Lighter, thinner and all round more power has always been what you want in a laptop.
The ability of engineers to compress so much processing power into such light and compact units these days is remarkable.
Needing a new workhorse I did a little research and liked the look of the Acer Aspire R 13.
I’d never purchased an Acer before, but the pioneering design and list of features ticked the boxes I was after.
The research didn’t locate any evidence of how Linux might run on it, but I decided to take the punt anyway.
I was so impressed with the result that I felt it warranted public acknowledgement (though it took me 4 months to publish).
There were a few tricky bits, but once the latest weekly snapshot of Jessie was installed, everything worked perfectly.
I was blown away by what the Debian team has achieved, and quite impressed to see the platform so healthy on hardware that had been released a little more than a month earlier.
The only disappointment is the keyboard and the active stylus, both of which are design flaws & not Debian related.
There has been quite a bit of noise on the Acer forums relating to keyboard pain.
My G key was practically non functional.
I had to return the laptop to get the keyboard replaced, and while the replacement keyboard improved things still suffered frustrating double key entries. Fortunately a bios release specifically targeted improvements to handle “ghost” key duplicate strokes, which has actually improved matters considerably, but not enough.
Flashing the bios does alter the bios settings so you do need to fix the boot order pref’s and disable secure boot again.
The keyboard problems where not resolved until the second keyboard replacement with keyboard Part# NK.I1313.007, but this post is about what a brilliant job the Debian team are doing than how crap the R13 keyboard was.
Tricky Steps required for install
Resize/Shrink C: using diskpart or disk manager (ntfsresize could also work in theory
bios (Fn F2) navigate to security section.
The following can help to access the bios also.
All required options are greyed out until the supervisor password is set.
Only after the password is set, can Secure boot be removed from UEFI.
Secure boot will otherwise prevent the install media from loading, and later interfere with grub unless a ridiculous effort is mounted to digitally sign the UEFI binaries
UEFI rather than legacy mode is necessary for dual booting the preloaded Windoze.
Enable the boot menu in the boot section of the bios (disabled by default)
I used a USB dvd rom and http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/weekly-builds/amd64/iso-cd/ for the install.
The wifi requires non-free firmware, which can be loaded via USB after extracting the ucode files from firmware-iwlwifi_0.43_all.deb
After carving up the freed space into boot, swap & root, I selected the existing EFI partition (part2) and set use as EFI System Partition.
This creates a new Debian subfolder of the EFI System partition folder and adds gruxb64.efi
At the conclusion of the install and initial reboot, re-enter the bios.
Reset the secure boot to enabled in the boot section; in order to expose the “Select a UEFI file as trusted” within the security menu.
Within the “Select a UEFI as trusted” dialogue browse to the Debian folder and select the grubx64.efi file, naming it meaningfully.
Exit bios saving changes and re-enter, the new grubx64.efi item will now be available from the boot menu & can be moved to the default position.
Once again disable secure boot prior to saving changes and restarting.
Boot time of 4-5 seconds from grub to login.
Other than the wifi firmware listed above, everything just works with zero effort.