Turning the Toshiba Z830 into a Ubuntu Ultrabook


EDIT: Here are some tweaks if you install 12.04 (Precise Pangolin).

Since I will have to do a fair amount of traveling in the next year I was in need of upgrading my trusted workhorse of Toshiba Qosmio F60 to a more portable option that will be easier on the shoulders during long travels. After doing some research into which of the major manufacturers offer the best support for a Linux based Operating System it came down to a final two: the Intel i7 variants of Samsung Series 9 and the Toshiba Z830.

Thanks to these sites for some useful content:

In the end it came down to Toshiba having full-size VGA, HDMI and Ethernet connectors at the rear of the unit (no need for carrying adapters) and getting a very decent price rebate for the Toshiba.

The first and only task in the included Windows 7 OS was to create a recovery USB drive using the Toshiba included utility (on the desktop). You need a 12GB USB stick (found out the hard way after buying an 8GB version with the unit on advice of the sales guy).

After booting from a USB stick created from the Ubuntu 11.10 ISO (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/download) with Ubuntu Bootdisk Creator (or alternatively UnetBootin) I opted to wipe the whole SSD drive. If you are not sure that you want to stick with Ubuntu it might be safer to try running from USB or dual-boot.

Note: you need to use the USB3 connector on the right-hand side of the machine to boot (not the rear USB2 connectors). Press the F-12 Function key when turning the unit off and choose the USB Boot option.

It always gives me strange pleasure to wipe a pristine new machine from all the rubbish that manufacturers pre-install and start with a clean system that I can customise to my needs (without having redundant stuff cluttering the system and waste valuable resources).  So enjoy that part ;-)

toshy ultrabook

The Oneiric Ocelot (11.10) installation was extremely smooth. As predicted by the previous research all the hardware was detected automatically. Even Bluetooth and Toshiba Function keys (screen brightness and display switching) work without any tweaking.

I am currently looking into some SSD specific tweaks thanks to this article on ZDNET. I will post future updates on further experiences when it comes to battery-life and other day-2-day issues.

Update: I have made a tweak to improve disk I/O parameters to improve SSD performance

Disable the ‘elevator’ I/O scheduler in the kernel by editing the default Grub config (/etc/default/grub)

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash elevator=noop"

Looks like this unit is definitely a good option for people looking for Ubuntu Notebook / Ultrabook hardware. Well done Toshiba ! Now I just want a refund for the wasted Windows license….

Enjoy your OPEN Ultrabook !