Fedora 13 on the Acer Aspire One

Back in the game after a while, I proudly present to you a little tale of Fedora 13 on the Acer Aspire One. Some important additions to the system are:

  • Automatic print driver installation
  • Automatic language pack installation
  • Redesigned user account tool
  • Color management to calibrate monitors and scanners
  • Experimental 3D support for NVIDIA video cards

You can check out further details at http://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/Fedora/13/html/Release_Notes/index.html#sect-Release_Notes-Fedora_Overview.

Time to start installing Fedora 13.

Preparing your USB-pen

Prepare your USB-pen! This time around we don’t have to download the XFCE-spin through torrents, it seems they’ve made the ISO-file available!

What we need to do is to install the Live CD to a USB-pen/drive. To do that download the ISO from here. With me having a stationary machine using Fedora 12, I’ll assume that you do as well. :D su to root and install the package livecd-tools:

Once the package is installed, and the iso has been downloaded, plug in your USB-pen/drive. I will also assume that your USB-pen/drive has been given the name sdb1. You can check it with the command dmesg, just look at the bottom of output if it has detected it. It should look something like this:

If your USB-pen has previously had another operating system running on it, the Master Boot Record (MBR) might already have some data on it that crashes with what we’re about to do. So to clear the MBR (excluding the partition table), you can do one of the two following things; Use the flag –reset-mbr when running livecd-iso-to-disk or using the dd command. I recommend using the first option, and if that fails, try the second one.

With your iso downloaded, execute the following command:

Fedora-13-i686-Live-XFCE.iso being the Live CD iso we just downloaded. This command will copy the Live CD iso to your USB-pen, making that your bootable device.

Now, if the MBR is still causing problems (like the USB-pen not booting), try the following:

Warning: This command can render your system useless, so be CAUTIOUS and sure before you use it. Make sure that /dev/sdb is in fact your USB-pen, and not some other device. You have been warned!

And run the livecd-iso-to-disk-command above again.

For more information about how to create and use a Live USB device, check out https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/FedoraLiveCD/USBHowTo.

Installing Fedora 13

Now that the USB-pen is ready to go, reboot your Acer Aspire One, and at boot press F13 to be able to select what boot device to boot from. Your device should pop up in that list. Log in as usual, and double-click the icon that says Install to Hard Drive. Follow the process as normal, and just select Basic Storage Devices when you get to that option. When you get at the screen that asks you to check the drive you’d like to install the operating system on, check the one that says ATA (should be around 7.5GB big). If you can’t uncheck your USB-device, don’t worry.

When selecting what type of installation you’d like, select Use All Space, and check the box at the bottom that says Review and modify partition layout. Click Next.

Next select the Acer’s drive, and click the arrow to the right to move it to Install Target Devices, leaving the USB-device under Data Storage Devices (to be mounted only). Click Next.

We’ll be using the ext4 filesystem on our Acer Aspire One.

Now we should be in a new screen. We don’t want LVM on an SSD-disk, so we remove it.

Click on the line that says vol_MACHINENAME and click Delete. In my case it’s called vg_howl, since I named my machine howl.

Now click on the line that says /dev/sda2 and click Edit. Change the File System Type to ext4 and then change the Mount Point to /. Make sure that you have checked the box sda (and ONLY sda) in Allowable Drives and selected Fill to maximum allowable size. When done, press OK, and then click Next. A question will pop up, telling you that you haven’t selected a swap partition, and if you still want to continue with this partitioning scheme. Select Yes, and then select Write changes to disk. When a question about a boot loader comes up, simply press Next.

When the formatting and installation is done, you can reboot your Acer, answer a few questions, and your system should be up and going.

Disabling SELinux

Things haven’t changed, SELinux will haunt us forever.

Once you’re in the system, press Alt-F2, type terminal, su to root, and edit the file /etc/selinux/config and set the variable SELINUX to disabled. Save and close the file.

Optimizing Fedora 13

I assume that by now you are actually using the Fedora 13 installation. Here’s how to improve the system performance a bit.

