Notes on Fedora 25 Gnome 3 on the Acer Aspire ES 11

For users who require a Linux notebook to supplement their Linux or FreeBSD network, they can opt for the affordable Acer Aspire ES 11. Although the hardware on the Acer ES 11 (ES1-132-C685) is modest in comparison to ultraportables, the system can handle modern Linux distributions and most network tasks thanks to an Ethernet port and the Wireless AC chipset.

The dimensions are larger than a netbook and comparable to the Macbook and Surface Pro 4. The ES 11, thanks to Intel's more recent processors, is actually thinner than the Toshiba NB520, despite coming with an HDMI and Ethernet port. More importantly, the 2 GB DDR3L embedded RAM can be expanded up to 8 GB.

Note: For additional details regarding installing Linux distributions on the Acer ES1-132-C685, refer to The Acer ES1-132, Linux, UEFI, and Secure Boot. 

This quick overview of Fedora 25 Gnome 3 involves the Acer ES1-132 with 6 GB of DDR3L RAM. The hardware specifications of the Acer ES ES1-132 is as follows:

  • Intel Celeron N3450
  • Intel HD 500
  • Intel Wireless 802.11AC 3168 with Bluetooth
  • 2GB DDR3L embedded (added 4 GB DDR3L Kingmax memory module)
  • 1366 x 768 display
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Embedded Lithium Ion battery
  • SD card slot
  • 1 USB 3.0 / 2 USB 2.0 ports
Fedora 25 with Gnome 3 supported all hardware, including Wi-Fi, audio, and Bluetooth during installation.

The following observations were noted:

1. Boot up with Fedora 25 Gnome 3 is pretty slow with the hardware (which is arguably due to UEFI or Secure Boot). However, Gnome 3 is surprisingly usable even if you didn't upgrade the 2 GB of RAM. As expected, multimedia and desktop tasks function much better with 6 GB or excess of 8 GB of RAM.

2. Shutdown is respectable, though you have to take note of any peripherals connected to the ES 11. Shutdown is, however, surprisingly slower on Fedora 25 on the Acer ES 11 than Fedora on a Zotac ZBOX Nano running similar hardware.

3. Fedora 25 loads the iwlwifi kernel module (Intel Wireless kernel driver) driver and Wi-Fi works even while running the LiveCD and during installation. The Gigabit Ethernet port also worked as designed.

Note: Surprisingly, Ubuntu 14.04 and Debian 8 Jessie didn't have access to Wi-Fi networking during installation or while running LiveCDs. Post-installation steps are required for setting up Wi-Fi for those two distributions.

4. With 6 GB of DDR3L RAM, Gnome 3 is responsive and works well on the 11" screen. Unlike Linux installations on smaller netbooks such as the Toshiba NB520, there are no usability issues regarding windows not fitting or screens not maximizing properly.

5. Secure Boot can be left enabled in the Setup Utility for Fedora 25.

Note: For additional details regarding installing Linux distributions on the Acer ES1-132-C685, refer to The Acer ES1-132, Linux, UEFI, and Secure Boot.

6. Fedora 25 with VLC or MPlayer can handle HD videos without any issues (a problem present with Linux on the older Toshiba NB520). Backing up DVDs using Brasero is also marginally faster than machines running Intel Atom processors.

7. The SD card reader is supported without further configuration.

8. The FN key for Wi-Fi isn't supported on Fedora 25 Gnome 3 out of the box, but brightness and audio FN keys work. If the function is necessary, configuration can be modified as instructed in the Fedora forums for Acer laptop. As an alternative, use rfkill or Gnome Network Manager instead.

9. Acer designed the ES-11 to trigger a beep whenever the power connector is connected to the laptop. The behavior is distracting, but harmless. Curiously enough, the Gnome 3 battery panel indicator occasionally won't detect that the laptop is charging with the power cable connected. To resolve the power indicator issue, reseat the power connector at the rear of the ES-11. The beep will sound off and the indicator will show that the system is charging.

10. The Intel HD 500 chipset was able to support the maximum resolution 1920 x 1080 of my 22" AOC LED display.

11. The rear Ethernet port is the odd clip design with requires a small tab to be pushed downwards before a CAT 6 connector can be inserted. There's no satisfying click when the Ethernet cable is connected. On the upside, connection is secure and doesn't wiggle as easily as Ethernet ports typically found in laptops of the same price range.

12. Acer isn't well known for their keyboards, but for an entry-level laptop, the ES 11's full set of keys is surprisingly usable and comfortable. Keyboards are always a matter of preference but I actually preferred the ES 11's keyboard over the newer Apple Macbook's keys (though the older Macbook Air's keyboard is still much more comfortable). After typing away on a Lenovo T450s, a Logitech wireless keyboard, and the Surface Type Cover, working on the ES 11 is a nice change of pace.


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