Aspire One (Linpus) - Backup Solution

For Aspire One Computers with 8GB SSD Drives*

Many people with the AAO are activating things like the advanced menu or adding additional tweaks to get more productivity out of this marvelous little netbook computer. However, updates from Acer can destroy all your time consuming work. Creating Acer's recovery flash key can also be problematic and using it brings your AAO back to its out-of-box state with total data loss. It is MUCH better to be able to have a reliable backup of your current system.

Our backup solution is the answer when using an AAO! And it is so easy to use. You'll simply plug in the 8GB flash key into a USB port of the AAO. Then you'll turn on the AAO and hit F12 to choose to boot your computer from the flash key. This will bootup an external Linux system and take you to our backup script. The options you'll be presented with are:

1. Backup
2. Restore
3. Quit

Type in "1" and your SSD drive on the AAO will be completely backed up to the flash key. Should you ever need to restore your system, then typing "2" will restore this backup on to your SSD drive in the AAO. This is a complete backup solution that backs up everything on the internal SSD drive (MBR, ext2 partition and swap partition).

To purchase with a major credit card OR through your existing PayPal account, ($49.99 CAD + $10 s/h) just click the Buy Now button below ...

Big Sale - Save 40% - Now ONLY $12.00!

Do you have your own 8GB Flash Key**? See how you can just purchase the software and save on shipping costs and get your backup system up and running quickly ... Read More

** Confirmed to work with Kingston 8GB DataTraveler and Sandisk Cruzer 8GB.
Probably will work with others.

* NOTE: If your Aspire One has a hard drive and not an 8GB SSD drive, you can still create a backup system that will work for you. You'll need an external USB hard drive large enough to hold the backup of your internal hard drive. Please read the FAQ for information on how this backup system can be adapted to work with an external USB hard drive.

Purchase Just The Software - $20.00 USD


If you already have your own 8GB Kingston Flash Key, you can purchase just the software and using this software you can easily create your own Flash Key Backup and Restore Solution! This *might* work with other 8GB flash keys, but I cannot guarantee it as some flash keys can be weird.

When you purchase this software you'll need to provide your IP address. This will allow you to download the software from my web server. When you click the Buy Now button below, you'll be able to purchase the software using a credit card or if you have a PayPal account, using that account.

It is important that when purchasing you fill out the comment field (in the PayPal payment) with your IP address! Please COPY it now, so you can paste below in your payment.

Once I receive the PayPal payment, I'll email you instructions on where to download the software. The download page contains full instructions on creating your own 8GB Flash Key backup/restore system. Your IP address MUST match what you provided when you paid for the software or you will not be able to access the download site. Access to the site will continue for 1 week after purchase.

Save 40% -  ONLY $12.00!
To purchase for only $20.00 USD, paste your IP Address in the field and then click the Buy Now button below ...

Enter Your IP Address Here ...

If you have any problems or further questions, please email me at:

Access to download the software will look like this ...

Now Running on a FASTER download server!

* NOTE: If your Aspire One has a hard drive and not an 8GB SSD drive, this backup system is not for you. You will need to find some other way to backup your current system.

Some Screen Shots

Here are some screen shots of the backup system. Sorry about the quality, but they were taken with a digital camera ...

Boot Menu

When you turn on your Aspire One with the Flash Key inserted in a USB slot, you type F12 and then select the boot device ...

Linux is Booting

Just hit ENTER at the prompts or wait and the system will boot up.

Linux System Is Booting

A lot of information will scroll by as the system boots. Really, you don't need to concern yourself with this.

Keyboard Choice

The boot process will stop prompting you to choose the keyboard that you have. The default is US keymap. Just hit ENTER to proceed or type in the number representing the keyboard map that you use. If you do nothing, the default US keymap will load and the bootup process will continue.

Backup System is Loaded

Just hit ENTER to go to the Main Menu of the Backup System.

The Main Menu

Here is where you select either to Backup, Restore or Quit the backup system. You'll type in a 1 if you wish to backup, then hit ENTER.