Optimizing your disk

Quoting the Ubuntu wikipages:

Frequent writes to the SSD will cause failure eventually. We can reduce the number of writes to the SSD by moving our logs to a temporary filesystem in RAM that gets destroyed at ever reboot. Now this means your logs will not be persistent across reboots making debugging difficult in some cases. This step is optional of course, so if you need the logs for an extended period of time do not follow these steps.

Let’s assume that you want to do this. su to root, and open up the file /etc/fstab, and place these following lines there:

Also, modify the first line in /etc/fstab to include the options noatime and nodiratime. When done, your /etc/fstab should look something like this:

Save the file, and close it. The next thing we can do is to place the following into your /etc/sysctl.conf-file:

..and this to your /etc/rc.d/rc.local:

Open up the file /boot/grub/grub.conf and add elevator=noop to the kernel-line, making this:

Look like this:

Proceed with rebooting your machine, and everything should be working fine. :)

Removing journaling

Another thing you can do to increase the speed of your disk is disabling journaling of the ext4 filesystem. I sure hope you have your USB-pen/drive in hand, because we’re going to need it. Reboot your machine, with your USB-thingie plugged in, and again press F12 at boot, selecting your USB-device as the boot device. When done booting to the Live CD, press Alt-F2 and type terminal, and su to root. Find out what the partition with Linux is named. If you’ve partitioned things according to this guide, it should be /dev/sdb2. It’s basically the partition that holds the root of your Linux.

What we first need to do is to edit the file /etc/fstab on your disk. Why? Some tools have yet to catch up. In particular, the version of e2fsprogs currently in Fedora 13 won’t read the UUIDs from such filesystems. And because the Fedora installer generates an /etc/fstab which identifies filesystems by UUID, if you just run the tune2fs-command we’ll be using, the system can’t find its root filesystem and so doesn’t get very far through the boot process.

So, in order to edit the /etc/fstab-file, we first mount up the partition /dev/sda2. So remember, Fedora 13 is now installed, but you boot on the LiveCD/LiveUSB, and have a terminal up and going. As root, execute the following commands:

Now open up the file named fstab. The two lines that currently look like this:

Should look like this:

We simply replaced the UUID-strings with the partitions /dev/sda2 and /dev/sda1. Once you’ve edited the file, save it, and close it.

Now we need to update /boot/grub/grub.conf.

Execute this command:

And open up the file grub.conf. What used to look like this:

Should now look like this:

Save the file, close it, and unmount the partitions like this:

Now that they both are unmounted, all we have to do is run the tune2fs-command to disable journaling from the ext4-partition:

Reboot your machine, and you should now have an ext4 filesystem with journaling disabled.

Now should be the time to update all of your packages before proceeding. So when you are logged back into your system again, open up a terminal, su to root, and do a:

Brace yourself, this might take a while. :)

Optimizing Firefox

There are quite a few ways to make your Firefox go faster, one of them being to disable caching completely. Try these out, and let me know how they work. In your Firefox, type about:config as your URL, and press enter. Search for these values, and change them to what I’ve written up here:

Select all text when click on the URL bar

In Windows and Mac, Firefox highlights all text when you click on the URL bar. In Linux, it does not select all the text. Instead, it places the cursor at the insertion point. Regardless which platform you are using, you can now tweak it to either select all or place cursor at insertion point.

  • browser.urlbar.clickSelectsAll: true

Caching

When a page is loaded, Firefox will cache it into the hard disk so that it doesn’t need to be download again for redisplaying. The bigger the storage size you cater for Firefox, the more pages it can cache.

  • browser.cache.disk.enable: false

false disabled caching completely, true enables it. If you want to modify the amount of cache used (instead of disabling it), have a look at browser.cache.disk.capacity.

