This install is on a Acer Aspire One netbook as reviewed in Acer Aspire One HAPPY-N55DQgrgr. The more powerful new models in the Acer Aspire range can easily run the full desktop edition of Ubuntu Linux.
The test netbook is reviewed in Acer Aspire One HAPPY-N55DQgrgr. The local shops sell it as Acer Aspire One Happy AOD255-N551G25n. As mentioned in the review, it needs a decent operating system to replace both the Windows 7 Starter edition and the Android supplied on the disk. This install uses the Ubuntu 10.10 desktop edition.
The hard disk is a Hitachi HTS545025B9A300 with a capacity of 250 GB. The supplied Windows/Android combination waste 30 GB on hidden installation files. Ubuntu gives you control and returns more than 20 GB for your use.
You want a wired network connection because wireless is slower and unreliable. You want a wireless network connection because it is more convenient. The Happy One has 802.11n. Linux tends to support wired networks and falls behind in support for the latest wireless chips. Install using a wired connection then apply all updates then configure the wireless network. Ubuntu 10.10 has a problem with 802.11n on Intel Centrino network chips and falls back to 802.11g. The Happy One has a Centrino chip.
The Asus Aspire One has a built in microphone to work with the built in camera. There are sockets for external earphones and an external microphone. There are no internal speakers. Linux has problems with some audio chips and, again, install then apply all updates then test audio.
Windows 7 Starter edition
Windows 7 Starter edition is supplied on some netbooks and is brain dead plus there is over 30 gigabytes of disk missing when you use Windows. There appears to be a hidden partition with the Windows distribution on the hidden partition. The switch to Linux jumped the disk space up from 215 GB to 247 GB.
Ubuntu has several editions, one for the desktop, one for servers, one called the
alternative download that is the best of the desktop and server editions for power workstations, and a netbook edition, sometimes called the
netbook remix. I do not know what the differences are in the netbook edition other than using the a new user interface named Unity, which is, at best, beta quality.
Download ubuntu-10.10-desktop-i386.iso. You could put it on a USB memory device or a CD. A CD is easier to file with the user manuals and guarantee documents supplied with computers.
Connect the computer to a wired network to allow downloading of updates. Wireless is harder. When you install an open source operating system, the hardware drivers are often out of date. The wired network chips have been around forever and usually work. The wireless chips are usually new, the Acer Aspire One has the most modern 802.11n chip, and open source operating systems are rarely that up to date. During installation, Ubuntu will ask about applying updates. Apply the the updates then, after the installation, try connecting to your wireless network.
My router restricts access to known MAC addresses. I find the MAC address for the wired and wireless network adaptors, add both to the router with automatic DHCP IP address allocation. The installation then works without interruption. Some brands print MAC addresses on the box or in the documentation. If they do not, you can open your network up to extra uncontrolled wired connections without risking a wireless connection then note the MAC address of the new connection then allocate the MAC address in the router then close off unrestricted connections.
After you install Ubuntu, you can use Ubuntu to display the MAC address of the wireless connection then add that MAC address to the wireless router list and connect through the wireless connection.
Note one trick with some routers. My router requires the MAC address entered for DHCP then you have to enter the MAC again to access the wireless network. The wireless entry can have a name so you remember what it is for but the wired entry does not accept a name, leaving you with a long list of unidentified computers.
Automatic or manual installation?
One of the first choices is to install automatically or manually. The first part of Ubuntu is a little keyboard icon. If you do nothing at the keyboard icon, Ubuntu load then produces a nice graphical menu with choices to test Ubuntu without installing or to install Ubuntu. If you hit any key at the little keyboard icon, you to switch direct to a menu system with many more choices for manual installation. The manual menu also provides an option to test your CD, a test I usually perform at least once on every disk then mark the disk as tested.
Ubuntu is released every 6 months. You download 670 MB as part of the release. You then apply a lot of changes to catch up. Ubuntu 10.10 was just 3 months old when I installed it on the test machine and the update download was over 190 MB, about 10 percent changed per month.
Ubuntu defaults to using all the disk in one partition. There are no hidden partitions. Ubuntu allocates a single 250 GB partition on the 250 GB disk. Ubuntu makes better use of your disk space than Windows. If your disk breaks, you can always download a new Ubuntu.
I am installing the Ubuntu 10.10 desktop i386 (32 bit) version from CD using a USB CD drive. You switch on the boot from the CD drive in the computer BIOS.
F2 when you see the big ACER logo and the little BIOS startup message. You then select
Boot, select the
USB CDROM entry using the Down arrow, move the
USB CDROM entry to the top of the boot priority list using
Save and Exit using
The computer will reboot. I am using a CD I tested on another computer and will skip the manual test/installation process shown in Ubuntu 10.10 alternate installation. Go make a mango lassi while Ubuntu automatically starts the installation process.
