Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Arch Linux on an Asus Zenbook UX31E

Arch/Linux specific:
  • The most annoying issue is that if I have an HDMI device plugged in at boot, which I usually do at home, then the laptop screen will not come on. Possibly related to issues I have unplugging HDMI.
  • Adding i915.i915_enable_rc6=1 to you kernel boot options can result in considerable cooling and power savings. This Ubuntu article recommends disabling VT-d in the BIOS. Shutdown issues have been fixed in Kernel 3.3-rc6.
  • UEFI: The boot menu seems to be on the last page of the BIOS setup page. This doesn't seem to be automatically populated beyond a single item for each boot partition, presumably booting /efi/boot/bootx64.efi, but you can add your own boot item by manually entering the path. If you always want to boot into grub, and use grub's own boot menu, then copy grub.efi to the above file.
  • The Grub2/Asus UEFI issue seems to have been fixed by 2.00 Beta 2, 21 March 2012.
  • The Sentelic touchpad works out of the box, but to get scrolling etc working use Saaros's patch. Recompiling the kernel with this patch is fairly straight forward if you follow the instructions carefully. I have to say that with the patch, the pad seems less accurate and tapping seems slightly less sensitive (or maybe just slower?), which is a shame.
  • Sleep/suspend to RAM works if you add xhci_hcd, ehci_hcd and uhci_hcd to SUSPEND_MODULES.
  • The function keys (mute, volume, brightness) either work out of the box(!) or carried on working from when I'd set them up for my X220.
  • Brightness adjustments made using the keyboard do not get reflected in /sys/class/brightness, but this is being fixed.
  • Battery life seems pretty amazing, at 5-6 hours, even under Linux.
  • Cheekily Asus advertise the disk capacities as 64G/128G/256G, when, as they are SandForce based drives, they will actually be 60G/120G/240G.
  • The keyboard is not great, to say the least. Some of the keys do not register if you do not press them dead centre, however the trackpad is actually quite good as far as I am concerned.
  • The screen is quite cold/blue. There is a UX31E ICC profile on this review. You can use xcalib to load it in Linux, although it does make the top right hand corner a little green for me, so I am currently using the UX21E version.
  • The audio is excellent, for a laptop. Although the balance is off on mine.
  • Install the ATK/ACPI driver first. This is buried deep in the utilities section of the Asus download page.
  • If your machine wakes immediately after sleeping then you need to install the Power Option utility.

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