Mostly about my amusement

Tag: netbook (page 1 of 1)

Rebuilt the Acer Aspire 1

I rebuilt my Acer Aspire 1 with the factory provided DVDs. Mainly, I did this because I want to use the soon to be released Ubuntu 9.10 UNR. By installing and using the netbook’s version of XP I can get a good idea of a best case scenario as my baseline. With my newly purchased USB DVD drive I got to work.

Removing Ubuntu was a simple matter of logging into the netbook, becoming root, and then running fdisk.  I deleted the existing partition and began installing XP. Which refused to boot because I did not delete grub properly.

I ended up booting fron another XP install CD. I selected recovery and ran fixmbr. I spent the whole afternoon getting updates from Microsoft. Once I was up to date I deleted McAfee and installed AVG Free.

The netbook is behaving remarkably fast. On a lark I installed FlashFire but haven’t looked to see if that’s what’s causing the netbook to be noticeably faster. Even Youtube is displaying quickly. If this continues to work so reliably then maybe I’ll leave XP on this machine.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04

The nice thing about my netbook is that I have no hesitation to wipe it clean and install a new OS on it. Which is what I did today after I downloaded Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04.


It was released today and the instructions for installing off of a USB stick were very clear. It’s a very slick package and for what I am doing with Firefox and Gnome Terminal it’s more than enough. The menu system is replaced with a compatible front end that lets you create a favorites page and launch apps from there. And unlike the recently talked about”floats like a lead baloon” Windows 7 Starter, I can easily run more than three apps at a time.

I’m writing this on my netbook and I still need to optimize the environment for speed. But so far so good.

Aspire One Netbook

After I returned my defective Dell MINI 9, I shopped around for a replacement. I found a better deal with the Acer Aspire One AOA110-1588 from J&R Music. It was on sale for $229.99 and had free shipping.

From the product web page

  • Intel Atom N270 1.6 GHz Processor
  • 512 KB L2 Cache, 533 MHz Front Bus speed
  • 1024 MB DDR2 (PC2-4200) RAM
  • 16GB total Memory (8GB Solid state Drive & 8GB external SD card)
  • 8.9″ diagonal WSVGA (1024 x 600) Acer CrystalBrite Display
  • Integrated Acer Crystal Eye Webcam with Microphone
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
  • Built-in Stereo Speakers
  • Acer InviLink 802.11b/g Wireless
  • 10/100 Ethernet LAN
  • Multi-in-1 Card Reader SD, MMC, RS-MMC, MS, MS Pro, xD
  • 3 x USB 2.0, Headphone/Speaker/Line-Out, Microphone-in, VGA, RJ-45 (LAN)
  • Approximate Unit Dimensions: 9.8″ (W) x 6.7″ (D) x 1.14″ (H)
  • Approximate Unit Weight: 2.5 Pounds

It’s tiny. It rained yesterday and I fit the netbook into a zip lock bag to keep it dry.

Once I unpacked it, I downloaded all of the required XP updates. That took over 2 hours. Getting the McAfee 60 day trial updated and registered took another 30 minutes.

No matter how I kicked it around and configured it, I could not get it to work quickly. Applications ran but the netbook would pause for seconds at a time. Something in Windows XP was causing it to stutter. I removed McAfee and installed Norton 360 (it comes with 3 PC licenses and I have a spare) and that seemed to made the netbook more responsive but the stutter would come back whenever XP accessed the 8GB SSD drive.

So I fixed it by installing Ubuntu 8.10 via a USB stick.

I wiped out the whole XP install, hooked up the ethernet to my LAN and ran the install and then the update. The update refreshed 291 packages. The whole process is documented at and is very straight forward. Once the updates were applied, I was able to get the ath5k wireless driver working in no time.

Now I have a Linux netbook just like I wanted and no stutter.

The 1024×600 is a little constrained but viewing web pages and hitting the F11 key makes it all better.  The keyboard took some adjustments on my part but it’s all good. I did hook up a wireless mouse to it but on the couch or in bed the touch pad is very usable. Overall I am very satisfied with how it performs.

Generally, I am a satisfied Dell customer

I am a repeat Dell customer. I’ve been buying their equipment for years and I have always found that they take care of any problems I have. If something is not working, I call them and get support.

I have had problems in the past but it has always been taken care of by Dell.

So last month I purchased a Dell MINI 9 netbook. The deal I got was the recent $199 Ubuntu special and my new toy arrived yesterday.

The built in wi-fi card is spectacularly dysfunctional.  It is not satisfied to just drop >70% of it’s packets, it has to give it’s all and interferes with my wireless access point.  When it is in wireless mode, no one on my WLAN is safe; it kicks off other PC’s and laptops.

The MINI 9 associates successfully with the wireless router.  My DHCP server logs the request, the server gets the ack, and the MINI 9 gets an IP address.  That’s about as far as it goes and after that the netbook is useless.

So I contacted Dell via their online support chat. They don’t support the Ubuntu version on the chat line and I was given a number to call.

I then dialed that 866 number that they gave me. That did not go so well; they insisted that my wireless router needed updating. I explained that there are many things on that wireless router that work fine and that the MINI 9 was actually interfering with the other devices.

We went back and forth and I finally told them that the Dell MINI 9 I received was defective and I wanted a refund. I received an e-mail with a link to get the shipping label and tomorrow I will drop it off at UPS.

What I was looking for was a way to make my MINI 9 work. Some setting or configuration in Ubuntu to get the wifi card functioning. What I got was “This is not our problem” and the implication was that they might not have granted me a refund.  That was never stated outright but I could not send it back without a return number.

So this all did not exactly go as I intended. The Dell MINI 9 is a cool device and I would have liked to have kept it. But I don’t have time to play games with technical support. Now I’ll probably shop around for another Linux based netbook.