I got myself a Asus Transformer tablet in June 2011 and since then, I have been looking for an easy way to install Ubuntu on it. The form factor, the keyboard dock and the hardware spec of Asus transformer make it just right for a portable computer. However, back then, getting Ubuntu on board the device is not easy and requires lot of hacking and scripting.
Recently, I re-checked the XDA-Developers forum again and found that someone has created a super-easy way to create a dualboot system. I tried it and it works! Here’s what I did:.
Disclaimer: This tutorial will format your tablet hard disk and wipe out all your data. It could also brick your tablet. It would definitely void your warranty. MakeTechEasier will not be held responsible for any damage, data loss, fire or death of a loved one resulting from using this mod for your device.
1. This tutorial is based on Linux/Ubuntu. If you are running Windows, this tutorial is not for you.
2. This tutorial only works for Asus Transformer with SBKv1. If your device is running SBKv2. This tutorial is not for you. Here’s how to check if your device is running SBKv1 or SBKv2.
- Download sbkcheck.tar
- Extract the tar file. Open a terminal and
cdto the sbkcheck folder
- Put your Asus Transformer to APX mode. To do that, first power off the device. Power on the device again. When you see the Asus EeePad splash screen, press the “Power + Vol up” buttons. When the screen goes black, and remain black, you are in APX mode. Once it is in APX mode, connect the device, via USB to your computer
- Back in the terminal, run the command:
It should return a message whether your device is running SBKv1 or SBKv2. As a general guide, if you bought your Asus Transformer after Aug 2011, most probably it is running SBKv2.
3. The Asus Transformer mentioned in this article is the 1st gen Asus Transformer, not the quad-core Transformer Prime.
Backing up your data
There are a few ways to backup your data. You can either:
1. download a file manager app from market. Use the file manager to transfer important files to the external SD card.
2. Sync your emails, contacts, calendar, files with Google and Dropbox. Even if your device is wiped, your data is still intact in the cloud.
2. For app backup, use Titanium Backup or Titanium Backup Pro if you wish to backup to Dropbox. You will need to root your device first (depending on your firmware, rooting your Asus Transformer is only a 1-click process).
Now that you have verify the SBK version and backed up your data, here the exact steps to create a dual-boot system:
1. Download OLiFE Prime.
2. Extract the file (DO NOT extract the files on a windows type filesystem such as NTFS or FAT or you will run into problems. Do it all inside your linux partition).
3. Open a terminal and
cd to the OLiFE directory. Run
You will see an agreement page. Read it carefully. Once done, type “understood” and press Enter.
4. In the next screen, press ‘2’ to select the flash device option
5. Now, it will show you the different option to flash the device. Regardless what your intention is, choose ‘1’ to dualboot.
6. Choose ‘1’ to select the Android as the default OS. Ubuntu as the default doesn’t work.
7. Put your device in APX mode and connect it to the computer via USB. The script will now format your device, partition the hard drive and copy the ubuntu and Android img over. This will take a long time, so go grab yourself a coffee and relax.
8. Once it is done, your device will restart and boot into your Android OS.
Now that the Ubuntu.img is copied over to your device, it is time to install it.
1. Power off your device. Press “Power + Volume Down” button until the splash screen comes alive. At the top, you should see a message asking you to press the “Volume Up” button. Release the “Power + Volume Down” button and press “Volume Up” button. This will boot into the Ubuntu installer (this is also the way to boot into Ubuntu in the future).
2. Once you reach the Ubuntu main screen, proceed on to install Ubuntu (make sure your device is connected to the keyboard dock).
If you don’t have the keyboard dock, connect it to the computer via USB again. On your Linux computer, in the terminal, run the command:
This time, press ‘5’ to select the “Onscreen keyboard”. You should now see the onscreen keyboard appear on your Ubuntu screen.
3. Proceed with the Ubuntu installation. If everything goes well, you should have a dual OS tablet now.
Post install configuration
Everything works out of the box for Ubuntu on Asus Transformer, however, the Unity desktop is taking up a lot of resources, causing the system to run very slowly. What I did is to open the Ubuntu Software Center and install LXDE – a lightweight desktop manager. Once I switched to LXDE, everything runs smoothly and quickly.
Inject bluetooth firmware
The bluetooth firmware is not included in the Ubuntu installer due to licensing issue. Here’s how you can get bluetooth working on Ubuntu.
Connect the device to your computer again and run the OLiFE script. This time, press ‘4’ to select “Inject Firmware”.
Press ‘1’ to select the Default Install.
When prompted which firmware to inject, select either one will do.
That’s it. Enjoy!
Reference: XDA-Developers Wiki
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