Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Install debian unstable on ASUS V1Jp (V1J Series)

Yeah long time no post... I keep promising myself to write sth less technical, but then I just don't. Anyway, now sth for the more general notebook public:

How to install Debian unstable on an ASUS V1J Series notebook
ProcessorIntel Core2 Duo T7200, 2 GHzWorking
Memory2 GB (upgraded)
Video CardATI Radeon X1700Working
Sound CardHDA Intel 82801G (ICH7 Family) with AD1986A chipWorking
Screen15.4" WidescreenWorking, on command line terms
LAN AdapterRealtek RTL8111/8186B Gigabit capableWorking
WLAN AdapterIntel 3945ABGWorking (with firmware)
ModemDon't careNot tried (who needs a modem nowadays?)
Funky buttonsWireless, Display, etcWorking partially
Funky LEDsMail, Bluetooth, WirelessWorking, but only Bluetooth is connected to an event
SpecialFingerprint ReaderAlmost working
SpecialWebcamNot yet working - not tried fixing it
  1. Get a debian businesscard installation and install the base system. This should be painless, except for the long waiting time in the beginning for downloading packages (took me more than 6 hours). Installation, once everything is downloaded, was really quick.
  2. Of course, this means there is no working system yet, just a base install. So edit /etc/apt/sources.list to include the lines
    • deb ftp://ftp.kr.debian.org/debian/ unstable main contrib non-free
    • deb-src ftp://ftp.kr.debian.org/debian/ unstable main contrib non-free
  3. run dselect or aptitude to install whatever is needed. (for me, that includes kde and kdm.) In order to get everything ready already, the following packages must be installed: fglrx-*, qsynaptics, ipw3945-modules-2.6-686, firmware-ipw3945, ipw3945d (will expand this list as I discover more stuff)
  4. in order to get the video card working, the fglrx kernel module needs to be compiled for the running kernel. As the kernel might have been upgraded after the install and the network would not be working at this point anyway, re-boot. Then, dpkg -L fglrx-kernel-src tells us that there is an fglrx.tar.bz2 in /usr/src/ and the path to a README file. This file tells us that all that needs to be done is to log in as root, go to /usr/src, unpack the tar ball with tar xjvf fglrx.tar.bz2 and run module-assistant prepare and module-assistant a-i fglrx. Of course, I had to edit the /etc/X11/xorg.conf to include the lines load "fglrx" and for the video card to use the boardname "ati" and driver "fglrx" flags. Contrary to what some websites tell you, the option "AIGLX" does not exist in the xorg.conf, so for me, X still complains about unsupported AIGLX extensions, and claims it switches to software rendering.
  5. For the Screen to work properly, I first used kcontrol in order to select a flat panel, which f*ed up my xorg.conf - for some reason, this does NOT add a 1440x900 mode line. I resolved the problem by putting "1440x900@60" as the first mode in the Screen Section.
    According to this post, the newest ATI driver does not support the AIGLX extension, reducing the fun factor (I myself have some inconveniences playing videos). It is probably a good idea to use Option "AIGLX" "false" in your xorg.conf's video card section for the moment, if you are using the proprietary drivers.
    The brightness can be controlled, however I cannot catch the FN button events yet, so I have to enter the commandline and regulate it manually when I need it. Cf. my later post.
  6. The sound works with Alsa 1.0.13, with a quirk that seemed not to work for other users with different laptops (maybe slightly different sound card, then). I just had to add the line options snd-hda-intel model=3stack to the very end of the file /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base and run alsaconf again.
    Remark: Disabling the asus-acpi (or asus-laptop as of v0.4) kernel module breaks alsa. Please see instructions for wireless below for details.
  7. The Synaptics Touchpad entry was not automatically inserted in my xorg.conf, so I had to add a section about this in my xorg.conf: make a new InputDevice Section, using Driver "synaptics", option "CorePointer", option "AlwaysCore", option "Device" "/dev/input/mouse0", option "Protocol" "ImPS/2", option "Emulate3Buttons" "false", option "SHMConfig" "true". Then, it should be possible to configure the touchpad via the qsynaptics tool. There is a kconfig module called ksynaptics, but it seems badly maintained and is currently broken (cannot access the shared memory, and tells me that I have to set SHMConfig "true", which I did). Now it also possible to use the TouchPad scrolling bar and Multi-finger detection (two fingers = middle mouse button, three finger = right mouse button - all adjustable !) and to disable touchpad while typing. Otherwise the symclient tool can be used (symclient -l to list all options; these can be used as xorg.conf options, if your qsynaptics does not save them permanently).
  8. Wireless network can be used via kwifimanager, no problems here. The crucial point, however, is loading the asus-laptop module before the ipw3945 module, or else the wireless will be unusable!
    Thus, an important remark: Install the asus-laptop driver version 0.4 (kernels <= 2.6.20 seem to ship v0.3, which does not support v1jp) from the acpi4asus sourceforce site. Just follow the installation instructions in the included README, should be no problem. Then, in order to load the asus-laptop module before the ipw3945, thereby enabling your sound system, some special buttons, and your wireless card, edit the file /etc/modprobe.d/ipw3945d so that your first line looks like this: install ipw3945 modprobe asus-laptop && modprobe --ignore-install ipw3945 && /etc/init.d/ipw3945d modprobe-start. This change will obviously only take effect after reboot.
  9. Some of the funky buttons work. Buttons not working are currently the three top buttons (asus media center, power scheme, screen settings), which do not make much sense in linux anyway, since they are all run by firmware under windows.
  10. The funky LEDs work, but only the Bluetooth LED is triggered by the funky button, the wireless button has no effect to the wireless LED, and I could not yet connect the mail LED to mozilla thunderbird traybiff. The last one worked with acpi4asus v0.30, but since then the LED path was moved from /proc/acpi/mled to /sys/class/leds/asus:mail/brightness. I tried editing the tray-biff.js file, entering the correct path, but until now to no avail. Possibly it could be an access problem, as the led "file" is not writeable by my normal user. If I just echo 0 or 1 to the corresponding wlan file, the light switches on/off. This will probably be fixed in the next version of acpi4asus.
  11. Some of the FN Keys work with the above kernel module (v0.4): screen switching (not tried in real life, but makes the screen go blank), touchpad, numlock, sound, mail, browser (last two not connect to events yet).
  12. The Fingerprint Reader almost works. It reads fingerprints, but there are still some issues with access rights, it seems. For those brave enough, try here for general installation and here for more specific issues. Both of these entries do not cover the newer version of the pam_bioapi, however. As of v 0.4, this package uses sqlite3 for fingerprint management, the permissions for which I still need to set.
Important! The v0.3 asus acpi kernel module seems to break the ipw3945 module... so either wireless or funky buttons/leds... and disabling the asus acpi breaks alsa.


  1. Raphaël Doursenaud5 July 2007 at 05:13

    I've been able to make my mail led work creating a file in my home that links to the acpi one. ie: ln -s /sys/class/leds/asus\:mail/brightness ~/.asus_led
    and using that file (asus_led) on the config string. For me it seems that moztraybiff doesn't like the backslash and/or the : in the path.

  2. Here is another more general Linux guide for running Linux on the Asus V1J.

  3. Hi i am planning to buy a ASUS laptop having splashtop and also supports debian

    ...the wlan chipset i need is ath5k..can u please recommend me a model

  4. This is very informative and knowledgeable.I am very glad to read its article.Thank you for useful information...
    More info:- Asus Technical Support