Repairing an ACER ASPIRE ONE netbook running Linux OS
which has started to display the error "failed to initialize HAL!".

by Michael Crummy, March 2011
If this info was at all useful please let me know at
mikecrummy@virginmedia.com

I apologise if this fix comes way too late for many with Acer Aspire One problems.
I have only recently become aware of this problem when I was asked to look
at an AAO exhibiting this error message (March 2011). I was unable to find a
successful solution to the problem on the Web so I set about working on one
myself. I think this problem may have been around for many years and a lot of
AAO's will have either been binned or converted to XP or Windows 7 because
of this prob. However I will still offer this solution for those of you who still wish
to run the Linux OS. This solution was the one which worked for me, I hope you
are as successful.
Tools required
- a wired ethernet cable connected to the internet (via a router or whatever)



Please be aware that performing the following operations is entirely at your own risk.
In my personal experience no data was lost by following these instructions, but I take
no responsibility for any data you may lose. It is possible to back up the hard drive
partition using tools like G-Parted but I am not going to go into detail about that now.




THE PROBLEM:

See pic below - if you are seeing this then your AAO will have been rendered almost useless.
The HAL or Hardware Abstraction Layer interfaces between the operating system and the
hardware. When it fails to initialise access is lost to the USB ports, card readers, ethernet
and wireless networks. Sound is also affected - close examination of the pic below shows a
muted speaker icon - any attempt to adjust the volume results in an error message.
The power control circuit may also be affected - the machine will not power down using the
shutdown option and will not switch off until the power button is held down for approx 4 seconds.


If you do not have a recovery CD or your machine does not come with a recovery partition
installed, how do you re-install or fix when all ports to the outside world have failed.
Having scoured the internet for a solution, I found many suggestions, but none that resolved
the issue. However, through trial and error, some luck, and a large helping of dogged
determination, I have devised a solution which requires nothing but a wired internet
connection, and leaves all existing data intact.



THE FIX:

What we are about to do is attempt to open the ethernet port long enough to connect to the live
update server (which contrarily was probably the cause of the issue in the first place).
Once all the available updates are installed the netbook is fixed.

The following steps must be followed exactly for the fix to work.

1) Power up the AAO - boot time will be longer than usual, and we will eventually see
the dreaded HAL error message. Close the error message - we shouldn't see it again

2) Press ALT and F2 simultaneously to bring up the command line

3) Type xterm into the box and press enter



4) In the terminal window which opens type sudo su and press enter



5) After the # sign which has now appeared type cd /etc and press enter



6) Now type rm mta* and press enter
In the pic below you can see I have listed all the mta* files by issuing the command
ls mta* but you can skip this step.

7) You will now be asked repeatedly if you want to remove a file - type y and enter
until the question is no longer asked.




8) Now type /etc/rc.d/slim/nowait.sh and press enter. A lot of info will now scroll through on
the terminal window, and will start repeating the line - message: screensaver is not running.



9) At this point we need to force a restart - hold the power button down for about 4 seconds -
the computer should turn off. Once it has done so press the power button once more to start
it up again. The computer will power up and attempt to boot, and then reboot itself once more.
Eventually the system will power up and...
....lo and behold no HAL error message -
BUT WAIT - we're not finished yet.
(Note that the speaker icon is now unmuted - looks like some functionality has returned).


Now the important bit:

REPEAT STEPS 2 TO 8

10) The terminal window should again be in a loop constantly repeating the line
"message: screensaver is not running".
And now for the magic bit. Plug in an ethernet cable which has access to the internet.
And what happens - the computer proudly announces that we are connected to the wired network.
At last - a connection to the outside world!!




11) Go into preferences and select live update - updates should now be downloaded and applied which
will cure the HAL problem. This may take some time dependant on the speed of your internet connection.




12) Once all the updates have installed reboot and run live update again - there will be
more updates available. (Note that preferences has now become settings)

AND VOILA - JOB DONE