Installing Ubuntu on the lenovo ideapad S205

My girlfriend’s laptop died recently, and as her birthday was coming up I thought I’d buy her a new netbook to get her up and running again (well, really, to get my mac back).  For £300 from Amazon, we had a machine that was much like her old laptop; it’s amazing what you can get for so little money these days.  However, there were two things I didn’t realise: one, the ideapad-S205 lacks an optical drive (whoops).  The second was that it’d take me basically a whole day of dicking around to get Ubuntu to dual boot with Windows 7.  I hope this guide will help people out with the second problem (and I solved the first one by buying a USB DVD drive for another £30).

1. download and install Ubuntu 11.04 on a USB key
– I used the Startup Disk Creator on another Ubuntu machine to create the bootable USB key.

2. Put in the bootable Ubuntu USB key and boot the ideapad.  Press Fn-F11 to get the boot menu, and choose the USB boot device.  The screen will be garbled, seems like an issue with the kernel framebuffer driver.  Just hit enter, and the Ubuntu setup process will start fine.

3. Connect to an ethernet cable as wireless doesn’t work (says that it’s disabled by hardware switch despite not being, needs more investigation).

Update: Turns out that wireless works in 10.10… OK I have found a workaround for the wireless.  It even works with suspend/resume. Update 2: there’s an even simpler method in the comments, though I’ve not tested it myself.   Here’s how you can connect using wireless:
– connect via the wired ethernet port
– apt-get install wicd
– apt-get remove network-manager
– disconnect the wired ethernet port
– rfkill unblock all
– start wicd from the applications menu, then use it to connect to your wireless connection.

You can have the “rfkill unblock all” command run automatically on startup  by adding it to /etc/rc.local above the “exit 0” line.  That’s all you should need to do to have the wireless connection come up automatically when you log in.

Seems like this might be the combination of a couple of bugs, one a configuration problem that necessitates the use of rfkill unblock all, and the other a bug in network-manager.  I will file some bug reports when I get time and post an update here.

4. After the Ubuntu 11.04 environment starts up, double click on the desktop icon to start the install process.  You’ll eventually read the message: “This computer currently has Windows 7 on it.  What would you like to do?”
– I first did the “Install Ubuntu alongside Windows 7” option and shrunk the windows partition.  As I later learned, this doesn’t work because GRUB 2 fails, we need to set up the partitions in a GRUB legacy friendly setup (it requires a boot partition, formatted ext2, as it doesn’t understand ext4 yet; I’m not sure what the status of its ext3 support is).  So I restarted the install process and:
– chose the “Something else” option.  I deleted the ext4 and swap partitions from the previous install and then used the resulting empty space to set it up like this:
– /dev/sda6 ext2 /boot 255MB
– /dev/sda7 ext4 /    13684MB
– /dev/sda8 swap
– device boot loader installation: /dev/sda6
– proceed through the install, setting up your location and user details, etc.

5. Once the install completes, you will be prompted to restart, however we need to set up GRUB legacy first, so:
– start a terminal (click the button in the top left, type terminal and hit enter, or try ctrl-alt-t).  Then use the following commands (these assume my partition setup from above, modify them if yours differs):
– sudo su
– mkdir /mnt/sda7
– mount /dev/sda7 /mnt/sda7
– cd /mnt/sda7
– mount /dev/sda6 ./boot
– mount –bind /sys ./sys
– mount –bind /proc ./proc
– mount –bind /dev ./dev
– chroot .
In plain English, what we just did was mount the new partitions that we created, in the same configuration that they will be in the new system.  Then we bound all the special filesystems into this, and then we used “chroot” a magical command that moves our terminal into our newly setup system, almost as if we’d just booted into it.  So all our following commands will affect the new system instead of our temporary live USB boot.

6. Follow these instructions to download to grub legacy:
– apt-get update ; apt-get install grub
– update-grub
– yes to generate list
– grub-install /dev/sda6
We’ve now installed grub legacy in /dev/sda6, which is our ubuntu /boot partition.  We now need to get the Windows 7 bootloader to chain-boot this.  We do this using a little utility called EasyBCD, though it’s possible to modify the Windows config files manually if you prefer.

