Acer Aspire One and Fedora 10, a great little combination

Posted on 1 Jan ’09 by Earl Moore

Asus Aspire One NetbookThis past holiday season Netbook computers were a leading seller for Amazon, and thanks to my dear wife I was a lucky recipients of one of those sales.

I received a Sapphire Blue Acer Aspire One 8.9-inch (1.6 GHz Atom Proc, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB HD, XP Home, 6 Cell Battery) Netbook.

One of the most appealing aspects of Netbooks are their size. The Aspire One, at 6.7 x 9.8 x 1.1 inches and only 2.2 pounds, is a joy to carry and the six-cell battery provides over 5 hours of unattached operation, even when employing Wifi.

For a “budget device” Acer didn’t skimp on features. There’s a 1.3 megapixel camera, built in SDHC/multi-format media readers, 802.11b/g Wifi, 10/100 Ethernet, CrystalBrite WSVGA backlit LCD display, three USB 2.0 ports, 3.5 audio out, and available internal mini PCI slot for perhaps WWAN or G3.

After going through all the initial setup steps for Windows XP and associated software (anti-virus, etc.) I was pleased and more then a little surprised at the over-all performance of the device.

From my own preferences there was just one issue I had to correct…it was running Windows. ;-)

This particular Netbook has been on the market a while and a number of people have shared their experiences with changing the operating system. My first thought was to install the latest version of Ubuntu Linux but research seemed to indicate that Fedora 10 was perhaps a little more compatible with the Aspire One hardware and would require less command line tinkering.

I’m sure the situation of Linux release compatibility is constantly changing so my choice may not match your own decision.

Not being sure how successful this Linux transformation would be, I decided to leave Windows XP on the Aspire One and have it dual-boot Linux and Windows. What follows are the basic steps for accomplishing this from the 10,000 foot level. You can find more detail and knowledgeable information here, here and here.

  1. Downloaded the Fedora Live CD ISO and copied it to a USB stick. You can use UNetbootin or similar utility to create a bootable Linux USB stick.
  2. Boot the Aspire One (using the F12 key) from the newly created Linux live USB boot device.
  3. Download and use the Gnome Partition Editor to reduce the size of the Windows boot partition, leaving the newly unused drive space for your new Linux install. I divided my 160 Gb drive space about in half.
  4. Install Fedora to the hard disk using the unused drive space you just created.
  5. Update and optimize Fedora 10 for better performance and to take care of tweaks to insuring the sound, arrow key volume control, Wifi LED light and suspend mode with lid closed works correctly.

There is also much information in the Ubuntu forum on the Aspire One which can be applied to Fedora for any other release.

Many of the guides I found referred to using the Fedora XFCE desktop, as it’s supposedly faster, but I installed the ever popular Gnome Desktop and am very pleased with its function and performance on the Aspire One. Everything seems to work although the suspend and hibernate functions are a little iffy.

Fedora 10 on the Aspire One is a pleasure to use and the over-all function and performance is, in my opinion, better then Windows XP. I haven’t boot into the Windows install for some time and will probably end up reformatting the Windows hard drive partition to use as additional storage.

So, how do I see myself using this device?

Well, for a very portable Internet, social communications, part-time travel blogging platform it’s highly capable. It can also replace Epson’s photographic P-Series (P3000, P5000, P7000) storage/display functions at a fraction of the cost. The Aspire One’s large hard drive, built-in card reader, USB ports, and excellent display make it a good performer for temporarily viewing, storing and transporting photos from the field if needed.

I’m very happy with both the Acer Aspire One and Fedora 10. It’s a great combination and I look forward to many more hours exploring the capabilities of this device.

Update:

01/03/09Application Window Overflow Issue: Due to the small and somewhat odd screen resolutions (1024×600) some applications will open with their windows extending off the bottom of the screen. This is problem if the control buttons are located in this area and often prevents normal resizing of the window because you can’t get to the bottom right corner of the window. Workaround: Holding the “Alt” key while clicking and dragging the window will allow you to access the bottom of the window to utilize the control buttons or resize the window.


I love tinkering with technology. It’s a natural curiosity that’s been part of my makeup since I was a small child. On our family vacations I would be the child running around the motel room studying the light switches, air conditioner, TV, and any other available gadget wanting to know how each of them worked. That curiosity hasn’t lessened with age but the gadgets have gotten more personally expensive to explore. ;-)

What Others Are Saying

  1. TonyC 1 Jan ’09 at 4:10 pm

    I read about installing fedora 10 and this is really what I would like to do, but read to install the 386 XFCE version. The live version seems to be mostly 686 and does not mention XFCE. Will this do.?
    Oh and thanks for sharing.

  2. Earl Moore 1 Jan ’09 at 4:25 pm

    @Tony: I installed from to my Aspire One from the Fedora 10 i686 Gnome Live CD successfully. I think the 686 Live CD’s would be OK. Below is a link to the torrent file for downloading the Fedora 10 i686 Live XFCE ISO file.

    http://spins.fedoraproject.org/torrents//Fedora-10-i686-Live-XFCE.torrent

    I’m happy with my results. Good luck on your install.

