This is a nice little notebook I picked up recently at a Singapore Expo (NB: Prices in Singapore aren’t nearly as cheap as the location would suggest : I should have stayed in the USA to get better prices…)

Basic Specs

  • Intel Celeron CPU N2840 @ 2.16GHz
  • 2Gb RAM
  • 11inch display
  • 320Gb HD
  • Fanless

The last feature was actually somewhat attractive, since it speaks to good heat dissapation, which is an important factor in Singapore (where the heat/humidity seems to destroy electronics at an alarming rate).

Aim : Never boot Windows, and install Linux

Getting into the BIOS initially :

  • Power switch
  • First display of “Acer” logo
  • Mash F2 repeatedly

BIOS parameter updates required

  • BIOS-Boot

    • Boot:Boot-Bode = UEFI Legacy
    • Boot:Boot-Priority-Order = 1. USB HDD : Generic Flash Disk (use F6 to move it, as prompted)
    • Main:F12-Boot-Menu = Enabled (Display F12 on boot up)

Booting into Fedora Live (USB stick)

Fedora installer should then boot with USB stick in one of the back slots.

However, Fedora Linux didn’t boot simply :

  • Needed to go into Troubleshooter and chose “Boot in simple display mode”

Then installation was as standard :

  • Rebooting into Linux brings up non-graphical boot screen (with the blue text-bar along the bottom of the screen.
    * Something must be off with the initial mode-setting.

  • Opted to liberate space in the Windows DATA partition (over 140Gb available there)

First few boots

Just make sure one can cycle the machine reliably.

Then update while connected to hard-wire eth0 :

yum install yum-plugins-fastestmirror
yum update yum 
# next line is optional :
yum remove transmission* claws-mail* midori* pidgin* remmina* liferea* abiword* orage* parole*
yum update

And some more ‘personal taste’ items :

yum install firefox libreoffice vlc
yum install scite joe
yum install gimp inkscape

And power cycle again…

Update the kernel parameters

Either test the new parameters by editing the kernel bootline at boot time, or make the changes ‘permanent’ (i.e. survive reboots and upgrades) by editing the /etc/default/grub file :

joe /etc/default/grub 
grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

Things to add :

  • i8042.nopnp
    • seems to enable touchpad
  • acpi_osi="Linux"
    • this is helpful with suspend (maybe)
    • the " need to be quoted properly in the grub config file

Quoting-wise the end of the line in the /etc/default/grub file should read : i8042.nopnp acpi_osi=\"Linux\"" (where the last " closes the opening double-quote near the start of the long GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=" definition.

Things to remove :

  • nomodeset
    • this makes both the Disk-encryption box, and lightdm look much better
    • And (suddenly) the brightness stuff seemed to work !!

Final, overall command line (seen near the start of dmesg | more):

BOOT_IMAGE=/vmlinuz-3.16.7-200.fc20.x86_64 root=/dev/mapper/fedora-root ro rd.lvm.lv=fedora/swap vconsole.font=latarcyrheb-sun16 rd.lvm.lv=fedora/root rd.luks.uuid=luks-XXXX rhgb quiet acpi_osi=Linux

Installing WiFi

Once the latest kernel is installed, follow these excellent instructions, which essentially require :

# wget and install rpmfusion-nonfree
yum installkmod-wl

This works!!

Touchpad issues

  • If the touchpad has ‘gone away’ again : Try the Fn-F7 is ‘touchpad on/off’ key

  • Sometimes the touchpad goes ‘berzerk’, this can sometimes be cured (best method so far) by doing Fn-F7 twice.

* If anyone has any clues about how to fix this properly, then please leave a comment below

Potentially check out :

  • (http://chakraos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=83718)
  • (http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?t=184092&p=956784)

NOTES:

From the discussion below, it seems that the ‘berzerk’ thing may well not be Linux-related at all. There are quite a few complaints from Windows users too in the Acer forums, with many returning their laptops to Acer for a hardware fix. I didn’t notice this initially, since my web searches were always “Linux Acer touchpad …”, which effectively filtered out the overarching hardware aspect.

Actually, I’ve just (2015-05-31) dismantled, fiddled around and reassembled the machine, and will post shortly about the results - once they’re more conclusive (I only know that the machine still works at this point, and need longer to watch for the intermittent ‘berzerk’ behaviour).

Skype notes

There’s no 64-bit version of Skype available, so one has to resort to the i686 (32-bit) verison.

Installing the Skype repo, and then the rpm will attempt to pull in a whole heap of 32-bit rpms too.

So, as a precheck, list out the {i586,i686} rpms already installed, so that if you want to remove Skype later (or Microsoft decides to offer an actual 64-bit version), one can get rid of all the dependencies in one move.

Fortunately, Fedora 64-bit has (at this point) not installed a single 32-bit rpm, so they’ll be easy to clear out later.

We’ve also had complaints about echo from the other end of a Skype-to-Skype call. Strangely, the audio sounds fine on the laptop itself. However, other Skype machines in the same location (same login) don’t have the issue (same version of Fedora. etc).