Network

Config name: network.http.pipelining Default: False Modified value: True

Config name: network.http.proxy.pipelining Default: False Modified value: True

Config name: network.http.pipelining.maxrequests Default: 4 Modified value: any value higher than 4, but not more than 8

Config name: network.http.max-connections Default: 30 Modified value: 96

Config name: network.http.max-connections-per-server Default: 15 Modified value: 32

Enabling auto-login

As of Fedora 13, enabling automatic login on XFCE is a LOT easier. First, we need to have the packages accountsdialog and accountsservice installed. So execute the following command as root:

Once the packages are installed, press Alt-F2 to get the run-dialog, and enter accounts-dialog.

You will get up a little box with your current user listed. Click on the shield-icon to the bottom left to allow changes to details. Enter your root-password, and proceed to click Login Options.

Now you have a new box up. Click on the shield again, enter the root-password again, and select the user you want to automatically log in as under Automatic login.

That is pretty much it. Exit the program, reboot, and you should be able to log in automatically as the user you specified. :)

That is one method you can use. The other one is as follows.

First, a huge thanks to the user mjc for this great tip which allows you to enable auto-login as well!

Edit the file /etc/gdm/custom.conf to make it look something like:

Replacing jorge with the username you want to automatically log in as. When done, save and exit the file.

Now you have to remove the keyring password. Yes, that does mean that your keys and passwords will be unprotected.

To change/remove the keyring password:

  1. Open Passwords and Encryption Keys in Accessories
  2. Go to the Passwords-tab
  3. Right-click the Passwords:login-keyring and select Change Password.

Enter in your password in the top field and leave the new password fields (Password and Confirm password) empty to remove the keyring password. Click Change. Reboot your machine and you should log in automatically!

Thanks again mjc!

Ways to extend your battery life

There are several things you can do to extend the battery life on your Acer Aspire One.

  • Turn the screen brightness down – your screen is the most power-intensive component in your laptop, and why turn the brightness all the way up if you already can see well enough?
  • When not in use, turn of the wireless and bluetooth functions.
  • If you have enough memory on your laptop, disable swapping (we’ve done it in this case). I would suggest putting in more memory, as swapping writes to virtual memory.
  • Journaling-filesystem on a SSD-disk = baaad. More writing to disk means more power used. In this howto we’re using ext4 without journaling, but just wanted to remind you. :)
  • Disable all services that aren’t used. A lot of distributions come with say httpd enabled at start up. If you don’t need it, get rid of it.
  • When you’re in no need of sound – mute it!

Jason Farrel has these following tips to apply as well:

  • Use powertop to eliminate more power hogs.
  • If using mplayer to play video, and you see nasty horizontal tearing, it’s because the fast overlay isn’t being used by default. Edit ~/.mplayer/config and gui.conf to use vo=xv:port=XX where XX is the port returned from the xvinfo util for the overlay adaptor – this should be 79.
  • To cut the bootup time almost in half (down to 25 seconds here), disable uneeded services. Here’s a bit of code to disable the services (run it as root):

    for s in atd auditd avahi-daemon bluetooth cups ip6tables \ mdmonitor sendmail livesys livesys-late; \ do echo “chkconfig $s off”; chkconfig $s off; done

  • This one makes a big difference: don’t forget to disable Firefox’s disk cache or you’ll grind to death.

Thanks for the tips Jason (from the Fedora 10 post). :)

Now this next bit is VERY important, if you want your Acer Aspire One to perform as best as it can. Keep in mind that this applied to Fedora 11, and applies to Fedora 12 as well as Fedora 13:

I installed FC10 like you described. It works fine. I was a bit surprised the AAO appeared rather slow compared to my EEE 1000H. So I ran cat /proc/cpuinfo. It appeared the CPU ran at 800 Mhz. I first looked at the BIOS, but the CPU ran at 1600 Mhz over there. Then I looked at services and found cpuspeed running. This is for scaling the CPU speed. After disabling this service the cat /proc/cpuinfo reported 1600 Mhz CPU speed and the system runs much smoother (and most probably consumes more power!).

So start/stop the service:

Throw in a:

To disable the service at boot-time.

