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.

v11 ubuntu_02

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:

  1. Shut down the PC.
  2. 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.
  3. This should bring you to the UEFI settings screen.
  4. Use the arrow keys to go to the Main tab.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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22 replies on “How to load Ubuntu on the Acer Aspire V11 Touch (or other Linux distros)”

  1. Hi, I replaced win8.1 with Xubuntu 14.04 with BIOS in Legacy mode. Since boot was not reliable (booting once out of 5 times after GRUB when booting at all) I switched back to UEFI. Now screen is stuck at “Acer screen”, I can access the (empty) boot menu with F12 but not the UEFI/BIOS with F2. I’m afraid I fucked it up for good, any help appreciated!

    1. Hi.

      I never disabled Secureboot and installed Ubuntu using F12 at first. I used to hit F12 each time i wanted to boot to Ubuntu.
      Now i wanted to try to boot a USB Flashdrive with Elementary OS and as i couldn’t boot on the Flashdrive, i tried switching the BIOS to Legacy Mode, i didn’t remember what happened, i switched it back to Legacy mode. I know one have to set up a BIOS password to be able to disable Secureboot and change the boot order from the bios. BUT… since i switched to Legacy mode and then back to UEFI mode, i can’t enter the BIOS anymore. The laptop still boots directly to Windows. I can hit F12 and boot ubuntu. But F2 won’t enter the BIOS. It stays stuck at the ACER logo too. :/ Any idea what i could do?

      arzhed> Did you solve the problem?

      1. After letting the laptop rest for 10 minutes, it works again… i can enter the BIOS as usual. I don’t know what happened. (And i still can’t boot my USB flashdrive…)

      2. No, and since it was a brand new PC with many bugs on Windows (which motivated the Xubuntu install) AND a very strange behavior on Xubuntu (which I have used and installed a lot over the years) I assumed a (original) problem on the hardware level. I simply made a claim

  2. Hi, I just bought one of these for just that purpose, run a Ubuntu distro on it. I’ve only had it a few days and I’ve noticed a bit of trouble with the USB drives becommimng unrecognized. Still running on windows.
    This one has the 2840 chip. However it does not have any side USB port, only the card slot.
    It has a USB 3 and a usb2 on the back. So I’m hoping one of those will work!.
    I’m running an external DVD on it and seems to work fine. But will it boot?
    I will follow your instructions and see how it goes.

    Do you think fedora would be too heavy on this machine?
    I’ve been playing with a couple of Ubuntu forks on my i7 Asus laptop but they all seem a little buggy one way or the other?

    Thanks for the tips


  3. Many thanks for this post! It was no easy to find the way to reboot from DVD properly 🙁

  4. I can boot my archlinux under UEFI SecureBoot Mode, i’m using a similar model V3-111P-P1K3.

  5. Nice guide.

    But please can you do some more things?
    I want to buy same machine and put an SSD inside.
    Can you put the output of the following commands, just to see if the controller supports maximum speed for SATA3 at 6Gb/s?
    dmesg | grep -i SATA
    dmesg | grep -i AHCI

  6. Looks like you only installed as far as to see if the LIVE CD worked? You did not try this out with a FULL install did you? Where, you could test a RunCore or other FAST SSD, where the Windows OS would port to the SSD and you would not alter the Drive that you got in the unit for Demo>

    Hmm, Did you test out WiFi Drivers?

    Also – would love to see Lubuntu run on this processor as can run on less RAM and very quick (as uses less resources) vs other Ubuntu distros – due to LXDE being lighter than any other. AND if the touch screen would work with that one. AND, if there was an easy way to dual boot between Lubuntu and the Windows on the device?

  7. How long did you run Ubuntu? I’m just wondering if you experienced WiFi issues (ie. slow speed, random disconnects and connections hanging),

  8. could you possibly try elementary OS on this? one of the reasons im thinking about getting it, but if it doesnt run it well, im not sure its worth it

    1. I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing Elementary. But XFCE is better. Try Xubuntu. If you like the OSX look, just add Docky.

      1. tried it, didnt like it, its not so much the look of it, its just all in all something about Elementary feels like its been made to be usable for normal people for once, i dont have to wonder where shit is, it just kinda works and i like it, they aesthetics are great aswell though, and its pretty damn fast

  9. I am curious how you think this model compares to the Acer C720P (touchscreen Chromebook), especially in a similar re-configuration as a Linux machine?

  10. Any luck with Touchscreen drivers?

    Can you comment on battery life in Ubuntu?

    I’m really interested in a cheap touchscreen laptop that I can run Xubuntu in.

    1. Touch works out of the box. I can’t comment on battery life since I’ve only run Ubuntu from a LiveDVD for a few minutes at a time.

      1. Have you tested with multiple touch points? Does it support 2,5,10 simultaneous touches? I know it is a little nitpicky, but for my use cases I would be interested to see.

      2. I’d be interested in battery life as well. Could you do some tests so we can compare battery life in Linux to what you got for Windows?

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