The Acer ES1-132, Linux, UEFI, and Secure Boot Part 2

Continued from The Acer ES1-132, Linux, UEFI, and Secure Boot Part 1

DDR3L RAM notes before Debian, Fedora, or Ubuntu installation

In some developing markets such as the Philippines and Indonesia, the Acer ES1-132 is sold with 2 GB of DDR3L RAM, though in most markets the notebook comes with at least 4 GB. However, the ES1-132-C685 has a single slot for upgrading the RAM up to 8 GB DDR3L, and users planning to run a Linux distribution with a modern graphical desktop environment such as Gnome 3, Cinnamon, or KDE4 or later, should consider investing in a RAM upgrade. The 2 GB of RAM is soldered to the motherboard, so you have the option of either inserting an 8 GB of DDR3L RAM or a 4 GB DDR3L RAM module.

The ES1-132 with Fedora 25 Gnome3 next to a Surface Pro 4. The ES11-132's form factor is comparable to the SP4.

The Intel Celeron 3450 on the ES1-132 is surprisingly responsive even with only 2 GB of RAM ,and with Fedora 25 Gnome installed, Gnome 3 works very well for single window tasks. Out-of-the box, even Windows 10 Home SL works with nary a chirp. Ubuntu 14.04 with the Unity desktop environment also works adequately if you proceed with installation before upgrading the RAM. However, Dash and the Unity Launcher is predictably sluggish and slows down any activity on the desktop.  However, unless you're planning to switch to a command line only FreeBSD 11 install, the 2 GB of DDR3L will not last you in the long term.

Note: Acer notes on their user guide that only professionals should perform the memory upgrade. Moreover, Acer places a sticker on the compartment door indicating that users void their warranty if they open the door. You have to remove the sticker to remove one of the 6 screws for the compartment door.

The ES11-132 has a single compartment door for the hard drive and RAM. Unfortunately, it has a warranty sticker.

The limitations of the 2 GB RAM is particularly noticeable during installation. A base installation using physical media of Ubuntu 14.04 or Debian 8 Jessie takes roughly more than three hours to complete - unusual since the process takes less than half an hour on my older Toshiba NB520 with an Intel Atom and 4 GB of RAM. Moreover, basic image editing, even with lightweight Shotwell Viewer, is sluggish with 2 GB of RAM.

If you are using an external optical drive to perform a Linux installation on the ES1-132, make sure you connect the drive using the USB 3.0 connector at the rear, and a second USB port if your optical drive requires additional power. Use the same rear USB 3.0 port if are using a bootable Linux LiveUSB.

Setup Utility and common boot errors

As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, update the BIOS regardless if you are dual-booting with Windows, or performing a full Linux installation. Once you reboot, tap the F2 button on the Acer logo to enter the InsydeH20 Setup Utility. Verify that the System BIOS Version is correctly updated on the Information tab.

My system came with v1.06 and updated using the Windows executable to v1.08, which is the current version as of this writing.

Unlike manufacturers such as HP, Dell, Zotac, and ASUS, Acer severely trims down their UEFI system and pretty much limits any configuration changes from Setup Utility. Unfortunately, you will have to make changes to Setup Utility to get Linux to boot and install. The two most common issues Linux users encounter are the "Security Boot Fail" and "No Bootable Device" errors.

Note: This article won't attempt to address issues related to all Linux distribution but focuses on Ubuntu 14.04, Debian 8 Jessie, and Fedora 25. Admittedly, the laptop is not recommended for Linux. I highly recommend an ASUS or Dell instead if you want a straightforward installation.  Although I currently run Fedora 25 Workstation on the system and have written several articles on Fedora on the Acer ES 11, it's not the best machine for Linux because of Acer's BIOS, which restricts Linux. The process itself is tedious depending on the Linux distribution you choose and it requires a lot of patience.

Depending on your Linux distribution, Linux users should be prepared to perform a few steps to resolve a Security Boot Fail message.


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