7. Reboot into windows 7.
– download, install and run Easy BCD
– Add new entry
– Linux/BSD tab
– Type: GRUB (Legacy)
– Name: Ubuntu 11.04
– Partition 5 (Linux -244 MiB)
– Click Add Entry
– Edit Boot Menu
– Boot default OS after: change to 4 seconds.
– Save Settings.

8. Reboot, and you should see a boot menu with Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04.  Done!

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81 Responses to Installing Ubuntu on the lenovo ideapad S205

  1. Sivan says:

    Does the WiFi work with Natty on S205?

  2. rwh says:

    Not yet, but I’m working on it.

  3. rwh says:

    See update above for a workaround for getting wireless working.

  4. ToastKing says:

    you sir are a gentleman and a scholar!! I’ve been working on this problem a little bit and ran into this GRUB2 issue that around Ubuntu. What’s more you can install Fedora 15 on, and no problems except for the wireless driver.

    I shall be working on your guide tomorrow night to get the little thing up and working with good old linux. Good news was i cloned the windows partition with clonzilla before i started messing around with partitions on there.

  5. z.tutto says:

    Another solution to get wireless working with NetworkManager (from another forum):
    Do not remove anything, just put into /etc/rc.local above the “exit 0″ line:

    rfkill unblock wifi
    rfkill unblock all
    sudo modprobe -r acer_wmi
    and the networkmanager will manage the wireless :)

    For install:
    – Win7 does not install on disk wih GPT – the GUID Partition table used by UEFI on S205. There are HowTos – but does not work for me ATM
    – Fedora & Ubuntu is able to dual boot using the F12 boot menu. Ubunti is going to format the /boot/efi- so install it first.
    The GRUB2 just booting it’s own opsys (fedora or ubuntu, but not both)

  6. z.tutto says:

    The proper code in my prev post:

    rfkill unblock wifi
    rfkill unblock all
    modprobe -r acer_wmi

  7. Pingback: Lenovo IdeaPad S205 und Ubuntu » Mein Blog

  8. ToastKing says:

    on the laptop spec it says the wireless card is N compatible, but whenever i scan for N networks i get nothing. Have you found this?

  9. rwh says:

    Hi ToastKing,

    Unfortunately I don’t have an N network to test with.


  10. MarylandBill says:

    Hi, two things:
    1. Thanks for documenting your method of getting the system dual butting with grub. I had tried to get grub2 to work since others claimed it would, but when I did that, it seemed to have messed things up enough for windows that the s205’s automatic recovery to kick in to allow me to restore the window’s partition (Which appears to delete the linux partitions :o). My ultimate goal is to never have to use the Windows partition, but until I am sure everything is working well under Linux, I want to have the option in case I need to do things like skype and what not.

    2. I have tried the method of enabling wifi that z.tutto posted (in fact I used it to install ubuntu since my wife was not crazy about having a network cord running across the living room from the router :)). It definitely works, and once it is set up, suspend and hibernate definitely work. Network performance seems a little sluggish though, so I might experiment with the wicd network manager. Did you test suspend and hibernate with them?

    Anyway, thanks for all the info you have posted. I actually really like the s205 so far, and you have made getting things working a lot less frustrating.

  11. rwh says:

    Hi MarylandBill,

    I had to use the automatic recovery as well when I mashed the MBR at some point. Unfortunately for me, windows has to stay around to keep the GF happy.

    Re: suspend and hibernate with wicd, I know that suspend works, haven’t tried hibernate. I’d be surprised if change network manager made any difference with your connection speed, though I’d be interested in the results of your experiment! 😉

    Glad the HOWTO helped someone out. Cheers,


  12. iinnffooss says:

    Hi there.

    I bought a Lenovo s205 and got someone to install Ubuntu 10.10 and downgrade to GRUB legacy, so the system boots fine. However, I just wanted Ubuntu, so W7 was erased. I wonder now if it will be safe to upgrade to Ubuntu 11.04 or if, when doing so, GRUB will upgrade to GRUB2, thus giving me the same troubles that someone else (currently hundreds of miles away from me) had to fix.

