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Ubuntu 9.04 on Acer Aspire One AO751h

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  • Monday, October 19 2009 @ 02:25 PM UTC
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A few weeks ago I bought my first netbook, an Acer Aspire One AO751h.  Today these are selling at NewEgg and elsewhere for under $300, but if you intend to run Linux today you should try a different model.

** Update June 2011:  The AO751h really sucks at running Linux.  I continued having the issue where it would not resume from suspend every time, sometimes wireless would not re-activate, etc.  Eventually I put Windows back on it and gave it to my brother. **

I wanted a netbook because it would be light enough to take "everywhere" and due to cost. Ultra-light notebook computers are still over $1000 which is more than I wanted to spend.  I chose the AO751h because the case comes in various non-generic colors (I chose blue), it has a nice big keyboard, long battery life, and the screen is 11.6 inches with a resolution of 1366x768.  The large hard drive (250 GB) allowed me to double- and triple-boot while I tested various Linux distributions.  This netbook is great for web browsing, running vim/emacs, SSH, git, and Remote Desktop. I bought the Windows Vista version of this netbook in order to get the included 2 GB of RAM.  The AO751h includes a 6-cell battery and lies flat on the table, unlike some of the netbooks that have an ugly battery sticking out the bottom that raises the back of the netbook up.  I need proper ergonomic keyboard angle to help avoid wrist problems.  I plan to do a lot of typing on this computer.

Sadly, the AO751h and Ubuntu are not yet a match made in heaven.  After some struggle, I did manage to get a usable Ubuntu 9.04 system,  Enough quirks remain that I continue to dual-boot with Windows.  Windows Vista was very slow on this hardware, so I replaced Vista with Windows XP which runs very well.

Here is the Ubuntu wiki page for this system:

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AspireOne/AO751h

There are two major Ubuntu compatibility issues with this hardware that require tweaking... the video resolution and Suspend/Resume.  Wireless works out of the box although sometimes the device takes over 15 seconds to re-activate after Resume (and occasionaly wireless never comes back and I have to reboot).  The function keys for brightness do not work in a fresh install but seem to work ok after installing the psb-kernel-source package for the Intel Poulsbo (GMA 500) graphics.

Detailed hardware info (including lspci output) is at the bottom of this post.

antivirus-scanner.com is a Bad Website

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  • Sunday, May 25 2008 @ 05:50 PM UTC
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The other day I stumbled upon a web page that attempted to take control of my browser. I saw a series of pages and had great difficulty making them go away.

I happened to be sitting in front of a non-critical Linux desktop, so I figured it would be interesting to see what this web page would do:



Some serious scare tactics going on here.

The next part of the site pretended to scan my hard drive for viruses. It pretended to find many serious problems on my computer:



When I finally grew tired of this malicious web site, I tried to close my browser tab. The web page threw up a wonderful warning that tries to scare the pants off the poor visitor and also started a download of a windows executable:



If you refuse to check your system, press "OK", and you agree to be responsible for all the system malfunctions, erratic behavior, and data loss.

Wow, that's scary! What poor computer user wants that much responsibility?

Lucky for me, I am using Linux and Firefox, and in fact none of the Win32 viruses really existed on my machine. The site is very convincing, however, and it is easy to see why there is an epidemic of malware-infected Windows computers all over the Internet.

Intel Speedstep - jerky mouse and keyboard

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  • Sunday, December 02 2007 @ 06:04 PM UTC
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I still had one other nagging problem trying to run the latest version of CentOS Linux on my Dell Inspiron 8100, which includes a Pentium III Mobile CPU capable of SpeedStep. The keyboard and mouse were very jerky. In fact, I would lose actual keystrokes. It's very annoying to type a sentence and lose half of the words. Even very old computers usually do not lose keystrokes, and although they might lag behind a bit, the keystrokes eventually come out of the input buffer. This was a real problem for me since I am a reasonably fast typist.

The issue occured whether or not I was connected to power or running off the battery.

I tried a number of suggestions (such as disabling ACPI by specifying a boot time kernel option) but nothing seemed to work.

Finally, with CentOS 5 installed, I found the solution... turn off the actual daemon that attempts to throttle the CPU speed.

# service cpuspeed stop
# chkconfig cpuspeed off

I'm sure this will affect my battery life, but this laptop doesn't get particularly good battery life anyway and I am usually plugged into a wall outlet. It is possible that the cpuspeed config file (/etc/sysconfig/cpuspeed) could be tweaked to solve the input problem but I did not bother researching this further.

CentOS 5 on Dell Inspiron 8100 with Proxim RangeLAN wifi

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  • Tuesday, November 13 2007 @ 11:18 AM UTC
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I recently installed CentOS 5 on my older Dell Insipron 8100. For wireless, I use a RangeLAN DS card (in Linux, this card uses the orinoco_cs driver and usually shows up as eth1). In previous versions of CentOS I had to manually identify the card by editing the wifi config files and possibly some other magic. CentOS 5 identifies this card just fine but does not function without a little bit of system tweaking. It seems that another kernel module named hostap_cs conflicts with the orinoco_cs module. I noticed that the status light on the PCMCIA card would continue to flash, instead of coming on solid when the card found the AP.

The fix is to blacklist the conflicting hostap_cs module so the system does not try to load it.

Edit this file:

/etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-compat

Add these lines and reboot:

# hostap_cs conflicts with orinoco_cs driver.
blacklist hostap_cs


Labeling on the Proxim card itself:

PC CARD 8430
H/W Rev. : 1.0
F/W Rev. : 0.7.6

The wifi card ident info:

# pccardctl ident
Socket 0:
product info: "PROXIM", "RangeLAN-DS/LAN PC CARD", "", ""
manfid: 0x0126, 0x8000
function: 6 (network)

I purchased for $15 from Geeks.com a few years ago (I'm fond of geeks.com for slightly older and cheaper computing gear).

Linux Games - Urban Terror

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  • Saturday, September 15 2007 @ 06:01 PM UTC
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Sometime last year, I removed Microsoft Windows from my home computer and installed Ubuntu Linux. It was a tough decision, because I knew I would not be able to play 3D games like Counter Strike Source. I finally found a free multi-player 1st person shooter that is similar to CSS, fun to play, and performs just fine on my not-so-new computer (Athlon XP 2800+ with GeForce 4 Ti 4200). The game is named Urban Terror and is based on the Quake3 engine. Downloads are available for Linux, Mac, and Windows. Did I mention that it is free?

Screenshots:











Give Urban Terror a try:

http://www.urbanterror.net

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