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Linux on the Acer Aspire One A110-Aw

[Acer Aspire One A110-Aw]
Picture of Acer Aspire One A110-Aw Netbook, Linpus Linux Lite version, 512MB DDR2 RAM, 8GB Flash (Seashell White)

I love my Acer Aspire One ! Small, light, runs Linux. With Linux, you can make it work the way you want it to!

The Acer Aspire One A110-Aw has a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor, a 8 Gb SSD solid state disk, 512 Mb memory. It boottime is amazing, it takes only 15 seconds to boot. I choose this machine because of the SDD. I like the idea of having no moving parts. The machine is not completely without moving parts. There is a fan that runs every once in a while.

The keyboard is usable. It is a little bit larger then the one on the Asus EEE PC 900. Because I am a touch typist the keyboard size is an important feature for me. I am able to use vim on this machine. The escape key is a little small, but you can live with it.

[Run Linux on netbooks!]

Linpus Linux Lite

The Aspire One comes with Linpus Linux Lite pre-installed. In case you goofe it up, there is a rescue-CD. You need another computer to turn a USB memory stick into a rescue stick. With that rescue-stick you can re-install the default OS.

The Acer can be used by people who don't know Linux at all. The rootwindow contains icons to the most important applications and the icons for the other applications are easy to find.

It turns out that Linpus is based on an older Fedora version. The browser that comes with it is a version 2 Firefox.

Default there is a user with the name "user". It has no password. Also root comes without a password. The first thing I did was to set a password for both root as this user. Then I changed the boot procedure so it runs gdm.

The support of the hardware is good. Wireless works out of the box, sound, control of the CPU-speed to manage energy consumption, hybernation, you name it, it all works.

The system needs quite some time to come back alife from hybernation. This is in contrast to the short time needed to boot. So it is more time effecient to boot or reboot than to wait for recovery from hybernation.

Making the Acer Aspire One usable

Experienced Linux users will find themselves to restricted on this box. Anyway, I did. When you dive into it, be ready for a shock. The boot procedure is very ugly. Often you are wondering why. It seems to me the contents of /etc are the result of getting it reasonally foolproof and getting it to boot fast in a hurry. Yes it works. No, it is not build up logically. When looking at it I get the impression of hasty, unfinished work. The whole thing should be broken up a little bit more and than put together in a more logical structure. So the XFCE-configuration is just that, the configuration of XFCE. Now all kind of non-XFCE-related stuff is hided in it.

Trying to make this thing work more the way I want it brings the hasty work frequently into focus. Several times I thought about ditching this distro all together and replace it with either Slackware or Debian. But that would introduce new problems. So I stayed on the path of keeping this distro and try to make it work my way.

Update: I moved the Aspire One 110 to Debian Testing.

Ratpoison windowmanager

I use ratpoison on all my machines. The small screen resolution of the Acer makes this even more important. With yum ratpoison is easy to install. Ratmenu is missing from its repository. In the end I compiled ratmenu on a different box and moved it to the Aspire. Choosing for ratpoison in GDM breaks a lot. This is because all kind of initialisation routines are hidden in the XFCE-startup files. To get wifi started /usr/bin/add_leds.sh is run during startup of XFCE. So now we have to do that by hand. The nm-applet does not run without a properly set up bus. In the end I choose to simply run wpa_supplicant with a preconfigured configuration file.

A netbook is a netbook

It is a netbook. And I think it should be used that way. So my mission is to have no data on it. In real life this means allmost no data. I use the bookmarks in elinks and firefox (never bothered to search for a way to exchange bookmarks between elinks and firefox).. But that is it. The way I use this machine is to do everything remote. When I am working on it, it is very often in a ssh session to a remote machine. Or else it is in one of the browser windows.

Alternative OS

I don't use much of the software that comes in the default installation. In fact, what I do frequently use is screen, ssh, scp, elinks, firefox. Sometimes I use vim and sometimes imagemagick (download some image, resize or convert it and upload it again to some other spot).

The webcame is very poor. I have used it once or twice though, so perhaps I want to keep software for it.

I try to go easy on the SSD. SD-cards are getting cheaper everyday. Perhaps I add some SD-cards to hold some music or a movie. I have not tried that yet, but my expectations are that the performance will not be to poor to play a movie.

Processor

/proc/cpuinfo gives us the following result:

processor       : 0
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
cpu family      : 6
model           : 28
model name      : Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU N270   @ 1.60GHz
stepping        : 2
cpu MHz         : 800.000
cache size      : 512 KB
physical id     : 0
siblings        : 2
core id         : 0
cpu cores       : 1
fdiv_bug        : no
hlt_bug         : no
f00f_bug        : no
coma_bug        : no
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level     : 10
wp              : yes
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts pni monitor ds_cpl est tm2 ssse3 xtpr lahf_lm
bogomips        : 3195.58
clflush size    : 64

processor       : 1
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
cpu family      : 6
model           : 28
model name      : Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU N270   @ 1.60GHz
stepping        : 2
cpu MHz         : 800.000
cache size      : 512 KB
physical id     : 0
siblings        : 2
core id         : 0
cpu cores       : 1
fdiv_bug        : no
hlt_bug         : no
f00f_bug        : no
coma_bug        : no
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level     : 10
wp              : yes
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts pni monitor ds_cpl est tm2 ssse3 xtpr lahf_lm
bogomips        : 3191.98
clflush size    : 64

When we use the netbook actualy as a netbook, this provides more then enough computingpower.

Memory

The Acer comes with 512 Mb memory. Memory can be extended with max. 1 Gb to 1.5 Gb. However this requires a complete disassembly of the machine. For this reason, I haven't done that.

Links

See also

[Acer Aspire One A110-Aw outside]
Picture of Acer Aspire One A110-Aw Netbook from the outside

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