The Acer Aspire V11 is a small, fanless notebook with an Intel Bay Trail processor, a touchscreen display, long battery life, and decent performance. It ships with Windows 8.1, but one of the first things people started asking me when I mentioned I was reviewing the laptop was whether it could also run Linux.
Yes, it can.
It took me a while to figure out because the first time I tried to used Advanced Startup options to boot from a USB drive I got an error message saying “System doesn’t have any USB boot option.”
But it turns out that the system does… it’s just that the Windows bootloader doesn’t recognize the fact.
So you need to bypass the Windows bootloader. There are a few different ways to do that. You can enable Legacy boot mode (which prevents you from loading Windows 8.1 at all), or you can change the boot device priority so the computer will attempt to boot from a USB device before it tries to load an operating system from the hard drive.
The easiest and most versatile option is to enable F12 boot menu support. This lets you hit the F12 key when the computer is loading and choose whether to boot from USB or from the Windows bootloader.
Here’s the easiest way I’ve found to do this:
- Shut down the PC.
- Press the power button to turn on the notebook and immediately press the F2 key. You might want to hit it a few times for good measure.
- This should bring you to the UEFI settings screen.
- Use the arrow keys to go to the Main tab.
- Use the arrow keys to go highlight “F12 Boot Menu” and press the enter key to bring up the option to enable or disable this. Choose enable.
- Hit F10 to save and exit.
You should now have the option of bringing up a USB boot menu. Go ahead and plug a CD, DVD, or USB flash drive into the USB port on the left side of the notebook. Do not use the USB drives on the back of the device — they won’t work.
Now you have the option of hitting the F12 key any time the notebook boots to enter the Boot Manager and choose whether to boot from the USB boot manager or a USB drive.
I haven’t had much luck booting from a LiveUSB stick, but this works perfectly with an Ubuntu 14.04 or Xubuntu 14.04 LiveDVD.
Note that some operating systems might not support UEFI and Secure Boot, so you may need to enable Legacy Boot mode in the UEFI settings to run those operating systems.