    Also, there are a couple of problems:
    a) wifi not working
    b) speakers don’t turn off when plugging in the earphones

    I would appreciate any tip or help on this issues. Please, notice that I am almost a beginner. I know what the terminal is and what it can be used for, but I don’t know how to. If anyone can help, please do it as if you were telling the instructions to a 5 years old… Step by step, please 🙁

    Thank you very much for reading and sharing your knowledge!

    Thanks for reading.

  13. 1fun33dhelp says:

    You don’t need rfkill at all if you just add the following lines to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf:

    # Lenovo S205 fix
    blacklist acer_wmi
    blacklist rt2800pci
    blacklist rt2800lib
    blacklist rt2x00pci
    blacklist rt2x00lib

  14. MarylandBill says:

    Hey 1fun33dhelp, thanks for that tidbit. I will have to try that out tonight. I have the wireless working, but at the moment it is definitely on the slow side. Looking at the system monitor, I can get short bursts (measured as 3-4 seconds) of almost 100 KB a second (which is about what I would expect as a maximum with my 720 Kb DSL connection), but it usually sits at around 10 KB a second. In contrast when I am in windows, wireless performance is much faster. So anyway, what have people been seeing in terms of wireless performance? If I can wireless speed up to snuff and get the microphone working, I will be a very happy camper (though my wife will probably start using it then as well :)).

  15. Aaron says:

    Thank you for posting this, with out this information I would have held off on purchasing my new s205. I just completed the procedure you kindly documented above and felt a wave of freedom seeing the ubuntu splash screen after my final reboot! Still need to test the wifi, but so far its working flawlessly!

  16. Aaron says:

    Just a follow-up, ubuntu still runs great after a week or so of intense use, even have virtualbox running with 32bit VM’s, 64bit VM’s seem to crash. I did find that the headphone jack doesn’t seem to work. Has anyone noticed this or found a solution?


  17. Nik says:

    headphone jack works with this ppa:

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-audio-dev/ppa
    sudo apt-get update

  18. Sioban says:

    For the slow wifi problem, you should install backports modules :

    sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-headers-natty-generic-pae linux-backports-modules-net-natty-generic-pae

    Get rid of the -pae if you have less than 3Go Ram.

    Done the job for me 😉

  19. ygyuk says:

    This is great, I managed to get my stuff working extremely well. However, how do I now ensure that I don’t accidentally update to Grub2 or 11.04 when running updates?

  20. davide says:

    Hello guys,

    i’m trying to run Ubuntu 11.04 on the same machine. I wiped out the entire HD so no windows installed on my netbook.
    Wireless card doesnt work even if i followed your guide. Network manager sees the SSID of my router but doesnt connect.
    Other issue: when i shut down the netbook the process gets stuck and i have to manually turn off the pc.
    I’m running on kernel
    I tried to upgrade to and 3.0 rc5 but Ati graphic card doesnt work.

    Did anyone succeded in installing Natty on the S205 and be happy with it? Just dont want to go back to windows….


  21. Thomas says:



    same problem. I have also no solution?
    Anyone who can help?


  22. daelsta says:

    hey folks,

    what i did and what worked out really well is installing oneiric daily-live. i created a 200mb efi-partition, /, swap, and /home. ubiquity then successfully installed grub2-efi on /dev/sda. but there seems to be a bug in lightdm. when you try to logon by clicking on your username it doesn’t ask you for your password and crashes. you have to manually type your username and password then it starts just fine.

    good luck 🙂

  23. AntY says:

    Trying to follow your instructions but I’m running into problems:

    ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ sudo su
    root@ubuntu:/home/ubuntu# mkdir /mnt/sda2
    root@ubuntu:/home/ubuntu# mount /dev/sda2 /mnt/sda2
    root@ubuntu:/home/ubuntu# cd /mnt/sda2
    root@ubuntu:/mnt/sda2# mount /dev/sda1 ./boot
    root@ubuntu:/mnt/sda2# mount --bind /sys ./sys
    root@ubuntu:/mnt/sda2# mount --bind /proc ./proc
    root@ubuntu:/mnt/sda2# mount --bind /dev ./dev
    root@ubuntu:/mnt/sda2# chroot .
    root@ubuntu:/# sudo apt-get purge grub-pc
    sudo: unable to resolve host ubuntu
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information... Done
    Virtual packages like 'grub-pc' can't be removed
    0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.

