15 August 2008 @ 10:15Acer Aspire One running Ubuntu 8.04.1

I’m typing this post on a new Acer Aspire One 1GB RAM, 120GB HDD running Ubuntu 8.04.1. The two configuration that were available to me were an Aspire One with 512MB RAM and 8GB SSD running Linpus Linux, or an Acer Aspire One with 1GB RAM and 120GB HDD running Windows XP. I wanted to see one in person before I spent the money, so I went to Circuit City which was the only local retailer that had an Aspire One in stock. They only had the 512MB/8GB model, but I was able to get a feel for the One’s size and build quality. Circuit City doesn’t stock the 1GB/120GB model, but I could order one from online retailers for only $20 to $30 more than the lesser equipped model. It was pretty much a no-brainer to spring for the 1GB/120GB model.

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As I said above, this configuration came with Windows XP installed, but I would much rather use a flavor of Linux, or better yet, Mac OS X. Some people have installed OS X on the One, but in order to use WiFi they are having to replace the wireless card. From everything that I have read, Ubuntu seemed to be the best choice. I downloaded and burned the Ubuntu LiveCD on another computer, pulled an old DVD-RAM drive out of the closet, plugged it into a SATA/IDE to USB 2.0 Adapter, inserted the LiveCD, and booted the Aspire One from it. I selected the Install option and proceed through the steps. At the formatting options, I was going to try partitioning the drive while leaving XP on a small partition, but I kept getting errors trying this. In the end, I simply formatted the entire drive as one partition, leaving not a trace of Windows XP. The install took about 20 minutes, and when finished, the Aspire One rebooted and I logged into Ubuntu. The WiFi was not working at this point, so I plugged in an ethernet cable and ran the Update Manager. Once the updates were installed, I proceeded to work on trying to get the WiFi to work. I followed the instructions here, and after a reboot, WiFi was functional.

There are some issues with Ubuntu on the Acer Aspire One. Firstly, the SD card slots did not work at all. Secondly, the audio output did not work after a suspend. I was able to get the left side SD card slot working by following the instructions here (translated). This fix involves installing jmb38x_d3e.sh in /usr/local/sbin/ and make it executable with:

chmod 754 /usr/local/sbin/jmb38x_d3e.sh

At that same site there were also instructions for fixing the audio not working after suspend. This worked for me (after I copied the text from the original page instead of the translated page). The text that you need to add to the end of /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base is as follows:

options snd-hda-intel model=acer

After these two fixes, Ubuntu on the Aspire One is almost completely functional. One other complaint is that due to the small vertical resolution (600 pixels) of the Aspire One, the lower portion of some windows is not accessible. Another complaint of the Aspire One is short battery life. This could vary slightly depending on the OS, but I have only been getting about 2.5 hours with Ubuntu. This could be remedied with the addition of the optional 6-cell battery.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the build quality and the size of the Aspire One. So far I only have one complaint, and that is the trackpad buttons on the sides of the trackpad instead of the bottom of the trackpad. I’m sure I will be able to get used to this though.

I feel like the Aspire One will make for a great little computer that can be tossed into a backpack and survive a bit more abuse than your average laptop.

Installing Ubuntu:

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