The Welcome page lets you choose your language for the installation and test or install. When you are completely confident in choosing Ubuntu, select
Preparing to install Ubuntu
Download updates while installing to get the latest of everything. I had wireless network connection problems when I first tested the netbook using the netboot edition and some problems with audio. The updates fixed some problems. Select
Install this third-party software to get everything else that might help your computer work. 10.10 lists an MP3 improvement as an option. Select
Forward to begin the installation.
Allocate drive space
Erase and use the entire disk then
Ubuntu will display a proposed single partition of 250.1 GB. This is different to the Netbook edition where swap space is a separate 3.1 GB partition. Select
Install Now to proceed.
Where are you?
Ubuntu detected my location in Sydney and the current time. If Ubuntu makes the right choice for you, select
Forward to proceed. You can also manually choose a location.
You can select a keyboard layout or choose
Figure Out Keyboard Layout to manually identify the keyboard layout. I tried the test and it returned the same USA selection as the default. Select
Forward to continue
Who are you?
Enter your name, a name for the computer, and a password. Use a strong password because it also gives people access to your home directory even if encrypted.
Require my password to log in.
Encrypt my home folder so no one can read your information if they steal your computer. This is the reason you need a strong password.
Forward to continue.
Some of the files will install in the background while you are entering your selections. The computer will then grind away installing the rest of the files and downloading updates. The install from CD part proceeds at the speed of the CD drive plus the speed of the processor. Using a fast USB drive instead of a CD would save five minutes in this step. The download phase is short, because it downloads only a few required and security updates, and proceeds at your network bandwidth speed. All the downloads add up to about three minutes on broadband.
The installation finishes after about 20 minutes. Select
Restart Now to continue. A subsequent message will ask you to remove the CD then press
F2 when you see the big ACER logo and the little BIOS startup message. You then select
Boot, select the
USB CDROM entry using the Down arrow, move the
USB CDROM entry to the bottom of the boot priority list using
Save and Exit using
F10. Ubuntu will load from the netbook disk. Later you can switch off the computer and remove the USB CDROM drive.
I find it is easiest to let the reboot go through to the Ubunto screen then use the Ubuntu shut down then unplug the CD drive then start the machine and press F2.
The first time an application tries to write to your home directory, you will be prompted to record your encryption passphrase. Choose
Run this action now to see your passphrase. A terminal screen appears. You type in your password at the
Passphrase: prompt. You will see a long string of letters and numbers. Write it down somewhere safe.
Ubuntu is released every 6 months. You download 670 MB as part of the release. You then apply a lot of changes to catch up. Ubuntu 10.10 was 3 months old when I installed it on the Happy One and the update download was 200 MB, about 10 percent changed per month.
We selected the automatic installation of updates during the installation process but that was only hardware drivers and security updates. Select
Update Manager to push the updates through. At the end of the update you have to select
Restart Now to finish the update.
While the updates are downloading, you can start customising Ubuntu.
Power Management to stop the screen shutting down while on mains power. Change Display to never sleep then select
Make Default. You will have to enter your password in the authentication screen. Select
Close to leave the power management screen. You can make this change while the updates are downloading.
Get rid of that distracting swirly Star Trek style background. Select
The first tab is
Theme. Change the desktop background first then return to the theme tab. Select
Background tab. Select the plain purple background at the top left then select the little purple colour icon under the pictures then select a colour of your choice in the
Pick a Color pop up page. I made the background white (#ffffff).
Theme tab. The default theme is Ambiance with lovely styling but grey on grey text in some places. Clearlooks has black on white text for easier reading on low contrast LCD screens and in sunlight. Radiance is another theme to consider for some screens.
Customise button under the themes. Select the
Colors tab in the Customise Theme page. Select the colour button in the
Background column next to
I changed the colour to #00ff33 to match the green highlights on the Acer netbook. If you have one of the other Acer Aspire One netbooks, the blue is approximately #66cce9 , the pink is about #dc3366 , and the mauve/purple is around #a495cc .
The background and theme change for you when logged in but not for the Ubuntu log in screen.
Network Connections to set up the Wireless connection. Select the
Wireless tab then
Add. Give your connection a name, usually the same as the network name or SSID.
Connect automatically for one or more wireless networks. You might set one for home and one for work.
The SSID is the id of the network. Some networks broadcast the SSID while others do not.
Select a mode of
Infrastucture for use with a router. The alternative, Ad-hoc, lets two computers talk direct without connecting through a network.
