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Acer Aspire OS Alternatives

Last Update 28 July 2017

This page will be used to collect requirements and rate alternative operating systems for an Acer Aspire One Netbook (532h).  Basically an evaluation checklist tailored to my world, but may be useful to others.  Long/Slow/Low Priority project...

Summary (notes/observations below the test table)

Older Tests

Latest Tests


 Ratings:  A=Perfect (out of box), F=Total Fail  
 Puppy (Slacko) Kali  Knoppix  Parrot
Fix Major Annoyances   Aborted  

 
 In
Process
 Fast user switching  F! A n/a
 see
notes
 A
 no 
test
 
 Personalization1
 B A B  A  A  A  A
 Autorun Portable Devices
 C A  C  A A  C  C
 Upgrade $$$!                  
 $0 $0  $0  $0  $0  $0  $0
 General Simplicity3             C  B  C  B  C  C  B
Our World   
 
         
 Home Network Participant  A  B  B
see
notes
 A  A  A
 Music Library Participant   
 A    C  n/a  F  D  n/a
 Home Applications  A  D  D  n/a  n/a  B  n/a
Software               
 Apps/Add-ons Availability   A  D  C  D  C  A  
 Ongoing Evolution/Support    A  C  B  B  B  B  new
Hardware
(532h-2588)

             
 Touch pad
(2-finger scroll)
 A  C  A  A  B  C  A
 Webcam  A  C  A  A  n/a  A  A4
 Card Reader
     F  A  A  A  A
 Audio Input (mic)  B    D   F  C  A
 Audio Output   B  A  C  A F  C  A
 External Monitor
   A  F  A  A  F  A
 WiFi  C  B  A  A  A  B  A
 Ethernet  B  A  A  A  A  A  A
 Power Management
 B  C  B  A  A  B  A
 Keyboard/Function Keys
 A  B  C  B  C  C  C
 USB Slots  A  A  A  A  A  A  A
 Misc              
 Version Tested  
 5 32-bit
KDE
 6.3.2

 14.04.5.1
(64-bit)
 2016.2
(32-bit)
 v7.71
 3.4.1
(32-bit)
1 Change Wallpaper, Screensaver, Visual Style, etc - Where Win 7 Starter totally fails
2 VERY Clumsy with wifi, mapped drives, network printers, and non-windows peers
Intuitiveness, e.g. Finding/installing drivers/software, locating files, Security & Maintenance reboots ......
4 Installed Cheese and/or Google voice/video to test

Latest Test Notes:

  • Win 10 - Works pretty well - STILL TWEAKING, but IS USABLE especially after adding memory*
    • Pretty tight on memory, Still working on making more avail for apps
    • Chrome is a PIG - pretty much un-usable!  Probably due to memory 
    • Initial Performance tweaks:
      • Turned off Animations - sysdm.cpl/performance/visual effects;  Adjust for best performance
      • Attempting to Shut up Cortana - Settings/Privacy/Speech, Inking & Typing: click "Stop getting to know me!"  BUT She is still running ... more to come

  • Elementary OS - Playing with on desktop, decided to give it a boot on the AAO.  Failed - never got past splash 

  • Mageia 5 - Always liked Mandrake, came up great - testing/tinkering in process
    • Testing cut short, Aborted - never did figure out USB persistence - lost interest and patience 
    • Touch pad worked out of box with right/bottom scroll areas, but no real tweaks that I could see (e.g. 2finger scrolling is a fav) 
    • WiFi worked out of box - little different configuration
    • Power Management seemed to work fine, even suspend/resume, but noted some odd auto brightness adjustments while running on battery
    • Little slow/sluggish running off of USB stick
    • Didn't test mic or camera

  • Puppy Slacko - Nice!  Fast!
    • Different:  Not really Multi-User, session can be saved/restored - so no 'Fast User Switching"
    • Win Workgroups and Linux Network shares came right up
    • Lots of stuff installed/buit-in - a tad cluttered on AAO display ... BUT many nice facilities, including a tool to remove built-in packages!   
    • Used pAVrecord to test webcam
    • Did not get audio input working, but pretty sure I could if I tinkered with ALSA, inbuilt sound could probably use a tweak or two - sounded like crap
    • Persistence is a gimme!  You setup persistence and save config during first shutdown/restart - Nice!

