Posted by: docdenbow | June 22, 2011

ACER ASPIRE ONE A110 & Puppy Linux


I have updated this post as the old one was pretty rubbish offered little in the way of advice – this I hope someone will find useful………..

Since I updated this I have posted about rescuing a laptop using Puppy Linux, you may want to have a look at that Here’s the link I’ve added screenshots that may help.

I am the proud owner of an Acer a110 netbook. It has an 8.9” screen, is light as the proverbial feather and even the smaller keyboard is not so small that it makes it unusable, in fact it’s more than adequate.We bought this virtually on release from our local pc world store for £179.

“The Acer Aspire One is equipped with an Intel Atom processor, specially designed for low-cost UMPC’s, and runs on both Linux and Windows. Other features include an 8.9-inch screen, from 512 megabytes of RAM, a built-in WiFi connection and expandable memory up to 4 gigabytes.

• Model Name: A110L
• Platform: Intel® Atom® mobile process technology, featuring:
Intel® Diamondville-SC Single Core mobile processor N270 (1.60 GHz, 533 MHz FSB, 512 KB L2 cache)
• Screen 8.9″ WSVGA high-brightness (typical 180-nit)TFT LCD, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution
• Storage 8GB SSD
• Memory 512MB
• Operating System Linux
• Others:

5-in-1 card reader (SD™, MMC, MS, MS PRO, xD)
3 USB 2.0 ports
External display (VGA) port
Headphone/speaker/line-out jack
Microphone-in jack
Ethernet (RJ-45) port
DC-in jack for AC adapter.”

It came shipped with an “Acerfied” version of the Linux Linpus operating system was great for web browsing and email. The desktop view with Acer’s Linpus  is reminiscent of the screen view on an Android mobile, and just as easy to use for a PC virgin. However, this was bought for my wife and she used it for playing some Facebook games like Café World as well as general browsing. It was the games that showed its limitations. These limitations are mainly to do with scrren size, so after a year or so she decided to moved on to a Toshiba laptop with a 17.4” screen.

The Acer became mine. So I decided to do a bit of tinkering around with it. I had a look at http://www.reghardware.com/2008/09/05/ten_aspire_one_tips/page5.html and followed most of the recommendations. However I still wasn’t satisfied, to me me it still felt very basic and like a beginners laptop. So my search began for a better operating system for this little beauty. Believe me I searched and searched, read reviews and looked at recommendations online. I dismissed out of hand using Windows XP as being too big as remember there is only a 8GB SSD on this machine. I looked at the non-Acer Linpus, amongst others before I finally read a great review of Ubuntu Netbook Remix (NBR)

I duly installed it to my little Acer and everything apart from the wireless light worked great. Internet, webcam – everything. The problem was that it was slow, slower than a tortoise with a degree in slowness from the university of no velocity. Hmm, so I gave Ubuntu full vesion a go – version 9 I think, and in terms of speed this was just as bad. In addition the little bugger kept locking up for no apparent reason and the battery life was terrible. Time to think again.

So it was back to my friend and yours Google and searched like  buggery for lightweight Linux operating systems designed for idiots like me. There was Damn Small Linux, Slackware and many others. All the suggestions  were that I should try Ubuntu 9.04, Ubuntu 9.10, Arch Linux or Jolicloud. Well I’d tried Ubuntu and I guess I was undergunned with just 512 ram. I didn’t fancy taking it to bits to add more ram and kept looking.

It was then I stumbled across Puppy Linux. According to the homepage for Puppy it was what I was looking for. The idea of installing to a USB stick was great – a sort of try before you buy. http://puppylinux.org/main/Overview%20and%20Getting%20Started.htm

Following the info I downloaded Unetbootin http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/  onto my Windows 7 laptop and then the Puppy ISO as well. Following the “idiot guide” I got Puppy onto a USB stick, stuck it into a USB port closed my eyes expecting the worst and booted the Acer. I immediately saw a Puppy logo and lots of writing zooming down the screen and with a reassuring woof the desktop loaded. It then asks you (!) to check your screen resolution and then loads the wonderfully named “Barry’s simple network netup.” It found both my ethernet card and wireless card so I selected wireless, it found the network, asked me what kind of security my router used and for the password and bingo I was connected. Next you click on the cunningly named “internet” shortcut and you are presented with a browser choice. Here I would select “Chromium” – which is basically Google Chrome, it downloads and installs automatically in a few moments. As a side note I have tried both Opera and Firefox and couldn’t get them working for some reason, so here I am just giving you the benefit of my experience with browsers.

I checked quickly through the large menu, not unlike the one you see on a typical Windows PC. There are options about the icons, desktop background and so on, I’ll leave you to figure that out. Then I decided to go on the internet I doubled clicked on internet and met by 2 Chromium windows., closed them and tried a single click – boom it loaded instantly! Ok I thought let’s set a homepage (I set mine to http://news.bbc.co.uk) closed Chromium gave the internet icon a single click and the bbc page loaded instantly. Well what can you say to that.

I checked the other stuff and everything was great. Everything worked fine. Now you can install Puppy to your hard drive, but I don’t think it’s worth it as it can be a bit of a bugger to get the Grub bootloader working as you want, so save your session to the USB stick (which can be as small as 1 gig) when you close the netbook down (which is does by default (I think)) then if you do as I did you can format the SSD and use that just for storage – simples and essentially you have a portable PC in your pocket or handbag. Just remember it has to have the stick in the computer all the time you are using it, and don’t lose the stick!

I am currently running Lucid Puppy 5.2.8 and it’s great. Give it a go on any PC, set it to boot from your stick in Bios, it does NOT touch your hard drive at all and is great fun.

Ciao For Now

Denbow

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Responses

  1. Hi Denbow,

    Like your story and all that you have achieved but i guess i’m a complete computer idiot when itcomes to trying to install this linux system on my acer one. I have tried just about everything and i guess i’m doing something wrong but can’t figure out what it is. My acer one has windows 7 on it and takes up the whole 8 GB and i want to get rid of it for ever. I don’t possess an external burner and want to put the system on my usb stick. I already formatted it to FAT32, got the iso file and burned that to a dvd on a friends pc. Transferred that to my usb and then,,, nothing,,, What am i missing here? I also had this program to help transfer the files to the usb stick and when that was done, i went into the bios to change the boot order from main system to usb. That kind of did something but all i got was a black screen saying, hit any key to start this windows e program and when i did, it booted straight up into windows again…. very confusing and totally lost at this point. I really want to get rid of this windows program so if you could give me some hints, it would be really apreciated. hope to hear from you soon, cheers, Tom

    • Hi Tom,

      When I get some time I’ll check your feedback and my article to see where you are going wrong…..

      Denbow

  2. You need the program unetbootin to transfer the iso file to a stick and make it bootable. if you have windows installed use the puppy linux “exe installler (search for it on google), which is the easiest possibility to get puppy running on a windows pc.

  3. Nice site too doc. very pleasing on the eye. good info, thanks


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