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Linux on the ASUS L5800C Laptop

Specs

Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (DTP), 512 MB RAM DDR, Toshiba 80 GB HDD, Toshiba DVD-RW/CD-RW Combo, Floppy, 15" SXGA+ TFT, ATI Radeon 9000 Graphics, WinModem Intel 537, 3Com 3c940 1 GBit/s LAN, Broadcom BCM4301 802.11b WLAN, 5x SiS USB 2.0, SiS IEEE 1394 (Firewire), SiS 645xx Mainboard, Avance Logic ALC650 Sound, SD-/MMC- cardreader ENE Technology. ASUS also packages an USB mouse.



Installation

This system was installed with Debian GNU/Linux 3.0r1 plus some backports for XFree86, GNOME2, cdrecord and kernel 2.4.22. The base installation itself was quite painless. When loading drivers, the system sometimes complains about an error with the following message:
PCI: 00:0X.X PCI cache line size set incorrectlys (0 bytes) by BIOS/FW.
PCI: 00.0X.X PCI cache line size corrected to 128.

and
ohci_1394: Unexpected PCI resource length of 1000!
But everything seems to work fine.
When idle, the machine is relatively quiet, though not as quiet as notebooks with Pentium-M which you do not here at all, when idle. But there is a regular sound which seems to be produced by the harddisk. The fan only turns on under heavy usage, for instance when compiling a kernel and creates an average amount of noise, but still noise.

BIOS

You may reach the Award-BIOS with F2. When hitting ESC you can choose between HD, DVD-ROM, and a floppy to boot.

IDE/Chipset

The chipset runs fine with kernel 2.4.22. If you are planning to use 3D acceleration, you have to use the agpgart module from that kernel (or later).
The funny thing is that the harddisk is assigned to hdc and the optical drive to hda. Supposedly, someone at quality control messed up. :)

DVD-RW/CD-RW

Yes, this is a combo drive, able to read and write DVD-R,-RW,CD-R,-RW. To burn DVDs you need cdrecord-proDVD, which you get for free as a private person if you ask the author of cdrecord. There is only a demo version of the software available on his website. The drive is made by Toshiba P/N SDR 6012.

APM

Suspend and Standby do not seem to work and the battery status can not be read. So APM is useless, unless you want to use 3D acceleration (see section XFree86).

ACPI

Finally, with kernel 2.4.22, a recent implementation of ACPI is used in the standard kernel: 20030813. It seems to work quite reasonable. You might update the acpi4asus module, which can be downloaded from ACPI4ASUS. Then you have access to all kinds of functionkeys: hotkeys above the keyboard and the Fn-keys. The only thing missing is proper support of the display switching capability (/proc/acpi/asus/disp) which is necessary if you want to use 3D acceleration (see section XFree86).

SoftwareSuspend

Well, swsusp 1.0.3 works together with ACPI, get it from here. At least if you do not need networking after the suspend... There had been several unsuccessful hunks when applying the 1.0.3 patch on 2.4.22 and it is unsure if the shipped extra-patch for 2.4.22-preX covers all of these. Unfortunately, version 1.1-rc7 does not suspend anymore on this machine and 1.1-rc8 does not even compile (though the errors seem trivial).

Sound (ALSA)

Works like a charm with snd-intel8x0. There is also no possibility to change the volume of the sound output, but you can configure the Fn-buttons (F10-F12) via acpid to control the alsamixer when you have loaded asus_acpi.