  3. Paul 1 Jan ’09 at 4:53 pm

    I had to laugh. The first thing that you did was kick Windoze to the curb! Smart man! Smart move! :-) I’d like to do that but I use Lightroom on my laptop.

  4. Earl Moore 1 Jan ’09 at 5:16 pm

    @Paul: Happy New Year! LOL Yeah, a fresh install of Windows by itself isn’t bad but then you have to deal with anti-virus, anti-spyware and having the machine get slower and slower with time. After many years supporting Windows users I can’t deal with that any longer…I’ve been spoiled by Mac OS X. ;-)

    Linux runs a close second to OS X in my opinion and it’s a shame the Adobe doesn’t bring it’s applications to Linux.

  5. Joel Zerpa 1 Jan ’09 at 10:39 pm

    Hello! friend the screen resolution in Acer One is 1024×600? Fedora 10 need xorg.conf modification or recognize that resolution easyly? Sorry for my english…i am from Venezuela…i have a netbook (Great Wall A81) the screen is 1024 x 600 res and xorg.conf moding was important for work with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS.

    I want install other distro (Ubuntu not for me) but that res 1024 x 600 not work with Mandriva 2009, PCLinuxOS 2007 and other distros, is Fedora 10 easy to install with that “exotic” resolution? Help! Please respond to me mail joel.zerpa at gmail.com Thanks!!!

  6. TonyC 2 Jan ’09 at 8:20 am

    Hi, me again. I installed xfce first, but not all the stuff worked, so installed gnome, so far everything seems to work. used live cd not sure if it was 686 or 386 does this really matter. Tried to add vcl, did search, but only found some drivers for nvidia. Then clicked on media and looked until I found vcl. it appeared to install, but I can not find it. however now totem plays all media.
    One last thing. in setting up, IE email software, I can not see the bottom of the page and can not seem to move to the area to select the required bottons.
    Thanks for all the info thus far, I think I like gnome.
    TonyC

  7. Earl Moore 2 Jan ’09 at 8:28 am

    @Joel Zerpa: With my install of Fedora 10 the screen resolution of 1024 x 600 was correctly configured. A few people have had problems with this but it usually can be resolved by deleting the xorg.conf file and rebooting. I checked the resolution after install using command line “xrandr -q” and confirmed 1024 x 600 was my current display resolution.

    The Fedora 10 fonts will perhaps be too large initially but can be easily adjusted through the “System – Preferences – Look and Feel – Appearance” menu options.

    Good luck in finding the right Linux release for you.

    @TonyC: Nice work! I’ve also experienced the issue with a few applications being off the bottom of the screen and not being able to resize their window. I don’t have a good solution for this at the moment. I’m thinking this may be an issue with the application not dealing well with the odd 1024 x 600 screen resolution. Hey, let me know if you discover a workaround for this.

  8. TonyC 2 Jan ’09 at 8:58 am

    my problem was with evolution mail. Got round it, but a bit lame. Went to their site and counted how many boxes to get to forward or apply.
    Once the software starts seems to size ok.

    TonyC

  9. GJS 2 Jan ’09 at 9:01 am

    It works like a charm, out of the box. First I tried booting it with the Live usb version of FC10 and that works fine. Then I installed it.
    The only thing is that the card slots required some commandline fidling.
    The wifi led doesn’t work with the present driver, but when using the madwifi driver it should work. But since it works out of the box without tampering I can live without the led.
    Hibernate to ram or disk works great with KDE, much better than with Gnome.
    I did some tweaks with the powersaving. The 160gb harddisk version I’ ve got consumes it’s battery in about 2.5 hours.
    I didn’t even bother to install XP and I’m presently trying to get my money back from microft and acer since I didn’t accept the license. Fat luck…..so far…..

  10. TonyC 2 Jan ’09 at 9:12 am

    is it possible to switch to kde without a reinstall from gnome. Sorry but I really am new to linux.
    TonyC

  11. Earl Moore 2 Jan ’09 at 9:25 am

    @TonyC: No problem I’m fairly new to linux as well…mostly a Mac OS X guy.
    I think there are a couple of desktop switching applications under “add/remove software” which are suppose to make it possible to switch between desktops without reinstalling. I haven’t tried it yet myself but may take a look at it later. Let me know if you find one that works well.

  12. Earl Moore 2 Jan ’09 at 9:27 am

    @GJS: Thanks for the information. I’m assuming you’re using the 3 cell battery to get the 2.5 hours run time. I’m getting a little over 5 hours with the 6 cell unit.

