Got my hands on a new Samsung N220 Netbook. It came with Windows 7 starter pre-installed which isn’t ideal and so I decided to see how well Linux would fare. For the initial experiment I downloaded Kubuntu (Karmic) and made a live USB install. After moving the USB boot option up in the bios (turn on the Netbook and press F2), it booted up just fine and presented the normal KDE desktop.

Out of the box, this is what was working (or not):

  • The trackpad and both mouse buttons behave as normal
  • Wireless: Not Working
  • Ethernet: Working
  • External monitor: Yes but only to the extent that an image was trying to show. My monitor was shredding the image and flickering. I should note that my monitor is a 24″ widesceen monitor so it’s quite possible that this was an issue. Will update this if I test on a more sensible screen / projector.
  • Graphics are using VGA, will test more later as the Intel Pineview graphics chip looks like it’s supported in the xf86-video-intel 2.10.0 driver
  • Bluetooth: Working
  • Sound: Working
  • Microphone: Not working (tested using Skype)
  • Webcam: Working (tested using Skype)

With this all in mind (no wireless) I decided not to wipe off Windows quite yet. I used the Windows partitioning tool to shrink down the C:\ drive partition so that I could make a dual boot system. I then installed Kubuntu and rebooted into the nice new system. After this I connected the Netbook to my wired network and got online.

Getting Wireless working

I tried out two methods for getting wireless to work. I should note here that even though I got the wireless card working with ndiswrapper, I would recommend skipping ahead to installing the Realtek RTL 8192E driver as it performs much better.

NDiswrapper

I installed ndiswrapper and retrieved the RealTek wireless drivers from the Samsung website. After doing this the installation of the drivers was very straight forward. I found that I could find the local networks in the area but had lots of trouble connecting to my router, which is one of the better wireless routers on the market.

Realtek RTL 8192E Wireless driver

As there were issues with ndiswrapper, I carried on searching and came across this page. The part of the page that is of interest is:


#wireless
#Realtek RTL 8192E Wireless LAN 802.11n PCI-E NIC
wget http://www.dirk-hoeschen.de/temp/rtl819Xe.tar.gz
tar xzf rtl819Xe.tar.gz
./install.sh
#modprobe r8192_pci
iwconfig

These commands (with the exception of the lines starting with a # character) should typed at the command line.

I did not have to run the final two lines as KDE kindly informed me that my wireless card had been found just after I ran ./install.sh. I’m not actually sure why as I didn’t run the command as root so YMMV. With this driver the signal from all networks was noticeably higher than it was when using ndiswrapper and connection to my home router was quick and without issue. All in all a very happy result!

Wireless update

I’ve seen that some people who are installing Lucid are reporting that the Lucid kernel now has support for RTL8192E wireless devices. If you are planning on installing Linux on the Samsung N220 then I would highly recommend using a live distribution and finding out if wireless is enabled out of the box. This will save you the trouble of installing the above driver.

I can also report that after allowing Kubuntu to upgrade to either Lucid or Meerkat (I cannot remember right now and don’t have my netbook on me to verify which I upgraded to) wireless continues to work. I have no installed from scratch but at least upgrading did not break it!

Backlight Issues

Since getting the netbook I was not able to change the backlight setting. This meant that I was working with a dimmed screen. I finally got around to fixing this issue and I now have functioning brightness keys.

The solution that has worked for me was to install the samsung-backlight driver. I did this by adding the PPA to my sources list and installing the driver by executing the following commands:


sudo apt-add-repository ppa:voria/ppa
sudo aptitude update
sudo aptitude install samsung-backlight

The driver was successfully installed and after a reboot to check and see if the driver would automatically get loaded on boot I wasn’t disappointed to see that I was able to use the brightness keys as normal.