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.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Gill: I followed up on your suggestions, and tried to download the Driver you made mention of. The result was that it was a LINUX VIRUS! Using sudo to download something causes your computer to be a security risk, because a hacker can grab your Password and then have access to all of your machine. I did not even have to open the file, it installed and then in 5 seconds uninstalled 834 Megs of Programs, and made for itself a Read Only Partition, with an XML file in it. It took weeks to find something to get a root kit check done. Best not to continue with this advice on the ZA3 because some one in Ottawa might do something nasty to you! Figure it this way there is no support for the Pousbo Chips, and the virus was quite likely planted by the Company that wrote the drivers for the GMA 500 Chips! Alfred!

johnnyg said...

Thanks for the comment Alfred.

Could you be more specific about the virus you got -- what link did you follow from my post?

I used the scripts provided by lucazade on the forum posting without issues, as have many others.

If there is a problem then it would be good to clear it up, but it has hard to do that unless you can be more specific.