Aspire VN7-793G Working with Debian Stretch

davidtownesdavidtownes Member Posts: 1 New User

Just wanted to let the world know that the Aspire VN7-793G works like a dream with Debian 9 (Stretch) installed. I debated long an hard about whether to buy a crappy Dell that was reported to play kindly with Linux and this lovely machine, and boy am I glad I chose this one. Prior to purchasing, I had only been able to find mixed reports about whether anyone was successful with getting linux installed on one of these, so I wanted to go ahead and share my success story.

 

Step one was to create an Acer recovery USB from inside the regular Windows 10 install. You know, just in case. This required a little more than 2GB on a USB stick, and about an hour worth of file copying. I backed up the Windows drivers as well, but that turned out to not be necessary.

 

Step two was to create a live USB for booting the install image. That took a couple of tries. I found the most recent live USB install instructions (found here) to be somewhat confusing and found a straight DD copy of an ISO image did not work because the Debian install process got confused into thinking the USB stick was a CD-ROM and then could not find the right place from which to mount the install process. Success was ultimately found by renaming the downloaded ISO as a *.img file and then using Linux Disks to "Restore Partition Image" from the *.img file.

 

Step three was to adjust the UEFI boot settings to enable the Live USB to load by hitting F2 rapidly (or maybe F8? one of those) when the Acer logo shows at power-on time. You have to temporarily disable secure boot or else the UEFI will think the live USB is a rootkit virus and refused to boot it. Don't worry, you can re-enable this later. Also, you have to move the USB stick up in the boot order.

 

Step four was to enter the install process and repartition the hard drive. I deleted all the existing partitions because I almost never use Windows, and I had seen mixed reviews of attempts to get dual-boot setups to avoid overwriting UEFI data, so I opted to instead run Windows only when necessary by creating a virtual machine based off the the recovery image created in step 1. I then re-created an EFI partition with 250 MB (probably more than required, but was playing it safe), and a separate boot partition with 250 MB, then threw everything else into an encrypted LVM partition.

 

Step five was to run the install process. There were a few drivers that the install process was unable to find, but it lets you know the names of the "nonfree" install packages that are missing so you can easily google them, throw them on a USB stick, and then load them into the install process. For me, the missing packages were firmare-atheros and firmware-realtek. There were a few items missing from the exact atheros files wanted from the install process, but wireless networking still worked on first bootup, so I have no complaints.

 

Step six was to re-enable secure boot and modify the secure boot settings to recognize the newly installed linux partition as the secure boot option. This was as simple as selecting the "Erase all Secure Boot Setting" option and then selecting the "Select a UEFI file as trusted for Executing" option, and navigating to the Linux grub.efi.

 

And that was that! There are certainly some hardware features that I haven't bothered trying to get to work properly in Linux (finger-print reader, eye-scanner), but I didn't buy this laptop for harware gimmicks, I bought it to have a portable desktop for software development, and for that it works like a charm. Keyboard function keys work, screen resolution is great -- all around, very satisfied.

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