Acer Aspire One

Last week I bit the bullet and bought a ‘toy’ I’ve been looking at for a while, the Acer Aspire One (AA1), and so far I’ve had few regrets.

Whilst being small and, more importantly to me, light the screen size is still large enough to work with (including using multiple windows at once) and the keyboard is large enough that it did not take long to get up to full speed. Only real problem with the keyboard is something I’ve seen on full-size laptop keyboards, the home/end keys require a two key combination with the Fn key. Not a deal breaker, but I naturally use end and home keys so it is taking some getting used to.

Before getting the AA1, I’d heard several complaints about the touchpad mouse layout. Make no mistake, having the mouse buttons to the side, rather than beneath the touchpad is a major pain. If the AA1 was designed to replace a desktop or notebook this would be a problem, but I mostly stick to command line and use a mini USB mouse when at my desk so this hasn’t disgruntled me too much.

The linux operating system shipped with the AA1boots ridiculously quickly (partly due to the solid state hard drive my model is equipped with), whilst I’ve not taking a stopwatch to the boot process I don’t feel concerned quoting a 10-20sec boot time. Easily fast enough for me not to worry about if I’ve got time to boot and carry out whatever I intend. Usability wise, the OS clearly targets those with no Linux experience, as the internals are hidden as much as possible. Luckily for those wanting to play under the hood it’s a simple matter of running Terminal through a Ctrl+F2 prompt.

I’ve spent most of my Linux time with Debian, so only have limited knowledge of the yum package framework, but a bit of experimentation found that it is (on the service at least) similar to the apt package system so familiarity hasn’t been an issue.

From a security standpoint, I was pleased to find that my standard USB drive (currently BackTrack3 w/Helix)worked out of the box, mostly without issue. I needed to follow the instructions in this forum and download the referenced display driver package to enable Backtrack’s GUI. Playing with the rest of my equipment I’ve also found that my recent wireless purchases work without issue as well (which has resulted in some interesting results from warwalking…)

It’s still early days, but so far I’m delighted with the purchase. For my purpose, backup machine for security research and incident handling, the AA1 is perfect but I’ve also had discussions with people since owning the machine who’ve informed me that it works equally well for young children or elderly parents. A great multi-purpose tool for any generation.
Andrew Waite

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