Bad OS Part I: (Yes or No?( and Part II: (What to do about i

Discussion in 'Linux' started by popcycleken, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. popcycleken

    popcycleken

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    Bad OS Part I: (Yes or No?( and Part II: (What to do about it?)

    Part I: Yes or No? Am I the only one who feels this Linpus OS is dreadful and unusable? Please answer yea or nay and why.

    My experience:
    • Some delivered apps (esp. Mail and Messenger) either don't work or are of use low quality and functionality that they must be replaced.[/*:t12ezwj1]
    • The major apps (FF, OO, etc.) are either downlevel, 'customized', or broken; in some cases all three. [/*:t12ezwj1]
    • But adding software is a nightmare, often doesn't work, always requires research and work.[/*:t12ezwj1]
    • Once you add the software, live updating the system is likely to break or obscure what you added.[/*:t12ezwj1]
    • 90%+ of all time spent on the machine is spent on tricking the OS or trying to apps to work, not doing any actual work.[/*:t12ezwj1]
    • The wireless which worked so well in the hotel where I orignally received the AAO is now unreliable in other locations; or maybe one of those updates broke it(?).[/*:t12ezwj1]
    • The Acer OS and UI implementation has fundamental design flaws that promise that any customization will always be difficult and temporary.[/*:t12ezwj1]
    • Acer's response to my request for help was worse than non-existent.[/*:t12ezwj1]

    I bought this a few weeks early with the hope of making it my only pc on an international trip. With Windows that might have worked, but with this OS I have thrown that idea out. I'll be lugging the usual.

    Am I wrong? do I have a lemon? or is this really unworkable?


    Bad OS Part II: What to do about it

    OK, I'm out $330. But the hardware still seems to have promise. What to do?

    • It doesn't seem feasible to continue with the Acer/Linpus OS, even if moving to the xfce UI. It is still based on a mix of customized and uncustomized libraries that are basically incompatible.[/*:t12ezwj1]
    • Is it feasible to install another OS without losing fundamental features? About the only hardware feature I am willing to give up is the 'merging' of the SDHC card and SSD. This thing is useless without reasonably current network apps running over as many forms of connectivity as possible. Wireless is a must.[/*:t12ezwj1]
    • Is it feasible to install another OS and still get decent performance? I'd load XP in a second if I wasn't sure it would not have acceptable performance. Will any other OS do it?[/*:t12ezwj1]
    • If so, which OS is the best choice for someone who doesn't want to spend their life messing with the OS, but will want to add and upgrade apps initially and occasionally? ubuntu? xubuntu? onelinux? other?[/*:t12ezwj1]

    Please keep responses constructive. If this OS is salvagable, I am the first to want to know. If not, please suggest what you think the next course of action should be, and why.

    Thanks in advance,


    Ken
     
    popcycleken, Sep 25, 2008
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  2. popcycleken

    kevin

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    I am using the stock Linpus and I think it's fine. I've changed it quite a bit, but not as much as installing a different version of Linux.

    I've removed all the Acer applications, and installed Thunderbird, Lightning, and other common stuff. The Acer comms stuff seemed OK to me for the short time I used it, but I could sync it with Google Calender, etc. This took about 20 minutes in total. The Acer media player stuff is just a front end to a somewhat broken mplayer -- also replaced.

    Adding software for me has rarely been any more difficult that typing `sudo yum install xyz' at the prompt. The exception was mplayer, where I wanted a specific version that wasn't in the standard repositories. So I had a bit of a job sorting out dependencies. In the end this took about 15 minutes.

    Yes, doing a live update from Acer will probably break my customizations. So I don't intend to do this. The basic machine works fine and I've removed all the Acer bits. So what is there to update that I couldn't update by doing `yum update' if the need arose?

    I've restored the standard XFCE desktop so I can't comment on the Acer UI. I didn't seem very appealing. It took less then 10 mintes to revert to the stock XFCE, which I know pretty well anyway.