    Am I just doing it wrong?

  24. rwh says:

    Hi AntY,

    Yep, you are just doing it wrong. 😛

    My instructions don’t say to apt-get purge grub-pc anywhere. I know that the linked howto says to do that, but I didn’t bother. So these are the steps:

    sudo su
    mkdir /mnt/sda7
    mount /dev/sda7 /mnt/sda7
    cd /mnt/sda7
    mount /dev/sda6 ./boot
    mount –bind /sys ./sys
    mount –bind /proc ./proc
    mount –bind /dev ./dev
    chroot .

    Which you have done successfully. Following on at step 6:
    apt-get update ; apt-get install grub
    – yes to generate list
    grub-install /dev/sda6




  25. Nick says:

    Holy crap you’re still blogging!
    Very funny, you’re on the first page of google results for: ubuntu 11 “multi-touch”
    Got a mac atm but am thinking about Thinkpad + Ubuntu for my next setup, and was thinking the only things I’d really miss would be multi-touch scrolling (so much easier than finding the scrollbar), and a backlit keyboard … though in looking I suspect I can have them all …
    also – have added you to my google reader feeds (which I don’t read much)!!!

  26. Tat says:

    Hi, all
    First of all, I want to thank the writer of this blog for writing such a fantastic article! Thanks! It worked perfectly! I figured out how to enable internal mic on the S205… I basically followed the instructions on this site(
    At the alsamixer thing, I just set everything to maximum.. 😛 I didn’t know what I was doing, so yeah.. But it worked! 🙂

    And to make it easier for beginners to understand what you have to do for wifi problem….

    1. Open Terminal
    2. type
    cd /etc/
    3. Change username to your username 😛
    sudo chown username rc.local
    4. Go to /etc/ by GUI, so using so called Exploler in windows.
    5. Find rc.local in the etc folder
    6. Open rc.local with text editor
    7. Put
    rfkill unblock wifi
    rfkill unblock all
    modprobe -r acer_wmi
    before ext0
    8. save it and close it.
    9. At terminal type
    sudo chown root rc.local
    10. Exit Terminal

    Yes, I know this is really stupid beginner like me do, but just to make it easier for other beginner can understand it^^b

  27. Tat says:

    I found out how to enable headphones too… Add:
    options snd-hda-intel model=ideapad
    options snd-hda-intel model=laptop position_fix=1 enable=yes

    in the file /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf, and reboot it.

  28. Tat says:

    Okay! I figured out how to deal with the card reader too. Download this( to Download folder. Extract the file.
    Move to the directory using Terminal (cd /Downloads/FOLDERNAME/). Do following commands:

    make install
    sudo depmod

    And reboot the computer 🙂

  29. insecto says:

    Many thanks for the post, I found it very useful to make dual boot ubuntu/win7 possible.
    The following might help getting the wireless working if you are trying to connect to a WPA2 protected SSID. I’ve spent a few nights trying different solutions (and having a few kernel panic while doing so). The following worked for me on 11.04.

    – Disable current rt2860sta and other conflicting modules by editing /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf and adding the following at the end of the file:

    # Lenovo S205 fix
    blacklist acer_wmi
    blacklist rt2800pci
    blacklist rt2800lib
    blacklist rt2x00pci
    blacklist rt2x00lib
    blacklist rt2860sta

    – Reboot
    – Go to Ralink Windows support page:
    – Download this file: [ Omnipeek tool ] PCI/mPCI/CB(RT2760/RT2790/RT2860/RT2890/RT309x). This is a zip file with 2 folders, x86 and x64, extract x64 in any convenient location.
    – Install Windows Wireless Drivers (ndiswrapper) using Ubuntu Software Centre
    – Install the driver by using the .inf file located in the x64 folder extracted before.
    – This should allow you to connect to a WPA2 wifi network

    Hope this helps someone else too.