  • Security Onion - Originally to simplify Snort inst/setup
    • Based on ubuntu 14.04 64-bit
    • 14.04 Release Notes:  Little disappointed, no Live Boot option, no Snorby
    • No Live Boot:  Couldn't find/figure out LiveCD, ended up doing an install to a 32g USB flash drive.  3 partitions - 8g ext4 for /, 4g swap and 20g ext4 for me (home).  so far so good
    • Based on Ubuntu 14.04 ... works a lot better than 13.04 (abort!), but still quirky.  
    • Mouse Pointer disappears - probably this bug - its annoying, always happens after sleep/wake sequence
      My lame work-around:  
      • Bring up app menu by moving imaginary mouse pointer to upper left
      • Type some stuff in search box of programs menu while moving mouse
      • Mouse pointer eventually reappears (Yeeeesh!)
    • Misc Notes
      • System appears to be nicely locked-down from firewall (iptables) perspective, did not fiddle to test home network.  Even struggled with ssh to access system!
      • Personalization, user switching, etc handled by outer Ubuntu 14.04, features seemed to be intact
    • Not what I was looking for.  I wanted a simple way to spin-up a portable IDS and plug into our home network to watch over things (IoT world in particular).  Looking forward to *not* installing/configuring snort/snorby, but seeing how they work.  Snorby was no longer avail on SO 14.04

  • Kali 2016.2 32-bit on 32g Flash Drive.  I needed more space for logs, capture files and such
    • No audio devices, a few fcn keys work, but appears to be solid
    • Config steps and links so I don't have to find them next time!
      • Live, Persistent Kali USB drive @ kali.org/prst
      • Tweaking in process
        • AAO Trackpad - turn on Tap to Click, but still a bit touchy/odd
        • service ssh start (as needed)
      • snort/snorby - I punted, not using snort/snorby under kali - it was a pain to install/configure
        • Kali is now my road warrior boot - for external scans and such away from home
        • NST used as probe, IDS, monitor, etc when AAO is on home network

  • KNOPPIX 7.7 - install to flash disk to get reusable environment, I didn't bother
    • It talks when it boots!
    • LOTS of applications, very nice UI and pretty snappy on AAO 
    • Almost too much included with the distro - you have to sift through applications and menus
    • Audio did not work out of the box - record or playback.  Fiddled a little with kmixer, probably OK
    • Touchpad worked, but never found the tweaks I use for 2 finger scrolling and tapping
    • Some function keys appeared to work - Mute, Brightness and monitor on/off
    • Networking worked out of the box. One slight hiccup with WiFi required reboot

  • Network Security Toolkit (NST) - My AAO has been running NST a lot - quite useful as a probe
    • Successfully updated to 24:SVN 7977 64-Bit - lots of nice tools
    • "Installed" to a 32g memory stick this time - instead of live boot w/ persistence
    • Notes to self (stuff I struggle with each time I upgrade this one)
    • Runs great on AAO - lots of tools

  • Parrot 3.4.1 - Security Oriented, very interesting
    • Followed Parrot Live Install Procedure to create Live USB.  Booted fine on AAO
    • Lots of Security Tools!  Well organized.
    • Mate bottom panel gets in the way of dialogs periodically - set to autohide on AAO 
    • Looks REALLY good - Playing with persistence so I can put some more miles on it
      • Ended up moving to 16g USB Stick w/ persistence.  Some tools require space to install/use
      • Quite possibly a replacement for my Kali portable security toolkit

  • Windows 10 Creator (v1703)

2013-2015 Tests


 Ratings:  A=Perfect (out of box), F=Total Fail   
 Win 7
Starter

 Linux
Mint

(Mate)
kubuntu
Linux
Fedora
(hints)
Xubuntu
Linux
BackTrack
Linux
 NST
(Fedora)
Fix Major Annoyances
           
 Fast user switching F

A  C
A  A  A
 Personalization1
D


 C
A  A  B
 Autorun Portable Devices
F
A  C
A  A  A
 Upgrade $$$!                  
 $80! $0 $0   $0  $0  $0  $0 $0 
 General Simplicity3            D
 B  D  C B B  B
Our World    
               
 Home Network Participant  D2  A 
D
 F D B A  A
 Music Library Participant   
 A C
C  D
 n/a  n/a  D
 Home Applications4  A B
B  B B  n/a  n/a  n/a
Software                 
 Apps/Add-ons Availability   C A  A A A  C D  A
 Ongoing Evolution/Support    C A
 A A A  Whoops! C  C
Hardware 
(532h-2588)