Wireless Security tab then set the security level to
WPA & WPA2 Personal. You then have to enter your password (also called a passphrase).
Available to all users.
IvP4 Settings tab. Select
Automatic (DHCP) For Method.
IvP6 Settings tab if you use IPv6. Not many networks use IPv6. Select an equivalent automatic DHCP method.
Give the software a few seconds to connect. You can then test the connection by removing the wired network cable and browsing the Internet. Test the automatic wireless connection by restarting Ubuntu.
If your wireless connection fails, you may have to edit the settings in your router. make sure the MAC address of the wireless chip is in the router along side the MAC address for the wired connection. Make sure both have DHCP address allocation. Make sure the router is set to broadcast on bands compatible with your computer.
You can select
System Testing to test Linux on your computer. You see a long list of tests. Switch off those you do not need. You can also skip individual tests during the testing process.
Disk Utility. You should see the single 250 GB partition promised during the installation. Instead you see a 247 GB regular partition then a 3.1 GB swap partition. To make things worse by unnecessary complication, the swap partition is in an extended partition instead of a primary partition. The Linux distribution builders have some really weird ideas and, when you ask them for the logic behind their choices, they often cannot supply an answer because they are just copying what someone else did without passing on a logical reason.
Disk Usage Analyser. The Disk Usage Analyser says the total capacity of the file system in the 247 GB partition is 226 GB, a loss of 21 GB to the file system. 3 GB, or 1.3%, is used by the current installation.
Select the disk icon near the top of the Disk Usage Analyser. Wait a minute. You now see a detail report showing 2.8 GB used with 1.9 GB used in the application area.
Now delete an application using the Ubuntu Software Center. I deleted Evolution because I will use Thunderbird. You can then refresh the disk usage page to see the difference. In the case of Evolution, very little changed because Evolution installs a lot of little bits and only the basic bits are deleted when you delete Evolution. You can then run the Computer Janitor to delete more unused stuff and you start to see a difference. I have to go back into the software center and delete all the related bits by hand.
Try the whole process deleting the things you do not want. You could free up a GB, enough to store the images from another birthday party.
A test of suspend and resume worked. Ubuntu has nice defaults for use on battery. Ubuntu defaults to screen saving when used on mains power. You probably want to tell the Ubuntu power management software to not interrupt your work when on mains power.
Delete unused applications because they take up screen space. I deleted Evolution Mail and installed Thunderbird so I can move mail around from computer to computer. Empathy Internet Messaging is wasting space on my netbook as is the Transmission BitTorrent Client, the Gwibber Social Client, and a bunch of games. Out they go.
You install and delete applications by selecting
Ubuntu Software Center. You can then select programs by category or through a search.
After deleting the applications, select
Computer Janitor to clean out anything unused. The Janitor selected 90 MB of unused files to delete, files that were used for something but not any more. Collectively you can save about a gigabyte of space by deleting unused applications then cleaning up the related files.
Desktop or netbook edition?
The Ubuntu 10.10 netbook edition introduces the new Unity user interface and has a bunch of problems that make Unity difficult. Ubuntu 11.4 may fix Unity and introduce Unity as the user interface for the desktop edition. The Unity interface appears to be the only reason to use the netbook edition of Ubuntu 10.10, instead of the desktop edition, on netbooks and Unity creates enough problems to stay away from it until the next release. If you do install the netbook edition and use it for anything other than the most trivial task, you will switch back to the standard desktop interface. For my many varied uses, Unity is impossible in 10.10.
Intel Centrino wireless chips
Intel have a problem with their Centrino Wireless-N 1000 chip. Ubuntu 10.10 switches off 802.11n wireless for the Centrino chip and restricts you to the older 802.11g speed. Ubuntu 11.4 may bring a fix for the 802.11n issue. Given that 802.11n speed is the one reason for switching to a modern netbook, Ubuntu need to fix their code for that chip fast.
If you have not yet updated from Ubuntu 10.4 to 10.10 and have a computer using an Intel Centrino chip, you might want to wait for 11.4. If you are about to buy a netbook, identify the chips used in the netbook and look for the Centrino style problems. You might want to use a different Linux or stick with Windows until Ubuntu 11.4 arrives.
Ubuntu uses less disk than Windows and gives you more functionality than Android, reasons to replace both with Ubuntu. The Ubuntu desktop edition works well on netbooks with at least a gigabyte of memory, the faster end of the processor range, and the larger end of the disk range, all available in netbooks cheap enough to give to school kids as their first computer. There are occasionally specific chip support problems with some new chips, something to look at before you buy. Given the huge range of netbooks on sale, Ubuntu Linux is the best operating system for most netbooks and the desktop edition of Ubuntu is the best choice for many of the new netbooks.