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SuSE Linux 8.0 on ACER TM 630

Installing SuSE 8.0

I did never install the Operating System that shipped with the laptop. I think it was XP. I made a SuSE 8.0 boot disk [1] on my PC and bootet the laptop from that CD. I then installed the system via FTP [2]. It doesn't take long on a 512kb DSL link.
Hardware recognition went smoothly and the system boots X with a 1280x1024 graphics mode, which we will optimize in a minute.

Links
[1] SuSE Boot CD image: <SuSE mirror>/suse/i386/8.0/boot/boot.iso
[2] SuSE FTP mirrors

Kernel

Over time I upgraded the kernel to 2.4.22 [3] with the ACPI patches from [4]. My kernel .config is here [5]. Yes, lots of modules :-)
Don't forget to build the initrd (which SuSE uses by default) by using the /sbin/mkinitrd tool (see mkinitrd -h). You can turn off the ugly SuSE boot logo by adding -s off to the mkinitrd command.

ACPI does not work Only few ACPI features currently work, so it's of little use yet. So I turned it off using the acpi=off kernel parameter in my /etc/lilo.conf.
Note: If you compile Thermal zones statically or load the module, the system shuts down immediately because the driver reads a critical thermal state. This look really weird while booting :-) So compile Thermal zones as a module or leave it out.
I was running kernel 2.4.23 which includes a lot more ACPI code, but still the important stuff does not work.
Links
[3] Kernel
[4] ACPI patches
[5] my kernel config 2.4.22

Sound

To make the sound card running, you need the ALSA sound drivers (kernel modules). They are available from SuSE as a nice RPM package [9]. Compile and install them.

Links
[9] <SuSE mirror>/suse/i386/8.2/suse/src/alsa-0.9.0.cvs20030217-31.src.rpm

XFree86 4.3

SuSE was shipping with XFree86 4.2 which is quite new. Still I upgraded to version 4.3. SuSE has RPMs ready from their web site [10].

Links
[10] XFree86 4.3

KDE 3.1

I upgraded to KDE 3.1 because it is faster. RPMs are on the SuSE web site [10a].

Links
[10a] KDE 3.1

NVidia drivers

XFree86 has the nv driver for NVidia graphic boards. While you can use it and be happy, I recommend the original NVidia drivers (nvidia) as they have excellent documentation (as PDF), lots of features and fast OpenGL support.
You can download the drivers as a source tarball from the NVidia website [11]. (Use Mozilla for their JavaScript enabled driver selector...) Once you have compiled and installed (don't forget the /etc/modules.conf line) the drivers you have to change your XF86Config file. You can use mine [12].If you do not need OpenGL support (or you can't get it to work), remove the Load "glx" line. Note the Option "IgnoreEDID" "on": This ensures that 75dpi is used and not the real resolution (slightly higher) of your screen. You will get unscaled fonts which are better readable than the anti-aliased stuff. If you don't like it, just remove that line.

GLX
Make sure that all the symlinks to the libGL, libGLcore and libglx libraries are in place [13]. See the driver documentation.
There is a nasty SuSEConfig script /sbin/conf.d/SuSEConfig.3ddiag that installs links to the Mesa libraries automatically. Mesa is the OpenGL software emulation and slowwwww. Remember to turn it off in /etc/sysconfig/3ddiag. You should check the /var/logs/XFree86.0.log to see if loading of the GLX libraries succeeded. /usr/bin/gears should give you around 680 FPS:
  oglueck@gimli:~> gears
  3395 frames in  5.000 seconds = 679.000 FPS
  
I use it to program Java3D.


Note about console modes
The LCD display has a problem when you switch from 1400x1050 X mode to the console (pressing Alt-Ctrl-F1). With the nv driver the monitor stays black. You can switch back to X with Alt-Ctrl-F7 of course.
However with the nvidia drivers the display produces an image but fails to properly synchronize. You can switch the display off and back on once to make it synchronize nicely (press Fn-F5 three times slowly). So you can finally work on the console as well.
A reader hinted me a nice fix for this issue: In the BIOS settings change the display option from [both] to [auto]. This will make synchronization problem go away!
Links
[11] NVidia drivers
[12] XF86Config
[13] sh script to activate GLX drivers

Touchpad

The touchpad is a Synaptics product. Quickly tapping twice on the touch pad with your index finger is like holding down the left mouse button. This is a nice feature for moving stuff around the screen. If you don't like it, you can turn it off using the synaptics driver. The "scroll key" does not work.

Hotkeys

The Acer Hotkeys work fine including the Email LED using the driver by Olaf Tauber [15].
What you need:

Links
[15] Hotkey driver 0.5, by Olaf Tauber
[16] Hotkeys daemon, by Anthony Wong
[17] My hotkeys XML config file: .hotkeys/tm630.def

USB

USB works fine with my Sony Digital Camera (DSC-P51). When connecting, SuSE automatically adds it as a SCSI drive (/media/sda1) with a FAT file system.

IR port

The infrared port (if activated in the BIOS) is accessible through the device /dev/ttyS1. To bind the IrDa driver to it, you must execute irattach /dev/ttyS1 -s 1 as root. Then other devices (like my Nokia 6610 cellphone) should show up when you run irdadump. See [18] for more information.

Gnokii [19] works with my Nokia 6610 but very unstable. In ~/.gnokiirc set model=6610 and connection=irda.
You can use LIRC [20] if you want to use a remote control (your TV's) to control your TM 630, but you can not use IrDa at the same time. If the kernel links the IR port with a TTY at boot time (LIRC crashes) you must free it with setserial /dev/ttyS1 uart none first before the LIRC daemon can grab it.

I have added the following lines to my /etc/modules.conf for convenience (don't forget to run depmod -a).
  alias char-major-161 ircomm-tty
  alias char-major-10-187 irnet
  alias net-pf-23 irda
  alias char-major-61 lirc_sir  # if you have LIRC installed
  
Links
[18] Infrared HOWTO
[19] Gnokii
[20] LIRC

Other TM 630 sites

Debian Linux on the Acer Travelmate 630 series, by Daniel Elvin
Linux on the Acer Travelmate 634LC, by Tomas Elsen
Linux on an Acer TravelMate 632LC, by Anthony Lichnewsky
Linux on the Acer TravelMate 630LC laptop, by Konrad Wojas
Linux on Travelmate 634LC, by Niels Peen
You should check out TuxMobil.org as well!