Linux on ASUS A6R (A6RP)

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So it came the day my old Acer died... actually it didn't, but I managed to break the display, and the repair cost was WAAAAAY too much to be repaired, so I decided that it wasn't going to happen.

This left me without a laptop, and shopping for a new one. I discounted most machines (especially new Acer Aspires that didn't looked tough enough for the job) and in the end I picked a new ASUS A6R.

The machine is a Celeron M 1.8 Ghz, with 1 Gb of ram and it was shipped with an 80 Gb disk. I didn't wanted to mess around so I just moved my old 120 Gb disk from the Acer to the ASUS, this saved me a lot of time in installation and personalziation but I had to start with the vanilla kernel. The video card is an ATI Radeon XPress 200M with 128 Mb of shared ram, this left me with a tad less than 900 Mb for normal use.

Since I was at it, I updated from Slack 10.2 to 11. The update was flawless, it simply started up without an hitch.



The Asus came with a widescreen display, now, I'm not particolarly fond of widescreen display, but since 90% of laptops now are equipped with this stuff, I had to use it. The only thing I had to do to use the display was to configure X to run at 1280x800 pixels. The standard VESA driver worked nicely enough.

Section "Screen"
  Identifier "Screen0"
  Device     "Videocard0"
  Monitor    "Monitor0"
  DefaultDepth     24
  SubSection "Display"
     Viewport   0 0
     Depth     24
     Modes    "1280x800" "1280x1024@60Hz" 

Note that in the modes I've left a 1280x1024@60Hz mode, this is to use the laptop with an external display (non-widescreen).

To improve the quality of the display I decide to bit the bullet and install the proprietary ATI driver. The driver can be download from the AMD/Ati website:

Once installed the display quality improved. I had to tamper a little bit with the X configuration because I didn't liked the way the automatic installer did it. So I changed it like this:

Section "Device"
  Identifier  "Videocard0"
  Driver      "fglrx"
  BoardName   "ATI Radeon Xpress 200M"

The dual-head display worked fine with the new version of ATI drivers (available from Jan 2008 from ATI's website, but not really much with the previous version.

Here is the Xorg.conf, it's not very dissimilar from the standard one and the only difference is the ati-configured bit. I've also added the 'Xinerama' option to have the display extend into the external monitor.

It worked fine with the default kernel. Based on lspci it's an ATI card but on my system it works with an Intel hda driver.

The internal wireless is a Broadcom BCM4318 (AirForce), that seems supported by kernel 2.6.17 and newer, unfortunately, for some reason I couldn't use any 2.6 kernel (see section 'things that didn't worked'), so I decided to use Ndiswrapper. Getting the driver from ASUS was simple enough ( get the .inf and .sys files out of the cab file using unshield (it's an Install Shield CAB file) and you're set.

The internal modem (winmodem), but actually I didn't even tried to make it work, I don't use it anyway so...

Suspend-to-disk, never used in my life.

# lspci
00:00.0 Host bridge: ATI Technologies Inc Unknown device 5a31 (rev 01)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: ATI Technologies Inc RS480 PCI Bridge
00:13.0 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc IXP SB400 USB Host Controller (rev 
00:13.1 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc IXP SB400 USB Host Controller (rev 
00:13.2 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc IXP SB400 USB2 Host Controller (rev
00:14.0 SMBus: ATI Technologies Inc IXP SB400 SMBus Controller (rev 82)
00:14.1 IDE interface: ATI Technologies Inc Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Contro
ller ATI (rev 80)
00:14.2 Audio device: ATI Technologies Inc SB450 HDA Audio (rev 01)
00:14.3 ISA bridge: ATI Technologies Inc IXP SB400 PCI-ISA Bridge (rev 80)
00:14.4 PCI bridge: ATI Technologies Inc IXP SB400 PCI-PCI Bridge (rev 80)
01:05.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc RC410 [Radeon Xpress 200
02:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8139/8139C/8139
C+ (rev 10)
02:01.0 CardBus bridge: Ricoh Co Ltd RL5c476 II (rev b3)
02:01.1 Class 0805: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Host Adapter (rev 1
02:01.2 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C592 Memory Stick Bus Host Adapter (re
v 08)
02:03.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4318 [AirForce One 54g] 802.
11g Wireless LAN Controller (rev 02)

Module                  Size  Used by    Tainted: P  
ndiswrapper           143032   0 
fglrx                 567412  12 
usbmouse                1912   0  (unused)
snd-seq-oss            23104   0  (unused)
snd-seq-midi-event      3208   0  [snd-seq-oss]
snd-seq                33552   2  [snd-seq-oss snd-seq-midi-event]
snd-seq-device          3716   0  [snd-seq-oss snd-seq]
snd-pcm-oss            28928   0  (unused)
snd-mixer-oss          11928   0  [snd-pcm-oss]
keybdev                 1828   0  (unused)
mousedev                4244   1 
hid                    21380   0  (unused)
usbkbd                  2936   0  (unused)
input                   3104   0  [usbmouse keybdev mousedev hid usbkbd]
usb-ohci               18856   0  (unused)
ehci-hcd               17644   0  (unused)
usbcore                56812   1  [ndiswrapper usbmouse hid usbkbd usb-ohci ehci-hcd]
snd-hda-intel           7964   0 
snd-hda-codec         108752   0  [snd-hda-intel]
snd-pcm                52804   0  [snd-pcm-oss snd-hda-intel snd-hda-codec]
snd-timer              13168   0  [snd-seq snd-pcm]
snd                    34304   0  [snd-seq-oss snd-seq-midi-event snd-seq 
snd-seq-device snd-pcm-oss snd-mixer-oss snd-hda-intel snd-hda-codec snd-pcm 
soundcore               3300   5  [snd]
snd-page-alloc          4980   0  [snd-seq-oss snd-seq snd-seq-device 
snd-mixer-oss snd-hda-intel snd-pcm snd-timer snd]
8139too                13672   1 
mii                     2304   0  [8139too]
crc32                   2880   0  [8139too]
yenta_socket           10532   0 
pcmcia_core            39492   0  [yenta_socket]
ide-scsi                9392   0 

# free
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:        903420     797640     105780          0      35392     548768
-/+ buffers/cache:     213480     689940
Swap:       522104          0     522104

# uname -a
Linux fogg #4 SMP Thu Jan 17 09:03:56 CET 2008 i686 Intel(R) 
Celeron(R) M CPU        440  @ 1.86GHz GenuineIntel GNU/Linux

Comments are added when and more important if I have the time to review them and after removing Spam, Crap, Phishing and the like. So don't hold your breath. And if your comment doesn't appear, is probably becuase it wasn't worth it.

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Davide Bianchi, works as Unix/Linux administrator for an hosting provider in The Netherlands.

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