When you open alsamixer in the terminal, are you adjusting more than one channel? The panel applet is set to control just one channel, usually master or pcm. When you adjust from alsamixer, the settings are not automatically saved, so each time you restart, it's reverting to the old settings. To save your settings after adjusting from the terminal, type: sudo alsactl store
I hadn't even heard of this one until now. I googled it - this is their netbook, right? The one I'm looking at is $900 for specs no better than any of the $400 netbooks, yikes! Anyway, a quick glance gives no reason why it couldn't run linux. It's got an atom processor and and intel graphics card. What specifically is happening when you try and boot? Are you getting any error messages?