Backing Up Your SSD Drive

Your SSD Drive is being backed up to the Flash Key. As the backup progresses, you'll see the amount backed up, the time since the backup started, the speed of the backup in MB/second, a graph showing the progress, the percentage backed up and finally the estimated time remaining to complete the backup.

Close-up of Status During A Backup

Backup Completed

When the backup has finished you'll see a screen similar to this. It'll display the records in and out (showing it is all backed up), the amount of bytes backed up, the total number of seconds the backup took and the MB/second speed of the backup. The compressed backup image will be displayed, verifying that it is indeed there, written to the Flash Key. It may display more than one file, because the backup images are split into files of 2GB in size.

When the backup is complete, hitting ENTER will shutdown your computer, so you can then remove the Flash Key.

Restoring Your System

Should you need to restore your SSD drive from your current backup, you'll boot the Flash Key as described above. Linux will load and you'll eventually reach the Main Menu. Select 2 to restore your system.

Here is a screenshot of the restore process running ...

Restore Completes

Hit ENTER and the system will shutdown, allowing you to remove the Flash Key.

Some Technical Information on the Backup System

When you boot from the 8GB Flash Key, you're running a version of Linux. The backup process uses a Linux command called "dd" to do a bit-by-bit copy of your SSD drive to compressed images on the flash key.

Over time, your SSD drive will contain bytes that you don't see which are deleted files and other data related to the file system. So the more you use your SSD drive, the larger the backup file(s) will eventually become. This will not be a problem, since an 8GB flash key will be able to accommodate a full compressed backup of your SSD drive, even if that SSD drive is nearly full.

There is a way to "condition" your SSD drive so that these hidden bytes are cleared out, resulting in much smaller image backup files. Here is how you'd do that:

While running your Linpus-based computer, you can close all running applications, then open a terminal and run the following command:

sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=delme; rm delme -f

This command will take some time to run as it goes over the "unused" part of the SSD drive replacing any bytes it finds occupied by deleted files and writes zeros to those bytes. When the process finishes, you will shutdown your computer and then do a backup using the 8GB Flash Key. You'll notice that your backup image(s) are considerably smaller.

This "conditioning" of the SSD drive only needs to be done periodically and only if you feel that the backup images could stand to be smaller.

Backing Up Your SSD Drive If You Are Not Using Linpus

This backup solution will work with any operating system installed on your AAO's SSD drive, since it does a bit-by-bit imaging of the whole SSD drive. If you've installed Ubuntu or Mandriva on your AAO, you can still use this backup system. Nothing changes in terms of doing a backup or restore.

If you're one of those who has decided to have your /home directory located off the SSD drive and on to some other media, then of course that will not be backed up. Only the SSD drive is COMPLETELY backed up using this system.

Those who have installed Windows on their SSD drives can also use this backup system. Of course, you won't be able to "condition" the Windows drive as outlined above, since Windows does not have the Linux "dd" command.

Should The Flash Key NOT Boot To The Backup System

Very rarely you might find that the flash key when booting the external Linux stops when trying to set the real time clock on your computer. Should this happen, I've found that holding the power button down until the system turns off and trying again will get past this. I don't know why this happens but it is more of an annoyance than anything to be really concerned about.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. What is the advantages of using this backup/restore system over say using another backup system like fwbackups?

A. fwbackups is a nice backup system for Linux. However, it does have it's limitations compared to the backup solution offered here. Our backup solutions does a COMPLETE bit-by-bit copy of your whole SSD drive. That means EVERYTHING is backed up, including the MBR, ext2 partition and the swap partition. If either of these parts of your system fail, a restore will easily bring it all back. fwbackups on the other hand does a file-by-file backup and if you have a general failure preventing you from booting into your SSD drive, you'll have to recover the operating system, set it up once again to be able to add new software, then install fwbackups once again to restore your backup. Our system of restoring is a one-step process, whereas using fwbackups is a multi-step process that will take much longer to accomplish.

