North2South Crafts

An Acer ES1-111M-C7DE Upgraded

MX-Linux 19.x Installed: Very Nice

  

This story is about upgrading a new Acer ES1-111M-C7DE purchased in early 2015. It continues to offer decent performance today.This Acer laptop model was a closeout at our local Target stores. It was less than $150 with a Target discount. It was greatly underpowered with 2GB of ram, a 320GB hard drive, fanless passive cooling, Intel video, on a dual core Intel Celeron N2840 platform at 2.1 GHz.

This ultra portable laptop is thin and lightweight but had "sluggish" reviews so I knew it needed memory and drive upgrades.

Hardware Upgrading

So spending about $300 and a few minutes of disassembly/assembly and voiding the warranty, resulted in a very usable laptop for general things (other than serious games). Streaming video generally is smooth. An upgrade in ram to 8GB required voiding the warranty to to remove the main board. There are 16 screws holding the rear panel on. Not having a fan, the main board was small and the disassembly was easy if you've done notebook disassembly before. A single ram slot resides on the board back side in which I installed a single 8GB 1333MHz Dual SODIMM. The Sata hard drive was replaced with a 256GB Samsung 860 Pro SSD.

The opened Acer E11 (ES1-111M-C7DE) showing the original hard drive. The single ram slot is underneath the main board.

The board was removed and flipped so a single 8GB PC3-10600 (1333 MHz) DDR3 SODIMM can be installed.

Fix It Then Install Linux

The only major problem it had was the intermittent touchpad. This was initially found using a live Linux Mint thumb drive for installation. After searching the internet others had this problem and a fix was found:

https://www.zachpoff.com/resources/acer-laptop-touchpad-fix/?highlight=touchpad%20fix

  

I soldered a small copper braid (or you could use a wire) from the touchpad to the metal housing. The soldered ground connection worked replacing the "poor" conductive tape connection for the electrical ground. I had to be carefull only to apply enough heat to flow the solder and not deform the plastic touchpad surface on the other side. Touch pads need a low resistance to ground that a soldered connection gives. A cheap machine, a cost cutting ommission by Acer caused this problem.

Along Comes Linux

Linux Mint 16 was installed first. When my interest became strong with MX Linux, MX Linux 18.3 was installed. The Acer continues to run great now with the MX Linux 19.x installed. This became my "standard" installation with the plus-size collection of installed applications. It has been imaged many times using Clonezilla. I enjoy MX Linux, because of it's Debian stability and the great MX Linux tools with the lighter weight XFCE interface. I noted it's Mepis Linux heritage in my Thinkpad X131e upgrade page.

Notes: The MX Linux 19.x Install On The Acer ES1-111M-C7DE

MX Linux 18 / MX Linux 19 would install with the UEFI setup with secureboot disabled. To disable secureboot, a password must be created then used when the BIOS is accessed. That allows the BIOS to have the option to disable secureboot.

Hold [F2] during boot will allow you into the BIOS. You need to add an administrator password, reboot, Hold [F2] again for th BIOS, then in the boot area, [disable] Secure Boot. Save these changes when you hit [ESC] to exit. I used GParted on the Live MX Linux thumb drive for the EFI partitioning.

A small fat32 partition (a 150MiB - 250MiB) is flagged with bootand esp for the /boot/efi mounting point. Now I completed the installation using these existing partitions. MX-Linux can also auto create partitions for you in selecting an entire disk to use.

Testing the Linux Mint Debian Edition 4 (LMDE4), for curiosity, would not boot after installation on this Acer using either UEFI or Legacy mode settings in the BIOS. The LMDE 4 live USB drive I created would only boot if the UEFI setting was enabled. There is an error in the LMDE4 installer that conflicts with this Acer's BIOS. (I've installed LMDE4 on 3 other Thinkpads without issues.)

MX Linux Allows CHOICE (wow!) of Using Systemd or Sysv Init For Startup Services Selectable At Boot

I've noticed no difference between using either except that systemd appears about 5 seconds faster on bootup.

The upgrades of 8GB of ram and the awesome Samsung 860 Pro 256GB SSD with MX Linux 19.x installed makes a terrific computer. Light, quiet (no fan), very thin, no heat problems, good performance all for about $300 and a few minutes of work. It was worth it. (The MX Linux 19."x" means we have been keeping current with the updates as they happen.) I installed the Cinnamon interface, not officially supported by the MX Linux developers and it worked fine only for a few months.

The MX Linux 19.x Cinnamon Interface At Idle

MX Linux 19.x With The XFCE Interface Menu (using an Auto-Hide Taskbar At The Top)

Cinamon Interface Removed With Return To The Default XFCE Interface

With Cinnamon no longer being officially supported by Debian Linux, the foundation MX Linux, problems happened after a few months with certain package updates conflicting with Cinnamon and its' file manager Nemo. I uninstalled all of the Cinnamon packages and returned to a peppy and solid XFCE interface MX Linux is known for. It's usually best to remain with the default interface (or other supported ones) of a particular distro. In this case the Debian group removed support for the Cinnamon interface. It is complex and difficult for the Debian developers to keep incorporated in their "stable" versions. Cinnamon was written and is maintained by the developers of Linux Mint.