Linux on an Amilo M-7400 laptop

I'm overall satisfied with the Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo M-7400 laptop I got for using Linux on. The parts that won't work properly for the moment are limited to TV out and, to my knowledge, powersave modes. The modem only works with nonfree driver and the wireless network with nonfree firmware download. Multimedia keys and VGA-out also required software not available in Debian (Sarge, testing).

Perhaps it doesn't make much sense to have a large, 15-inch screen in a laptop without better resolution than 1024x768 anyway. Having used an HP laptop before, I can also say the touchpad and overall make aren't perfect. However, Linux installation (Debian) had no problems and most things worked directly.

In my usage, the battery lasts approximately from three to four and a half hours, which I think is ok. The laptop weighs 2.6 kg and is pretty quiet (as long as the CPU speed is put at half.).

My version came with a Intel Pentium M 1.4 GHz processor (scalable down to 600 MHz), 512 MB of memory (upgraded to 768 MB), a 60 GB harddisk, and an Intel 855GM graphics card.

Other pages on the subject:

If you have any improvements, I'd like to hear them.

Peripheral support under Linux

Built-in display
Speakers and microphone
Touchpad (Synaptics)
Multimedia keys (hotkeys)
Wireless network (WLAN), with nonfree firmware

Connectors and slots (clockwise)

statusrequired software
Infra-red (IrDA)irdadump, irdaping work, haven't got furthermodprobe nsc-ircc irq=3 dma=1 io=0x2f8 dongle_id=0x09
PC Card slot (PCMCIA, CardBus)recognized, reported as working
Multicard slot (MS, SD, MMC)workswbsd, mmc-block
Audio-in miniplughaven't tested
Audio-out miniplug (includes optical output)analog works
3xUSB (1.1/2.0)worksuhci_hcd,ehci_hcd
Firewire powerless miniplug (IEEE 1394)recognized, haven't testedohci1394
Ethernet 10/100 Mbit/sworksb44
Modemrecognized, haven't testednonfree sl-modem, snd_intel8x0m
Parallel portreported as working
External display (VGA, CRT-out)worksi855crt program
TV-out (S-Video out)does not work (yet)maybe later i855crt, NvTv
AC adapterno problems (but see ACPI)
Optical drive (CDROM, CD-RW, DVD+RW)works, software-lockable/dev/hdc (IDE secondary master)

Input devices

Although they are not worth the trouble, the acerhk kernel driver (broken link as of 2006-12-18) makes available the following multimedia keys (hotkeys) when used with option poll=1:

Wireless147XF86Xfer
Mail236XF86Mail
WWW178XF86WWW
P1159XF86Launch1
P2151XF86Launch2

In addition, Fn-F5 is Audio Mute, available as keycode 160, XF86AudioMute. You can configure actions for these and other keys with programs such as hotkeys and its KDE equivalent Khotkeys.

Virtual keys accessible with Fn:

The virtual numpad is on main keyboard keys "7890 uiop jkl m.-". When NumLock is off, they produce main keyboard characters without Fn and numpad navigation codes with Fn (arrow keys etc.). When NumLock is on, they produce number and operation characters without Fn and main keyboard characters with Fn.

The bottom row of the keyboard feels logical, from left to right: Ctrl, Fn, Window, Alt, Space, Alt Gr, Menu, Ctrl.

Power button, Sleep (Fn-F2) button and lid closing/opening produce ACPI events and thus can be handled. Power button turns power off if held for four seconds.

The touchpad is visible as a PS/2 mouse and a Synaptics touchpad. It can measure pressure and detect one to three fingers. Below the pad there are left and right buttons and a four-way scrollbutton in-between. The Synaptics driver in XFree86 (Debian package xfree86-driver-synaptics) can be configured to generate different button events based on finger taps and the corners of the pad, and scrollbutton events on the edges of the pad. (Unfortunately the XFree86 driver supports only 7 mouse buttons at the moment, of which 2 can be used to vertical scrolling and 2 to horizontal scrolling, leaving no additional buttons after the 3 standard ones.) You should disable "Legacy USB support" in BIOS, otherwise having a USB mouse connected during bootup will disable Synaptics features. Using Linux kernel 2.6.7 I needed to add boot option "i8042.nomux" (to /boot/grub/menu.lst, for example) to get rid of kernel messages "psmouse.c: TouchPad at isa0060/serio4/input0 lost sync at byte 1".

Above the keyboard there are small speakers and below the touchpad buttons there is a microphone. These work.

Internal LCD display

The internal LCD display is 15 inches and the resolution is 1024x768 pixels.

Leds

Below the display, there are leds for Wireless On, Power On, Sleep, Disk Activity, Battery Charging, CapsLock, and NumLock. On top of the lid there are leds for Wireless On, Power On/Battery Charging, and Sleep.

ACPI

I don't understand the ACPI system or software well, but ACPI is recognized. Battery info is available as well as state, excluding present discharge rate which confuses some software as of writing. AC adapter state is available. Available power states are reported as "S0 S3 S4 S5".

Button events are generated for power button, sleep button and lid switch. For the lid switch, state is also available. If you install acpid, you can configure what should happen on the events.

Two thermal zones and their temperature info are visible. Fans are not visible. Processor power states are "C1 C2 C3". Throttling states T0 to T7 (0...87% slowdown) are available and controllable. There is also a "limit" file that shows "active", "user", and "thermal" limits "P0:T0".

On Debian, I installed packages acpi and acpid.

Processor frequency scaling

Instead of (or in addition to) ACPI throttling, the processor supports frequency scaling. The available frequencies are at steps of 200 MHz from the full speed of 1.4 GHz down to 600 MHz. If the laptop is booted without AC adapter it starts with full speed, otherwise with the slowest speed. The speed can be controlled with programs such as cpudynd (Debian package cpudyn). Scaling control is enabled by the kernel module speedstep_centrino. The built-in "governor" performance keeps full speed, powersave keeps minimum speed (module cpufreq_powersave) and userspace (module cpufreq_userspace) lets the user or a program control the speed. See files in directory /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/.

Wireless network card

The kernel driver for the built-in WLAN card is ipw2100 (Debian package ipw2100-source). It requires a nonfree firmware download from the manufacturer. Another driver fsam7400 is required to power on the wireless transmitter. The card works under Linux.

Sound card

Alsa module snd_intel8x0 (snd_intel8x0m for the modem). Alternatively OSS module i810_audio.

Graphics card

Kernel DRM module i830. XFree86 driver i810. Mesa direct-rendering is supported. The glxgears OpenGL demo gives me 560 frames per second on these default drivers and settings, and tuxracer is smoothly playable.

TV-out (S-Video) is not supported at the moment, but screen content cloning onto external display (VGA, CRT-out) can be activated with i855crt program. It's said that the BIOS support for external display can conflict with this program, so I suggest you set the display in BIOS to "internal only" and don't play with Fn-F3 while booting. If you want to see the mouse cursor also on external display and be able to switch XVideo overlay to external display, you will at the moment need to patch XFree86 along the instructions that accompany i855crt.


http://www.iki.fi/Tuukka.Hastrup/linux/amilo
2004-2006 Tuukka Hastrup (Tuukka.Hastrup@iki.fi)