Q. Why is this backup system safer to use than Acer's recovery system?

A. Acer provides it's recovery system on a DVD disk that comes with your computer. If you don't have an external USB DVD device that you can attach to your Aspire One, you'll need to use another computer to transfer the DVD contents to a USB flash key. Acer REALLY screwed up on this process! If the computer you're using to create this flash key happens to have more than 1 hard drive in it, the Acer process will destroy the MBR on the second hard drive. The MBR holds the partition information for a hard drive and its destruction renders the hard drive unusuable. This is a SERIOUS flaw and there have been reports of people losing tons of data when this happens. Of course the MBR can be fixed if one knows what one is doing, but it certainly isn't easy for a novice to accomplish.

Q. If I purchase just the software so I can create my own 8GB Flash Key backup solution, how hard is it to do this?

A. When you purchase just the software, you'll be directed to a web page where you can download the software. FULL INSTRUCTIONS are provided on this page as to what you will need to do after you've downloaded the software. The process is very straight forward and step-by-step instructions are provided. The process involves downloading the software, then opening a terminal and copying and pasting a few lines of code into the terminal to create your own backup flash key. If you can read, you can do it. It's that simple.

Q. Can your software be used on any 8GB flash key?

A. Some flash keys are quirky to say the least, so we can't guarantee that the software will install correctly on every 8GB flash key out there. We've only tested it on Kingston 8GB DataTraveler flash keys. Since the process of "burning" the software to the flash key involves a bit-by-bit copy to the flash key, it should work on any 8GB flash key, but we just cannot guarantee that to be a fact.

Q. Do I have to prepare my flash key in any way to receive the software your system installs on it?

A. No. Because the installation of the software on to the flash key involves a bit-by-bit copy to the flash key, you'll end up with a flash key that contains all the essential software to run the backup/restore system. Your new flash key, will have it's own MBR, a first partition that contains a Linux operating system and a second partition that is used to store your backup.

Q. Why does your system require an 8GB flash key?

A. We've done it this way to insure that as your SSD drive fills up you're guaranteed to be able to backup the whole SSD drive to the flash key. Although a 4GB flash key would probably hold an image of your SSD drive if it was only around 75% full and had been "zeroed out" as described on our Technical Information page, we wanted to be sure that there would always be room on the flash key to do a complete backup.

Q. Why aren't the ETA of completion of a backup or restore process not totally accurate?

A. The ETA is based on a full 8GB backup, but it's unlikely that you'll actually reach that sort of backup until your SSD drive is completely filled up. Similarly when doing a restore, you'll probably find it completes a lot sooner than the ETA indicates. In either case, you can be assured that the process has done its job completely and reliably. When backing up, you'll see at the end of the process the reported bytes in and out. If they match, the backup was successful.

Q. Can I use an external USB hard drive rather than a Flash Key drive?

A. Yes, it's possible to install this backup system on an external USB hard drive and use that to make your backups. To do so, you'd following the installation instructions you receive when you purchase the software. What you'll do is "burn" the software image to an external USB hard drive rather than an 8GB Flash Key drive. Once you've burned it, you'll end up with 2 partitions on the external hard drive. The first partition is 300MB in size, formatted FAT32 and contains the Linux system and backup system. The second partition will be approx. 7.7GB in size, formatted FAT32 and will be where the backups are stored. You'll need to expand the size of this second partition so that it occupies the rest of your hard drive. You can install an application called qtparted to do this. You'll install qtparted by doing this in a terminal:

sudo yum install qtparted

Then you'll run qtparted and work with your external hard drive (/dev/sdb) to expand the second partition. The drive has to be unmounted before you can do this. You'll run qtparted by launching it from a terminal like this:

sudo qtparted

This launches a GUI application that makes it easy to expand the size of the second partition to occupy the rest of your hard drive.

Once you've prepared the external hard drive, you can boot from it when you want to do a backup or restore of your system. Although everything will be erased on the hard drive and replaced by this backup system, the drive can still be used for other things, as the large partition will be recognized when you plug it into your Linpus computer or a Windows computer.

Using a hard drive obviously gives you more options than using a space limited Flash Key. You can create different backups of your AAO by simply doing a backup and later renaming the Backup directory to some other name (example: Backup_Nov_18_2008). Should you want to restore the image file back to your AAO from this renamed directory, you'll just need to rename it back to "Backup" and the restore will then restore the image contained in it.

