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LAPTOP - ACER TRAVELMATE 661lci (LInux & BSD)

Contents

  1. Intro
  2. General
  3. Ethernet (Broadcom 4400)
  4. Video (82852/855GM)
  5. DRI
  6. Sound (Intel Corp. 82801DB AC'97 Audio)
  7. USB (Intel Corp. 82801DB USB EHCI)
  8. Firewire (Texas Instruments TSB43AB21)
  9. Memory Card Reader ()
  10. Wireless (Intel 2100)
  11. Modem  (Intel Corp. 82801DB AC'97 Modem)
  12. CDRW (QSI CD-RW/DVD-ROM SBW-242)
  13. IRDA
  14. SmardCard Reader (O2Micro, Inc)
  15. PCMCIA (O2 Micro, Inc)
  16. Suspend
  17. ACPI

 
  1 Intro

Got my brand new Acer on 09.09.03 and installed Linux without even trying the Microsoft crap. There was something called XP Home on the disk and i don't accepted the EULA. I hope that with my next Laptop there will be a choice to either get Linux or no OS at all with that Notebook. Acer offers this (no OS) but not for the TM 661LCi (100+ bucks wasted #%$!).

Some words on the Acer itself. Despite its 'low' CPU Frequency the Notebook has quite a impressive performance. It looks good, has all features i need (SXGA, USB2, Firewire, LAN, Modem ,  etc.) and makes a good deal for that price.

  Update
  Benchmark    
  kernel compile :  bzImage 3:09 ; modules 16:11 (real)
                              one user ; no X ; running 2.4.23-pre7 , comp. 2.4.23-pre7
                              RH9 20-20-9 conf with ACPI added
                           
  Since the Linux install involved some searching this description is maybe
  useful for other Acer TM 661LCi owners. Here is how it  goes :

  2 General

  uname -a
  [root@proton linux-2.4]# uname -a
  Linux proton.warpnet.com 2.4.20-20.9 #1 Mon Aug 18 11:45:58 EDT 2003 
  i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

  => Redhat 9. The installation went through without any Problems. I used the 2nd Edition from the German Redhat Mag. and updated through up2date. With 1st boot press F2 and change the BIOS to boot from the DVD/CDRW drive. If i had known that before it would have prevented me from the annoying experience of the XP Setup Shit. No other BIOS changes are necessary (maybe more memory for the Intel Card -  i changed the value to 32 MB). To get around stupid restrictions with the Redhat disk druid i used the good old fdisk on vt2 and then disk druid to assign the fdisk created partitions.

Older Kernels fail to report the correct cache size of the Pentium-M. They show 0KB in /proc/cpuinfo instead of 1024KB. This error is corrected with 2.4.23-pre? (works with 6 and 7. dunno about others).

 => Fedora Core 1 since Oct 2003
 => Fedora Core 2 since May 2004
 => FC5 since May 2006
 => OpenBSD 3.6 (bcm 4401 issue resolved in 3.5)
 => Solaris 10 (since bmc4401 support)
      Solaris installation on external USB2 Disk !      
 
  3 Ethernet

The Broadcom bmc4400 is supported via a Driver from Broadcom. Was
quite easy to obtain and install. Newer Kernels should support that card out of
the box. In the 2.6.x series its called b44. Just get the Kernel Source install and
configure. The Broadcom Driver should build without any Problems.

  lsmod
  ...
  bcm4400                32736   1

Don't know why Redhat (RH9) does not include this stable driver. Gentoo Linux and maybe others do so. I used a Lucent Wireless Card to transfer this driver to
the Laptop.
   
Update: In 2.4.22+  (kernel.org) this driver is build in. The name is b44 instead of bcm44 (modules.conf has to be modified). If you use 2.6.x and 2.4.x be sure to get the old modutils back when you  use mkinitrd on 2.4.x kernels. The insmod.static from 2.6.x modutils creates images that fail with 2.4.x (sytsem hangs on boot) !

  4 Video / XFree86
 
The BIOS does not return the Panel resolution which prevents X from
choosing the native Panel resolution. Got it working with 1280x1024x16M.
Wrote a  Letter of complain to Acer and Intel for better Linux support. Intel
provides Modules for Acceleration but they don't compile.
 

