Thursday, October 15, 2009

Acer Aspire One and Ubuntu Linux

I just bought an Acer Aspire One Pro A531H N270 netbook and immediately went on to install Ubuntu Linux (Jaunty Jackalope) on it (while keeping the original Windows XP installation available through dual boot). On the whole this was painless but there are a couple of snags.

Installation: I used the UNetbootin tool to create a bootable SD card to perform the installation, and this was painless. Normally I install from CD, but since the Aspire doesn't have one and I don't own a USB one, this was not an option.

Screen: Crisp and sharp, and with the right resolution immediately.

Webcam: Works fine out of the box. However, getting the microphone to work seems to require some manual installation that I haven't bothered with yet since I don't normally use my computers for anything that requires a microphone. Update: After upgrading to 9.10, the microphone works without any special tricks.

Sound: Works fine, but I wouldn't mind the volume going a bit higher. Update: It would be nice with a hardware volume control.

Network: The wired network worked fine immediately. The wireless didn't, but the instructions in this post fixed it, and I have since then had no problems with it.

SD card reader: There are two. The left one works fine, detecting cards inserted on the fly. I haven't tried the right-hand one.

Touchpad: Works fine. Ubuntu had sideways scrolling disabled by default, but that's just a matter of changing a checkbox in the settings.

External display: I haven't tried this connection yet. Update: I've tried once to get it to work and failed using Ubuntu 9.04. After a reboot to Windows XP it worked fine, so it seems like a software issue. Pressing Fn-F5 in Ubuntu did nothing at all.

Suspend: Works fine.

I've only used this machine for a few hours yet, but so far it feels nice and I don't have any real quibbles about it. Update: A few months later, and I'm still happy with the machine.

Update: The update to Ubuntu Karmic Koala was painless.

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