So you want to help test the Ubuntu distribution that is customised specifically for netbooks but don’t have a netbook to test it on? That’s not a problem. What you need is a virtual machine and an Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) image.
Installing a Virtual Machine
My virtual machine software of choice on Ubuntu is the excellent VirtualBox. The easiest way to get this on Ubuntu is to apt-get install it on the command line. Open up a terminal (Applications->Accessories->Terminal) and enter the following at the prompt.
Once installed you will have an option under Applications->Accessories->VirtualBox OSE. Click this and you should see the VirtualBox application in front of you. Select the “New” icon and follow the prompts. You need to name your image something that you will remember, maybe “Ubuntu NetBook Remix”, and make sure the operating system is set to Linux and the version, Ubuntu. Give the image 512mb of ram and at least 2GB of hard drive space (it can survive on less but I always like to leave some room).
Getting the image
If your helping test UNR you really want to be trying the ‘dailies’. These are complete UNR images that are built every day. The place to get them is at cdimage.ubuntu.com, specifically at
The “Current” link always points to the most recent build. Select the iso image that looks something like below (karmic release in this example).
Setting up the Virtual Machine
Once this is download you want to make sure your virtual machine image will boot into UNR when it first runs. To do this select the “Settings” icon from the VirtualBox screen (first make sure you have selected your image in the left-hand column).
What you are presented with now is a list of options for your virtual machine image. The one we are interested in is CD/DVD-ROM. Select this option. Below you can see an example of what it should look like once configured correctly.
Use the folder icon next to the ISO setting to browse for the image you downloaded.
Press OK then hit “Start” whilst your image is selected to run it.
Ubuntu Netbook Remix
If everything has been done correctly you should be presented with the boot screen from Ubuntu asking whether you want to try it, install, e.t.c (after you have selected your language). Go ahead and install it to your virtual hard drive.
Once installed remember to disconnect the CDROM (Devices->Unmount CDROM from the launch window) to ensure that you don’t boot up the install .iso again.
If everything was installed you should be presented with something like this.
If you get a message telling you to disable KVM in the kernel, a quick,
lsmod | grep kvm sudo rmmod kvm-intel sudo rmmod kvm
should fix it.
The lsmod finds any running modules that are related to KVM (which in my case are kvm-intel and kvm). The two commands afterwards remove them from the running kernel which enables VirtualBox to run.
If you find any bugs with Ubuntu Netbook Remix then be sure to either file them at the Launchpad site (Netbook Remix on Launchpad) or discuss them with the developers on irc at
Most of all, have fun.
It was pointed out to me by Paul Larson that the resolution that VirtualBox gives you for UNR by default isn’t what is traditionally found of netbooks. The more widespread 1024×576 pixels is what most machines have.
To enable this in your virtual machine, head on over to Paul’s blog and read how to do it. What you should have at the end is something more like this.
Please note that you need to have the vbox additions installed to do this.