As I mentioned in my previous note, my previous laptop destroyed its fan last week. Since it had started to show its age in other respects as well and was deemed not worth repairing, I got a new one yesterday -- an Acer TravelMate 6292. This is a Core 2 Duo / Santa Rosa chipset based model, with some pretty cutting-edge technology inside. I'll write down the details later when typing is easier, but for anyone who might be considering one to use with Linux: yes, it does work, quite well in fact, but a bit of tweaking is required due to its very new components.

Update: it's been 17 months since I wrote this post, and it keeps being one of the more popular things in this blog. Time to add some up-to-date detail.

  • Fedora 7 LiveCD didn't like to boot, possibly due to a missing driver (it didn't like my previous laptop's external Firewire CD drive either). It might be possible to work around by changing BIOS settings, but I borrowed a USB CD drive instead. Update: this hasn't been a problem since F8.

  • Otherwise, the LiveCD install experience (including resizing and moving the Windows partition out of the way) was a very smooth one. I hadn't done this before, and was positively surprised. I'm certain Microsoft hasn't made their install this smooth, and I doubt Apple has, either. Much recommended, if you're even a little bit curious.

  • Network-based update post-install no problem using a wired network. All in all, the install took about 1 hour to move Windows partition, 20 minutes to install Fedora, and 30 minutes for it to load updates afterwards (this was surprisingly slow for some reason).

  • Wireless (Intel Wireless 4965 A/G/N adapter) driver (iwlwifi) was preinstalled, but the required firmware wasn't (the package only included firmware for the previous model, 3945). No problem, just install iwlwifi-4965-ucode from ATrpms. Update: Intel has an official wireless site for the firmware.

  • Things which worked without any effort at all: battery monitoring, CPU frequency control, temperature monitoring, wired Ethernet, Bluetooth, docking station, and many other things I take for granted. In fact, the machine was entirely functional save for the missing wireless adapter microcode straight off the LiveCD, and all that I did for it was to improve performance past the "functional" stage.

  • Display was a bit fuzzy, and 3D acceleration didn't work. This was because the preinstalled Xorg Intel driver v 2.0 includes only basic support for GMA X3100. Both problems disappear by installing a new kernel (for updated 3D/DRI driver) and Xorg 1.3.0/Intel 2.1.0 (for 2D etc), ie by running this command: Update: Display has worked perfectly since F8 and the Intel driver keeps improving in capabilities and performance
  • Both suspend-to-ram (S3) and hibernate-to-disk work fine, once the usb drivers are forced out of the kernel prior to suspend. Create /etc/pm/config.d/unload_modules with one line:

    SUSPEND_MODULES="ehci_hcd ohci_hcd uhci_hcd"
    
  • Update: The Crystal Eye webcam (USB ID 064e:a101) works using the linux-uvc driver, which needs to be installed from source (download, extract, make, make install) is included in the kernel since F9. Make sure you configure each application to use V4L2 instead of the old V4L API. For example with Ekiga, choose V4L2 instead of V4L in the configuration druid or in the Video Devices Preferences. Same goes for anything based on GStreamer.
  • Something still to do about audio, apparently common to many Santa Rosa laptops and the ALSA Intel HD Audio driver, at least ones which use a Realtek codec. Notes from Ubuntu might guide you along - me, I'll try again after my vacations. Perhaps someone else will bother to fix this one. :) Update: Sound playback as well as recording work - though the recording quality isn't quite what I would expect from a "noise cancelling" three-mic setup the hardware has. I never tested it under Windows, though, so I can't say how close this is to intended quality.

  • Haven't tried to use the fingerprint reader (USB ID 147e:2016) yet, the biometrics libraries required look a bit overwhelming to install. Update: this is still not out-of-the-box functional, but the ever-industrious Bastien Nocera has recently packaged libfprint and fprintd for inclusion in Fedora 11. I've tested those packages, and they support the hardware - not quite ready for end-users, though.