This document describes compatibility issues with the Fedora Core 2 Linux distribution with the AOpen 1557GLS notebook. This notebook is effectively a cheaper "white-box" system but represents good value for money when you consider the specs and general quality. I would recommend this system for someone looking for a affordable yet powerful Linux based notebook.
|Processor||Intel Pentium M 1.6GHz|
|Video||ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 M10 with external video out|
|Hard disk||60GB 4200 RPM Fujitsu|
|CD-ROM||Built-in AOpen DVD+RW|
|Ethernet||Built-in 100Base-T. Broadcom BCM4401 chipset.|
|Wireless||Built-in Intel PRO/Wireless 2200 (802.11B/G)|
|PCMCIA||One built-in type II PCMCIA slot. One built-in 3-in-1 SD/MMC/MS card reader.|
|Modem||Built-in AC'97 Modem controller|
|Other I/O||3x USB, 1x Firewire, 1x s-video, 1x parallel. reader.|
Overall installation of FC2 went well, with no major hiccups. The graphical installer worked flawlessly. All the essential pieces of hardware were picked up (USB, network, LCD, video). X came up without any problems. I was impressed with how easy it was to install FC2 considering that the hardware chipsets used in this unit were all quite new at the time.
Initial Installation with Open Source Driver (radeon)
Fedore Core 2 picked up the LCD correctly. X was automatically configured with the open source "radeon" driver which works ok but provides no 3D acceleration.
ATI Proprietary Driver (fglrx)
ATI provides X drivers for their Radeon chipsets. These drivers are intended for XFree86 and because FC2 uses the X.Org xserver some small patches are required. I followed the excellent instructions from the Unofficial Fedora FAQ for installing the ATI drivers. The drivers installed without a problem.
You can use the "glxgears" utility to test 3D performance. I get around 1200fps when using the fglrx driver. This isn't too bad for a notebook system.
Update 2004-11-26: The proprietary ATI Radeon drivers are now available in RPM packages from the rpm.livna.org repository. See the instructions in the Unofficial Fedora FAQ for installation details. These RPMs worked well for me.
When switching between text and graphics mode there is a second or so of disconcerting screen noise. The noise seems to be significantly worse when the "radeon" driver is in use. Don't be alarmed, the display will sort itself out.
This notebook has a VGA connector to support an external monitor which can be used for a variety of dual-head configurations.
I abandonded my efforts with using the "fglrx" driver for dual-head because although it does work, it insists on using the same resolution and refresh rate for the second monitor as the notebook's LCD. My second monitor is a CRT and the 60Hz LCD refresh rate was painful to look at. Incidentally, this isn't a Linux specific problem. The Windows ATI drivers do the same thing.
My preferred solution was to go back to the open-source "radeon" driver and uses the Xinerama extensions to create the dual-head setup. This lets you control the resolutions and refresh rates of each monitor independently. Gnome also seems to support Xinerama and is fairly intelligent about window placement and sizing in a dual-head setup. The main problem with this configuration is the lack of 3D acceleration. This isn't a major issue for me as I don't play games and I can live without the OpenGL screensavers.
See my /etc/X11/xorg.conf for more details.
This notebook supports both ACPI and APM but seems to run hotter when APM is disabled. Basic ACPI seems to work fine with the stock Fedora Core 2 installation. Pressing the power button will trigger acpid to cleanly shut down the system. Sane values are reported for the battery status.
I have tried suspend-to-RAM (echo 3 > /proc/acpi/sleep). You need to uninstall the USB drivers first as these don't yet work with suspend (a known problem). The system goes into suspend mode and the hardware suspend light comes on. When the power button is pushed the system seems to come out of suspend but the display doesn't come back on. I intend on investigating this further and will update this document.
I intend on trying the system with suspend-to-disk but the Fedora Core 2 kernel doesn't ship with this enabled. More to come after a kernel recompile...
CD and DVD burning under Fedora Core 2 only produced coasters or kernel crashes for me until the kernel was updated to version 2.6.9. With the new kernel the widely known CD/DVD burning issues seem to have gone away. I have just burnt the Fedora Core 3 install DVD without problems.
I've had no success getting a PC Card to work with Linux. Kernel logs indicate that card insertion is detected but I've never managed to get past that (haven't tried too hard either).
The 1557GLS has an internal Broadcom Corporation BCM4401 100BaseT ethernet adapter. The Fedora kernel has the driver for this card (b44) compiled in. Fedora picked up the card at install time and the driver has worked without problems.
Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG
Fedora Core 2 doesn't ship with a driver for this wireless chipset but fortunately Intel does have a GPL'd driver available. I installed from source, following the decent instructions included.
The driver works fine but isn't complete yet. Specifically, scanning isn't supported yet and radio reception occassionally fails to work after the driver is loaded. In this case, reloading the driver fixes the problem. The driver is under active development with new releases every few weeks so these issues should be resolved soon.
This notebook contains an Intel AC'97 based softmodem. Fortunately there is a source-based driver available from SmarkLink. Simply follow the excellent instructions included with the source. The modem appears to work flawlessly.
I'm happy to answer questions about this document. I can be reached at <menno_AT_freshfoo_DOT_com>.