openSuSE 10.2 on FSC Amilo Pro Pa1538

What’s this all about?

The article explains the process of installing openSuSE Linux version 10.2 on Fujitsu-Siemens Computers laptop Amilo Pro Pa1538. FSC Amilo Pro Pa1538 comes with bellow characteristics:

CPU: AMD Turion64 X2 TL52 (up to TL60)
RAM : 1Gb (max. 2Gb)
Chipset: nVidia C51D + MCP51
GPU: nVidia GForce Go 7400/128Mb DDR2
HDD: Western Digital SATA 160Gb (5400rpm)
DVD: DVD-RW with DL support
Display: 15,4″ WXGA (1280×800) Brilliant View display
Sound: ALC883 7.1 sound via SPDIF
I/O: 4 USB 2.0, DVI for external monitor, TV Out, Firewire, Touchpad
I/O: Headphones (SPDIF)/MIC, 4 in 1 Card reader, ExpressCard 34/35
LAN: Ethernet controller 10/100 MCP51
WLAN: Atheros 802.11 b/g chipset
Modem: Integrated Smartlink (Conexant chipset) 56k v.92
Other: Kensington lock, Bluetooth (optional)

Installation

With kernel 2.6.18.8-x shipped with openSuSE 10.2 installation process is straight forward and everything works out of the box. Nevertheless, seems like there was a problem with processor fan operating during installation process and laptop automatically turned off couple of times though installation procedeed normally afterwards. Thus, I would suggest that you disable acpi by adding acpi=off kernel parameter. However, after the installation was done I simply started openSuSE with acpi=off and restarted machine afterwards and now everything seems fine – fans are operating normally and what is most important quietly.
Hardware was detected with no problems except Atheros wireless adapter for which to work you have to install madwifi driver.

* Installing MadWiFi kernel modules
You can find a step-by-step guide on openSuSE wiki in the Atheros-madwifi section

Quirks and tips

  • Special function keys for controlling audio could be enabled using xmodmap, xbindkeys and xosd. Note that nvclock should also be installed from the following openSuSE repository (you may also install qt or Gtk2 frontend from the same location). I haven’t found a way to enable dimmer (brightness up/down) keys and I haven’t tested the LCD/video OUT function key as I have already sold out my desktop computer.
    • edit /etc/init.d/boot.local and add following 2 lines
      setkeycodes 0x7f 224
      setkeycodes 0x6f 225
    • in your home folder create file .Xmodmap
      keycode 176 = XF86AudioRaiseVolume
      keycode 174 = XF86AudioLowerVolume
      keycode 160 = XF86AudioMute
      keycode 101 = SunVideoRaiseBrightness
      keycode 212 = SunVideoLowerBrightness
    • in your home folder create file .xbindkeysrc
      "/home/your_user_name/brightness-up"
      SunVideoRaiseBrightness
      "/home/your_user_name/brightness-down"
      SunVideoLowerBrightness
    • create and edit brightnes-up script
      #!/bin/bash
      brightness=`/usr/bin/nvclock -S +5 2>/dev/null| grep level:| awk '{print $4;}'`
      if [ "$brightness" = "" ]
      then
      brightness="100%"
      fi
      echo "Brightness "$brightness | osd_cat -p bottom -A center -c green -d 1
    • create and edit brightnes-down script
      #!/bin/bash
      brightness=`/usr/bin/nvclock -S -5 2>/dev/null| grep level:| awk '{print $4;}'`
      if [ "$brightness" = "" ]
      then
      brightness="15%"
      fi
      echo "Brightness "$brightness | osd_cat -p bottom -A center -c green -d 1
    • make both newly created scripts executable
      chmod +x brightness-up
      chmod +x brightness-down
    • create and edit script /home/your_user_name/.kde/Autostart/keys
      #!/bin/bash
      /usr/bin/xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap
      /usr/bin/xbindkeys
    • make keys autostart script executable
      chmod +x /home/your_user_name/.kde/Autostart/keys
    • restart X or restart laptop and function keys, at least, for audio volume and muting should work
    • if it works don’t thank me as all merit goes to Gentoo wiki project
  • nVidia GForce Go 7400 graphics card comes with it’s own 128Mb DDR2 RAM and it works in 2D with no problem but if you wish to enable 3D/OpenGL capability using nVidia proprietry drivers you may experience laptop freezing with no apparent reason. This behaviour has been noticed by many other users of GForce Go 7xxx series and the only solution is to experiment with various nVidia official and Beta driver versions and search for the 64 bit driver that works. Otherwise you can only use 2D cards capability to avoid laptop freezing.
    I’ve tried latest nVidia driver (version 100.14.11) and experienced random freezes and display problems which I solved by switching to Beta driver version 100.14.06 and now everything seems to work fine. Glxgears gives me framerates between 2,500 and 2,800 FPS and all installed 3D/OpenGL games work fine.

Not tested

  • Modem – I don’t use it as I have ISDN line built-in Netmod USB modem
  • Express Card – thought of ExpressCard TV tuner but till and if I get it I don’t know if Card Bus works
  • My laptop came without bluetooth option so I don’t know if that one works

Summary
FSC Amilo Pa1538 is a pretty nice laptop if you don’t mind it’s silverish design (as some do!). It could be a practical replacement for your desktop if you’ve came to conclusion, as I did, that it’s simply hard to keep-up with and administer two computers at home at certain age. It is reasonably light and compact, doesn’t have all the connectors you may (n)ever use but it’s still a reliable and fast machine for a reasonable price.

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