Acer Aspire One D150 running Linux - part 2

If you've read my earlier post about this, you'd know that I've done nothing but install MEPIS and it managed somehow to get the built-in speakers on my Aspire One D150 to work. There was a suggestion that it needed the alsa version 1.0.16 (which MEPIS uses) but Cannonfodder has already tried that on Mint, to no avail.

Personally, I prefer GNOME over KDE and MEPIS comes with KDE as a default. I've been trying to get used to using the default KDE apps (I know you don't have to, but it just feels wrong), but aside from Amarok, everything else just feels broken to me. I know partly it's because it has only been a week or so and it's KDE 3.5 and the tiny screen doesn't help, but I have a ton of gtk apps like geany and xchat loaded. I guess what you're used to is what you're used to sometimes.

What all of this is leading up to is that I am going to install another Linux distro on this netbook. I downloaded a Jaunty daily from March 24th (I think the Jaunty Beta is out by now so you might want to try that), and proceeded to install it on Aspire One. The first thing I noticed was that the speakers work in the live session when I booted the USB drive, so that was promising. Installation went smoothly much like my earlier Jaunty install. This time too, I decided to reformat everything with ext4. In less than an hour from booting up the live USB, I'm presented with the login screen.

I logged in, and the speakers work. Wifi seemed to work. Ubuntu presented me with an option to activate madwifi drivers instead of using the default ath5k drivers. I decided to stick with ath5k simply because it's working. I put in the passkey and it connected to my access point, no problem. I added Medibuntu repository and installed Skype (which took some time because of #streamyxslow). I discovered that the built-in mic still doesn't work, but built-in speakers, and audio jacks work just fine. Another issue I noticed as I was using it is that the scrollbar control area thingy on the trackpad seems to be really really thin, and at times it just refuses to work. Looking around online I found a thread on ubuntuforums.org about issues with the 10" Aspire One. Still not much in the way of resolving the issues at the moment though.


So I started to make it look the way I want it to look and just use it. The built-in mic not working doesn't quite bother me as much as the built-in speakers not working (as in other distros I've tried). I guess that is just down to expectations: I expect a computer to have a working speaker. I do not expect it to have a working mic. It'll probably sound crappy anyways. So in summary:

  • Wifi ✔
  • Built-in speakers ✔ 
  • Built-in mic ✗ 
  • Headphone jack ✔ 
  • Mic jack ✔ 
  • Webcam ✔ 
  • Bluetooth ? Update 9 April 2009: file transfers seem to be working. I don't have a bluetooth headset. 
  • Card reader ? Trackpad ✔ is problematic. Update 9 April 2009: the latest updates seem to have fixed the trackpad issue


Acer Aspire One D150 running Linux

I got an Acer Aspire One D150 as a mobile replacement for the Dell Inspiron 6400 that had been my constant companion for more than two years. It's LCD screen died as far as I can tell and sending it in to the shop is not an option at the moment. It still works; I have it hooked up to an external monitor and it runs just fine. But we're not going to talk about that.

The D150 is priced at RM1499 and sports a 10 inch screen, bluetooth, webcam, plus the usual features you would expect from a netbook. The default amount of RAM is 1GB, but after some deliberation I decided to get the shop to upgrade it to 2GB for an extra RM74. It also comes with Windows XP. Yes, I have committed the crime of adding Windows netbooks sales figures :(.

i can haz linux netbook

This is not my fault. Linux netbooks are nearly impossible to find here in Malaysia. Every recent netbook I've seen runs Windows, all of them: Asus, Acer, HP, etc., all of them. I very literally had no choice in the matter. Big deal, so I get a Windows machine and install Linux on it myself. I downloaded Crunchbang Linux, ran Unetbootin to put in on my trusty USB flash drive thingie and off I went.

The install was breeze. I deleted all the Windows partitions, made new ones, input the timezone, user name and password, etc. and I was presented with a login screen within an hour. Cool! Except that things were awfully quiet. I ran skype and it pretty much confirms it: I have no audio. I looked it up and most suggest recompiling alsa and adding the line options snd-hda-intel model=acer-aspire to /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base. Tried it, but still no luck. I did notice however that there is audio output and input through the headphone and mic jacks so it's not totally borked.

And then I discovered a kindred soul on the lowyat.net forums. He seemed to have had some luck getting the speakers to work running MEPIS but experienced kernal panics and unstability. At first I was reluctant to install MEPIS but later I caved because being unable to get the speakers to work was just annoying. I downloaded, and installed it. And lo and behold, the built-in speakers work now. But not the built-in mic. Oh well. Seeing as I can't afford to waste time getting it to work at the moment, it's just going to have to be good enough for now. Also I have not experienced the instabilities mentioned on LYN so maybe I'm just lucky.

I also tried out the suspend and hibernate feature and found that suspending to RAM works, but the sound (again ☹) dies upon resume. Suspending to disk just doesn't work. But that's okay: I've never used them anyways.

So in summary:

  • Wifi ☑ 
  • Speakers ☑
  • Built-in mic ☒
  • Audio jacks ☑
  • Webcam ☑
  • Bluetooth no idea (but Cannonfodder of lowyat.net forums says it's works out of the box)
  • Suspend to disk ☒
  • Suspend to RAM ☑-ish 

I might try again in sometime in the near future with another Linux distro, maybe Jaunty.


Go see Watchmen

On the 5th of March, I woke up and immediately drove to Penang's Sunway Carnival to catch "Watchmen". I had doubts when I first heard that they were making a "Watchmen" movie and it quickly faded into disinterest as time passed and news about various legal BS came to pass. But one blog post from Wil Wheaton was enough to rekindle my interest and I wasn't disappointed.

I will probably need a disclaimer here: the version that I watched was somewhat cut up by the Malaysian Censorship Board. In my opinion, they were extremely selective with their cuts and took great care to not ruin the movie. As far as I can tell they only cut out some sex scenes and boob shots, a guy getting his arms sawn off, and Doctor Manhattan had a blurry crotch. Of course, I don't actually know what scenes were removed since I haven't seen the original theater release so my opinion may change if I ever get to see it.

The thing I remember most from the movie was the punches: they sound so solid, so satisfying. I don't think I've ever noticed the punching sounds in a movie before. I assume it was a deliberate choice and I love it.

Plot-wise it pretty much follows the comic except for the details of the villain's heinous villainy but in my opinion it makes so much more sense than what it was in the comic (Sorry, Alan Moore! :(). Disclaimer: I haven't read the comic in a number of years so my memory of it is somewhat fuzzy, although I do remember the main plot points, I think.

I loved the movie. Go see it.