Debian (and Ubuntu, etc) Kernels for the Acer Aspire One

As I wrote about a couple days ago, I’m now the not-so-proud owner of an Aspire One, running Debian. (I love Debian; I kind of hate the Aspire One.) The current (January 2009) kernels distributed by Debian don’t quite support the full functionality of the Aspire One – one of the biggest issues is that the wifi won’t work. To remedy this, third parties have thoughtfully produced custom kernels for the AAO – the best-known are probably Sickboy’s and Baldrick’s. Both are stripped-down kernels semi-optimized for the hardware in the Aspire One, and both are a bit out-of-date at the moment – Sickboy has, and Baldrick offers and 2.6.30.rc5 .

I compiled a custom kernel for the AAO, based on Baldrick’s configuration, but with a few changes to suit my needs – and probably those of other AAO users, too.

In addition to the more modern kernel revision, I changed the kernel preemption model to “low-latency desktop”, a/k/a a “preemptible kernel”. It’s debatable whether this will make any real difference, but it can lead to reduced latency (or at least perceived latency) when running some applications, so I think it’s beneficial.

I enabled MTRR cleanup, as this seems to be a persistent BIOS issue with the AAO, and eliminates the need to pass a configuration option to the kernel at boot time.

I added in the “conservative” CPU frequency governor, which might be desirable in an AAO for some people, and enabled the default (“ondemand”) governor, as well.

I added support for writing to NTFS filesystems.

I enabled optimization for the Aspire One’s Atom processor.

I enabled the new Aspire-specific kernel options (i.e. thermal/fan control).

…and a couple other less notable changes.

If you’re comfortable installing a kernel on your AAO running Debian or a derivative (like Ubuntu), and understand the risks of doing so, you can grab a copy of my custom kernel at this link. Like all good things in life, it’s provided as-is without any warranty whatsoever. If it breaks, you get to keep both pieces.

Post comments, et cetera, below…

Published in: Geekiness | on January 5th, 2010| 5 Comments »

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  1. On 1/7/2010 at 12:13 pm R S Chakravarti Said:

    Why don’t you provide your .config file so that we can compile the kernel ourselves from the Debian source?

  2. On 1/7/2010 at 4:22 pm Nemo Said:

    RS: Now that I’ve upgraded to the kernel, I’ve done so; see the link above.

  3. On 1/20/2010 at 9:31 am melmoth Said:

    thank you for your work. I tried it but it doesn’t boot, it hangs at boot complaining about a missing /sbin/init and saying “no init found. Try passing init= bootarg”.
    The strange thing is the menu.lst seems pretty straightforward, the lines are identical to those (perfectly working) of the previous kernel…
    Any hint?

  4. On 1/20/2010 at 12:02 pm Nemo Said:

    Hmmn, I’m not sure. What’s your computer’s model? The error suggests the kernel can’t find the initrd image, but why this is, I can’t say from here. Were there any errors when you installed the kernel?

  5. On 1/21/2010 at 4:47 am melmoth Said:

    No, I got no problem installing it. I tried both the .3 and the .4 release.
    At first I thought it had something to do with the UUID entry in GRUB menu.lst, but even if I set root=/dev/sda1 it hangs…
    I’m trying to install on an Aspire One AOA150 (the one with the hard disk).