Extra : Start SSHd

systemctl start sshd
systemctl enable sshd

Extra : Mount shared drive

  • Added line to /etc/fstab
  • Added credentials file to /home/<username>/.cifs/<servername>
  • Added hostname to /etc/hosts
  • Added mountpoint to /mnt/<point>
  • Added soft-link in /home/<username>/<mountfolder> to correct folder within the mounted drive

Extra : Add IBus-Japanese-KanaKanji

Misc stuff (exploratory work - not required to make the machine run)

Acer WMI hotkeys /devices/virtual/input/input9
Acer BMA150 accelerometer /devices/virtual/input/input10

webcam = input11 over USB

cfg80211 configuring - looks like WiFi frequencies
r8169 link down  p2p1

Broadcom something on USB 2-2.1  BCM43142A0

Lots of :: hub 1-1:1.0 hub_port_status failed (err = -110)

xinput results :

xinput
⎡ Virtual core pointer                    	id=2	[master pointer  (3)]
⎜   ↳ Virtual core XTEST pointer              	id=4	[slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad              	id=11	[slave  pointer  (2)]
⎣ Virtual core keyboard                   	id=3	[master keyboard (2)]
    ↳ Virtual core XTEST keyboard             	id=5	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Power Button                            	id=6	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Power Button                            	id=7	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Sleep Button                            	id=8	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ HD WebCam                               	id=9	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ AT Translated Set 2 keyboard            	id=10	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Acer WMI hotkeys                        	id=12	[slave  keyboard (3)]

lspci results :

lspci -vnn | grep Broadcom
02:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Broadcom Corporation BCM43142 802.11b/g/n [14e4:4365] (rev 01)

WiFi dead-ends

yum search b43
yum install b43-fwcutter  # Already installed

See also : (https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?pid=1443563#p1443563)

Getting Suspend to work (nomodeset removal fixes all this)

Works : Get suspend working properly

  • add kernel opt : acpi_osi=Linux
    • Ahah : The modesetting seems to be a major factor (NOW WORKS!)
  • Sleeping appears to put the network to sleep appropriately
  • And pressing key brings back ‘extra blue light’.
  • And the SSH session is available again - but screen not showing anything
  • Install acpid to see whether that should be playing a role

Works : Screen brightness controls

Needs : acpi_osi="Linux"

Not required : acpi_backlight=vendor

  • http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=165133&start=20
  • Have a look in : /sys/class/backlight/ to see whether there’s something there…
yum install acpid
systemctl enable acpid
systemctl start acpid
acpi_listen 
  # .. works for VolUp and VolDown (and Mute and DisplaySwitcher)
  # .. and now for brightness keys

NOT REQUIRED :

yum install xbacklight

Misc output along the way

[    55.513] (II) LoadModule: "vbe"
[    55.513] (II) Loading /usr/lib64/xorg/modules/libvbe.so
[    55.513] (II) Module vbe: vendor="X.Org Foundation"
[    55.513] 	compiled for 1.14.4, module version = 1.1.0
[    55.513] 	ABI class: X.Org Video Driver, version 14.1
[    55.513] (II) Loading sub module "int10"
[    55.513] (II) LoadModule: "int10"
[    55.513] (II) Loading /usr/lib64/xorg/modules/libint10.so
[    55.514] (II) Module int10: vendor="X.Org Foundation"
[    55.514] 	compiled for 1.14.4, module version = 1.0.0
[    55.514] 	ABI class: X.Org Video Driver, version 14.1
[    55.514] (II) VESA(0): initializing int10
[    55.515] (II) VESA(0): Bad V_BIOS checksum
[    55.515] (II) VESA(0): Primary V_BIOS segment is: 0xc000
[    55.515] (II) VESA(0): VESA BIOS detected
[    55.515] (II) VESA(0): VESA VBE Version 3.0
[    55.515] (II) VESA(0): VESA VBE Total Mem: 63424 kB
[    55.515] (II) VESA(0): VESA VBE OEM: Intel(R) VLV Mobile/Desktop Graphics Chipset Accelerated VGA BIOS
[    57.630] (**) Acer WMI hotkeys: always reports core events
[    57.630] (**) evdev: Acer WMI hotkeys: Device: "/dev/input/event7"
[    57.630] (--) evdev: Acer WMI hotkeys: Vendor 0 Product 0
[    57.630] (--) evdev: Acer WMI hotkeys: Found keys
[    57.630] (II) evdev: Acer WMI hotkeys: Configuring as keyboard
[    57.630] (**) Option "config_info" "udev:/sys/devices/virtual/input/input16/event7"
[    57.630] (II) XINPUT: Adding extended input device "Acer WMI hotkeys" (type: KEYBOARD, id 12)
[    57.630] (**) Option "xkb_rules" "evdev"
[    57.630] (**) Option "xkb_model" "pc104"
[    57.630] (**) Option "xkb_layout" "us"
[    57.631] (II) config/udev: Adding input device Acer BMA150 accelerometer (/dev/input/event8)
[    57.631] (II) No input driver specified, ignoring this device.
[    57.631] (II) This device may have been added with another device file.
[    57.631] (II) config/udev: Adding input device Acer BMA150 accelerometer (/dev/input/js0)
[    57.631] (II) No input driver specified, ignoring this device.
[    57.631] (II) This device may have been added with another device file.
Acer hotkeys:
/sys/devices/virtual/input/input16/name 
Accelerator
/sys/devices/virtual/input/input17/name 


Martin Andrews

{Finance, Software, AI} entrepreneur, living in Singapore with my family.



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