I have used a subnotebook (a Compaq) way back, but this is our first try into the new “UMPC” category: got Laura Acer Asprire One as a present yesterday. First impressions are rather positive, but I personally think the Linpus Linux Lite OS/desktop is in need of some serious hacking (it is sooo “easy”/limiting), or worth chancing into Ubuntu, but Laura seems happy at the moment so — lets not break it. 🙂 Price: Verkkokauppa.com, 298,90 €.
14 thoughts on “Acer Aspire One unpacking”
According to my experience, AA1 (as this netwook is also affectionately known) is pretty good value for money. Particularly the lightweight form factor and the almost-immediate boot-up when you turn it on have powerful impact on how one uses a computer, or a laptop. This feels like sort of hybrid or intermediate experience between using a PC and a mobile phone. Very interesting — I actually went and bought another one for our workplace to test it out and to think about the potential of netbooks in our mobile/meeting oriented university work.
Few caveats: this saphire blue version actually has louder fan than the white one we got for Laura. It is still not loud, but as the white one is almost totally silent, I was a bit disappointed. But you can find some advice on how to turn off the fan from here: http://wiki.aspireone.net/index.php/How_to_hack_the_noisy_fan .
Another thing is that it is not actually advisable to go and install a full Ubuntu for a netbook like AA1: the system will slow down and most probably there are no drivers to make the netbook operate as reliably as with the Linpus it comes packed with.
But there is some room for improvement. One of the first things I did was to go and install Firefox 3, using these advices: http://macles.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/firefox-3-on-the-acer-aspire-one-a110/ .
The same blog, Macles* provides nice guidelines also for fixing the non-dithering bug from the display driver Linpus is using (http://macles.wordpress.com/2008/08/15/dithering-on-the-acer-aspire-one-a110la150l/). But as this requires recompiling etc., one needs to install new software tools, it is better to have e.g. a 8 Gb SD card installed as a memory expansion, as I did. Also, I did not get the standard Fedora repositories to work before going to /etc/yum.repos.d/(fedora repository conf files) and changing all occurrences of “mirrorlists” and marking those out, and then marking in all occurrences of “baseurl” lines. For some reason the standard mirrorlist way of addressing Fedora repositories did not function; for a similar issue see this thread: http://fedoraforum.org/forum/archive/index.php/t-169831.html .
The Linpus version that comes with the AA1 is, by default, indeed a bit limited. It’s not difficult to enable the more advanced features, like a terminal, a menu to launch programs from (including a package manager to add new apps) etc.
I’ve spent a little while customizing the system to my liking, enabling compiz, installing skype and picasa, automount for network shares and so on. I can’t think of anything I can’t do with it that I could do with Ubuntu, and since the system comes pre-configured to work with all the hardware in the notebook, I’d think twice about putting another distro on it. As of now, it seems Wifi doesn’t work out of the box with Ubuntu on the AA1, and sound, last I heard, doesn’t work even after tweaking. All that works with Linpus.
I agree. Regards revealing the “advanced mode” in Linpus Lite, the advice for that is at least here: http://www.aspireoneuser.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=28 .
Btw, one of the best tips from the forums so far for me has been how to enable network disk / LAN browsing in AA1 — without it, having the tiny disk and no LAN access pretty much crippled everything. Installing pyNeighborhood required these install instructions and some experimentation: http://www.aspireoneuser.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=89 .
I have been trying to connect AA1 to Internet using mobile phone, but so far without success. It might be done via bluetooth dongle (but I’d prefer to stay away from them, having had my fair share of bluetooth driver worries in the past). And then there is Joiku, software that transforms a smartphone into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. But but: as far I have not found a way to get AA1 to find or connect to the Joiku hotspot. Others are having similar problems: http://www.joiku.com/?action=messages&mode=view&title_id=473 – Have anyone actually managed to go mobile with AA1? I even tried tweaking around with ‘wvdial’ (following these Nokia E70 instructions: http://www.dreamincode.net/forums/showtopic33249.htm) but nope: “Sorry, no modem was detected!” Even the future AA1 3G add-on modules will most likely not work with this model (apparently the 3G slot in the bottom is a dummy one, without any connectors, doh..)
Ok, I think I have now the mobile connection available in AA1 (typing this over a mobile phone link, actually). The piece of instructions that worked for me was setting up ‘adhoc.sh’ script as adviced here: http://www.aspireoneuser.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=125&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=adhoc&start=10 – but over a regular grps modem connection (via E70) browsing is really slow. And you need to reboot to turn the Network Manager back on. But hey, at least it is working now!
To correct the problem with NetworkManager, i did a script that restart NetworkManager but anyway, just type on terminal “sudo service NetworkManager restart” The service will be ready in few seconds…
Joe, thanks for the tip: it is possible to restart it from the Wi-Fi switch on the front panel, but the command is also handy.
The links in the first post don’t work anymore. It’s at http://macles.blogspot.com now.
Ok, thanks for pointing this out (memo to myself: need to update those links to their new location soon).
I did finally found a better way to use my mobile phone to access the Internet from AA1. It involves connecting Nokia N95 to AA1 using USB modem cable, and following these instructions to modify the system: http://wosten.blogspot.com/2008/08/usb-modemnokia-n95-with-acer-aspire-one.html
I needed to make some changes, though. To use Elisa ISP in Finland, use “rlnet” for username, and “internet” for the password (see http://www.elisa.fi/asiakastuki/tulosta.cfm?o=1995.02). Replace the Init2 string that is given in the instructions with this one: “AT+CGDCONT=1,”IP”,”internet”,”0.0.0.0″,0,0 “. And use DNS1: 220.127.116.11 and DNS2: 18.104.22.168. The OpenDNS ones did not work for me. Good luck! 🙂
For some reason I had to re-run this entire process (maybe the system update rewrites the modified kernel/driver?) – Btw, you need to access the ‘modprobe’ command in Linpus with its whole path: “/sbin/depmod -a” and “/sbin/modprobe cdc-acm”.
I have not seen this info elsewhere: the Fedora 8 repositories have changed location, and AA1 will not find all software without manually changing the repos;
I thought I made this note already, but perhaps not then (?) — To modify the hosts file permanently in a Linpus-AA1 you need to modify this script: /etc/rc.d/rc.5 (Source: http://rasmuskjeldsen.blogspot.com/2008/11/acer-aspire-one-hosts-file.html )
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