Monday, November 30, 2009

Karmic Koala on Acer Aspire 11.6" ZA3

I left my 8.9" Acer Aspire One behind with a really great Jamaican guy on a recent trip there.

It had Ubuntu Karmic Koala on it, so far the guy is doing pretty well, I've been impressed by his resourcefulness in trying to work around problems. One of the early questions I got was something like, "This wine stuff is a bit complicated".

Meanwhile, time for a replacemen beastie for me. There is a Canadian Computers store just up the road from me. The staff there are pretty clued in and helpful with it. The 8.9" acer has been excellent. Good points were the long battery life, light weight, compact size. I've found myself wanting a larger screen some of the time, but the plus points have offset this.

The 11.6" aspires were too tempting. Similar weight, half inch bigger all round, but 1366x768 screen resolution and 5 hours battery life. Perfect.

Only problem is the Poulsbo chip set used for the graphics driver. On the plus side, this is the chip that combines lower power consumption magic with the high resolution. The big problem is it is proprietary, with closed source drivers. At first sight, it appears to be an Intel chip, but it turns out they have done a deal with a third party, so the usual rule of thumb, where Intel really do play nicely with open source goes out of the window.

Nonetheless, Karmic installed from a USB stick without problems, bar the screen resolution. This thread provided the solution to the resolution problem. The scripts from lucazade worked like magic.

The only remaining issue is I have a choice between working sound and using the compiz 3-D effects. I'm sure someone out there has the answer to this one.

I was a little concerned tha the Atom Z520 processor might be a bit under-powered, but so far all is ok. I do have to keep an eye open for runaway firefox processes though -- occasionally it starts the cpu racing and then of course performance nosedives.

Meanwhile I've installed the Google Chromium browser with these instructions. I'm really finding it very slick on this machine. Added bonus is Chromium extensions are starting to trickle in, so it is becoming a viable alternative to firefox for me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

First snow flake spotted in Ottawa

From snow and balloons

Actually, this gets a fail as a snow flake. The real thing should be here any day now, so the baker can go and check what they really look like.

In other news, I went to a Halloween party as balloon boy at the weekend. Since then, I have carefully adjusted the balloons payload so they hover about the apartment. It is a bit worrying how much entertainment I'm getting from this.

From snow and balloons