               
 Touch pad 
(2-finger scroll) 
 B A  A  A A  A A  A
 Webcam  B  B4   B4  A  B4  n/a A  B4
 Card Reader
 C A  F  F F  A A  A
 Audio Input (mic)  B  C  B  B B  n/a F  B
 Audio Output   C  A  A  A A A A  A
 External Monitor
 A  A  A  D   B A  A
 WiFi  C  A  A C2 A B A  A
 Ethernet  B  A  A A   A A  A
 Power Management 
 B  B  B  B   B C  B
 Keyboard/Function Keys
 A  C  C  C   C A  A
 USB Slots  A  A  A  A   A A  A
 Misc                
 Version Tested    15  13.04  18  13.10 BT 5 RC3, KDE
 1.09a  22 SVN
:7334
Change Wallpaper, Screensaver, Visual Style, etc - Where Win 7 Starter totally fails
2 VERY Clumsy with wifi, mapped drives, network printers, and non-windows peers 
3  Intuitiveness, e.g. Finding/installing drivers/software, locating files, Security & Maintenance reboots ......
4 Installed Cheese and/or Google voice/video to test

2013-2015 Test Notes:

  • All tested via Live USB boot with 2g of persistence when possible
  • Mint - Worked very well.  Fast, easy to work with.  AAO hardware worked right out of the box with the exception of the mic, which required fiddling to get working - used this post http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1379587.  Connected nicely to mac world, windoze network and network printer (Dell M5200).  Mate is snappy and easy to use.
  • Ubuntu was rough - did not run well at all.  Slow, periodically unresponsive, not worth continued effort.  Aborted.  
  • kubunu - a little disappointing, KDE Plasma Desktop is cool.  A lot of good old Linux monkeying around to achieve network participation.  Never did get SD card reader working.  Live USB boot seemed slower and more cumbersome than Mint.  Periods of slugishness/unresponsiveness.
  • Fedora - Some probs switching between wifi networks - would not release network connection dialog box, had to reboot.  Lots of fiddling to participate in home (windows & mac) network.  External monitor was flaky, appeared to be related to differences in resolution/aspect.
  • BackTrack - Specialty distro (security tools) but a VERY pleasant surprise, it runs great on AAO 532h.  Tested KDE (plasma) window manager, but didn't mess around testing hardware or features that wouldn't be used for security scans, audits and such ("n/a" in table above).  Odd/sporadic issues adding software via kPackage. 
  • Xubuntu - Attempt #2, little rough, tinkering required.  Takes dumps on startup (ubuntu internal error and keyboard input method), connecting to smb network did not work out of the box.  Some AAO hardware seems to be working., Doesn't seem as fast as Mint ... Maybe more to come 
  • Kali -  Attempt #2. Live/USB is pretty painless/easy - http://docs.kali.org/installation/kali-linux-live-usb-install.  Some fiddling to get persistence http://docs.kali.org/installation/kali-linux-live-usb-persistence.  Internal mic didn't seem to work (very quick test), internal/external audio seemed fine via smoking monkey youtube test.   USB, cardreader, external monitor and trackpad worked with no putzing.  Kali tools don't seem to be as fully baked as BT - but could just be learning curve. 
  • Kali 2.0 - Somewhat of a forced update due to 1.0 EOL and repository purge.  Had a heck of a time going back to 1.1 with persistence for some reason.  I'd recommend sticking with Kali 1.x on the Aspire for the time being and using archive mirror for time being ("deb http://old.kali.org/kali moto main non-free contrib" in /etc/apt/sources.list)
  • NST 22 - Looks REALLY good!  Still some testing to do, but the toolkit (and fedora) seems to function well on AAO!
    • 11/11 - Didn't make it through the night - looks to be hung, power management?
    • 11/19 - More testing with new USB stick (w/ 1g of persistence).  Will switch to NST until Kali 2.0 has a few more miles on it.
      • Card reader works fine, I initially used a bad adapter
      • Little burp at Startup - bluman takes a dump when you initially boot (probably due to no bluetooth)
      • Power Management seems fine, no hangs, features seem to work
      • Built-in Audio seems fine - input levels seem to change when testing mic, output tested fine
      • Did some putzing with Exile media player - did not work out of the box
      • Fedora Live USB Creator is a little flaky.  After adding persistence it fails with "vesamenu.c32:  not COM32R image" during boot.  Workaround for now:  Tab Key, then enter 'gdm' to bring up mate
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