Linux Blog

Review: Acer Aspire One

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Hardware — TheLinuxBlog.com at 11:00 am on Friday, September 9, 2011

Acer Aspire One LinuxEarlier this year, I was shopping around for Netbooks and purchased the Acer Aspire One Netbook. I was specifically looking for a Netbook that was fairly small and portable, but with a keyboard that was actually usable. BestBuy had a few, a nice HP with an awesome keyboard…but it only came in hot pink… Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but as I’m not a 13 year old girl, it wasn’t really for me. The oh so helpful sales clerk informed me that, if I really wanted it, I could pay the extra $100 for the exact same thing in blue, but I’d have to wait for as it was out of stock. No thanks. There was a Toshiba with decent specs, but the keyboard wasn’t that great so I skipped on that one too.

The next day I checked out another BestBuy store since that’s all we really have around here, no Fry’s, Nothing! While I was out, I had to pick some stuff up from the nearby Walmart. Yes, yes, I know, I’m fueling the destruction of small businesses, but there are incredibly few options around here. After watching some People Of Walmart candidates, I decided to check out the electronics department. It seemed rather small for a Walmart, tucked right at the back or the store with a TV to employee ration of 50:1. I found the Netbooks, well, one Netbook, The Acer Aspire One, near the other computers. It was $260 which seemed pretty reasonable. When asking the clerk if I could get one unlocked, he told me they had the same one but in black in the storage area for $199. Sold! Most Helpful Walmart Employee Ever.

After removing it from its lunch box sized container, the first thing I noticed was how it looked like Acer had taken notes from Apple with their fancy packaging. That’s cool I suppose. It comes with Windows 7 starter. You’ll probably want to fix that. I tried calling Acer about the refund (hey I didn’t accept the EULA guys) but they didn’t understand my question and tried to step me through reinstalling Windows without a CD Rom. Apparently you have to request the CD from them and buy an external optical drive. I should have messed with them and asked them how to plug my parallel CD burner in, as there is no parallel port.

After booting up and getting thoroughly frustrated with Windows 7 Starter (What the hell, only 3 processes and you can’t change the background), I decided to give that Ubuntu Netbook edition a go. It was only slightly more bearable than Windows 7. Once it was installed, I booted and gave it about five minutes before deciding to install a non netbook specific distribution.
For the size and price, the specs are pretty decent:

10.1″ LED (1024×600)
Intel Atom N450 1.66Ghz, 512KB Cache – Dual Core!
1GB Ram
160GB HD
Intel Chipset
Atheros AR9285 PCI-Express Wireless network adapter

These serve me well for its intended purpose and actually exceeded my expectations. It is perfectly capable of running Virtual Machines with VirtualBox without any noticeable decrease in performance. Pretty much everything worked right out of the box with two exceptions. First, the Ethernet adapter (with Linux) and second, the built in microphone doesn’t work with Skype (on Linux), however an external does. Suspend and Hibernate even work!

Battery life is amazing for the standard 3 cell battery that comes with it. You can buy one with more cells, but I can normally find a power source in the four or more hours I manage to squeeze out of it. Powertop FTW! With the stock battery, it doesn’t weigh too much and is perfect to carry around all day without being a burden. The charger is somewhat small and has a click/snap plug on it. You can position it so that the adapter goes left to right, or top to bottom. The changeable tips also means you can swap them out to use the adapter in different countries (you have to buy them separately though.) Since I couldn’t find the tips I didn’t buy any, but to be honest I didn’t really look. After travelling with it I think the interchangeable tips would be well worth the investment, as it just doesn’t work well with a travel adapter. In England, it worked all-right as long as it was plugged into a surge, but if you plugged it into the wall, it would fall out of the adapter. In France, it didn’t fall out of the travel adapter but rather the travel adapter fell out of the wall. It wouldn’t charge via the adapter in a regular wall outlet, but if I propped it up in the bathroom into the shaver plug it would. I could blame this all on the plug, but to be honest the click/snap tips probably would have fixed it all.
Really, the only things I don’t like about it are the microphone and Ethernet issues (though I think those can be fixed), and the touchpad is entirely too sensitive when typing. You kind of have to type palms up, or be very careful not to touch it or you’ll end up typing somewhere else. You can fix that by getting a USB mouse or by turning the touchpad off temporarily (FN F7). Overall I’m very happy with it and would recommend it to anyone looking for a decent reasonably priced Netbook that can pack a punch.

