Transoceanic flights can be boring, even with an iPad to watch movies and play Angry Birds. In my last trip to Boston for a meeting at Canonical's offices, I missed a lot a small computer to play with in the airplane. The 15 inches of the MacBook Pro are good to be productive, but not suitable for the small airline seat. I own a somewhat outdated 9" Acer Aspire One, one of the first netbooks to be released. Unfortunately, it was not working properly.
I bought this Aspire One AOA110 near three years ago. I used it primarly as a portable computer and at hme as the device of choice to surf and read documentation (then, it came the iPad). Some months ago I upgraded the aging operating system, the rpm-based Linux distro called Linpus with Ubuntu Lucid. However, I discovered an issue with the battery: it won't work. The netbook could only be used with with the power cord. I thought it was a hopeless case.
However, it seems that Aspire One battery issue is a common and known problem, which only requires a BIOS update. Acer provides the firmware update in its site, but the programs to execute are for DOS/Windows. Here are the instructions to upgrade it using Linux:
- Download an up-to-date BIOS firmware.
- Uncompress the downloaded ZIP file.
- Download an ISO image of FreeDOS, an open source version of MS-DOS. I recommend this FreeDOS 1.1 image.
- Burn the ISO image to a USB key (beware to backup the USB key contents, burning hte ISO image will delete its contents). I used "dmesg" to find the USB key device (/dev/sdb) and then typed the command below (again, be careful to identify the correct /dev/ or you can destroy your data).
$ sudo dd if=FreeDOS-1.1-USB-Boot.img of=/dev/sdb
- Unplug and plug again the USB key, now it will be mounted.
- Reboot and you're done.
This way, I rescued the netbook. Of course, it feels slow compared to more recent computers, but its days may not be over yet :)