    Wireless has been fine for me.

    I guess I've spend a total of 2-3 hours tweaking the Linpus installation. I doubt I shall have to do any more, since it now works pretty much as I want. The biggest part of that 2-3 hours was getting Bluetooth Internet access working through my phone -- instructions for which I got from this forum.

    So I'm pretty happy with my setup. Everything works like it should, I've got on the apps I use on my desktop machine, it's reliable and fast.

    It is possible to install a different Linux distribution, and most things can be made to work. Personally, I just can't see the point. If it was a case of run-the-installer-and-that's-it it would be different, but I think to get any other Linux distribution working as fast as Linpus, and in as little disk space, would take a lot of work.

    Just my $0.02, of course. I'm sure you'll get conflicting opinions. I'm given to understand that Windows XP runs OK on the hard-disk models with extra RAM, but I've got the minimum-spec model so I can't comment on that.
     
    kevin, Sep 25, 2008
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  3. popcycleken

    jcm

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    Nay, Linpus Lite is very functional in my opinion and perfect for a netbook. The OS in the AAO 512MB, 8GB SSD machines is pretty snappy, so why slow it down with a full Linux distro or Windows XP?

    I've had a week or two getting to grips with the vagaries of Linpus (and Linux for the first time), and with help from this forum and googling, I'm amazed to say I've not encountered anything that I couldn't solve, but I'm sure I'm tempting fate with that comment and something will happen that'll have me throwing my AAO out of the window in a fit of temper. ;)

    As for the pre-installed software, I haven't uninstalled anything, apart from upgrading to Firefox 3. I must admit I quite like the pre-installed email and messenger clients. I've added VLC Media Player, Skype and Abiword word processor. Installing new software has been a fairly painless process so far, but I had to find 4 dependencies for the latest version (non-livna) of Vlc media player, but that only took 5 minutes and the program's working without a hitch so far. As for hardware, I have merged the SSD with an SDHC card, but it wasn't without its problems, as listed on a thread in this forum.

    So far, I'm happy with how Linpus is acquitting itself, because I didn't have very high expectations before I bought the AAO and was considering upgrading to Windows XP. Linpus Lite has won me over though.

    The OS is perfectly salvageable, as you put it.
     
    jcm, Sep 26, 2008
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  4. popcycleken

    Grim Squeaker

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    Nay AND Yay.

    Nay, because the One's OS is not meant to be meddled with. What you get is a consistent, easy to use interface that allows you to perform several pre-defined tasks fitting for a light netbook. If you want more, Acer would probably be happy to sell you a full Notebook ;)

    Yay, because we are humans and have no desire to just accept what Acer wants us to use the One for. Which due to the customisations is indeed pretty.. challenging...every now and then.
     
    Grim Squeaker, Sep 26, 2008
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  5. popcycleken

    scottro

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    I'm with grim squeaker (good nick by the way) yay and nay.

    I had the 8 gig SSD. I tried a few other distributions on it, but went back to Linpus as it ran much faster. I was able to tweak it, more or less.
    However, it seems that all these folks, Acer, Asus, etc., wind up selling relatively crippled versions of Linux then turn around and say, Well, we tried with Linux, but everyone wanted Windows. My AA1 gave the typical work fine for 3 weeks then black screen. As I felt this was a legitimate reason to return it, I did so, and next time, I'll be buying the 6 cell with the hard drive. I'll just wipe Windows completely and put other versions of Linux on it.

    On the plus side, it ran relatively well on the limited specs of the hardware. On the downside, aside from that WPA2 thing, it's simply a crippled distribution. Things that a Linux user takes for granted, text login, multi user, and the like all require more work than should be required to get it functional.