Tether iPhone through the cable, on Linux

Filed under: General Linux — TheLinuxBlog.com at 10:02 am on Thursday, August 20, 2009

So you got an iPhone huh? perhaps you’ve got an SSH client and maybe you jailbroke your iPhone and have done some iPhone wifi tethering (That’s not the best way, and not free), but have you been able to use SSH through the cable? Me neither until a little while ago.

The benefits of connecting by the cable are slightly obvious to anyone who wants to do it:

BATTERY!
With your phone plugged in, you’ll get better battery life, or perhaps just prevent the battery from getting discharged any further.

No Wifi Setup
This was really the biggest problem for me, having to reconfigure wifi on my laptop then getting the laptop and phone to talk. Some times wireless connections mysteriously dropped or just acted plain funky. Any one who’s ever typed in a WEP key on the iPhone also knows what a pain it is, so not having to use Wifi is a plus.

Privacy
Since the cable is used, there should be no wireless network for others to fool around with.

Data Transfer Rates
I have not yet confirmed this, mostly because I’m lazy, partly because I don’t have the time to produce any stats but, 480Mbps with USB2.0 Vs. a theoretical 54Mbps on 802.11G

Enough already, how do I do it?
Thanks to Jing Su there is a LGPL’d piece of software called itunnel that can be found here. Installing itunnel will vary by distribution. It’s fairly straight forward on Fedora, provided you have the library libiphone installed you should be able to download, untar, make, and run.

Once you’ve installed itunnel, you run it by using:

sudo itunnel [port]

If you don’t specify a port it listens on port 3023.

Connect to localhost using your normal SSH Socks proxy method -D <port> and your username, default being mobile with your new port.

 ssh -D [yourport] -p 3023 mobile@localhost

Type “Yes” to accept the fingerprint (you may need to eventually change your fingerprint when you upgrade your phone) and then type in your password which should NOT be “alpine”, because you did change it right?

Once you’re SSH’d in, you can set up your browser to use the socks proxy as you would with Wifi tether version on the port you specified with -D.

There you have it, a way to Tether your iPhone through the cable on Linux! Rumor, (well not really a rumor, since I’ve used itunnel.exe) has it that this also works with a Windows box, just try to find a non-virus infected version of the iTunnel suite.

Happy Hacking!

Checking your battery life from the shell

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Hardware,Quick Linux Tutorials — TheLinuxBlog.com at 8:46 am on Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I’ve often thought to my self “Wouldn’t knowing how much battery life I had be nice.”

Now when a window manager is open, this isn’t a problem. But when your just in a terminal it can be a bit of a problem. If you don’t get the gist of it heres an example, if I’m just in a terminal writing an article, or programming in VIM on battery life. Now I no longer have to execute the following command and guess how much life I have left:

 cat /proc/acpi/battery/BAT1/state

I simply run the command:

yacpi

It tells me all kinds of information about my power usage, what the current temperature is, am I plugged in, what CPU governor I’m using. Its a really neat tool. I would recommend for everyone to install it. Worst case scenario it can be used when the system is undergoing maintenance, or if you left your box sitting in the other room and need to check the battery live via SSH. Check out the screenshot:

YACPI Screenshot

To install it it will vary by distribution. I’m sure Debian has it in its XXXX number of packages which means Ubuntu probably has it too. To install on other distributions such as Gentoo or Slackware you’ll need the source. You can acquire the source from here: http://freshmeat.net/redir/yacpi/55486/url_homepage/yacpi
You’ll also need libacpi which can be found here: http://freshmeat.net/projects/libacpi/?branch_id=70062
Make sure you compile libacpi first, or the make will fail for yacpi.