  30. Markro says:

    @insecto I was wondering why the windows drivers are used and not linux drivers for the RT309X from the RaLink site ? Also does this only work for WPA2 wifi or WEP too ?

    As I am new to all this and a bit weary I have ‘installed’ as Wubi and all works OK except the WiFi and appears the multi-card reader is non existent. The one odd thing I noticed when trying some of these blacklist.conf entries and I notiecd that when I booted into Windows 7 next time the wireless was not working at all until I went into BIOS set up and disabled then enabled wireless – anyone else seen that .

    When I get the confidence I may even go for a full Ubuntu 11.04 install.

  31. seron says:

    What’s the battery life like when running linux?

  32. Pingback: Lenovo IdeaPad S205 on ubuntu « 偽物筆記本

  33. Nik says:

    i have installed Ubuntu Oneiric 11.10 but i have this problem

    with the driver rts5139 (card reader) usb ports on the right side of the netbook doesn’t work correctly….

    anyone else have this problem?

  34. MpaK says:

    Thanx, but I trying to follow your article but after when reboot my laptop I have a problem. It’s flashing and loading nothing, show only F2 – F12 menu.
    Can you help me plz?

  35. sam says:

    I have the same issue. Hanging in a bootloop…

  36. mote says:

    Hi. First i want to thank you (all), for this guide.
    I got my S205 Wednesday and be struggling since (Sunday) to get it to boot with GRUB2.
    As far as i have been able to figure out Ubiquity installs a EFI version of GRUB2, and thats why we get the GRUB rescue when setting EasyBCD to boot a GRUB2 Linux install.
    I followed your, 4. and 5. But in step 6. instead of installing GRUB Legacy i installed GRUB-PC.
    apt-get update
    apt-get install grub-pc
    Picking “/dev/sda6” in the GRUB installation menu, despite complaints and errors.
    after that i booted win7 and in EasyBCD added a new entry with GRUB2.
    I am have a functioning installation with GRUB2 on my s205

  37. vikos says:

    Hi every!

    I’ve some other problem:
    I want to install It with only Ubuntu.
    First time I’ve done It via WUBI (dualboot via NTLoader). The basic functions worked well(eg.: suspend).
    ..but It doesn’t work on pure Ubuntu install.
    Problems: blank screen on boot… x starts and no desktop manager just a blank screen…
    Kernel drops error on shutdown (restart works!!!)
    can’t sleep….
    These problem Are not on Wubi install…
    So what can I do to use It on pure Ubuntu??

  38. tetris says:

    Hey can someone give me a full fdisk printout of their partitions?
    I keep seeing the LENOVO and LENOVO_PART partitions, taking up 2 primaries and I’m debating on whether or not to fully remove them….

  39. Bert says:

    Well, this is proving to be difficult just trying to install ANY version of linux! (using all of the drive, no dual boot) I did get an old version easy peasy to install (presumably still used GRUB not GRUB2), but this is optimised for eeepc (with own kernel I think), so it was not useable even though it would boot after install. Ideally I would like to install Linux Mint 11, this boots from USB no problem, but always crashes when the installer gets to installing GRUB2 (64 bit version of Linux Mint, not tried 32 bit, is this a problem??). Have tried Ubuntu 10.04.3 LTS, but when I try to do

    apt-get update ; apt-get install grub

    The update fails as it can not find repos I think…I am connect to net via tethering to my android phone (maybe this is the cause of the problem!?!).

    This is frustrating! Now trying to install 11.10, get as far as trying to apt-get install grub, and it is not there! Not sure it is in the Ubuntu repos for 11.10! grub2 only! ARRRGGH!

