Mine the Harvest

Solaris 10 On Acer Aspire One

by on Feb.11, 2009, under Linux, Netbooks


A large grin now occupies my countenance whenever I boot up my Aspire One. I just can’t help myself.

As the grub splash screen comes up with the Solaris branding, and then watching ZFS initialize and SMF start services, ending in a nice cobalt blue Solaris log in screen. I just can’t help but smile.

Running Solaris on my little netbook allows me to experiment with so many features I have been wanting to become more familiar with. ZFS, Dtrace and containers are all working fine. And the fun just goes on from there.


I downloaded an installed Solaris Express Community Edition B105 and installed it via a USB attached CD ROM. The install did take quite some time, and I had to play around with the install options to get the install size down to a reasonable level. By default it wants to install more than 8GB, just larger in fact than then size of the SSD. However, this can be thinned considerably by going through the components to install. I got it down to about 3GB.

One caveat – I actually had to plug in the NIC in order for the networking (wireless and wired) to be properly detected during set up. Otherwise no networking device drivers are installed. Of course you could always install them after via downloading the packages onto a USB key – but why really.

I found the hardware to be very well supported with just the basic B105 install. Wireless networking, sound and X Windows (either GDM and basic Gnome or CDE) work quite well.

There are additional drivers you can get for video,  wireless and SD card readers from either this great blog here or from the HCL site page for the Aspire One (which is itself pretty cool to see). The blog link goes to a Sun employee blog which has many very informative posts on running Solaris on the Aspire One, you will definitely want to check it out. Instructions for installing the drivers are there as well.

Although you can install and run it with only the base 512MB the Aspire comes with, and it is usable, it is a bit slow – not terrible, but you do notice it. I upgraded to 1.5GB and it runs absolutely fine.

You can install either StarOffice off the CD, however I chose to simply download the OpenOffice 3 package for Solaris, and it installed with no issues.

I still wanted a Linux OS as well, and so installed EEEBuntu onto a 16GB SD card and added an entry to Grub to boot to it. This works extremely well, and I can dual boot to either OS just fine. (See this post for more details on how to set this up.)

I really enjoy running Solaris on my Aspire One. So much for the idea “Solaris is great for big enterprise applications, but it is way overkill for a desktop – too much overhead.”

I really applaud Sun for making Solaris available as an Open Source project and for the time the Sun engineers took in making it work on the Aspire One.

I am also going to try to install the 2008.11 OpenSolaris release on it and see how that goes and report back. It features a smoother install experience and my be better suited to those who down want the full adventure of the SXCE installer, which is a bit non intuitive unless you are already a bit familiar with the packages.

I’ve been learning more about Solaris of course and will post some hints from my experience soon. If you have ever wanted to play a bit with Solaris, I encourage you to give it a try on your Aspire One!


6 comments for this entry:
  1. Scuba Diving

    Happy Saturday! I totally hear you,. Enjoyed “10 On Acer Aspire One | Mine the Harvest” although maybe not everyone did. Safely bookmarked. Just subscribed to your RSS.

  2. admin

    Thanks Gary, I appreciate the feedback. I’ll be adding more on Solaris on the Aspire One as I go along. Glad you are subscribing now, that is great. I checked out http://scubageardiver.com – looks like a great site for some scuba gear.
    Thanks for stopping by and for subscribing.

  3. Corey Zelinski

    Hey, I’m currently on vacation and I’ve been working like mad to try and install Nevada 107 or 108 on my AA1 netbook.

    The “LITE-ON Ez-Dub” external DVD drive I’m using gives me GRUB error 25 every single time, which is some sort of disk error.

    The DVD works fine in an internal DVD drive. Maybe it’s too slow booting from DVD over USB 2.0? I’m not sure, but according to the list of documented bugs it seems to be a known issue. What kind of drive did you use?

    Moreover, is there any alternate way I could do this? Every time I try “pfexec usbdump” at the Milax root prompt it fails on me. Solaris 10 (generic_137138-09) loads great with a working X Server and everything, but drivers for wifi, sound, etc. won’t work to my knowledge without booting a Nevada build. Any suggestions?

  4. admin

    Hi there,

    I am using a Sony DRU-V200A External DVD drive with the below USD to ATA converter.

    It is very strange you are getting the grub error on booting to the DVD – I just did not experience that with either build I tried.

    Have you tried Solaris Express Community Edition? I was able to get that to work as well, but the installer for some reason took an insanely long amount of time to install the packages from DVD (about an hour) – it did however work, and as I recall video, sound and even wifi worked pretty much out of the box – I was using the CDE environment. If you give this a go I believe you will have a functioning install.

    If you are interested I can send you a “Powered by OpenSolaris” metallic sticker. Aaron Houston with Sun (Menlo Park) was kind enough to send me a few, and I would be happy to pass on one to you. If you want one, just email me your address at peby At sagonet d0t com

    (FYI: I removed SXCE and installed 11.2008 Nevada, but it is a bit odd. The gui installer would not start up so I sshed with X forwarding and ran it remotely from the live CD. That worked fine, however I am still having some trouble getting X working with the Intel drive. I will do another blog post though when I am done so people can follow it. Of course we are nearly due for the next official build (April I believe) and Aspire support may be built in – I hope!)

    Please let me know how it goes!

    Hardware that worked for me:

    Bus 004 Device 015: ID 067b:2507 Prolific Technology, Inc. PL2507 Hi-speed USB to IDE bridge controller
    idProduct 0x2507 PL2507 Hi-speed USB to IDE bridge controller
    iManufacturer 1 Prolific Technology Inc.

    scsi 13:0:0:0: CD-ROM SONY DVD RW DRU-V200A 1.60 PQ: 0 ANSI: 0
    sr1: scsi3-mmc drive: 48x/48x writer dvd-ram cd/rw xa/form2 cdda tray

  5. Corey Zelinski

    Thank you! I’d be greatly interested in one of those metallic stickers (I’ll e-mail you after this post). As a Linux user, I was really excited to move to Solaris, mostly because it’s fully POSIX-compliant and basically the direct successor to UNIX SVR4 (and then only secondly to check out DTrace, ZFS, etc) — b107 actually came out while I was trying to get it to work, and up until that time the AA1’s weren’t necessarily running 100% out of the box; sort of reminds me of Linux hardware support back in the late 90’s. But it’s getting there, and fast.

    SXCE is what I’m working with now, and I’m confident that if I can get past the GRUB error it’ll work fine.

    I just bought an old internal DVD-ROM drive at a computer store for two bucks. Makes a lot of weird noises but boots GRUB and installs Solaris to this 700Mhz HP Brio (which I bought for $10), except for the fact that the X server doesn’t seem to jive well with Brio’s integrated graphics chipset. But if I can just get it on the Aspire I’ll be more than happy, (it’s SXCE that still installs the packages for JDS and CDE, no?) So my thinking is, if the drive works inside the Brio, it would probably work with any ATA-to-USB adapter.

    Thank you for your help!

  6. OpenSolaris 2008.11 Acer Aspire One Install | Mine the Harvest

    […] my previous post about installing Solaris Express Community Edition (SXCE) on my Aspire One, I decided to give the […]

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