That’s it, once you download the package and install or download and compile the source you’re good to go. Have a good time checking the battery life from the shell. Try doing that in DOS!

More Hardware to add to my collection. Toshiba Tecra M2

Filed under: Linux Hardware — TheLinuxBlog.com at 1:23 am on Monday, December 10, 2007

If you read my post about my Toshiba Portege 4010 you would know that I mentioned in their that it was a little too slow. I couldn’t do the things I needed to do, such as virtualization or play Quake3. So for an early Christmas present to I sold my Toshiba Portege 4010 and I purchased a used Toshiba Tecra M2 laptop. The specs are pretty decent for the amount I paid for it.

CPU: 1.7GHz PM
RAM: 512MB (Needs upgrading)
HD: 40GB -> Upgraded to 100GB
Graphics: GeForce Fx 5200 toGo 64MB.
Media: CDRW-DVD Combo, Firewire, USB 2.0, 2PCMCIA Card Slots
Network: 10/100/1000 B/G Wireless

The battery life is not as good as my old Portege 4010 but with the time I save by not waiting on the CPU I can normally get my Quake3 I mean work done in time to find a power outlet.

The Tecra M2 has excellent support for Linux. The only thing thats not supported that I’m working on is the SD Card reader. This is the same situation as the Portege’s as they use the same hardware.

I’ll be making a post for any body wanting to run a real Linux distribution on a Toshiba Tecra M2.

Comments Are Back!

Filed under: The Linux Blog News — TheLinuxBlog.com at 4:03 am on Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ok, I’ve decided to add comments back to The Linux Blog. The idea behind commends is that people post comments for help, advice, questions, comments on the article or just to be nice. Before this was not happening so I turned them off. Now, I’ve re-added them back hoping that people will actually comment.

The spam problem has been fixed and we should not see any spammy comments since posters now have to be approved.

I’ll leave them on for a while and see how it does. In other news I’ve been writing like mad, trying to get some good articles written.

On the list of stuff to write are a couple of Shell Scripting articles, one about IP Soft Phones for Linux, Battery Life & Optimization, virtualization. I also have some tutorials that I would really like to write to help people out with WordPress and other web applications that run on open source software such as MediaWiki.

If you have any questions, or would like to request something, now you can actually just comment , so go ahead, leave a comment

My Linux Laptop – Toshiba Portege 4010

Filed under: Linux Hardware — TheLinuxBlog.com at 9:48 am on Monday, November 26, 2007

Linux Blog - Toshiba Portege 4010 Linux LaptopAlong with my desktop I also have a laptop that is in dire need of an upgrade. It is a Toshiba Portege 4010. Although its age and its specifications (or lack of) it is still a decent ultra portable laptop. The battery life is great (4-6 hours) and its very light weight. Here are the specs:

CPU: 933MHz Pentium M
Ram: 512MB Shared
HD: 100GB Seagate 5400RPM
Media: CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive.
Network: Integrated 10/100 & Orinoco B Wifi.

I like its slim line style and cool features like the SD Card Reader, Firewire, Infrared and Toshiba Select Bay. But unfortunately I’ve not been able to get the SD Card or Infrared to work. The video card is also lacking, its a Trident Cyberblade and it doesn’t have very good support. I have to run X in VESA frame buffer mode which isn’t as bad as it sounds but without tweaking it is unable to play DVD’s.

The Toshiba ACPI extras work really well in conjunction with fnfxd. Brightness, Volume, Screen Change and Lock Screen are the only short cuts I set up. The system also suspends to disk & ram with no problems.

I also run Slackware 12 on my laptop and have trimmed it down to boot Linux faster and provide better battery life. It boots to login in about 30 seconds. The picture above is a picture I took in the kitchen. The desktop is XFCE from Slackware-current, click on the image to view more photos of my Toshiba Portege 4010.