New bitch on the blog

To be precise, a partially wooden contraption charmingly christened Medusa (Asus U43JC-X1). Goodies include nVidia Optimus hybrid graphics, USB3 and an i5-450M processor with multithreading support.
Cutting-edge hardware can be a problem with Linux. On this laptop, it mainly boils down to three issues: First, the USB3 module interferes with hibernation. You have to unload it manually in the hibernation scripts. Second, limited touchpad support by default. There's a boot option to fix it for newer kernels (post-2.6.34, see here).
Third, nVidia doesn't offer Linux driver support for the Optimus series, as Xorg can't cope with the hardware architecture and on-the-fly switching yet. Check this mailing list for news.
Some laptops come with a BIOS option to switch GPUs at boot, but this one doesn't, so we're stuck with the Intel on-board chip, which performs OK, btw. The nVidia card can be powered off with a patched DSDT file in a custom kernel.
Sounds scary, but there is an excellent HowTo on the Ubuntu forums.
My comments:
  • Makelocalmodconfig didn't work for me, makeoldconfig did.
  • For KDE, don't bother about the gnome-settings and jupiter stuff. The touchpad JustWorks™ with the appropriate boot option (kernel  ... psmouse.force_elantech=1 in grub1's menu.lst) and can be configured in the KDE system settings.
  • The same goes for CPU frequency scaling, just add the processor.ignore_ppc=1 kernel option.
More install notes:
I had planned to go with my much-loved SuSE 11.3 and a backup Kubuntu for emergencies, but somehow the graphics setup on SuSE was even more screwed than usual and the desktop overlay effects are a real eyesore for now. Kubuntu looks much better, but I sorely miss YaST. The installation order was preinstalled Win7, Kubuntu, SuSE, so I had to add the Kubuntu section manually to SuSE's /boot/grub/menu.lst:
title Kubuntu 10.10
    root (hd0,5)
    kernel /vmlinuz root=/dev/sda6 ro quiet splash
    initrd /initrd.img
Germans get more for their money: one key, to be precise.The physical layout is american, using the german layout I sorely missed the <> key. I thought about remapping the Caps Lock key with XModMap, but in the end I just installed both layouts and set a global hotkey for switching.
Why is there pulseaudio in Kubuntu? I hate pulseaudio. Somehow, my built-in microphone is randomly muted and I have to use pavucontrol to get it working again. Both microphone and webcam work out of the box with Skype, btw.
Kubuntu's device manager allows to sudo mount internal drives not in fstab, SuSE's doesn't. Here's a fix for SuSE.  Note that Kubuntu sports a different version of PolicyKit.
Fstab cruelties: SuSE uses /dev/disk/by-id, which is bad enough (e.g. if you clone your system on a different hard disk), but Kubuntu has UUIDs, which stumped me a bit. Luckily, you can get the UUID list with  sudo /sbin/blkid -o list -s UUID
I wanted both OS's to share a KMail directory, so I listed SuSE's data folder in Kubuntu's kmailrc, as described here.
What's still buggy: xrandr and external monitors. Holy cow. Screen extension and cloning work, but as soon as Medusa goes to sleep or I inadvertently pull the monitor cable, I get GPU errors galore and have to restart X or get a total system freeze. Tisiphone never had that problem.

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