Experimenting with Ubuntu Netbook Remix

I have an Acer Aspire One, which I’m quite fond of. It’s surprisingly versatile or at least it is once I removed Linpus Linux Lite from it. I’ve nothing against Linpus, it has a purpose and most people are happy with it.

Arch Linux has been happily installed on it for several months now but thanks to a combination of curiosity, brand loyalty and the magic that is partimage ((I have a 16 Gb stick which boots System Rescue CD. Then I can happily create images using partimage.)) I decided to give Ubuntu Netbook Remix a bash.

So I grabbed the USB image (1 Gb) and a copy of Imagewriter (not 1 Gb), plugged it in, rebooted and left the rest to the gods of ACPI implementation if it would boot.

That turned out to be a mute point as its a text install which after warning that your hard disk is about to be overwritten proceeded to copy files across and there I left it to run.

Now a sensible person who is working full time, contributing to Ubuntu, training in the gym and studying at the OU would utilise this time productively. I played Call of Duty World at War on the PS3 instead (DougieWougie if you’re interested). I got through a two full HQ games and it was done so I guess that it takes between 20 and 30 minutes to copy across.

Well the boot screen looks cool, boots reasonably quickly too – not as quick as Arch but quick enough. A few questions (language, time zone, keyboard setup, account name, password and if automatic login is required) and we’re up and running. Well after a minute or so but this is the initial boot so that’s to be expected.

I like the interface. Well the first thing everyone checks is their wireless and I’m pleased to say it works out of the box which is a first for me with Linux and a real plus over Arch which was a pain in the backside because of a DHCP bug. The screen resolution is right and the fonts look very crisp.

This only leaves power management to worry about – suspend works, so does resume (even Network Manager re-establishes a connection).

OK I’m off to have a play. This has been the most painless install I’ve ever done. Congratulations to the UDR team.

Acer Aspire One

Checking me server logs (as you do), I’ve seen a lot of hits from people searching for information of the Aspire One – looking for information on enabling the right click menu and editing the panels.xml file.

I don’t have the vanilla install of Linpus Linux Lite (nothing wrong with it – I just prefer Arch) but I thought I’d mention that anything I did encounter while using it is available on my Wiki:

Replacing Linpus Linux Lite on the Acer Aspire One

I love my Aspire One but have come to be less impressed by the Linpus distro installed. So at the weekend I decided to try Arch Linux, which as a long time Slackware fan I had heard worked well and had good documentation.

Its all up and running and other than two quirks, the guide on Arch Wiki is spot on.

As I said, I came across two quirks – the install image used kernel 2.6.26, which detects the r8196 module for the network but for some reason will not answer a dhcp request after reboot (only after reboot) – so replace it with 2.26.27 before reboot. You’ll need to anyway because the Atheros wireless chipset in the Aspire One is supported OOB on the more recent kernel.

The second is well documented, that ext2 partitions on SD are corrupted on suspend. I opted for an XFS partition though and have not had any issues.

The only things I haven’t got working are suspend to RAM and the WiFi light (although the switch works). Neither of these is a show-stopper because I’ve got boot time down to under 18 seconds which is only a few seconds more than resume from RAM.

I’d also advise binning dhcpd and using wicd – which integrates well with XFCE and being a daemon means WiFi is up before you’ve got a desktop.

Really impressed with Arch, a distro I haven’t used before. It’s from the minimalist camp and allows a tailored installation with little or no cruft. Its documentation is fantastic (I have seen a few ideas that I intend to implement in Ubuntu!).

Add an XFCE menu to the Aspire One panel

Acer have made some alterations to the xfce4-panel, you probably noticed that you can’t right click and add launchers.

Edit: For anyone who came here to find out how to enable the “advanced menu” or XFCE menu on right click – Open your documents, click “File->Terminal” and type “xfce-setting-show” or just “xfce-se” then hit tab. Click “Desktop->Behaviour” and then tick “Show desktop menu on right click”.

I have a workaround but haven’t worked out why yet. Open a terminal (from a Thunar window if you haven’t enable the right click on the desktop). Now if you look in .config/xfce4/panel there is your standard xml file to layout the panel. If you alter this, on relaunching the panel it overwrites it with the default.

The odd thing is that the un-patched panel is still there, and works as normal (look in /usr/bin – there are two panels, one renamed xfce4-panel.old). Well for some reason that I haven’t fathomed, if you kill the running panel then alter the config then run xfce4-panel.old then restart it the xml config is not overwritten.

Here’s a screenshot: