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Gentoo Linux on the Asus S6F (S6F-3037P)
Asus S6F
  • Intel Core Duo L2300 (Low Voltage, 1.5GHz, 667 MHz FSB, 2MB L2 cache)
  • Mobile Intel 945 GM Express chipset
  • 11.1" WXGA (1366x768) TFT LCD
  • 1GB (512MBx2) 533MHz dual-channel RAM (1.5GB max.)
  • 100GB 4200rpm 2.5" hard-drive
  • 4x DVD Super Multi-Drive (DL)
  • Connectivity: 10/100/1000 LAN, V.92 modem, 802.11a/b/g WLAN, Bluetooth v2.0+EDR
  • Ports: 3x USB 2.0, Firewire, VGA, RJ-11, RJ-45, audio/SPDIF
  • Cards: 4-in-1 memory card reader, Express Card
  • Battery: 3/6/9-cell batteries (2800/5200/7800mAh) 2+/4+/6+-hour life
  • Size: 10.7 x 7.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Weight: 3.4 lbs with 6-cell battery
  • Supplied accessories: USB optical mouse, carrying case, various cables
  • Default OS: Windows XP Pro SP2
  • Asus specs
  • Asus support
The Asus S6F has got to be the best deal for a small, light laptop with built-in optical drive. It has much better price/performance ratio than others in its class, which typically have Core Solo or Pentium-M processors and shock-inducing price-tags. I did briefly waver between it and its larger cousin, the Asus W5Fm, but in the end the pendulum swung to the S6F: not quite as powerful as the W5Fm, but smaller and lighter, a compromise I can easily live with. The USD200 mail-in rebate (sorry, gone now) also helped!

Linux Compatibility
I shrank the Windows partition with BOOTITNG to make room for Linux, and set it up for dual-booting. In what follows, things that work are in green, things that don't work are in red, and things that sort of work are in yellow. Things I have not tested are in white.

All in all it was pretty easy to get things going, aside from some issues with the LiveCD discussed below. For the most part it was just a matter of having the right kernel config to make things go. The Gentoo Wiki is a valuable resource in this regard.

Helpful input on installing linux on this machine was also provided by Genevieve Gorrell and Tom Yates and their respective web-sites.

Item Description Package(s) Comments
Distro Gentoo 2006.1 LiveCD Gentoo remains my favourite distro, but this install was a PITA. The LiveCD graphical installer does not support the graphics chipset, and the kernel does not support the network chipset, so I did a text-based, networkless install, then had to get the files I needed on another computer and transfer them over to finish the job. Then I found out just how out of date the LiveCD is: there were nearly 400 packages that needed updating! And that was before I tweaked the USE flags. A disappointing experience that, despite working in the end, gets a yellow warning!
Kernel 2.6.19-gentoo-r5 gentoo-sources Bog-standard Gentoo kernel.
Processor 1.5GHz Core Duo L2300   SMP support is enabled by the install to use both cores. According to on-line forums, you should use Pentium 4 as the kernel processor type, and set -march=prescott in CFLAGS (/etc/make.conf) to get the most out of this processor.
Power Management ACPI
Intel Enhanced Speedstep
Be sure to enable the kernel Asus extensions. The S6F is not explicitly supported, but nothing seems broken. You can use a simple script with acpid to get the volume buttons, etc., to work. (A more up-to-date version is available in the acpi4asus project.) Use cpufreqd to control processor speed via kernel governors. I have not tried to suspend, as it shuts down and reboots fast enough anyway.
Hard-drive Hitachi TravelStar HTS421210H9AT00 hdparm
I use hdparm settings -d1 -A1 -a256 -m16 -u1 -c1 -k1 -X66. Use hddtemp to monitor your drive temperature: this drive was not in the database, but seems to work OK if you add it to /usr/share/hddtemp/hddtemp.db.
Pointing Device Synaptics Touchpad synaptics Detected by the install and configured correctly.
Graphics Intel Mobile 945GM/GMS/940GML Express Integrated Graphics Controller xorg-x11
Works fine with the i810 X driver, but you need 915resolution to get the native resolution of the panel in X. For some reason X adds 2 pixels to get 1368x768 (multiple of 8 issue?), making a small virtual extension to your desktop, but you can tweak it back to 1366x768 once X has started. I got a little under 1200 fps in glxgears using the i915 kernel DRM driver. CRT out works with dual-head in xorg.conf (this page was helpful here).
Audio Intel 82801G High Definition Audio Controller alsasound
Compile ALSA support into the kernel, but make snd_hda_intel a module. Use acpid to get volume keys working. The only minor issue is that there seems to be no mute control.
Ethernet Realtek RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller ifplugd Works with newer kernels using the r8169 driver. Use ifplugd for auto-detection of wired connections.
Wireless Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG ipw3945
Make sure you rebuild the ipw3945 packages after any kernel update.
Optical Drive HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GSA-4083N cdrtools
Burns CDs, but have not tried to burn a DVD yet.
USB Intel 82801G USB2 UHCI usbutils USB mouse works OK, but that is the extent of my testing so far.
Modem Intel 82801G High Definition Audio Controller   Untried
IEEE 1394
Ricoh R5C832 IEEE 1394 Controller   Untried
Bluetooth USB bluez-utils Untried
ExpressCard Ricoh unknown device 0843?   Untried
Memory Card Slot Ricoh R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Host Adapter
Ricoh R5C592 Memory Stick Bus Host Adapter
Ricoh xD-Picture Card Controller
  Works with my camera's SD card.
Dual-boot Windows XP Pro SP2 grub
Install auto-detected windows partitions and made grub.conf entries for them, even non-bootable ones, and none was put in fstab, so both files had to be updated.