The Acer Aspire One 722 is an excellent netbook for running Linux even though it is designed for Windows 7. Despite the absence of Linux on the packaging, Ubuntu and its derivatives run on the Aspire One.
Despite certain issues with Ubuntu 10.10, it remains my operating system of choice due to its simplicity and outstanding performance most of the time. Does it install on the Aspire One? Yes, it does, but it requires more time and effort than installing Ubuntu 12.04, Xubuntu 12.04, Windows 7, or the Gateway LT2114U.
However, once the Ubuntu 10.10 installation given here is complete, the results are rewarding: A fully functional Aspire One 722 running Ubuntu 10.10 with the latest kernel, the latest ATI Catalyst video drivers, and all working hardware. (The internal and external microphones record audio at levels too faint to be usable, but other than that, no other issues were discovered.)
Here are steps I use to install Ubuntu 10.10 64-bit on the Aspire One 722 with fully working hardware and wireless connectivity.
First of all, this method is designed to be simple enough so anyone can install Ubuntu 10.10 using as much point and click as possible. This is why some steps, such as installing the video drivers twice, are redundant. There are, no doubt, better ways possible, but these steps have never let me down.
A Few Notes
- Ideally, you should have your own repository for faster updating or to have the ability to update without an Internet connection, but if not, this will still work. Be sure NOT to install the updated kernel from the repository after installing a newer kernel manually or else you will ruin the installation.
- Video drivers must be installed twice. There is a reason for this.
- Installing the updated Linux kernel 3.2.16 makes the wireless adapter work.
There are two major issues afflicting Ubuntu 10.10 and the Acer Aspire One 722:
- Restarting X through Left Ctrl + PrtScrn + K freezes the netbook
- Suspend and hibernation do not work. The netbook will go into suspend and hibernate modes but will never wake up completely. The netbook will power up again, but the display remains blank. With suspend, the display remains off. With hibernate, the display remains purple.
- In BIOS, set the wireless adapter as the first boot device.
- Install Ubuntu 10.10 normally either from USB or CD-ROM.
- Install updates. Wireless is disabled at this point because Ubuntu 10.10 cannot detect the wireless adapter, so you must install updates either from the wired LAN or from a local repository. If you install updates at this point (before installing a newer kernel), then go ahead and install the latest kernel from the repository. You will be safe.
- Install the AMD Catalyst Proprietary Drivers (1st time)
This is to enable the video after installing the new kernel.
Download the drivers from AMD’s web site. Make sure to choose 32-bit or 64-bit depending upon the OS installed.
To install, open a command prompt, go to the directory containing the drivers, and enter,
sudo sh ./amd-driver-installer-12-3-x86.x86_64.run
Follow the instructions.
IMPORTANT: Install the Catalyst drivers BEFORE installing the new kernel or else the graphics will be messed up upon reboot following the new kernel installation.
- Install updated kernel
The most recent kernel in the Ubuntu 10.10 repository is too old to use with the netbook, so an updated kernel must be installed manually.
Go to the kernel web site and download the kernel you wish to install.
As of this writing, kernel 3.2.16 is the latest stable release.
If you browse http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/ you will find many other kernels available, including the latest experimental kernels. Nevermind the name. Even though kernel 3.2.16 is labeled as “precise” in its directory name, it will work with Maverick Ubuntu 10.10. The important point is to pick either the 32-bit or 64-bit kernel. If you installed Ubuntu 10.10 64-bit, then download the amd64 .deb files.
There are three necessary kernel files:
Now, install them in this order (just double-click on a .deb file).
After installing the new kernel, update GRUB2 by opening a command prompt and entering,
Sidenote: Removing Kernels
If you find that a kernel is not to your liking or you installed the wrong one, you can remove it. Suppose you installed 3.3.3 but wish to use to 3.2.16.
- Open Synaptic Package Mangager, enter the kernel version in the search box (such a 3.3.3), and then Mark for Complete Removal all three kernel files.
- Next, open a terminal and enter, sudo update-grub to update GRUB2. This is important!
- Install AMD Catalyst Drivers (2nd time)
Each time you install a new kernel or revert to an older one, you must reinstall the video driver for the new kernel even though you might see the native 1366×768 resolution. Otherwise, desktop effects will not be enabled.
Open Appearance Preferences (right-click the desktop and choose Change Desktop Background), select the Visual Effects tab, and select the Extra radio button to enable the desktop effects.
Sometimes this step is not necessary, but this is a simple way to check. If nothing happens after clicking Extra, then desktop effects are already enabled. Ubuntu might search for available drivers. Let it complete. The screen should refresh and you should see shadows around the windows to indicate that desktop effects are active.
Step 7 (Optional)
- Set swappiness
Swappiness tells Ubuntu how much RAM to use before swapping to the hard drive. You can check the current setting by opening a terminal and entering,
Ubuntu defaults to 60. 0 means fill up all RAM before swapping, and 100 means swap immediately. I prefer a lower value on a netbook to use as much RAM as possible before swapping to the hard drive, so let’s set this to 10.
Open sudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf and add this line anywhere:
The setting takes effect upon the next reboot.
Step 8 (Optional)
- Adjust the Thumbnail Cache
The default image thumbnail cache settings are set to ridiculously high levels that can lead to hard drive grinding. This is not good for a netbook, so let’s change this.
Enter gconf-editor in a terminal to launch the Configuration Editor.
In the Configuration Editor, navigate to desktop > gnome > thumbnail_cache and change these two settings:
maximum_age = 3 maximum_size = 8
Whatever you pick, choose lower values than the defaults.
Whew! As you can see, installing Ubuntu 10.10 on the Acer Aspire One 722 is not as easy as it could be. However, with the base system installed using the latest updates and kernel, all hardware should function properly in Ubuntu 10.10 except for restarting X and the suspend/hibernate issue. From here on, all that remains is the personal touch.