Acer Aspire One – Xubuntu 9.04, XP and Linpus Triple Boot – My Way

A bit late on the bandwagon, but shelled out for an 8GB SSD Aspire One the other day (factory refurb). A nice blue one. On arrival it refused to charge, so required a bios upgrade to 3309. Told the supplier they need to be aware of this problem. They said thanks.

Linpus Lite….hmmm, I guess it does what it says on the tin, and I like the way it adds the SD card onto your home directory. ButI needed more freedom, and wasn’t in the mood to learn how to yum. So out with the Gparted CD and the SSD was reshaped with a 2GB, a 3GB, and a 2.5GB partition and no swap. I kept the Linpus installation for reference, but it will probably go when things move on, I have the recovery CD after all.

So the1st partition, 2GB is for a Windows XP Pro install, to install from USB, it has to be the first partition.

The 2nd parition, 3GB is Linpus

The third partition, 2.5GB will be for Xubuntu 9.04, not a remix distro, but my own.

XP

Making up the USB XP drive was fun, requiring an XPSP3 disc and some other softs. Instructions said i could do it with multiple partitions but that was just laying down a challenge! If I remember rightly (I didn’t take notes) this is how it was done.

I used, in the main, this tut for creation of the USB drive and installation. Just had to be careful when picking the right partition to format and install.

http://jargongeneration.com/AcerAspire/dualbootXP/intro.php

and this one

http://www.eeeguides.com/2007/11/installing-windows-xp-from-usb-thumb.html

Windows will boot quite happily while the USB drive is still in place, but take it out and it borks. I needed to edit the boot.ini file so that it was looking at the right partition, not the one on the USB drive, but the one on the hard drive. After that things were fine.

At this point all I can do it boot into Windows having overwritten the mbr. I’ll get grub back on board and be multi-booting once Xubuntu is installed.

Xubuntu 9.04

To be honest, I went for arch-linux first, but struggled with some of the packages I needed to run on the cli, so gave up and went for good old faithful xubuntu.

Alternate CD, F4, Command Line Install. Openbox, Xorg, Wicd to manage being wired or wireless, vga=788 for framebuffer (won’t go any higher than 800×600) in grub on the kernel line. I didn’t want an xfce desktop environment, as I was seeking to have a mainly CLI setup but to be able to run Openbox with startx if needed.

CLI apps that cut the mustard here were: (link provided where not in the repos)

moc                       music player
mc                         file manager
directvnc               graphical remote control
dvtm                      multiple console windows
screen                   multiple console sessions
fbi                          view images and pdfs
calcurse                 calendar/to do
elinks                     text browser
links2                     text and graphical browser
cmatrix                  matrix like screen
pydf                       colourful df
htop                       colourful top
mplayer                 video player
gpm                       console mouse

For Openbox I installed:

thunar                   file manager
wicd                      network manager
firefox                   browser
xfce4-terminal      terminal
obmenu                menu builder
obconf                  appearance manager
vinagre                 graphical vnc viewer
tango-icon-theme-extras

I needed to add some fixes, drawn mainly from the ubuntu community page for the Aspire One . I followed the SSD life extending suggestions, added the backport modules to get the wireless LED working, made the pciehp entry to help with SD card mounting, and added the acerhdf module to control the fan speed, and some of the tweaks for improving SSD performance. Automounting of USB drives failed due to the bug with hal, so I applied this fix.

Yet to try out skype and webcam under this setup, although I know that the webcam works with cheese, and must do some more research to get all the function (Fn) buttons working, although I know this is a general issue.

My favourite toy is directvnc. Working in the framebuffer is clever enough given that you can run a graphical browser (links2), view images (fbi) and watch video (mplayer) but to be able to run remote graphical sessions from other PCs in the framebuffer knocks me over. I had to resize my remote PCs resolution to 800×600 to get it working right.

Next steps, probably to drop the linpus install, expand the size of XP so I can get Office on it (or Word/Excel/PPoint), and test out battery life – don’t know what happens when the power runs out when I am at the cli :)

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