Caution: This page is old and unmaintained. It is here for
reference only. Do not ask me questions about this system--I no
longer use it. The information here is based on using an old
hand-upgraded Slackware distribution.
Linux vs. AcerNote Light
I have an AcerNote Light Multimedia model 372, and have installed
Linux on it. Here's what I've learned in the process. See the Linux
Laptop page for more laptop help.
I found that the APM of my AcerNote was non-standard, so don't use a
kernel with APM support compiled in. The BIOS will happily spin down
an idle hard drive without kernel support, but it doesn't seem to go
into suspend mode.
It seems that someone has figured out, at least for some AcerNote
models, how to patch the kernel to deal with their APM oddities. I
haven't played with these patches myself, but you can find them at
either Kurt Huwig's page or
This seems to be totally standard. I've only tried it with my 28.8
modem card, but it seems to work as expected. See the PCMCIA HOWTO
for more info.
For reference, the Windows 95 Device Manager tells me that it sees a
"Cirrus Logic PCIC compatible PCMCIA controller." If you happen to
know of a good way to find out more detailed information, let me know,
and I'll post it here.
I've heard reports from others with slightly different AcerNote models
that they have TI chipsets, not Cirrus. They've also reported having
trouble with getting it to work. Good luck.
The trackpad is a PS/2 mouse, so you have to compile in kernel support
for that type of mouse. Having done so, it works great. I also use
an external PS/2 mouse, and Linux seems to think they're the same
mouse. If you use an external serial mouse, there's a hack with gpm
where it reads both mice, and outputs to a pseudo device which X uses
for its input.
The sound card seems to be an ES1688 PnP AudioDrive. Note that
playing audio CDs does not require the use of a sound driver, so
that's a separate (and easier) issue.
I've heard a report that it works fine with the commercial sound
driver OSS/Linux, and will work fine with the free version if you use
"esscfg.exe" under dosemu to set the IO port and IRQ.
Fortunately, there is a kernel patch available that will make sound
work. Like almost all Linux patches, you can find it at Linux v2 HQ. Unless they change
the link, you can go directly to the patch for 2.0.x
Once you get the sound card initialized, you'll need a kernel with sound support for:
The following parameters worked:
- generic OPL2/OPL3 fm synth
- /dev/dsp and /dev/audio
- MIDI Interface
- FM synthesizer (YM3812/OPL-3)
- Do not include MPU-401 support (NOT for SB16)
- Do not include Ensoniq cards
- I/O base for SB = 220
- Sound Blaster IRQ = 5
- Sound Blaster DMA = 1
- Sound Blaster 16 bit DMA = 5
- MPU401 base of SB16,..., ES1688 = 330
- SB MPU401 IRQ (Jazz 16, ..., ES1688) = 11
- Audio DMA buffer size = 65536
I get 3 boot warnings about unknown PCI devices. I used to get 4, but
upgrading to 2.0.29 removed one, as the video chipset is now detected.
Since it came with a Laplink cable, I set it up to run PLIP (that's
like SLIP, only through the parallel port). It took a bit of
struggling through the HOWTO and playing with the BIOS settings for
the port, but it works just fine now. If you haven't used PLIP, be
prepared for it to be much faster than SLIP, but be warned that it
really chews on the CPU. I also get a lot of timeout error messages
in my kernel log, but TCP takes care of retransmitting when there's an
error, so that's no big deal.
It is really cool to see my laptop surfing the web and telnetting into
other machines over the net when hooked up to my desktop with PLIP
while my desktop system is running IP Masquarade over my PPP link
(hopefully soon to be upgraded to a cable modem).
Here's my XF86Config
I recompiled XFree86 3.2 to only include support for the CT65550
chipset with a Pentium-optimizing version of gcc. It's certainly a
smaller binary than the standard distribution binary, and since I only
have 16 Megs, that was the point. If you would like a copy, here's my
/usr/X11R6/bin/XF86_SVGA. Of course, it needs
to be suid-root.
Sometimes I have trouble with the X server crashing or leaving the
text display in the wrong mode. This may be fixed with XFree86 3.2A,
though I haven't tried it. The announcement claimed:
- Problems relating to blank screen at start-up and text mode restoration
with the 65550 and 65554 should now be fixed
- Acceleration support for all chips has improved due to the new XAA archi-
- Many additional minor fixes and documentation updates (see README.chips
for further details).
Be warned that the AcerNote Light 372 has no L2 cache. While this
will save power and cost, it will also slow the system down. (No, the
use of EDO DRAM does not eliminate the need for a good L2 cache.)
Note that it runs at a different speed depending on whether the screen
is up. If you boot it with the screen down, it gets 25.50 BogoMIPS,
but with the screen up, it gets 47.92 BogoMIPS. I'm concerned that
since the kernel uses BogoMIPS to time device drivers that it might
have problems with the change in speed, though I haven't experienced
any such problems.