The resolution thing sucks a bit but better than crashing, slow performance, security Problems and the like Windows user face. If someone has a solution to these Problems i would like to know !! (got it - THX)

Update : One Solution i found is to use the www.xig.com 'Summit' Laptop Drivers. This commercial XServer has 2D and 3D Acceleration and supports many  non - BIOS resolutions including 1400x1050x16M. XIG has a try & buy  download. Simple installation - good docs.

* Update :   Alain Poirier (see link below) managed to write a program that copies the BIOS to RAM and manipulates it there.  http://www.temil.com/855resolution.c .  Thx 2 Rene Joldersma for submiting the Link. xdpyinfo after running ./855resolution  3c 1400 1050    = > [xdpyinfo | grep dimensions:    1400x1050 pixels (474x356 millimeters). Local copy.

    DRI / Acceleration with XFree86
 
I tried all sorts of X upgrades but everything failed. I used XFree 4.3 and 4.3.99.x.  
If someone was able to get that working on a RH9 box with a RH supplied Kernel (2.4.20-20.9 or recent one from kernel.org) drop me a line ! I have still no clue were this drmAgpUnbind() comes from (after hours of googling ..).

    Update :  FC2 and still no working acceleration.

  6 Sound

   Simply works.

  7 USB

   Simply Works. I have a external USB Floppy, DigiCam, Memory Stick and MP3
   Player.

  8 Firewire

  Detected but i don't know if it works. I think about buying a Firewire Disk.
  With kernel 2.4.22 the Laptop hangs on boot in the Firewire init. With
  2.4.23-pre6 and pre7 it works.

  9 Memory Card Reader
 
       Simply works. Its /dev/sda.

  10 Wireless

The Intel 2100 isn't supported yet. Waiting for Intel to complete that work (see Intels Page on Centrino - its worked on) . Using a Lucent Orinoco until that's finished.

Update : There are several solutions like ndiswrapper, driverloader and ipw2100. Right  now i am using the ipw2100 driver.

  11 Modem

Found a Page with a reference to the Linux Driver. The smlink Driver Works.

   lsmod
   ..
   slamrmo               282080   0
   slmdm                1291968   0  [slamrmo]


  12 CDRW
 
   Works. Burned a-lot with K3b and gcombust.

  13 IRDA

   Don't know if it works. See 1st entry in 'more Links'. I have no use for that.

  14 Smart Card Reader from O2Micro

Don't know. Found no driver downloads on the O2mirco website. Someone mentioned (dejanews search) that the .tw or .com office has a  binary Driver. Will try to contact them later since i want to use that instead of the normal login procedure (pam).
 
  cardctl ident
  Socket 1:
  product info: "O2Micro", "SmartCardBus Reader", "V1.0"
  manfid: 0xffff, 0x0001

Update : Still nothing. Someone with more Info ??

  15 PCMCIA

   Works. I use a Lucent Orinoco, Flash Card Adaptor and a 2nd Ethernet Card
   from Netgear.

   Upgrade : I had to manual insert mods and start the pcmcia service after using  
   kernels from kernel.org. Seems a matter of fixing some configs ..

   insmod pcmcia_core
   insmod yenta_socket
   insmod ds

   /etc/rc2.d/init.d/pcmcia start
 
  Not tested what happends with 2.6.0-preX.

  16 Suspend

Forgot to plug the power in  and the Notebook  was running around 5h. The 'boot' afterwards was only a few seconds and Linux was back in the state it powered down (surprise). I had to manualy restart the network subsystem.

  17 ACPI

Its deactivated in Redhat Kernels. I use 2.4.23-pre7 with RH config + ACPI  activated. Newer Kernels also have support for Acer specific stuff which i also turned on. Take a look at a project called ltpconf on freshmeat (ACPI Control GUI / qt based. The prog crashed if the modules (= proc entries) are not present).
Links

Linux on TM 661LCi
Linux USB
Linux Modem
Linux Laptop
Linux Tux Mobile
Linux Xtops
Linux & Centrino
Linux
Laptop Forum Laptop
Kernel Patches
ACPI/ Centrino
Linux IRDA Project
TuxMobil