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