A new Linux box: a set of ironies

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a second new desktop system, returning the Mac Mini (and eating the $60 restocking fee). The Acer Aspire L310 advertized at CompUSA — $310 after rebate — has a larger hard drive, shares with the Mac a built-in wireless network, is very quiet, has a card reader and a total of six USB ports of which two are the front with the firewire, headphone and mic ports. And still the size of a hardback.

The old machine is good enough to work on, but its year-end failure kept me looking for a replacement and one that took up little space and used less power. I would fill it with Ubuntu Linux goodness. You know me.

Old machine on the left; new on the desk, on the right

The Acer does use half the power of the old HP. But even Google gave me little information about it, and is ostensibly not ever sold in the US! Is it, I wonder, European stock shipped to more permissive countries following the EU “Restriction of Hazardous Substances” (RoHS) directive from last summer? (The power source is distinct and the mouse was marked RoHS approved.) Non-RoHS cell phones are coming this way; wouldn’t it be ironic if my green goal got me an un-green machine. I’ll have to research it.

But this little desktop is essentially a laptop — the others the Acer Aspire series are laptops; the chipsets are common to laptops — without the monitor or internal battery. And Linux has a hard time with some laptop hardware. To make a long story short, I’ve had to give up Ubuntu Linux for another distribution that would give me any Ethernet access at all. So I’m using Fedora Core 6, the successor to Red Hat Linux. It may be even easier than Ubuntu — Fedora Friend automates adding tidbits which, for a number of reasons (some legal) are not included in the default installation — and now I don’t know which way I’ll go when both Ubuntu and Fedora update in April!

4 Replies to “A new Linux box: a set of ironies”

  1. What a great post. I cut my Linux-teeth on Fedora Core 3 almost two years ago. I have also used FC4 and FC5. I installed FC6 too but I don’t use it much. I switched over to PCLinuxOS last summer. I like it a lot. I still have FC5 on a computer at a separate location. It recently suffered a turf battle (after an update) between SE Linux and RiserFS. If I had know that Fedora had stopped supporting RiserFS, I would have put on XFS. The machine is hobbled right now, no Nvidia driver since I had to revert to the original Kernel to get to even boot. I’m a little annoyed right now with Fedora. But in spite of that I think it’s a great distro. I got spoiled by there snappy updates to the Kernel. I thought all distros used the latest Kernels, silly me.

    Anyway, I have FC6 on another drive on this computer and I’m going to give Fedora Friend a try. If all goes well I’ll have another distro to offer when someone asks me “hey, aren’t you the guy that fixes slow, virus ridden computers”, I am indeed.

  2. Acer is a “cheap brand” in Europe, I do not know where their headquarters are. Their laptops and PDAs are usually half the price of other, more prestigious brands. That does not mean that they are necessarily bad equipments, though. Either their warranty or support is lacking, or parts are cheaper (coming from somewhere in China probably).

  3. Taiwan, the Republic of China. They’re low-end here, too, but I have rather discrete needs and it met them. I should have mentioned that this was marketed as a “media center” — its disc drive also reads and writes DVDs — giving it the cleaner “ready for the living room” look I wanted.

    Had I not found this machine — which I should say I don’t think I would buy again — there are small form factor HPs that cost more, are a bit larger but are expandable. Also, Acer USA’s customer service stinks. I’ll keep the big HP tower in a closet against the time the Acer falls apart and I need the old computer as the backup!

  4. I just found that you can get this desktop in Thailand and (it seems) Taiwan with Linux, using Linpus (what an awful name in English), a commercial Chinese (traditional and simplified) Linux distro based on . . . Fedora. Uses the KDE, fyi. I’ve got KDE and GNOME desktop environment installed, and will add XFCE later. No DE partisanship here!


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