    So, I didn't like it. It was a challenge, and possibly useful for other people in the house who aren't used to Linux, but basically, it aggravated me. :)
     
    scottro, Sep 26, 2008
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  6. popcycleken

    kevin

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    I am inclined to agree. The question that follows then is:

    Is it easier to get the stuff you want working on Linpus, than it is to get it working on a different distribution AND get the different distribution working as effeciently as Linpus (speed and space)?

    My view is a qualified `yes' -- despite the problems with Linpus it is still easier to hack it than to install something else and hack that. If installing a different Linux really was just a case of installing it, my view would be different. But it isn't.

    Of course, merely installing a different Linux distribution isn't that big a job, once you know where to start. But a reasonably complete installation of Fedora or Ubuntu -- one that will already have most of what you need -- will likely be 5-6Gb, and take 2-3 minutes to boot on the AA1 without extensive customization. Now, 5-6Gb of Linux + 1 Gb of swap is 90% of the SSD eaten before you have and data on it. You can prune that down, and you can prune away the unneeded boot services, but that takes work. And getting 15-20 second but a la Linpus requires specialist knowledge and a lot of experimentation.
     
    kevin, Sep 26, 2008
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  7. popcycleken

    daldred

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    Where I am at the moment is this: I want all the hardware working, more than I want a system which is as fully flexible as the Linux I'm used to elsewhere. The One isn't my main machine; it's (a) something which means I can do some fairly basic stuff when out taking my kids to their sporting activities and (b) a toy. If I'm strictly honest those may not be in the right order - but I don't want the 'toy' bit to break the 'usage' bit.!

    So I'm holding on until someone with more hacking ability than I'll ever have works out how to get a proper Linux running with all the hardware fully working; then I reckon Linpus goes. For various reasons, it wouldn't survive beyond the 'let's see what the LiveCD is like' stage on any other machine of mine - user setup, passwords, hosts, fstab etc. But it works, for the moment, and does what I *need* it to do - if not how I want it to do it. The only thing I *might* miss is, surprisingly, that basic desktop front screen: the fact that there are enormous icons which you can't really miss even while in the course of getting stuff set up on a table - swipe the trackpad in the right general direction and you're likely to get the right app started, while simultaneously opening a book and organising where the coffee cup, or preferably pint, goes - is actually far more useful than I ever thought it would be.

    My distro of choice is Sidux; it takes somewhere under a minute to boot to KDM stage on my main machine with Apache, a news server and a web filter running for the benefit of other networked machines. I'm told a lighter boot process on a very similar netbook takes about 35 secs - not as quick as Linpus, but not half bad. And how often do you actually need to boot a netbook, if sleep works properly?

    As to size, on my main machine the root partition is 15Gb; it's under half full and I have loads of stuff on there - servers, graphics programs, sound programs, logs, a web cache and a deb cache. A base install (with KDE and OOo) is under 3Gb as I recall; with a lighter desktop and a few additional apps I reckon it would fit the One quite nicely. But as yet, not everything works........
     
    daldred, Sep 26, 2008
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  8. popcycleken

    kevin

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    Fair point. Depends on your usage pattern, I suppose. WIth Linpus it's actually just as quick to power off and reboot than it is to suspend and resume, so unless you normally suspend it with a load of apps running the suspend/resume is actually not all that important :) Odd, but there it is. Leaving it actually switched off means that the battery charge won't trickle away when you're not using it (but, then, I have no idea how long the battery will last on standby).

    I accept that none of this is a make-or-break thing. A bigger deal for me would be the amount of RAM used by the standard distributions without tuning. I just checked on my new Fedora 9 installation (with the Gnome desktop) and _at idle_ it uses a whisker under 1Gb RAM. That's the same as Vista on the same hardware :) Linpus uses 348Mb in the same circumstances. Of course all this can be tweaked, but it would be odd to start with a full Linux, and tweak it until you end with with what is essentially a different kind of Linpus :)

    I just installed Fedora 9 with all defaults, except that I selected to install all the development tools. The total install was 5.5Gb. Of that, probably 500Mb is dev tools, which most users wouldn't want (not on an AAO, anyway). Possibly it would have been smaller if I had selected to install KDE rather than Gnome.

