Linux on a Acer TravelMate 512T
Scope & Links
This short description is intended to help users of similar notebooks to get
their system running with Linux. It does not cover the full installation
procedure, but describes a few problematic details.
A great resource of help is the
on Laptops page, where a lot of reports of Notebook Linux
installations as well as helpful descriptions for the different
components can be found.
Another useful resource are the
A colleage of mine, Thorsten Kukuk, also provides
some useful info
on the Acer TM512T.
Acer TravelMate 512T
Price for the above in Germany, Oct. 1999: 3000,- DM (EUR 1536,-)
- Acer MoBo: ALi M1621, M5247, M1533, M5229 (1543), M7101
- Mobile Celeron 366, 64 MB Ram, 4.5 GB IBM HD (EIDE)
- 12.1" TFT 800x600 Color Display, NeoMagic 256AV (NM2200), 2.5MB
- Floppy, 24x CDRom (EIDE), CD-Player operatable standalone
- Sound: ESS Solo I (1938/1969), 2 Speaker, Micro, Volume control
- Lucent W*nModem V.90 (56kbit/s) + Cables
- Synaptics PS/2 Touchpad, acceptable Keyboard
- USB (ALi M5237 = ohci), IrDA (FIR NS-PC87108)
- 2x PCMCIA II (oder 1x III), i82365, O2 Micro 6832
- Back side Connectors: ser, par, USB, PS2 (Kbd/Mouse), Screen
(SVGA), Power supply, opt. Port Replicator (each 1x)
- Front side Connectors: Headphones, Line in, Micro in
- W*n98 preinstalled (one partition to be shrinked with fips20 for
the installation of Linux) and W98 recovery CD
- APM 1.2 / ACPI: Standby, Suspend to disk ("Hibernate")
- 47Wh Li-Ion Accu
- Manuals, Power supply
- 1 year warranty, Acer pick up service
I additionally bought a PS/2 bridge cable (about EUR 10,-) to
simultaneously connect a Mouse and a Kbd, a Kensington lock (about
EUR 30,-) and a case.
The Acer TM512T has been tested by the german
c't computer magazine
in summer 1999 and proven to be one of the best for the
I used a SuSE Linux 6.2 to install Linux
on this Notebook. Installation is straightforward:
NEW (2000-09-07): Update to SuSE Linux 7.0 done successfully.
- Use fips20 to shrink W*n98 partition unless you want to erase it
- Do normal installation using linuxrc/YaST.
- XFree86-3.3.4 (and later) supports the NeoMagic chipset. SaX sets
up your XF86Config file. Switching from XF86 to the text console
sometimes requires the F-keys to be pressed twice.
- The Synaptics touchpad normally emulates a PS/2 mouse. There is
support for the extended features by gpm-1.18, which you can also use
with X11 by using gpm -t synps2 -R and putting Protocol
"MouseSystems" Device "/dev/gpmdata" into /etc/XF86Config.
I've been told that W98SE does leave the Synaptics in a strange mode,
sometimes. Using the synaptics driver of gpm-1.18 or plugging and
unplugging an external PS/2 mouse seems to help ...
- The sound is supported by either the esssolo1 (in 2.2.1x kernels)
or the ALSA drivers. Maybe
some commercial OSS drivers also exist.
- External screens can be used by putting the approriate options
into XF86Config (extern_disp). option "power_saver"
in the Device section also is a good idea.
- External PS/2 mouse works after restarting gpm; external keyboard
can be operated in parallel to the internal one.
- The UDMA
patches of Andre Hedrick are required for DMA support of the ALi
EIDE chipset. It will be included in SuSE Linux 6.3.
One minor issue:
The kernel 2.2.16 does not support the SynPS/2 touchpad properly, any more.
This can be fixed by applying this patch.
The Acer TM512T APM Bios seems to contain a bug and returns the wrong
offset for the APM info block. This causes Linux to crash upon boot,
if APM is enabled. I created this patch
which allows to pass the parameter apm=acertm5 to the kernel
upon bootup to enable a workaround. This patch will be in the kernel
for SuSE Linux 6.3.
NEW (2000-02-16): Acer put an updated BIOS R01-A3H on their
which solves the problem, so you don't need the parameter any longer, if you
update your BIOS.
