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5 ottobre 2011 / Marco Alici

Ubuntu 10.10 on Acer Aspire One 110


(Here the Italian version)

As soon as I bought the netbook Acer Aspire One 110, I installed a standard GNU/Linux distribution, that is one of those usually installed on desktop PC or notebook. At first I installed Debian, expecially because I found this tutorial; then I switched to Ubuntu.

I recently upgraded to Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat). Better, I reinstalled it from scratch, because the limited space on the 8GB SSD drive did not allow the version upgrade.

I basically followed this guide but, since that page is not very clear (some passages concerning the old versions are no longer needed, now almost everything works “out of the box”) I decided to list here the things I did to optimize my netbook.

Ubuntu live on USB pendrive

The netbook has no CD reader, so (unless you have a USB CD/DVD reader) you need to boot Ubuntu live from a USB drive. This requires a Live CD (or an ISO image) of Ubuntu and a software to copy it on the pendrive and to make it bootable. I used my desktop PC with Ubuntu: System–>Administration–>Create a USB startup disk is the required software. Otherwise you can use the handy program unetbootin (for Linux or Windows); or, if you have the CD of Ubuntu (or the ISO image burned on a CD), you can put it into a common Windows machine and run the program usb-creator.exe from inside it.

Installation

After inserting the pendrive and booting, I installed Ubuntu as usual. My SSD was subdivided into 2 partitions:  6GB per /, 1.7GB per /home (and 300MB  swap). I kept this configuration. The two partitions are formatted ext2: ist should be more performant than the journaled file systems (such as ext3/4 or reiserfs) on such a slow disk.

Optimization

1.

Passing to the kernel the parameters elevator=noop and enable_mtrr_cleanup you can get an improvement in the performance of disk and video card.  To do this you have to edit the configuration file of GRUB2 (/etc/default/grub). Just open a terminal and type:

sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

Find the line beginning with GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT and change it as follows:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="elevator=noop quiet splash enable_mtrr_cleanup"

Then save the file and, again in the console, type:

sudo update-grub

to make these options available at next boot.

2.

Another attempt to minimize the write accesses on disk is to avoid the update of the last access date on files and directories. To do this you have to mount filesystems with the options noatime nodiratime. Just open the file /etc/fstab:

sudo gedit /etc/stab

and add these parameters to the options already specified for each partition in the file, like this:

/dev/sda1  /       ext2   errors=remount-ro,noatime,nodiratime   0   1
/dev/sda3  /home   ext2   defaults,noatime,nodiratime            0   2

Moreover, to mimimize the write accesses on the SSD, some directories (such as temporary and log directories) can be moved on temporary filesystems (i.e. placed in RAM instead of on disk). To do this just add the following lines to the file /etc/fstab:

tmpfs   /var/log/apt   tmpfs   defaults   0   0
tmpfs   /var/log       tmpfs   defaults   0   0
tmpfs   /tmp           tmpfs   defaults   0   0
tmpfs   /var/tmp       tmpfs   defaults   0   0

Save the file and restart for changes to take effect.

3.

From now on the directory /var/log will be recreated from scratch at boot. But some programs would not work properly  if their log directories, usually present in /var/log, are missing. We can recreate these directories this way as follows.

Open the file /etc/rc.local

sudo gedit /etc/rc.local

add the following lines just above the line  exit 0:

for dir in apparmor apt cups dist-upgrade fsck gdm installer samba unattended-upgrades ; do
   if [ ! -e /var/log/$dir ] ; then
      mkdir /var/log/$dir
   fi
done

Save the file and reboot for changes to take effect.

4.

During boot the screen could show some lines as follows instead of the “ubuntu” logo:

udevd[80]: worker [XXX] did not accept message -1 (Connection refused), kill it

where XXX is a different number for each line (120, 121…).

I didn’t understand if it is a udev or a plymouth bug. Anyway the solution can be found here.  Just open a terminal and type these two commands:

echo FRAMEBUFFER=y | sudo tee /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/splash
sudo update-initramfs -u

Restarting the computer we’ll see the Ubuntu 10.10 splash screen.

5.

Mozilla Firefox is one of the best browser around, but it uses to write lots of things on disk. However it also has lots of customizable options, so that you can make some changes that make its use more fluid and efficient.

Open a new tab and on the address bar type: about:config (and answer “yes” to the warning page). The whole list of customizable parameters will be showed:

Locate (if it exists) the key toolkit.storage.synchronous, by scrolling the list or by starting to write it in the fiels Filter. Change it to 0 by double-clicking over its name. If the key doesn’t exist you have to create it: from the menu rising through a right-button click over a free space in the page, choose New>Integer, type the name of the key on the field in the window and press OK; type the value 0 in the new window showed ahd press OK.

Now you can do exactly the same with the key browser.cache.disk.parent_directory; just note that it’s not an integer parameter, but a string. It means that if it doesn’t exists you have to create it by the command New>String); this parameter contains the name of the directory where the cache is stored in. As an example we whould choose something like /tmp/firefox. Since the directory /tmp has been created in a RAM filesystem (see paragraph 2),we will avoid to write it to the disk.

6.

Skype shows some problems in correctly detecting the front microphone (while other programs, such as, Audacity, work well). I found the solution here. You simply have to:

  • install padevchooser (Pulse Audio Device Chooser)
  • open padevchooser from the menu Applications>Souind & Video>Pulse Audio Device Chooser
  • in the section Volume Control…, in the tab Input Devices, unlock the lock channels padlock
  • pull up the volume for the Front Left channel (internal mic), pull down the volume for the Front right channel (external mic).

Start Skype while padevchooser is running. In the audio options panel of Skype, make sure that the Allow Skype to automatically adjust the levels of the mixer is not selected. Now the audio should work with Skype. No problem for the video, because the webcam works out of the box.

8 commenti

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  4. Djones / Feb 16 2012 10:21

    Thanks – v helpful guide. I have the Aspire one 110, but when I try to install Ubuntu it always installs on the SD card. It installs, but won’t boot from the SD card. Any advice?!

    Mi piace

    • Marco Alici / Feb 20 2012 22:24

      Thank you!
      As far as I know, the netbook can’t boot from the SD card. You have to install it on the internal mass storage device; if it has a different operating system installed, you have to erase and format it (do a backup of data you don’t want to loose!) to give Ubuntu the necessary space on disk. See https://help.ubuntu.com/community/GraphicalInstall.

      Mi piace

  5. pablo / Gen 7 2012 11:29

    Also a good tool for any notebook/netbook is this repository:

    ppa:webupd8team/jupiter

    it deals with power consumption extending it.

    also repo for other than ATI/Nvidia graphic card drivers:

    # Updated and Optimized Graphics Drivers
    deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/oibaf/graphics-drivers/ubuntu oneiric main
    # deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/oibaf/graphics-drivers/ubuntu oneiric main

    http://www.phoronix.com – there’s more about optimizing processors and graphic cards in Linux

    Mi piace

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