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Acer eMacnines 250 is a small and cheap (230€, incl tax) netbook manufactured in 2009.
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|Name||Acer eMachines 250|
|Processor||Intel Atom N270|
|Screen||10.1 “ 1024×600 LCD-LED|
|Network||Ethernet: Atheros AR8132, WLAN: Broadcom BCM 4312 802.11b/g|
|Graphics||Yes||external monitor not tested|
|Ethernet||Yes||Just plug in and go!|
|Wireless||Yes||Requires restricted drivers|
|Card Reader||Yes||At least SD works|
|ExpressCard Slot||Not Tested|
Installing Linux on this device was tricky. It has no optical drive, so installation must be done using USB stick. (There is a ethernet bootup possibility, but this I could not test). Unfortunately, both networking interfaces require closed-source and rather restricted drivers. None of Debian Lenny, Squeeze nor Slackware 13 installers could enable eth0 nor wlan0 (status in March 2010).
The wlan chip is rather straight-forward to get into use, but requires internet access. For some (to me) incomprehensible reason, Broadcom does not allow distribution of their windows driver. Luckily at least in Ubuntu, there is a packet called b43-fwcutter, that downloads the driver from somewhere and cuts it up into Linux-usable parts. (Many thanks to the fellows who have taken the effort to do this!). But the catch is, you need to have access to an other machine to get the driver! Se instructions from kernel.org.
This is how I got it to work:
1) get Debian's USB install image and netboot images.
2) install the netbook image as instructed
3) when the installer warns about not being able to contact apt-repos just ignore and install the base system
4) on the other machine, install b43-fwcutter package, and allow it do fetch the driver.
5) copy files lp0bsinitvals15.fw, lp0initvals15.fw and ucode15.fw from /lib/firmware/b43 to a USB stick. Also download wireless-tools Debian packet to the USB
6) Install with dpkg -i the wireless-tools on the eMachine, and copy the three *.fw files into /lib/firmware/b43
7) run “ifconfig wlan0 up && dhclient && apt-get vim xorg fvwm” (or what ever your fancy is)
I will never ever buy a laptop with Broadcom chips in it again.
Now that Debian is fully installed, the eMachine does feel quite nice. What especially surprised me positively, is that many quick buttons (Fn+F?) seem to work “out of the box”. E.g. Fn+F7 toggles the touchpad on and off - works! Fn+F4 suspends the laptop - works! (and the device actually wakes up too ;) Screen brighness adjustment - works.
The notebook does feel quite warm at the bottom, but the fan speed control works. Most of the time the fan is really quiet, albeit it is still on all the time.
This laptop is only for the l33t. Newbies to Linux or those seeking a easy to install laptop, get some other model!