default option to start.

  10. When grub menu appears, press “e” to access grub options configuration file.

  11. Modify the UUID (it will be the Master copy UUID) to the one that you wrote down in step 4.

  12. Press Control-X to start the netbook.

  13. Login as "adminaccount" (admin) user.

  14. Run “sudo update-grub” to make permanent the changes you made in step 11. This will rebuild the menu.list entries for grub to start with the correct UUIDs.

  15. Close admin session.

  16. Login as student user.

  17. Configure Wifi if necessary. You will need to enter the admin password to connect to the wifi network. This should be necessary ONLY THE FIRST TIME.

  18. Close session or lock screen.

PERFORMANCE TESTS CARRIED OUT SO FAR (2 years of 20 units in production use).

  • The units are powered on and running in less than two minutes.

  • After the login process the student finds his Firefox opened in less than one minute with the resources page loaded if no network problems are present.

  • No further problems found apart from the habitual issues that should be easily set up and solved. Nothing to do with the continuous issues related to lack of connection, system blockage and freezing, strange windows opening due to adware connections…

  • Units can be suspended and recovered in less than 30 seconds.


Most apps used are web-based applications.


During the mastering of the first unit we took for granted that the default values that mint4win proposes for the virtual disk files (17Gb) were valid. This proved to be an error because the Intel Atom processors and the amount of memory available in the units (1Gb) are not able to manage this file size in an acceptable performance level.

Second mastering process adopted a more restrictive method assuming that the units will not need more than 7Gb of system space to run smoothly, taking into account that the primary use for which they are being set up is web-based apps use (no additional software installed in the units apart from the basic software needed for the O.S. and the Internet connectivity). There are different ways to increase virtual disk size if necessary in the future. Status of the problem: SOLVED.

Being an old release, all repositories for software upgrade are obsolete. They were changed manually to connect to the “old-releases” repositories for Ubuntu unsupported versions. They will only receive basic / critical updates. After the sources update, the (master) system downloads about 400Mb of new updates. Status of the problem: SOLVED.

The organization’s wifi “PROTECTED-NETWORK” requires the use of a certificate to connect the units to the protected network environment. Although we have tried to connect the units to this network using the user account of the responsible person we have not been able to connect successfully. After some attempts, we decided to leave for later this issue and focus on the test based on the units performance. All units can be connected via wired connection (fortunately there is one switch available) or using the OPEN-WIFI-NETWORK wifi network. As no usernames / passwords will be used for accessing personal information and all the usernames and passwords used in the web-based apps are under the control of the person in charge, the risks of security holes in the open wifi accesses are minimum. Status of the problem: UNSOLVED.

As the units cannot be updated because the S.O. is obsolete, after a few months of use we had to install the newest version of Firefox to be able to use Flash and other apps by downloading it and setting it up as a standalone application instead of using the repositories. This process is time-consuming but once it is setup, Firefox will keep your units up-to-date by running the updates from time to time. Status of the problem: SOLVED.


Power on the Units. Select “Windows” as start option and login with student user / password combination. Use “mint4win-uninstall” in “c:\linuxmint\” folder (“Run as” with admin or ad\teacheraccount user).
The “boot.ini” entry should have been deleted as well after uninstalling. If not, delete manually opening cmd.exe with admin rights and executing “sysdm.cpl”.



  1. Linux Mint Official Home Page:

  2. Old-releases and distro upgrades:

  3. Ubuntu Official Wubi Guide:

  4. Ubuntu 11.10 release notes:

  5. How to copy a wubi install between machines:

  6. How to make programs run automatically in Linux Mint 12:


  • Netbooks:
    ASUS EeePC 1002HA.
    Intel Atom CPU N270 @ 1.60 GHz
    0.99 GB RAM


No Trackbacks


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

No comments

Add Comment

Enclosing asterisks marks text as bold (*word*), underscore are made via _word_.
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.
E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.

Form options

Submitted comments will be subject to moderation before being displayed.