Q. What if I wanted to keep more than one backup?

A. Just "burn" the software on more than one 8GB flash key, so that you can keep additional backups. Just follow the "burning" instructions with a second key and use either one when doing your backups.

Q. I'm not using Linpus on my Aspire One, but using another Linux distro or I have installed Windows on my 8GB SSD drive, will this backup solution work for me?

A. Our backup system isn't dependent on what OS you're running on your SSD drive since it does a full and complete backup of the SSD drive itself. Whatever you've installed on your SSD drive will be backed up or restored from the flash key.

Q. I'm not totally clear on why you need my IP address? Can you explain the process?

A. After you've purchased the software using PayPal, we receive a notification that the payment has gone through. When making a PayPal payment, there is always a comment field where you can send a message to the seller with your payment. It is in this field that we need to know what your real IP address is - the IP address assigned to your computer or router if you use one, by your ISP. Our web page will provide you with this information. The reason we do it this way, is that we run a web server that we don't want open to the whole world. Access to the web server is by invitation only. We control this by only allowing certain IP address to access our web server. You wouldn't be able to access the download page until we've opened up the web server to your particular IP address. Your access to this download page will continue for a period of one week from the time you've been notified as to how to access it. This will allow you to revisit it, should you require doing a download again or want to once again review the instructions.

Q. How can you sell that Kingston 8GB Flash Key so cheap?

A. We found a sale on them and purchased a number, so that we can offer this backup system pre-installed on those flash keys at a price that is really good. When we run out of 8GB Flash Keys at this price and have to pay more for new ones, we will have to increase our prices. Essentially we value the software at $20, so at today's pricing, we're only charging around $29 CAD for the flash key itself. That's a good deal on these keys by anyone's standard and we certainly aren't making any money on the flash key itself. Selling the flash keys with the software installed is just being done as convenience for those who don't want to bother going out and purchasing their own and then "burning" our software on to it. Of course, purchasing the flash key from us will involve shipping charges and will take some time to reach you. So you can weigh the whole thing and decide whether purchasing the software itself and easily installing it on your own flash key is more convenient for you.

Q. How important is having a good backup system for these Aspire One SSD drives?

A. Having a reliable and easy to use backup system for ANY computer is a must-have application, in our opinion. While people rush to download new software applications for their computers and install, install, install - they sometimes miss one of the most crucial applications to have and that is a way to make reliable backups of their computer systems. We feel that this system is second to none as a way to keep your Aspire One safely backed up and easily restorable should the need arise. We've heard too many horror stories of how problems have arisen that prevent users getting back into their Aspire Ones either because they've installed some piece of software that's broken the system OR Acer itself has sent out an update that has broken the system. A good and reliable backup strategy can save you from hours of grief. Trust us on this one. Do you want to have to recover your system so that it has been returned to the way it was the day you first used it, with the resultant loss of all the work you've put into it configuring it just as you want it? Will you remember all that you've done to get it to the stage it is now? And what about the data loss of all your email messages, IM account settings, documents you have stored on your Aspire One, etc, etc? Frankly, a backup solution like we offer isn't really appreciated until the day you need to restore that backup to recover a broken system. :-) It's at that point that you'll cheer that you had the foresight to keep your system backed up.

What if your Aspire One has a hardware problem and needs to be returned to Acer? You'll more than likely recieve a replacement that no longer has all the data you had or the time-consuming tweaks you've done to get it to the stage you wanted it. Restore your backup on the replacement and your system is back to the way it was the day you make the backup.

Q. I see that you've added live chat to the site. How does it work?

A. The link you see for accessing live chat uses a Java applet on my website that will allow you to access my IRC channel using your web browser. However, for it to work on the AAO, you first need to install Sun's Java. At macles* blog you can get full instructions on how to install java to work with your web browser on the AAO. Get full instructions here ...

Alternatively and probably a better way to use IRC is to install a real IRC client on your AAO. There are a number of packages available in the repos to do this.

My favorite is Konversation ...

sudo yum install konversation

Others might prefer xchat ...

sudo yum install xchat

Whichever you choose to use, the IRC Server is "" and the channel you'll want to join is "#linuxtalk"


The latest news, tips and tricks from