  40. tetris11 says:

    @Rob – btw for 64-bit ubuntu users, there’s a problem with getting an internet connection after chrooting, giving the message:
    “W: Failed to fetch http://blahblahlah Something wicked happened resolving ‘’ (-5 – No address associated with hostname)”
    after ”apt-get update”

    In order to get around this, dont forget to bind the resolv config:

    exit #exits chrooted environment
    mount –bind /etc/resolv.conf ./etc/resolv.conf #binds the resolv script
    chroot . #chroots back in

    apt-get update should now work, allowing you to install grub-pc

  41. kat says:

    @Nik yes the same problem here with the new 11.10 version, blacklisting rts5139 helps. Do you have a solution?

    And there is another problem with the Wlan (the Ralink card). In 11.04 it worked with blacklisting, too, but in 11.10 this doesn’t work anymore. Yours seems to work, what did you do?

  42. Nik says:

    we are asking Lenovo for a new Bios…help us!!!

    Ubuntu 11.10 workaround wifi:

    sudo gedit /etc/rc.local

    adding the following before exit0

    modprobe -r acer_wmi


  43. kat says:

    No that doesn’t work, when I try to enable it dmesg writes:

    [ 34.277070] phy0 -> rt2800pci_mcu_status: Error – MCU request failed, no response from hardware
    [ 34.374097] ADDRCONF(NETDEV_UP): wlan0: link is not ready

    Sorry I’m a beginner in Ubuntu and I have no idea how to fix this.

  44. mote says:

    I just cannot get wireless working right, and reported a bug on it:

    Please help me provide the right information, so we can get this bug solved.

  45. Bert says:


    Yes, that is the message I saw when trying to apt-get update and apt-get install grub. I had no problems though when using an ethernet cable into my router and could install grub (with 10.04 LTS).

    With 10.04 LTS I think I have been closest to a working install, but the following part fails (I have already mounted and bound the partitions/directories etc.)

    – update-grub
    – yes to generate list (this part worked OK I think, will report back)
    – grub-install /dev/sda1

    I have set up partitions as follows.

    sda1 – /boot
    sda2 – swap
    sda3 – /
    sda4 – /home

    I have tried sda1 as both ext4, ext2 and fat(can not remember if 32 or 16), but at the grub-install stage there is some kind of error, boot device not found or some such. and something about san not read stage1 or stage2?

    PS, can someone else confirm that there is no GRUB in 11.10 repositories, as this will prove even more difficult to install……(get a .deb from somewhere? Not sure on any dependency problems though…)

    Currently booting puppy linux from USB stick, which works OK except for sound, when connected via ethernet cable.

    Already posted on the thread above….

  46. Bert says:

    BTW, that was 10.04 32 bit, not 64 bit

    So it makes sense what tetris posted, that you need to bind resolve.conf for 64 bit installs.

    Now I am confused when you say install grub-pc. This is GRUB2 is it not? or was that a typo tetris?

  47. Nik says:

    I think the best solution for wifi is ndiswrapper

    “Insecto says:

    – Go to Ralink Windows support page:
    – Download this file: [ Omnipeek tool ] PCI/mPCI/CB(RT2760/RT2790/RT2860/RT2890/RT309x). This is a zip file with 2 folders, x86 and x64, extract x64 in any convenient location.
    – Install Windows Wireless Drivers (ndiswrapper) using Ubuntu Software Centre
    – Install the driver by using the .inf file located in the x64 folder extracted before.
    – This should allow you to connect to a WPA2 wifi network”

  48. Nik says:

    Sorry correct link to Ralink Windows support page

  49. mote says:

    I can get ndiswrapper working, with: “rfkill unblock wifi”, “rfkill unblock all” and “modprobe -r acer_wmi”.
    But the network speed is really slow. Never gets over 70-80kb sec. ?
    On s205 (E-450) with Ubuntu 11.10
    Anybody have this problem?

  50. versta says:

    Nik 1 october says:
    with the driver rts5139 (card reader) usb ports on the right side of the netbook doesn’t work correctly….

    I had the same problem.

    You should put the string

    blacklist rts5139

    into /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

    and put

    /sbin/modprobe rts5139



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