Samsung N150

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This article describes the installation and configuration of 64-bit Arch Linux on the Samsung N150 netbook. Based on the output from dmidecode, this material might also be useful for the N210 and N220 models.

Hardware overview

The Samsung N150 netbook is equipped with the Intel Atom N450 ("Pineview") CPU with integrated Intel GMA 3100 GPU and "Pine Trail" chipset. Unlike the prior single-core Intel Atom N2xx and Z series processors, the N450 supports the x86_64 instruction set. Although DMI information suggests the motherboard will accept up to 8 GiB RAM, the integrated memory controller in the Atom N450 can address a maximum of 2 GiB. Since the hardware is limited to a 32-bit address space, the primary benefit to running the 64-bit version of Arch on this system is to take advantage of AUR packages built on more powerful 64-bit systems belonging to the same owner.

Shipping versions of the N150 (as of early March 2010) include the "starter" edition of a proprietary operating system and therefore include only 1 GiB RAM in the form of a single DDR2 667 MhZ SODIMM, which is user-replaceable. Per the DMI information, the unit contains two mini PCI express slots, one of which is populated by the included Atheros AR9285 wireless card. Other versions of this model are apparently available with an integrated 3G WAN adapter installed in the other slot.

External connectivity provided on the system includes 3 USB 2.0 ports, a single VGA port, 10/100 Ethernet (Marvell 88E8040 PCI-E), headphone/microphone jacks, and an integrated card reader (SD/SDHC/MMC). An integrated VGA-resolution webcam is connected to the internal USB controller.

Installation

Since netbooks lack optical drives, the preferred installation mechanism is via a USB flash drive. Upon first boot into the 2009.08 installation media, the system will reboot after CPU initialization. Subsequent reboots using the same kernel will not exhibit this behavior, although booting into a later installed kernel may reboot the first time.

This article assumes the entire hard disk will be used for Arch, eliminating the manufacturer-supplied software (including the recovery partitions). It is not entirely clear which partitions are required for the recovery software to function properly: retention of the only first partition, of unknown type, is not sufficient. If a recovery mechanism for the factory-supplied software is desired, a set of recovery DVDs should be created using an external DVD burner prior to installing Arch.

Upon the first installation, cfdisk will exit with an error due to the existing partition layout. The solution is to run fdisk and create a new, empty partition table. WARNING: This operation will destroy the current hard disk partitions, effectively causing all data on the hard disk to be lost.

fdisk /dev/sda << EOF
o
w
EOF

After initializing the drive with an empty partition table, cfdisk will work properly in the Arch installer.