Linux Blog

Review: Acer Aspire One

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Hardware — 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.

How to Partition Slackware

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Video Tutorials,Quick Linux Tutorials — at 12:14 am on Friday, February 1, 2008

I made this quick video on how to partition Slackware 12

How to partition Slackware 12

You might need to turn up the volume. Let me know what you think of this video and if I should continue to make them.

steps are here for reference:

  1. Boot up the Slackware installation disk
  2. Select a keyboard map (if needed)
  3. Log in as root
  4. Use “cfdisk” to get into the disk manager
  5. Create a swap partition in MB double the size of memory. If you have 256 MB of ram, use 512, 128 use 256 etc.
  6. Change the partition type to swap
  7. Create a root partition on the available space with the full disk
  8. Make this partition bootable with the Linux file system type
  9. write the changes to the disk.

This is a very basic setup. I want to make more videos on various subjects if this one picks up. In the line up is a whole Slackware setup tutorial and possibly various other distributions too. I would like to demonstrate other software and technologies.

Drop a comment and let me know what you think!

Possibly the Fastest 1U Linux Server Ever

Filed under: Linux Hardware — at 5:58 am on Wednesday, January 16, 2008

eRacks is one of the links that appears in the Google ads on this page. It just so happens that I have experience with eRacks. They have some awesome servers available. I believe they may have the fastest Linux server in a 1U package available for delivery. I’m sure you could custom build something your self, but for the price they are well worth checking out.

My configuration was a TwinServe box, which is basically two computers in one so this may be cheating a little. Anyway, I configured it as follows:

1U TWINSERVE chassis, for dual systems, 900W PS
TWINSERVE dual X7DBT dualCPU Intel Xeon 5300/5100
CPU’s for motherboard 1: 2 x Intel Xeon Quad-Core E5365 3.0GHz 1333FSB CPU Add $2945
CPU’s for motherboard 2: 2 x Intel Xeon Quad-Core E5365 3.0GHz 1333FSB CPU Add $2945
16GB of RAM for each Motherboard
4 1TB Drives (Two for each motherboard)
Debian Etch Preinstalled
and a $25 donation to the OpenSSH Project

Total Price: $13855.00 before taxes shipping and handling. For the price, I think its a steal. Thats two quad core 3.0GHz CPU’s in each motherboard, so (3.0GHz * 4)2. 24GHz per motherboard for a total of 48GHz. 32GB ram, and 2TB of raid+1. This is basically the same thing the Mac’s have in their Mac Pro’s except this is in a 1U Chassis, and there is two motherboards. I configured a Mac Pro, just to see what kind of price they offer, and for comparison. I mean there is no denying that the Mac Pro’s are sexy, but is the cost worth it? Now, I configured these the same, 3.0GHz, 16GB Ram (One Motherboards worth) and two 1TB HD’s. I didn’t want the extra crap that Apple bundles in such as the MightyMouse, Apple Keyboard with Mac OSX and the Superdrive because this is a server. We don’t need any of that. Now, one thing that Apple has our system beat on is the graphics, but again note this is a server, but the graphics could be updated if needed. So, the final thing other than looking at how pretty the case is was the price. To my Amazement it wasn’t too shabby the cost only $8849 but then I remembered that the box I configured was this times two. So to compare Penguins to Apples we would need to double that and add taxes for both of them. Shipping is free so the grand total is: $18,892.62. This is quite a price tag and also a hefty package. Here is the Dimensions for each case:

  • Height: 20.1 inches (51.1 cm)
  • Width: 8.1 inches (20.6 cm)
  • Depth: 18.7 inches (47.5 cm)

The size of the eRacks is a tiny 1U meaning 1″ High X 19″ Width x 705mm Deep. There are so many specs to play with and they are dirt cheap. Take a look at the page, you can find the Twin Motherboard Servers under the special purpose website on their website.

I’d have to get a massive loan to afford something like this. A loan larger than my car payment, but you never know maybe when my cars paid off I can get one. At least I wouldn’t have to finance the $18,000 that Apple would charge me, that would be crazy. $414 a month for the apple with an interest of 5% over 4 years, or our double spec system with the same loan terms for $319.07. A difference of $4556.64 for both of them. That’s one third the cost of another double motherboard dual quad core server. I wonder if by the time the loan would end if I would need to buy another computer or not. Interesting concept but I don’t know if I currently need 48GHz of computing power right now.