I recently purchased an Acer Aspire 5100-5840 that had Windows Vista Premium preinstalled. I was planning on buying a Linux laptop, but I found a deal on this Acer so I decided I may as well keep Windows Vista for any Windows only capabilities I may need in the future. I decided that although I use Debian on my desktop PC, I would try installing the 64bit version of Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn along side of Windows Vista.
The Acer Aspire 5100-5840 comes with an AMD Turion 64 x2 dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a 160GB 5400rpm hard drive, a DVD burner, an integrated Atheros AR5007EG 802.11b/g wireless network adapter, and an ATI Radeon Xpress 1100 integrated graphics card that pulls 256MB of RAM from system memory.
The hard drive was partitioned into 3 partitions: a hidden Acer restore partition that takes about 9GB of space, a Windows Vista partition (C:\) that takes up about 70GB, and an empty 70GB NTFS partition (D:\). I originally planned on installing Ubuntu on the empty D:\ partition, but with Windows Vista taking up around 20GB of space, I figured that I should probably set more aside for it as Linux would be happy in a much smaller amount of space.
I used the Windows Vista Disk Management tool to delete the empty D:\ partition. I then expanded the Windows Vista partition to 100GB. I was amazed at how fast this happened, I didn’t even have time to cross my fingers! I then rebooted into the Ubuntu LiveCD and everything seemed to be working so far, with the exception of my wireless network card, but I figured it just needed to be configured. I launched GParted from the Ubuntu LiveCD and created a 40GB ext3 partition and a 512MB Linux swap partition. I started to panic when I saw the Acer restore partition and the Windows Vista partition pop up in Nautilus, but I quickly figured out it was just opening them automatically because GParted mounted the drive.
I then launched the Ubuntu installer and accepted the defaults except for the time zone and drive partitioning. I set up my mount points for Ubuntu and told the installer not to use the Acer restore partition and to mount the Windows Vista partition as /windows. The installation process went quickly, I think the whole thing took about 30 minutes, and then I rebooted.
I was relieved when I saw that GRUB had correctly detected the Windows Vista partition. I also noticed it had detected a partition that it labeled as Windows 2000/XP, which must be the Acer restore partition. I tested the Vista partition quickly just to ensure that everything was still working (which it was), and then I booted into Ubuntu. The first thing I noticed was the Restricted Drivers Manager telling me that it had set up drivers for my Atheros wireless network card. I then clicked the checkbox for the ATI proprietary drivers and it told me it could not download the packages from the Internet. I tried everything I could think of to get Ubuntu to bring up the Atheros wireless adapter, but nothing I tried worked. I plugged in a network cable and looked online for instructions on how to make it work, but I was unable to find anything. Apparently the Madwifi drivers have not caught up with the new Atheros hardware yet.
I then tried to install the ATI drivers again and it worked fine. I then ran Synaptic and installed updates and a few programs. I was going to install a kernel that supported SMP for my dual-core processor, but I could not find one. Apparently, Ubuntu has a generic kernel that automatically detects the type of processor you have. I checked in the Gnome Process Manager and it listed two CPUs. I think it was very smart on the part of Ubuntu to do this as it will help people new to Linux get the most performance out of their computers. I also installed GSynaptics so I could turn off the tap-to-click feature on my touchpad. GSynaptics said that it could not start because the
I also checked the system logs and found I kept getting an error that said
All in all, I am very impressed at how little work I had to do to configure Ubuntu to get it to work on my laptop. I think their generic kernel and Restricted Drivers Manager will help new Linux users feel at home. I hope to see many more improvements from the Ubuntu team in the future, so keep up the good work!
P.S. If I manage to get my wireless adapter working, I will update this post.
Update: Wireless now working
I found this article, which is a cut and paste the commands tutorial, which did work for me using the new version of MadWifi under Ubuntu 8.04 64-bit. Atheros is the company that made the AR5007 and they released part of the source code to MadWifi so it will work without any Windows drivers. If you did install ndiswrapper to try to use the Windows drivers, be sure to follow the directions that are in the middle, which will remove the ndiswrapper utility and remove the MadWifi Atheros AR5007 drivers from the blacklist.