Extending the Life of an Acer Aspire One Netbook

My parents gave me an Acer Aspire One netbook over five years ago, and it was a nifty little machine for taking notes in graduate school before the ascendance of ubiquitous touchscreen tablets. I still use it as a quick terminal machine when I’m feeling masochistic, and here’s how I’ve extended the shelf life on some rather humble hardware.

  • Install Ubuntu

The netbook originally shipped with Windows XP, but there is that old joke that rings true, especially when I got the computer in 2009, “How do you get better performance out of Windows? Install Linux.” I used a Trusty Tahr iso on a USB drive to wipe out Windows and install Ubuntu.

  • Boot into text mode

More often than not, I was using the Linux terminal on the netbook. Instead of having to wait for the Unity desktop environment to load every time, I followed this guide to change around the grub.conf file and boot directly into text-only mode. If I need to use a web browser or e-mail client, I can fire up Unity with the command sudo service lightdm start . When I need to switch back to text mode, I can use Ctrl+Alt and a function key to switch between virtual consoles.

  • Make an alias to check on battery life

For my last step, I wanted to know how much battery life I had remaining, since terminals typically don’t have an indicator for that. I used the guidance from this AskUbuntu answer to make a quick battery command to tell me what I want to know.

First, I used upower -e to find out what my battery address was.

Looks like it’s that BAT1 line. upower -i gives the following results:

That doesn’t fit too well on an 8.9 inch screen. With a little grep filtration, we can get the most pertinent information.

Finally, I made an alias to make that long, piped command into the simple word “battery”.

I appended the command to the .bash_aliases file, then made sure the .bashrc file loaded up the alias. Not a bad way to keep an old computer running.