Thanks to Jaap (from the Fedora 10 post) for the tip. :)

Minor troubleshooting

Make the sound work properly

When checking the initial volume-settings, you’ll notice that you can hear a little bit of sound, but not much, even if you’ve cranked up the volume to the max. Thing is, we need to specify a little something, just a line really, to make it work properly. Create a file named /etc/modprobe.d/sound.conf with the following in it:

Thanks to Bruno Malone (from the Fedora 10 post) for the tip. :)

In my case, I’ve removed pulseaudio because I tend to play movies over NFS quite a bit, and pulseaudio always makes the sound turn choppy. So after having executed a:

I add a volume-icon on my taskbar by right-clicking on it, selecting Add New Items.. and adding the application Mixer.

Reboot, and your sound should be working perfectly fine, even after you’ve resumed from suspend. :)

Why is everything so big?

This is easily fixed. Press the tiny Fedora-icon on your menu, and go to Preferences, Appearance, go to the tab Fonts and click the Custom DPI Setting, and type 80. Done!

Double tap and scrolling doesn’t work on my Touchpad!

Quoting http://www.fedoraproject.org:

Beginning with Fedora 13, the X server uses udev instead of HAL for input device detection and xorg.conf InputClass configuration. Thus, any HAL-specific configuration is deprecated and users with custom configurations in fdi files need to change these configurations to conform to the new format.

This means that the HAL-configuration we used in Fedora 12 no longer applies for Fedora 13. Instead we have to create configuration-files in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/. Go to that directory, create a file named 01-system-setup-mouse.conf, and place the following in it:

Save the file, reboot, and the tapping should be working. :)

Making suspend work when closing the lid

It seems that XFCE 4.6 comes with a native Suspend and Hibernate function, so this should work out of the box! Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite. Suspend works great, but I haven’t had success with Hibernate, yet. And thanks to EasyTarget, who commented on this post, I finally know why. Quoting EasyTarget:

Jorge, I think the reason your Hibernate fails is that the Swap has been removed (for good reasons, I don’t have swap on my A110 either).. IIRC linux uses the swapfile for it’s hibernate functions, and not having a swapfile (or not having enough free space on the swap for your system ram+currently swapped data!) causes this to fail. Strangely this means you need a Huge swapfile to reliably hibernate your system.. I think it’s simply a no-go for SSD based systems at the moment. https://lists.linux-foundation.org/pipermail/linux-pm/2007-July/013971.html You might also be interested in.. http://wiki.debian.org/Hibernation/Hibernate_Without_Swap_Partition

Thanks for the information. :)

To enable suspend upon closing the lid, go to the XFCE-menu, Preferences -> XFCE 4 Power Manager -> On AC, and select Suspend on When the laptop lid is closed.

Other tips and tricks

Here are a few other minor tips and tricks.

Enabling the rpmfusion-repository

Easily done. su to root, and execute the following command:

And that’s it! Search for a package by executing:

Disabling yum-presto

The presto plugin for yum adds support for downloading deltarpms and using them to generate new packages. If user enables this plugin, it will make a substantial dent in the amount of data having to be downloaded for updates. In other words, normally if you need to upgrade a package, yum will remove the complete package, and download the complete new package, even if a lot of the content is just the same. By enabling yum-presto it will only download the difference between those packages, making it faster and goes easier on the bandwidth by up to 80%, in some cases. The downside to this is that the disk has to work a LOT, which means a lot of write operations, which again means that SSD is not the best thing to have. I personally disable the plugin, and would recommend you to do it as well if you have a good internet connection. Do it by executing the following command as root:

And you’re set.

Installing Flash

As always, we need Flash for our browser. Thing is though, there’s an Adobe-repository we can use. If someone is bound to release a new version of Flash first, it’s them. So do the following as root:

That’s it. Restart your browser, and you should now have Flash enabled.

Final words

Tada! That’s pretty much it. If you have any comments or suggestions to this post, feel free to post a comment, I’ll look it over! Good luck enjoying Fedora 13 with your Acer Aspire One!

And once again, we can’t end this post without a screenshot of Fedora 13, and my always-charming smile. ;)

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