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Netbooks

EEEBuntu on Aspire One SD Card Booting

by on Feb.10, 2009, under Linux, Netbooks

One draw back the Aspire One has is that BIOS lacks an option to boot directly to the SD slots. I was disappointed when I saw this, as other UMPCs such as the EEE PC allow this. I really think Acer should update the BIOS to allow this, but as yet it remains unsupported. There are however workarounds. I had been planning on trying to use grub to chain load an OS install on the SD drive as was doing some research on this.

I then came across this great article here about installing EEEBuntu on the Acer Aspire One, specifically installing it onto an SD card.

Gary Rennie did a great on on the original article describing step by step how to make the initrd and giving an excellent review of EEEBuntu, I definitely recommend looking at his post for the overall procedure.

I had not previously heard of EEEbuntu and it certainly looked interesting, however the article’s method had one major draw back: It directs you to first install EEEBuntu onto the internal 8GB drive, then using it build a new initrd to use which contains the drivers allowing booting to the SD card, then actually installing it again onto the SD card.

I wanted to keep my existing install (Linpus at the time, now Solaris) on the 8GB drive and thought installing the same OS onto both the internal drive and an SD card was superfluous. I am sure a lot of users would prefer not to have to erase their existing installs in order to install EEEBuntu as an intermediary step.

To work around this I downloaded the EEEBuntu .iso and then installed it as a virtual machine using Virtualbox from Sun Microsystems. (I did this on my desktop system, not the Aspire One.) This was the first time I had used Virtualbox and I was quite impressed with it, though please note you do have to compile the kernel module for it to work (see the install documentation). It was very easy to set up and in a few minutes I had a fully running EEEBuntu Virtual Machine.

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Aspire One and Linpus

by on Dec.04, 2008, under Linux, Netbooks, Sago Labs

I’ve been tinkering with my new Acer Aspire One for a while now, long enough to give some more feedback on it in addition to my earlier post.

I continue to find the hardware delightful. Love the screen and keyboard and the dual sd card readers, etc. Really, from a hardware perspective I can’t find much to fault, other than the crappy 2 hour batter life on the 2200 mAh. Also you do have to disassemble it completely for a memory upgrade, not a big deal for me but certainly not something every user would want to do. If you do, as might as well upgrade the SSD / SDHD 8GB drive while you are at it as you must remove it to access the SODIMM slot. There are YouTube videos to guide you.

I find I do like the narrow open separation between the keyboard and screen. At first I didn’t like the look, but I found it perfect to slip your fingers through when holding it, making it extremely easy to hold in one hand when standing.

Now, as to the software. After giving it a very honest trial, I have to say the default Linpus OS simply has to go. It is not that I don’t like Fedora. And the Linpus GUI is actually pretty good. But given that most people who buy the Linux one are going to likely use XFCE, you are going to have trouble – guaranteed. Even if a user stays with the Linpus GUI, the software updates are going to be a problem.

Software Updates

This is silly. There are numerous Linpus modified packages, but no Linpus repository. If you try to use the built in updater after your first round of updates you will get a dependency problem with gnome-menus, which is easily resolved, but it seems odd that out of the box the update breaks almost immediately.

The next round of updates you will likely discover a problem with Firefox and gecko-libs. Now, this takes manually removing Firefox as it is not a yum package, but an rpm and then sym linking the new Firefox so the other packages think the old version is still there. A new Linux user is expected to resolve this? Right.

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Acer Aspire One Praise and Annoyances

by on Oct.16, 2008, under IT Adventures, Netbooks

(Update: See the post here for additional review comments, suggestions and other Aspire One info.)

A few weeks ago I got a new Acer Aspire One ultra mobile notebook (umpc). Very cool little device and I am essentially completely satisfied with the hardware itself. The screen is fantastic, great contrast and clarity. Wifi card (Atheros AR5006EG) does injection. I was holding off on buying a UMPC until ones with the new Intel Atom were available, so I passed on the Asus EEE series, etc. and held off until now. I just really wanted a multi-thread capable CPU, and over all I am very happy with this device.

However – the Fedora 8 Linpus OS it comes with never ceases to annoy me. If you are anything like me, you will likely encounter some of the following annoyances. Some of these are pretty corny, but definitely can stop you in  your tracks.

While the stock OS may be fine for those who will not ever venture beyond OpenOffice and Firefox, when you really start to use it, you can find a few land mines in your path. Here is my list of those I found most annoying and some suggested solution:

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