Graphics driver works, excessive fan noise is gone (as of linux kernel 3.2.13) I believe, but certainly the much newer kernel of Olivia (3.8.0-19)took care of it.
Also, power consumption is now par with what the S3 promises out of the box, with Win8 i.e. 4 hrs., using LMDE 201303 I only got 2 hrs.,
and the left side of the machine got HOT (hence the fan noise), I blamed it on the brightness which was at 100%, well the brightness is still 100% (excessive), BUT the power management of the new kernel has cut power consumption in half. Also the clicking noise is gone.
Under Olivia the Wifi now connects instantly, and works perfectly, whereas under LMDE 201303 using kernel 3.2.04 the wifi worked soso at best, took a long time to connect, slow transmissions, etc.
The touchpad works somewhat better under Olivia, than with LMDE, but you will want a mouse on this laptop, unless a fix can be found.
I was able to install the OS (LMMDE and Olivia) on the 20 Gb ssd as long as grub was not installed on the 20 Gb, but on the hdd (500 Gb in this case). Quirky how the bios doesn't let you to boot from the 20 Gb ssd even with legacy bios and safe boot turned off. I did not even try for dual boot with Win8. Only way to put the OS on the 20 Gb ssd is with grub residing on the other hdd and pointing to the 20 Gb ssd which is mounted under /.
|What doesn't work:|
Brightness still 100%. (Excessive) the fixes suggested in http://www.linlap.com/acer_aspire_s3 worked under kernel 3.2.04
but not under Olivia's kernel
|What was done to make it work:|
The BEST WAY TO GET A GOOD EXPERIENCE WIT THIS MACHINE is to install OLIVIA, or an OS w linux kernel 3.8.x.x.
I installed LMDE 201303 first, but the older kernel (3.2.04) caused many pesky problems. You could dump untold number of hours into fixing them one by one. Why bother.
this site shows possible solutions. Careful when you tweak X11 I ended up installing several times.
The touchpad is now configured (through mouse configuration in Mate) and workable, it has limited configurability,
so I am using an external usb hub to get a usb mouse attached (there aren't enough usb connectors on that machine)
The Acer Aspire S3 13.3" ultrabook is fast, sleek, and relatively decently priced.
Works good under Olivia.
Cons: battery life 4 hrs, limited connectivity (no ethernet, Wifi only, 2 USB ports only ) and a touchpad that's marginal.
backlight adjustment still doesn't really work, the extra 20 Gb ssd is a nonstandard P.O.S. but it CAN be put to some use, unless you replace the hdd with an ssd and then you don't need the 20 Gb, take it out. Its formfactor is nonstandard, you cannot put another ssd in its place.
I cracked the box open as per: http://www.techrepublic.com/photos/cracking-open-acer-aspire-s3-ultrabook/6333841
and replaced the hdd with an ssd, this will further reduce power consumption (a sleek box means the battery is small!)
Careful when you order an ssd make sure it is only 7 mm thick. It will tolerate 8 mm, but no more! the link http://goinglinux.com/articles/Optimize_Linux_For_SSD_Drive.html
is a good article
My Overall opinion and advice: try to get the cheapest Aspire s3 (thats the s3 i3) you can find, install the ssd and dump windows. Dont pay more than 400 bucks! If you find an i5 or i7 s3 now that is a screamer!