Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Acer Aspire One under Hardy Heron

The Acer Aspire One

Running Ubuntu

Anthony Johnson


CPU: Atom, specifically a Diamondville-SC mobile processor N270 (1.60 GHz, 533 MHz FSB, 512 KB L2 cache)
Display: 8.9” WSVGA TFT LCD, 1024 x 600
Hard Drive 120GB SATA (Earlier Models have 8GB SSD)
Chipset: Intel 954GSE + ICH7M
Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g (Atheros )
Webcam: 0.3Mp Integrated CrystalEye
Battery life: 3 cell, up to 3 hours (usage level not specified)
Warranty: 1 year
Weight: 985g
I installed the lastest revision of Ubuntu 8.0.4, which is This necessary for anyone seeking to install Ubuntu on any Atom based device. Earlier distros go into a kernel panic otherwise.Linpus Linux Lite was sent into oblivion as it was totally useless to me.
The installation went very quickly and without incident. The resolution is correct, the sound card works, the F keys also worked too, an being able to press F7 to disable the mouse is welcome . The Atheros wireless card was not detected, neither is the mic or nor the web cam. The web cam can be put into service by downloading “Cheese” by entering into the terminal sudo apt-get install cheese. Getting onto the web is not trouble with the Edimax USB WiFi dongle (Ralink T2571) (@ around £20 see www.linuxemporium.co.uk) and it works out of the box.

The battery power is not the best but will yield a passable two hours with a bright screen and WiFi enabled.
One peculiar report by the utility sysinfo which is downloadable from the Ubuntu repositories is the CPU consisting of two processing cores running at 800MHZ, ie 1.6 GHz. To the best of my knowledge the Intel Atom N270 is not based on twin core architecture-, that is to come at the end of the year.

Upgrading the RAM on the device IS A MAJOR OPERATION!!..though possible with patience, preparation and some experience of basic electronics. This is the one feature of the machine I hate. It is as if Acer really want you to void the warranty.
In the Acer Aspire One is great mini-computer. The keyboard is more sensibly designed that the counterpart found on the ASUS EEEPC 900-, another great device but marred by the non-functional F keys and absence of CPU scaling under Ubuntu.

Another choice of Linux OS may be Mandriva 2009. I tried earlier versions but they refuse to install. This may be related to the presence of the Intel atom chip though Mandriva should treat it as an X86. The reason I nominate Mandriva 2009 is that firstly, the WiFi issues may be resolved, and two HSDPA usb dongles such as the Huawei E170/E220 work! -, it works on an ancient reconditioned IBM Thinkpad. Actually, it works a treat.

London, UK