Ubuntu 11.04 - Installation on Acer Aspire One 722 (AO722)

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Acer Aspire One 722

This article explains the specific steps needed to fully configure an Acer Aspire One 722 to run under Ubuntu Natty 11.04.

It will allow you to specifically deal with :

  • Freeze when activating the wifi adapter
  • Problems with speakers and microphone configuration
  • AMD unsupported hardware watermark

A standard installation of Ubuntu Natty 11.04 desktop edition is a pre-requisite for this procedure.

This article is now deprecated.
It has been replaced by Ubuntu 12.04 - Installation on Acer Aspire One 722 (AO722)

1. Wifi adapter

Under Ubuntu Natty, the Aspire One 722 wifi adapter is fully supported, but presents a very annoying bug, specific to the AO722 hardware.

In fact, every time you try to connect to a wireless network, your netbook may freeze, the only option being a hard reset !

It seems that this bug comes from a conflict between the ethernet and the wireless adapter.

But the good news is that there is a very simple tip to avoid this bug : you need to setup a specific boot order, where the network boot is used first. With this setup, the ethernet adapter will be configured in a way that there won't be any conflict with the wifi adpater at the time of wireless network connexion.

To do so, reboot your netbook and enter the BIOS by typing F2 at boot time.

First, set the Network Boot as the first one in the boot priority order :

Network boot order

Next, be sure that Network Boot is enabled :

Network boot enable

Save and exit.

After reboot, the freeze problem should be part of the past …

2. Sound

When installing Natty from scratch, the speakers are working ok, but some of the specificities of the AO 722 sound management are not properly handled (internal and external microphone, headphones).

To enable a complete sound management, you need to be running kernel 2.6.38-12.
I've tested with previous kernels, including the default Natty kernel 2.6.38-8, and the sound management doesn't work properly, even following the procedure below.
At the time of this article, kernel 2.6.38-13 was not having the Alsa driver module, so it wasn't working either.
To be on the safe side, make sure you run kernel 2.6.38-12 ... it's trouble free !

2.1. Install 2.6.38-12 kernel

To check your kernel version, throw this command

# uname -r
2.6.38-12-generic

If you don't get the right kernel version, install the kernel packages

# sudo apt-get install linux-image-2.6.38-12-generic
# sudo apt-get install linux-headers-2.6.38-12-generic

Next, you have to check what is the 2.6.38-12 kernel index in the grub list.
Open /boot/grub/grub.cfg and count the index of the menuentry starting with menuentry 'Ubuntu, linux 2.6.38-1-generic' ...
Note that for grub, index starts with 0. So, for example, the third one is having an index of 2.

You now need to declare the default index in /etc/default/grub.

# sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

Modify as follow :

/etc/default/grub

...
GRUB_DEFAULT=2
...

Now, update the grub boot procedure to take that modification into account.

# sudo update-grub
# sudo reboot

You will now reboot and every boot will be using the kernel 2.6.38-12.

2.2. Install alsa sound drivers

You need to update to the latest ALSA drivers Hosted by the ALSA development project.

To do so, you will have to :

  • declare the project PPA
  • update the installed packages
  • install the ALSA driver module
  • install the standard PulseAudio volume controler

So, from command line :

# sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-audio-dev/ppa
# sudo apt-get update
# sudo apt-get install linux-alsa-driver-modules-$(uname -r)
# sudo apt-get install pavucontrol

Your sound management is now fully operationnal.

You can check that all the input & output interfaces are operationnal thru menu Applications / Sound & video / PulseAudio Volume control :

PulseAudio output sources   PulseAudio input sources

You can also check with Skype, you should now be able to place calls with audio & video support.

3. Remove Radeon HD6250 Watermark

When installing the ATI Catalyst proprietary drivers proposed by Ubuntu, you finally get a permanent watermark at the bottom right of the screen saying AMD Unsupported Hardware. It doesn't mean that the driver is not working, it just means that AO 722 Radeon card is not in the driver's reference list.

AMD unsupported harware watermark

As this watermark is a pain, you can either install the latest drivers from ATI site, or take a big jump and install the latest Open Source drivers which are now handling properly the ATI cards in 2D and 3D. I will explain this approach.

If you have installed the Ubuntu proprietary drivers, just uninstall them and reboot.

To get the latest open source 2D and 3D drivers, we need to declare the software source called xorg-edgers fresh X crack which provide a Mesa version 8.x. This is what we need, as from Mesa 7.11 onward, the ATI 3D Open Source drivers are well supported.

So, lets declare the PPA source :

# sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa
# sudo apt-get update
# sudo apt-get upgrade
# sudo apt-get install mesa-utils

After reboot, your Ubuntu workstation will be running the latest Open Source 3D drivers.

To check for an operationnal 3D support, just launch glxgears from a terminal. You should get something like that :

glxgears

4. Compiz Setup

You can check that Compiz is fully operationnal by installing compiz-configuration-manager with Synatptics.

It will allow you to configure Composite and OpenGL to get a complete 3D desktop.

4.1. Minimal Setup

To get a working 3D desktop environment, select the following main options as a minimum setup (you can obviously add some ...) :

 

Compiz general settings

Compiz Effects settings

Compiz Windows settings

Compiz Extras settings

4.2. Performance Boost

To boost your 3D performances, you also need to tweak some Composite & OpenGL settings :

  • In Composite settings, disable Detect Refresh Rate
  • In OpenGL settings, disable sync to Vblank
  • In OpenGL settings, set Texture Filter to Fast

 

Compiz Composite settings

Compiz OpenGL settings

 

5. Configure Double Display

Now that the lastest display drivers are installed, you can if needed configure a double screen display.

By default, the Ubuntu main screen (with the menu) will be the laptop one.

In case you want the VGA or HDMI monitor to be considered as the main one, you need to modify your home/.config/monitors.xml file to declare the monitor as primary :

home/.config/monitors.xml

<monitors version="1">
   <configuration>
      <clone>no</clone>
      <output name="LVDS">
          <vendor>AUO</vendor>
          ...
          <primary>no</primary>
      </output>
      <output name="HDMI-0">
      </output>
      <output name="VGA-0">
          ...
          <primary>yes</primary>
      </output>
  </configuration>
</monitors>

You need to reboot for that parameters to be taken into account.

6. DIsable LibreOffice Hardware Acceleration

By default, latest versions of OpenOffice Presentation is using Hardware Acceleration to display slideshows.

This configuration gives trouble when displaying a slideshow, as the Radeon graphic card bypasses the OS and writes directly to the screen.

With this default setup, when starting a slideshow, you will see either nothing, or a white screen, or a black screen !

To correct the problem, you just need to disable Use hardware acceleration in the Display section of the Tools / Options menu :

 

OpenOffice disable hardware acceleration

 

You should now be in front of a fully functional Acer Aspire One 722 powered by Ubuntu Natty 11.04 !

It was worth a 40€ Windows 7 licence refund, wasn't it ?

Hope it helps.

This article is published "as is", without any warranty that it will work for your specific need.
If you think this article needs some complement, or simply if you think it saved you lots of time & trouble,
just let me know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Cheers !

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