A cheaper Freewrite: some linuxnoob tips

Not having the funds to buy myself a Freewrite (formerly known as HemingWrite) I blew the dust from an old, but still working netbook (Samsung N150) and followed this great tutorial “How to turn your laptop into a typewriter“.

Here’s some handy tips if you want to redo the tutorial yourself

After install black screen

Apparently the Ubuntu Server is very barebones and on my netbooks it simply boots to a blank screen with a blinking cursor. Nothing more. To get started, you need to openup a terminal using ctrl+alt+F1. Yeah, I’m a linux noob.

Only boots using usb stick 😦

I followed the tutorial as is and discovered that my fresh Ubuntu wouldn’t boot unless I inserted the original USB-stick from which I had installed Ubuntu in the first place. The problem? The Ubuntu installer installed Grub on the stick instead of on the master harddisk.
This can be remedied simply by using the command:

sudo grub-install /dev/sda

Autologin and boot to terminal

The part about configuring tty1 to automatic login doens’t work anymore in more recent Ubuntu Server version. What you will need to do is oveeride the getty.service, as explained here.


sudo systemctl edit getty@tty1

Then add the following content:



ExecStart=-/sbin/agetty --autologin yourusername --noclear %I 38400 linux


Save and exit.

Next, you will want to change the bootloader, grub, settings:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

and change the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT value to text.

Next up, write the changes to grub:

sudo update-grub

Connecting to wifi is real hard

Most modern wifi networks have WPA or WPA2 security, which is a bit of a pain in the a$$ to get connected to using a terminal-only shell.
Luckily a nifty tool called “nmtui” exist which is basically a text-based UI network configurator.It can be installed using:

sudo apt-get install network-manager

and can then be started by typing:


Getting battery status

Use upower as explained here.