I wanted to review Ubuntu 8.10 on the One firstly because I’ve been stuck on 8.04 for a while and wanted to see what was new and secondly to add to the Linux portfolio of this review even though it’s one of the more popular and known of systems. I also tried to install several other Linux distributions, but all of the others I tried failed installing either due to incompatibilities on Unetbootin’s part (see below paragraph) or their own. Let’s just say that I enjoyed the Ubuntu experience on the One except for one nasty maggot in the otherwise delicious “soup.”
To install Ubuntu 8.10, I used a program called Unetbootin to download and situate the image onto my USB drive. Unetbootin is a very useful program available for Windows and Linux flavors that can supposedly create a usable netboot USB drive out of any bootable image; however, several of the distribution images I tried with it didn’t work, at least with the One. Thankfully Ubuntu 8.10 did. The live install was much more intuitive than previous versions of Ubuntu I’ve tried; it’s the actual Ubuntu system with Gnome interface, and was much easier and quicker to complete than the old basic text versions. In fact, I installed Ubuntu while walking through the halls of my school and on the drive home (again, I wasn’t driving).
Startup is basically as fast as Windows XP’s and 7’s as is login, so no qualms there.
Everything seems to work out of the box except for the wireless, camera, and microphone. The camera isn’t too big of an issue, but the wireless is. Using the Windows drivers through ndiswrapper had no effect, and neither did several other suggestions I found. However, after hours of searching for “Acer Aspire One wireless drivers,” I found a treasure trove of information on the first hit for the One’s camera drivers. This page on the Ubuntu website helps One users immensely. However, my wired connection suddenly doesn’t work on Ubuntu and I don’t want to spend any more valuable time trying to work it. The process is simple enough and has worked for others, so there is a valid fix for the non-working wireless, webcam, and microphone, though I personally haven’t tested it for this review. It is my fervent hope that Jaunty will include these drivers by default to save One users hassle.
The overall system works flawlessly and seemingly as fast as Windows 7, even in full-graphics mode, all except that sometimes unplugging or plugging in the AC power causes the system’s power manager to halt, creating a strange, rectangle, black glitch on the screen for several minutes until it sorts itself out.
Overall, I give the Ubuntu 8.10 system on the Acer Aspire One a 7/10. Aside from some very minor bugs, it is a very netbooker-friendly system. The one real flaw is that the wireless driver is not included with the base system and will cause a headache in trying to find and install it, especially for those inexperienced who simply want a free and usable system for their netbooks. If the wireless was included naturally in the distribution without having to do any serious tweaking, Ubuntu would be as ready and as able (if not more) than Windows 7 to be a netbook system.