APM then works mostly. The battery works for approximately 4 hours with
normal Linux operation. Standby (Suspend to RAM) works and puts the
Notebook in a low power mode. This can be achieved by Fn-F3,
by closing the lid or entering apm -S.
However Hibernate (Suspend to disk), to be activated by Fn-F4
(or apm -s)does not work as supposed. If a suspend file has
been created by the W*n9x sleepmgr, then the BIOS does write the RAM
onto the disk, like with W*n98 operation.
However, those blocks are unreadable afterwards!!
The resume operation takes two hours of funny disk noise to no avail.
The disk contains CRC errors afterwards!! Fortunately those can be
recovered by writing to the damaged locations using dd or
Acer has no solution for this problem yet ... and no official Linux
support for their Notebooks.
NEW: I got the Software suspend from Gabor Kuti to work with my 2.2.13
kernel. Please look here!
The USB support that has been developed by Linus and some people from the
SuSE Labs has been integrated into
the 2.2 and 2.3 kernels. A backport from 2.3.23 is integrated into the
2.2.13 of SuSE Linux 6.3 and provides support for the USB controller
(ohci). At least USB mouses and keyboards do work. The ACM (Elsa USB
modem) driver occasionally suffered lost packets. USB printers and
scanners should work, too, but have not been tested by me.
( source RPM also available)
to get the setup scripts to do USB setup automagically for you.
The Acer TM512T features the NS PC87108 chipset for IrDA support,
which is supported by Linux. Start irmanager and load (read: modprobe)
the pc87108 driver, before the serial driver grabs the IrDA ports in
legacy UART mode, to get the FIR (4MBit) support. Otherwise, you may
use irattach instead of loading the pc87108 driver.
However, I did not yet find out, what dongle is actually connected to
the pc87108. The autoprobe (PnP) indicates a Sharp RY5DH01 IR
transceiver; the preinstalled W98 drivers tell IBM31T1100 ...
and I did not yet get the FIR modes to work, regardless of what
dongle I tell my patched pc87108 to use. I'll go on trying ...
It took me some time until I got my CardBus (32bit) network adapter (D-Link
DFE660TX, 10/100BaseTx) to work with Linux. First the good news:
I installed the pcmcia package (thanks, David Hinds) and both
pcmcia-3.0.14 and 3.1.3 did recognize the card after insertion
and loaded the correct tulip_cb driver for it.
However, no packages got through. Even worse, if the pci_csc
irq was enabled, this interrupt was triggered at a rate, which seemed
to crash the machine. However removal of the card showed, that Linux
survived this and just the wrong IRQ was triggered.
By explicitly setting the pci_int=9 irq_list=9,11 pci_csc=0
(variable PCMCIA_PCIC_OPTS in /etc/rc.config for SuSE),
the usage of the correct IRQ can be forced and the network adapter
For pcmcia-3.1.3, the tulip-old_cb was preselected by my SuSE
provided config file and produced an Oops upon unloading. The
tulip_cb does not show any problems here.
Preliminary tests show disappointing network performance,
unfortunately (1.5MB/s receive and 5MB/s send on a 100MBit FullDuplex(?)
link). However, more tests have to be done.
NEW (2000-02-16): Hint: Never plug in your PCMCIA card with the connector
already connected! It won't work then ...
Unlike other W*nModems, the builtin Lucent does contain a DSP for
(de)modulation of the signals, so there's some hope to get a
reasonable Linux driver soon. Lucent states they want to provide one.
At the moment, the
packages can be used to test
and use some of the features of the modem.
NEW (2000-02-16): On the Linmodems
page, you can find a binary
only module (5.68) for Linux for the Lucent WinModem. Unlike the last
one (5.65a), this one seems to work in principle. For those not being
focused on using RedHat-6.1, which the module was compiled for, here are
xdelta patches to make a 2.2.13 resp. a
2.2.14 module from it in order to allow it
to be inserted. Note that this is risky and might cause your kernel to
crash. Now, I won't tell you how to use xdelta!
First, I'd like to thank those people who provided their epxerience on
Laptops with Linux both by personal mails and by web pages. This way,
I avoided buying unsupported hardware and had some assistance to get
Feedback for this page is
welcome! If you know how to solve one of the problems
described above, please let me know.
(w) by Kurt Garloff, 2000-09-07