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Installing Ubuntu on Samsung 5 (SSD+HDD)

I got some messages on Ubuntu Forums on how about installing Ubuntu on the Samsung 5 and especially the model NP530U3C-A07.
I make this guide to help whoever else gets into this problem as the installation is not as straightforward as it may seems.

Boot from USB

I assume you have a bootable USB with Ubuntu. Then follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you insert the USB stick in the USB2 slot and not the USB3(it has a blue contact)
  2. Disable “Fast BIOS Mode” from BIOS>Advanced
  3. Disable “UEFI” from BIOS>Boot
  4. Reboot, and in BIOS>Boot set your USB stick as the first device to boot from
  5. Save and reboot

Install

The Samsung NP530U3C-A07 and some others don’t use hybrid hard discs. What they have is a normal HDD and then a very small SSD of about 4 to 30GB. Both of them are seen as separate devices so it’s easy to distinguish which is which by their size.

On the bootup of Linux choose Install Ubuntu(or either Try Ubuntu and then Install from there). When you get to the point where you have to choose where to install(“Installation Type”),

choose “Something Else”. A new screen will pop out letting you choose where to install Ubuntu, format, make partitions, etc.  Follow carefully the bellow:

  1. Choose and format the smaller disk (SSD) to install Ubuntu
  2. Choose and format the bigger disk (HDD) to as many partitions you want. I format mine as a big ext4 to just store media. The thing to pay attention to is to not reformat this drive in the future as that would probably screw up the bootloader. That happened to me.
  3. On “Device for bootloader installation:” choose the HDD. It doesn’t matter if you choose the device itself or the partition on it.

After Install

Not everything works out of the box but luckily for us there are things that can fix most of them. Bellow are several fixes for different problems.

Flickering screen when changing brightness

  1. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:voria/ppa
  2. sudo apt-get update && apt-get install samsung-backlight

Fn keys not working

  1. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:voria/ppa
  2. sudo apt-get update && apt-get install samsung-tools

Monitor doesn’t “remember” the brightness after restart

I haven’t fixed this but a workaround is to manually set a default brightness value for every restart. You can do that by automatically editing the /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness on every boot. For that we add a line on /etc/rc.local a file that runs on every boot of the OS.

Add echo 31 > /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness to the file /etc/rc.local just before line “exit 0”

Your rc.local file should look something like this:

#!/bin/sh -e
#
# rc.local
#
# This script is executed at the end of each multiuser runlevel.
# Make sure that the script will "exit 0" on success or any other
# value on error.
#
# In order to enable or disable this script just change the execution
# bits.
#
# By default this script does nothing.

echo 31 > /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness

exit 0

You can change the value 31 to what suits you. You can see what current brightness is with

cat /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness

Extras

Mounting hard disc on bootup

Probably your hard disc isn’t mounting automatically on bootup as it doesn’t have any system files. For this we need to edit the fstab file and set the HDD to be mounted automatically on system startup.

  1. sudo gedit /etc/fstab
  2. Add an entry for your hard disc. To get the UUID of your hard disc, just type blkid. Add a new record with default settings and appropriate type. The fstab should look something like this in the end:
    #
    proc            /proc           proc    nodev,noexec,nosuid 0       0
    UUID=fdb6fc55-00a1-4ef6-b65b-27e14140f6c2 /               ext4    discard,errors=remount-ro 0       1
    UUID=900c5900-225a-4c43-953d-f226b8a4cef4 none            swap    discard,sw              0       0
    
    #Hard disc
    UUID=8af90249-881c-4e2a-b55c-85b6a66c3767 /media/Hitachi  ext4    defaults                0       0
    

Sombolic links(shortcuts) to HDD

If you use the directories Downloads, Movies, etc. in your home directory it should be wise to make shortcuts for them so they point to the hard disc. There are two major reasons for this. First of all, media files are not going to be “faster” if they are on the SSD so why sacrifice space by using the ultra small SSD and not the huge HDD? Something else to consider is that SSD drives have a specific number of write cycles before they die. Therefore it’s good to have all kind of files that are going to be written/rewritten all the time, on a HDD.

Symbolic links are the same thing as shortcuts in Windows. They are just files that point to an other place, in our case the hard disc.

  1. First make the apropriate directories on your hard disc. For me the structure for those directories look like this:
    /media/Hitachi/Downloads/
    /media/Hitachi/Videos/
    /media/Hitachi/Music/
    /media/Hitachi/Documents/
    /media/Hitachi/Pictures/
    
  2. Delete the already-there folders in home directory:
    rmdir ~/Downloads
    rmdir ~/Videos
    rmdir ~/Music
    rmdir ~/Documents
    rmdir ~/Pictures
    
  3. Make the symbolic links. BE CAREFULL now. You have to be in the folder where you want your symbolic links to appear in:
    cd ~
    ln -s /media/Hitachi/Downloads/ Downloads
    ln -s /media/Hitachi/Videos/ Videos
    ln -s /media/Hitachi/Music/ Music
    ln -s /media/Hitachi/Documents/ Documents
    ln -s /media/Hitachi/Pictures/ Pictures
    

To check that everything is done correctly type

ls -l | egrep "^l"

That shows all symbolic links in current directory.