Setting up CrunchBang Linux on an Acer Aspire One with SSD

by Peter Jaric

I have had an Acer Aspire One netbook (AA1) for a while and recently I decided to throw out the bundled Linpus OS and install a more flexible Linux. Linpus has served me quite well, but it has some shortcomings that many other popular distributions do not share.

After some research I decided to try CrunchBang Linux, a Ubuntu based distro that has good reviews over at the Aspire One User forum. Correctly, I must say. It is running on my AA1 and it is so much better than Linpus was.

There is an installation guide for CrunchBang on the AA1 that I followed, but it’s for the hard drive version and I have an AA1 with a SSD which requires special consideration. I made a number of other changes too, and I thought I should share them. So this is my brief instruction on setting up CrunchBang on the AA1:

Instructions

  1. Follow the installation guide and be sure to use ext2 for the file system (thanks exwannabe). This requires manual partitioning (do not select guided partioning). Remember to create a swap partition if you have less than 1.5 GB memory (I’ve read that with 1.5 GB RAM it is possible to do without a swap partition, but don’t take my word for it).
  2. As mentioned at the end of the installation guide, follow the instructions to reduce wear and increase performance.
  3. The default logout dialog do not include suspend and hibernate options. This can easily be added with a package with a modified logout script.
  4. To make the AA1 suspend when the lid is closed, press Super-Space (hold the Home button and press space), select “Preferences->Screensaver & Power Management”, click “Power Management” and select “Suspend” in the drop down to the right of “When laptop lid is closed” in the tabs “On AC Power” and “On Battery Power”. Now is a good time to configure the other power options to your taste.
  5. The default fonts are a little big. To make them smaller, follow these instructions:
    1. For widget fonts (menu labels, button labes, etc), press Super-Space, select “Preferences->User Interface Settings” and choose a smaller font by pressing the “Font” button. I selected “Sans 6″.
    2. For window manager fonts, press Super-Space, select “Preferences->Openbox Config->GUI Config Tool”, Select the “Appearance” tab and configure your fonts by clicking the font buttons. I selected “Sans 6″ for all fonts here also.
    3. For the terminator (the terminal program in CrunchBang), open $HOME/.config/terminator/config in your favorite text editor (I use emacs) and change the font size. Here I use “Mono 7″.
  6. One thing I liked with Linpus was an XFCE feature that let me maximize my windows totally with no decorations (like the window title area) by pressing Alt+F11. To add this feature to CrunchBang, open $HOME/.config/openbox/rc.xml and add this entry after the one with A-F3:
        
          
          
        
    

    This will not make the maximized windows cover the panel at the bottom of the screen. It is possible to make the maximized window use this area, but since I haven’t found out a way to disable the panel always being on top, there is no point in that.

    Another small problem with this key binding is that since it works by toggling the two states, a window which is maximized but decorated, will be unmaximized and undecorated by pressing Alt-F11. The solution here is to unmaximize it first and then press Alt-F11. A little clumsy, but it doesn’t happen all that often.

Surprise

I think that the default color scheme of CrunchBang looks very cool, but since I prefer black on white over white on black for everyday work, I changed the window manager theme to a light one. Later I was surprised to see that synaptic still used the default theme. It wasn’t until I ran another program with sudo that I understood. It seems like root uses this theme too and since I always run synaptic sudoed root’s theme is used.

Remaining issues

There is some stuff that I haven’t fixed yet:

  1. I get no on screen indication when I adjust the volume or mute it with the Fn-keys. Similarily I get no indication when I toggle the wifi switch. When changing the screen brightness I get an indication sometimes but not always.
  2. The wifi led is totally dead but I think there are guides for making it work.
  3. When resuming the AA1 after suspending it I get a password prompt. This feels almost totally useless since I use auto-login when starting the computer anyway. I haven’t found a setting to disable the password prompt yet.
  4. There are probably other programs that have their own font settings. But that’s mostly a question of configuring as the need arises.

Good luck!