Console

The framebuffer support for radeonfb does not work. From 2.4.22 on, the display switches to blank and never comes back, earlier kernels did not even react to any settings that were tried. This seems to be more of a problem with the display which you can read more about in the section XFree86. Luckily, vesafb works with 1400x1050 (vga=834 in lilo.conf)

XFree86

XFree86 4.3.0 works fine with vesa, which is, of course, lacking support for 3D. Unfortunately, the driver radeon and DRI cause a lot of problems. agpgart loads fine with kernel 2.4.22 (not with 2.4.21!). You should install the latest DRI (and DRM) driver from dri.sf.net. Unfortunately, it seems a little broken, so that you can see "DRI enabled" in /var/log/XFree86.log, but glxinfo says "direct rendering: No", which is proven by all OpenGL-applications that have been tried (glxgears, gltron). It looks that the breakage appeared when the DRI driver was cleaned up and the swsusp-patch was included. Thus, to have 3D _and_ the ability to swsusp, the (old) driver from Charl P. Botha is used.
There is also a more severe problem with radeon which looks similar to the problem with radeonfb: XFree86 is started, the display switches to another mode but keeps being blank while the session of the window manager is sucessfully begun. The (temporary solution) is to switch forth and back between the internal and the external display. The external monitor really has to be there (or a substitute like connectors, tin foil, etc.), see this report at debian-devel how to use it and checkout this forum at linuxquestions.org to get some more info. So the two operating modes are these:
1) APM ("acpi=off apm=on" in /etc/lilo.conf) + radeon (Driver "ati" in /etc/X11/XF86Config-4) + 3D + external monitor switching or
2) ACPI ("acpi=on" in /etc/lilo.conf) + vesa (Driver "vesa" in /etc/X11/XF86Config-4) + no 3D. Actually, it should be possible to use ACPI and 3D together. It is important that the external monitor is plugged into the machine _before_ it is booted. Only then is switching possible via /proc/acpi/asus/disp (you can program acpid to do the right echos for you when Fn+F8 is pressed). But if the driver radeon really works under ACPI was not tried, because there was only limited access to a proper external monitor.
Both modes run in 1400x1050 @ 24 bpp.
Update: Some people seem to have fixed the display problem with the driver radeon, check this report [archived link] for more info.

Touchpad

It is a Synaptics touchpad and the scroll buttons work as soon as you install the appropriate driver from tuxmobil.org.

PCMCIA

Business as usual, take yenta_socket as driver and off you go.

USB

USB is driven by usb-ohci (1.x) and ehci-hcd (2.x).

IEEE1394

Firewire seems to work ok with the usual modules: ieee1394, ohci1394, sbp2.

Network

The LAN driver to be used is sk98lin, although the chip is labelled 3Com 3c940. You should grab the latest driver (6.17) from SysKonnect , previous drivers did not work here. And if you happen to use an older implementation of ACPI than shipped with 2.4.22, you have to use pci=noacpi. Please note: the driver has been included in recent kernels.

Wireless LAN

Apart from Intel's announcement to support their Centrino-WLAN-Chip in Linux somewhen next year, a company called Linuxant has developed a technology to use the drivers for Windows XP in Linux. Unfortunately, it is deeply non-free, though Linuxant asks the hardware vendors to support them, so that the product will be at least given to the users without charging them. Currently (October 2003), you get, after a registration process, a 30 day trial license which seems to be hardcoded to the MAC-address of your WLAN card. There is also a commercial license available now.

ndiswrapper is an Open Source project which tries to implement the necessary NDIS functions needed to get cards without Linux drivers to work. But I have not tried this yet.

The necessary MicroSoft-Windows files (e.g. w70n51.inf are provided by ASUS via FTP ftp://ftp.asuscom.de/pub/NOTEBOOK/M2x00N/INTEL_Calexico/PROW7100.ZIP or on the CD in the directory: /intel_calexico/prow7100/winxp/

IrDA

The serial driver works via ircomm and irattach, FastIrDA - FIR was not tried.

Modem

The modem does not work at all. It is an Intel 537 WinModem, which is not supported. A driver development was started some years ago, but to no avail. The driver page can be found here.

SD-/MMC- Cardreader

Unfortunately, the reader is not supported. An inquiry was sent to ENE Technology, but they did not answer yet.

Credits

  • Sebastian Henschel







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© Werner Heuser 1997-2013 · http://tuxmobil.org/asus_l5800c.html · last change Sat Oct 4 2008