    Interestingly, there is a chap selling on eBay selling an AAO-ready Ubuntu install on a USB stick. Apparently it fills about half the stick. (It isn't me, by the way :>) So I guess for the £25 he charges you could find out quite quickly and cheaply what running a full Linux would be like on the AAO. And if you don't like it, you can always re-use the memory stick.
     
    kevin, Sep 26, 2008
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  9. popcycleken

    ivor

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    I'll vote Yay.

    I really like the idea behind the AAO and Linpus. I think it's nicely done and seems pretty good when you stick to the installed build.

    However. If you intend to tweak and patch it people really need to understand that they're stepping off the Live Update/Linpus train and they can't mix and match and expect it all to keep working.

    Personally I've stuck to Linpus as the base OS, but switched over to a more "linux-ey" setup. xfce desktop, updated firefox, openoffice, thunderbird, pidgin, standard NetworkManager, bluetooth, hal, dbus etc. and then massaged a few of the linpus boot scripts to work more elegantly.

    I'm pretty happy with the way it's shaping up, generally "just works" without needing to hack or patch things manually. I plug in my 3G dongle and it connects to one of three mobile networks I have selected. Plug in bluetooth and it connects to my phone. (I seem to have broken standby last night, but that must be something silly).

    I've got a "build" USB stick (that was working but needs updating again with my boot scripts), that takes a standard Linpus build and applies all the changes needed to customise it, that way I can flash the machine with a recovery stick, run liveupdate, then auto-customize it without any manual hassle. (was essential when I was bricking the build every few days!)

    So generally a good experience here.
     
    ivor, Sep 26, 2008
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  10. popcycleken

    popcycleken

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    I thank you all for your well-considered responses.

    Based on the input so far, I think I will stay with Linpus until there is a solid alternative, which I hope might be onelinux. The good news is that Thunderbird and Lightning seem to be finally installed correctly (but based on very light usage). Skype has been working since I installed it the first day. I guess FF2 does the job for now. And the older OO is OK, too, except for the Presentations piece which has a tendency to hang opening PPTs.

    Ultimately, I guess the most important message here is once you have reached a place where all the hardware is working, don't run live update ever again. And that should hold up since I am not using any of the Acer apps, I just need to learn to get away from the desktop, and that should work out.

    I agree with everyone that the thing runs pretty quickly for the resouces it has, and that is important to keep. Boot time I don't really care about very much.

    Thanks again for helping a newbie,


    Ken
     
    popcycleken, Sep 26, 2008
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  11. popcycleken

    daldred

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    I did Live Update just last night; all OK. BUT I keep an eye on the forum here, and hold back if anyone reports a problem about a specific live update; and I use the way suggested on the macles blog (http://macles.blogspot.com/) to see what updates are going to be applied before applying any. Used carefully, I reckon it's OK.
     
    daldred, Sep 26, 2008
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  12. popcycleken

    cpchan

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    Yes, it is a bad OS. At first glance Linpus looks OK for a newbie/grandma/kiosk situation. However, if you look under the hood it is a security nightmare (it can be locked down with some work). Here are some of my findings after a brief look:

    http://www.aspireoneuser.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=458&p=25805#p25805

    Two things I forgot to mention in that post is that firstly the compiled Linpus kernel does not come with any Netfilter modules! So one would have to recompile the kernel to get a firewall going. Secondly, their choice of default software absolutely makes no sense. The whole point of using XFCE4 is to save resources on such a low spec machine, so why is it using nm-applet (a Gnome based systray applet) and kpowersave (a KDE based systray applet)?
     
    cpchan, Sep 26, 2008
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  13. popcycleken

    cpchan

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    Don't get me started about their mplayer package- I have never seen anything so broken (not even compiled with xvid support). It doesn't affect me since I use a self compiled SVN version, but being a big fan and long time user of mplayer, I am saddened to see the package in such sad state.
     
    cpchan, Sep 26, 2008
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  14. popcycleken

    BlackLagoon

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    Xvid uses patented algorithms - it can't be legaly be distibuted in countries that reckognize software patents (like the US) without paying the patent holders a licence fee. None of the major Linux distributions include by default - you have to actively chose to install it yourself.
     
