Linux on Acer TravelMate 225X (220 Series)

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Hardware specifications

CPU: Intel Celeron 1.3 GHz
Memory: 128 MBAcer 220 Series
Hard drive: 20 GB
Chipset: Intel PIIx / ICH3
Graphic adapter: Integrated Intel 830M sharing main memory
Display: TFT 14.1
Sound card: Integrated Intel ICH3 Audio / AC'97 Compatible
Network adapter: RTL 8139
Modem: Lucent Technologies AMR modem
Disk drive: CD-ROM 24x
Floppy: Yes, 1.44
Ports: 1x Serial, 1x Parallel, 1x PS/2, 2x USB 1.0, 1x VGA, 1x PCMCIA type 2/type 3
Special keys: WWW, E-Mail, P1, P2
Misc: Line-Out, Line-In, Microphone, integrated stereo speakers + microphone
Sensors: only ACPI, I2C bus can be used for RAM info (eeprom module)
Additional: GigaByte USB BlueTooth adapter, GigaByte WiFi PCMCIA Card (Atheros chipset), Genius Optical USB mini-Mouse

Review

I've purchased this precious on X-mas 2002. In that time it was second cheapest NB on the market (1st one was some shit from UMAX even without PCMCIA). It's definitely a low-end model, on the other hand it has some unique features, which I adore. One of them is nice amount of ports of all kinds. Compared to this year's Acer low-end model (TM 230 series), mine's got serial, PS/2, Line-In (yes, new Acers don't have Line-In - they've got just two audio connectors (sic)). But greatest feature afterall is the battery. I can run my NB on battery for 4 hours doing my normal stuff - ie. programming, editing, etc.. Of course, if you play MP3s, the power capacity falls down rapidly.

Pros

+ RS232 port
+ PS/2 port
+ battery life
+ price

Cons

- no IrDA
- no BlueTooth
- no TV out

I've found some bug in the notebook (nice rhyme, innit? :-). Sometimes, when HDD writes/reads something, character in the editor appears as it was normally pressed on the keyboard. Most of the time w, x characters/keys appear. My imagination is not that superior of thinking about reason for this, maybe it's caused by bad IRQ routing, buggy BIOS or zillions of other reasons...

Running Linux on this one

I'm running 2.4 series, 2.6 doesn't have so many advantages in this case. In 2.4 nearly everything is supported:

Processor, Chipset, ...

All the basic stuff. Supported indeed. Although there were several problems: The major one was with ICH3 support in kernels < 2.4.21. There was bug in the kernel, so you couldn't use DMA chipset features. Now supported 100%. Another was with LPT support. Before flashing BIOS to latest version, kernel couldn't find any LPT port. Unfortunatelly, after flashing the S1 state of ACPI have disappeared.

Graphic adapter

Hardware OpenGL and XVideo extensions supported although with some problems. I highly recommend newest XFree86 (right now 4.4). I've run 4.2.1, but the stability and performance wasn't that great. Now I'm running XFree86 4.3 but still there're problems with stability, ie. Lemuria XMMS Plugin crashes the machine regularly (well, it freezes X server and keep GA in such weird state that X server cannot fix it. Reboot is necessary for full operation). For having XVideo extension under XF86 4.2.1, you have to download drivers from Intel site. They will also install new versions of kernel modules (agpgart.o and i830.o). Those are needed only for kernels <= 2.4.23. In 2.4.24 the drivers in kernel were updated.

Soundcard

It's classic AC'97 compatible something (actually CRY52 (Cirrus Logic CS4299 rev D) :-). Works out of a box. Only problem is the sound clipping. Set up your mixer like this: Main volume 100%, PCM Volume 70%. Otherwise you'll hear terrible audio clipping most of the time. Another thing is that some applications (linphone for example) call OSS driver buggy, ALSA is recommended instead.

Network adapter

Integrated Realtek RTL-8139 type. Although this chip is actually piece of crap from engineering point of view, in this case (used in notebook) there's nothing bad about it. Supported out of a box. (BTW: I'm using 8139too module)

Power management using ACPI

First thing: APM doesn't work at all. So let's use ACPI. Everything works kinda fine, but the most important thing doesn't: suspending the NB. AFAIK the problem is with 2.4 kernels. For suspending and waking up things correctly you need device tree. This is implemented in 2.6 by sysfs. Obviously, there's no such thing in 2.4 so the suspension doesn't work. Unfortunatelly I've tried ACPI suspension in 2.6 and it didn't work either... Well, nobody is perfect...

Anyway, there're two thermal zones in /proc/acpi (cooling_mode not supported), three buttons (lid, power, sleep), battery (alarm unsupported), ac_adapter, embedded_controller and processor (bus mastering control and power management supported, throttling control, performance management and limit interface unsupported). ACPI modules fan and power_resources are unused.

There're four sleep states 'supported': S0, S3, S4 and S5. As mentioned above, S1 disappeared after flashing the latest BIOS.

You can download DSDT and FADT tables respectively.

Modem

This is the biggest surprise. It seems that the modem is now supported! Try to download and install latest version of SLModem package. Everything should work just fine.

Special keys

I highly recommend the acerhk module by Olaf Tauber. The module works perfectly, the only thing which is necessary is to force notebook type to 630 using module parameter force_series=630. Olaf doesn't believe me that this is true, so it isn't mentioned in the original docs.

Miscellanous stuff

You can download my over-weight kernel config for Acer225x here.