  13. TonyC 2 Jan ’09 at 11:36 am

    I will be trying again, but for the time being I have gone back to Linpus. Which I don’t really mind and for VLC working with all the file formats.
    May leave it for a couple of weeks before I try again.
    Thanks for the help…
    TonyC

  14. Richard Querin 3 Jan ’09 at 7:08 am

    Nice little machine there Earl. The only real complaint I’ve heard about the Aspire One is that it’s a fingerprint magnet.. if that’s the worst complaint I’d say that’s pretty damn good! :)

    I’ve been pondering whether to get a full-on notebook (I love the Dell M1330) or one of these ‘netbooks’. I’m still undecided – and budgeting doesn’t really allow for it at the moment, but I’ll be keen to hear how you’re using it over the coming months. I think it would be great for blogging, writing and communication stuff. I was a little bit worried about it’s uselessness for any kind of graphics work like Inkscape or photos, but then again, would an M1330 be much better anyway for that stuff? Likely not. Hmm.. maybe this netbook thing is the way to go. I might hit you up for some more info a month or two from now.

    Again, congrats on the great gift. Your wife should be commended on her smarts. :)

  15. Earl Moore 3 Jan ’09 at 9:39 am

    @Richard: Oh, it’s absolutely a fingerprint magnet. I often think I should be wearing white linen gloves when I pick it up.

    I’ve found laptops to be about compromise between two extremes. Either they’re powerful enough with large enough screens to be good at running graphical desktop applications or they’re small/light enough to be truly portable and convenient so you don’t hate ever moment of carrying them around. Then there are the laptops that fall in the middle, they do a bit of everything but nothing extremely well. Perhaps there’s a perfect compromise out there, but I haven’t found it.

    The Aspire One is definitely on the small and light end of the scale. For checking emails, browsing the Internet, running twhirl to keep track of twitter, friendfeed and identi.ca, or writing blog post it’s great. Oh…I loaded Inkscape on the AA1 while writing this and the application runs very snappy after a re-sizing of the initial window, but I doubt you’d want to do any real design work on it. ;-)

  16. TonyC 3 Jan ’09 at 10:53 am

    The aspire one is small, but I have used mine for edditing photos with no problem.
    Also adding tags to html. I have written a lot of letters on it using open office and sent loads of emails.
    Next I am going to try it with dtp. I have a desk top pc, but do most of my work on an aging 3200 AMD64 Laptop ATI 9600 1 gig ram. 80 gig Hdrive and XP Pro.
    Appart from the CPU and screen size the spec of my main laptop is less than the acer.
    Mine has the 120 gig H drive.
    I paid about £250 for mine, I would never have believed I could by a notebook of this quality for the price.
    Will keep coming back to see what more I can learn from this informative post.
    TonyC

  17. Pingback: Attracting attention with an Acer Aspire One — Meandering Passage

  18. daniel 14 Jan ’09 at 1:22 pm

    i installed fedora 10 after ubuntu my problem is that i cant install software it says no software to every catagory please help…

  19. Earl Moore 14 Jan ’09 at 2:18 pm

    @Daniel:
    Via the top menu go to ‘System>Administration>Add/Remove Software.’
    In the “Add/Remove Software” window select menu ‘System>Software Sources.’
    In the ‘Software Sources’ window do you see sources list such as Fedora 10 -i386, Fedora 10 – i386 updates, etc.?
    Also in the ‘Add/Remove Software’ window check your ‘Filter’ settings to make sure you can view all packages.

  20. Pingback: One month of living with an Acer Aspire One and Fedora 10 — Meandering Passage

  21. rnoynet 12 May ’09 at 5:47 am

    Hi !
    I have been watching movies/videos (.flv files) from the USB memory with my Acer Aspire One (Linpus -> Fedora). Somehow I lost the volume when fiddling the touchpanel. When trying to to get the volume back to normal, the speed of the video doubled. Can you give me a hint how to solve these problems?

  22. Earl 12 May ’09 at 8:23 am

    @rnoynet: Sorry, I’m far from a Linux expert. Perhaps some other readers out there can help?

  23. rnoynet 13 May ’09 at 3:07 am

    Hi again!

    I was checking carefully the configuration of the system. Found that it had selected three different keyboards at the same time, north american, english and spanish. Ok, I deselected the north american and english, because I´m in Spain. Then the system required to be reinitialized. After doing so, the problems where gone.
    I tried to reproduce those problems by selecting back all three keyboards, but they did not come back! So, the solution was the initialization of the system… not the keyboard selections.

    Solved but not very scientifically!

  24. Earl Moore 13 May ’09 at 5:21 am

    @rnoynet: I’m happy your problem is resolved and thank you for posting your findings in a comment here. Perhaps the information will be of help to someone else.

  25. Darma 23 May ’09 at 3:42 am

    To see window that hide at the bottom of the screen, press Alt key and drag the windows up (cursor can be anywhere inside the window). Remember to disable desktop effect.

  26. Pingback: Asus Aspire One Upgraded to Fedora 11 — Meandering Passage

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>