Debian 64-bit on Acer 5720Z Spring 2008

My computer died, well I think the power supply went, but I did not want to waste money buying a good power supply or a cheap one only to find out that there was something else wrong. As luck would have it, laptops were on sale as Staples and they were actually cheaper than desktops with or without the monitor. I decided to buy one. I also picked up a Dlink WBR-1310 Wireless router.

The biggest problem is that the laptop came with windows vista which would not let me decline the license. I had to waste 2.5 hours install windows in order to be able to make a backup DVD.

I noticed another problem after I had installed Debian, the laptop heats up fast and shuts down. The problem was solved by installing Marco Calviani’s acer5720_fan_64.tar.bz2 found here

The second biggest problem was that I missed the information about the WIFI chipset, although everything else was Intel, this chipset was Aethros AR242x card containing the 5007EG chipset. There are no 64-bit drivers for Linux, I had to use ndiswrapper to install Windows 64-bit drivers. There are 32-bit drivers using madwifi, but I could not get it to work when I later installed a 32-bit version of Debian Lenny. Why did I install a 32-bit version? I wanted to use Skype and there are more applications for my webcam in the 32-bit version. I tired wfi-radar but it is slow, I tried wicd and I would still be using it, but I cannot get it to connect to anything other than WEP security. I am stuck with Network Manager, it does not have a refresh or rescan mode.

There is some great news, I was able to find a native 64-bit Linux driver for AR5007EG, it is experimental, but it works, It is able to list 50 Access Points compared to 12 for the Ndiswrapper. It drops from 50 Mb/s to 6 Mb/s unlike the Ndiswrapper and its old Windows XP driver which was always 50 Mb/s.
64bit Madwifi

64bit Madwifi

ndiswrapper -e net5211
modprobe -r ndiswrapper
apt-get remove –purge ndiswrapper-common ndiswrapper-utils ndisgtk

# cd /usr/src
svn co madwifi
cd madwifi
mv hal hal.old
tar xvf ../ath_hal-20080528.tgz
mv ath_hal-20080528 hal
cd hal
make install BINDIR=/usr/bin MANDIR=/usr/share/man
depmod -ae
modprobe ath_pci

echo ath_hal >> /etc/modules
echo ath_pci >> /etc/modules

The third problem was sound, however since it is an intel chipset, I just recompiled the Alsa drivers and have no problems.

I got the webcam to work, but it was not easy to use since there are no applications that readily use VL2, I did not test Ekiga Softphone because I want to be able to save video for later editing. Cheese works for both taking photos and video. I installed the VL2 plugin in order to test Ekiga Softphone, but the camera freezes while using Ekiga.

Video works in VESA mode, however after a long update the video would not display icons, I tried installing the same version from a netinstall disk, and I got the same problems. I tried Ubuntu, Sidux, Knoppix and PCOLS and noticed that they worked fine. I found a fix after 8 days, which was to edit the /etc/xorg.conf


Section “Device”

Identifier “Generic Video Card”
#Driver “vesa”

Driver “intel”

Option “AccelMethod” “XAA”

Everything else I need such as the DVD writer, USB ports Second Monitor and the wired ethernet work out of the box. I have not tested the modem or firewire.