Today, I had my first opportunity to get some hands-on time with Acer’s entry into the netbook craze, the Acer Aspire One. The young lady I helped bought a blue Aspire One on Black Friday for just over $300. Sporting a 120GB hard drive, an extremely nice 8.9″ screen, 1 GB of RAM, and Windows XP, this little unit was very impressive to look at and use. After some discussion with me, she decided that she didn’t want to leave the Windows XP on it and have to maintain security updates, anti-spyware software, anti-virus software, etc. She planned on using the netbook for traveling mostly and some email, Internet, and downloading her digital photos from time to time on it.
I decided to try installing Ubuntu’s new Netbook Remix (UNR) operating system for her. After doing some research, I discovered that before doing the Ubuntu install, a BIOS update was necessary so the SD card readers (there are two of them on the Aspire One) would work once UNR was installed. That was the biggest hurdle, and I haven’t cleared it yet. After following many instructions on the Acer and other user sites to get the BIOS installed (requires a bootable USB drive), I gave up because of time restraints. Frustrated, but not beaten, we decided to go ahead with the install of UNR. At home, I downloaded and created a UNR bootable flash drive for the install (has to be done in Ubuntu). Literally within 8 minutes of inserting the USB drive and starting the netbook, we were staring at the cleanly laid out desktop of UNR and just another 30 seconds to connect to the Internet via wi-fi. Amazing! It took nearly 40 minutes to get the computer to boot up and finish installing and configuring Windows XP when we first turned the machine on out of the box. The AspireOne community documentation at Ubuntu’s site for installing and configuring UNR is nothing short of awesome.
I need to help the young woman clean up a few little rough edges with some plug-ins and get the card readers to work properly, but overall, I was impressed and she was happy with her purchase. The Aspire One comes in a few different colors and configurations. The XP seemed snappy enough on the netbook, but I know that wouldn’t last long after all the Windows updates were installed, security software was installed, etc. UNR runs extremely fast and smooth and should be virtually trouble-free for this happy new netbook owner. You can buy the Acer AspireOne with Windows XP and use the steps I did to install UNR or stay with the XP. Or you can get the Aspire One with a special version of Linux pre-installed.