    BlackLagoon, Sep 27, 2008
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  15. popcycleken

    cpchan

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    True, one needs to pay the MPEG4 LA to implement MPEG4, part2. As an aside, so called "pay to play" open standards still blows my mind.

    Yes, and no. Most distros have set up some type of system where by newbies can download multimedia codecs, plus other "non-free" stuff easily from the Net (Ubuntu's multiverse, SuSE's one click install, etc). Of course whether this is legal for you depends on the country you live in.

    I have been self compiling mplayer for so long that I forgot how crippled it is in most distros.
     
    cpchan, Sep 27, 2008
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  16. popcycleken

    electronicdad

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    Yes and no. For most AA1 out of the box is OK. Chat with friends, Email, surf the Web and create docs are great for most people. But for the power users it is not.

    The great thing about Linux community is 'if there is the will, there is a way'. For example check out the following site on using ubuntu on the AA1 (more links at the end of that page to other distros).

    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AspireOne
     
    electronicdad, Sep 27, 2008
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  17. popcycleken

    ftapon

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    Part I: No. It's a fine OS. It works, albeit with limited functionality. A bad OS is one that crashes all the time.

    Part II: What to do? Remind yourself that the One is best for the extremes of the geek bell curve and not the mainstream part of it.

    :mrgreen: On one extreme is the computer novice. He will just plug and play with the One as-is. He just needs basic office apps, email, and browsing. For that, it all worked out of the box. He doesn't try to tweak or customize. His requirements are basic.

    :geek: On the other extreme is the power user. She's capable enough and geeky enough to type nonsensical phrases that begin with "sudo yum...." She can take the raw package of the One and effortlessly mold it to her liking.

    :( For those who lie in the big fat mainstream market: you're unhappy. You're the type that loves tweaking Windows (adding/removing programs, changing your wallpaper with ease, etc.). You like customizing your PC and you like an OS that makes that easy for you to do, and you grew up with Mac or Windows. Yet you're not experienced and geeky enough to play with command line interfaces. You're frustrated because that ability to customize is now gone and you're unwilling or unable to learn how to do it on Linux.

    I was part of the mainstream and I've forced myself to learn enough Linux to tweak the One to my liking.

    Ask yourself if you want to do the same. If not, buy a Mac or a Windows machine mininote. :geek:
     
    ftapon, Sep 27, 2008
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  18. popcycleken

    blackhawk

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    Since base on Fedora, Linpus is OK but too many garbage in init scripts. I am a software coder and love a clean code. I keep Linpus but XFCE like a jail for me, so I decided to install KDE. The kdelibs included in Linpus is broken, it's safe to upgrade it to the latest Fedora 8 updates. To keep Linpus slim, have installed kdelibs, kdebase, and kdeutils only.
     
    blackhawk, Sep 27, 2008
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  19. popcycleken

    blackhawk

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    KSnapshot is a nice snapshot utility, we can extract it from kdegraphics package. Amarok and Gwenview is a must and Kaffein for completeness.

    NOTE:
    KDE can make GTK/Gnome application almost look native. Don't worry about Firefox/OpenOffice/Gimp look alien on desktop.
     
    blackhawk, Sep 27, 2008
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  20. popcycleken

    cpchan

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    Not only garbage, but scary from a security point of view.

    I kept Linpus too, but changed mine to Window Maker plus GNUstep. I hope you locked down your system- the defaults are scary.
     
    cpchan, Sep 27, 2008
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