Last Update 16 Aug 2003

ECS Green 732 Laptop and Linux

I recently purchased an Infinity Laptop (in Melbourne, Australia) model F2666CD that turned out to be an ECS Elitegroup Green 732. I bought this model because it provides a lot of features for the price and it came without a "microsoft tax" operating system.

I am now very happy with it but it has taken a bit of work getting linux to run ok on it. It is not yet perfect but I suspect the 2.4.22 kernel due out soon will solve a lot of my problems. I've built the rc2 version and it works well with all the hardware

The IDE interface is working at full speed (21.5MB/sec) and the lan is working as well. In addition the APCI seems to have improved and now the kde laptop daemon notices if I am on battery or not and knows how much (%) battery is left. Still no suspend with APCI as yet. Hopefullyt that will appear, but the boot up time is not very long (2 minutes to logged in with X/KDE).

The main problems I had seemed to be that the hardware in this machine is all quite recent versions and the drivers in the 2.4 series of kernels have yet to catch up.

I tested the laptop prior to purchase using a Knoppix 3.1 bootable CD to make sure the hardware was supported reasonably well by a current version of linux.

When I received the laptop I proceeded to attempt to install Mandrake 9.1 on it. Then the problems began. The install kernel would not boot, getting "hda: lost interrupt" errors when talking to the hard drive. The install kernel was 2.4.21 and the Knoppix one was 2.4.19 so I tried an earlier version of mandrake and found I could install 8.2 OK.

Update on that: apparently you can boot the other kernels using the kernel parameter "noapic". I f I had of known that before it would have saved the mucking about below with other kernels!

This was not too useful to me so I persevered with installation of 9.1 using the 2.2 alternate kernel that the install CD contains. After installation it wouldn't boot (of course) so I then rebooted into rescue mode and installed the 2.4.18 kernel RPM from the Mandrake 8.2 installation CD and made sure lilo was configure ok. Now it was almost working. Video in 1400x1050 using the Radeon 8500 driver, audio was fine. Keyboard, mouse, USB. But no lan. The SiS900 driver failed to read the mac address from the eeprom due to the driver not understanding the version of the SiS900 that this laptop contains (apparently, there are many versions of the SiS900 hardware). I had a look at the source of some more recent versions and decided a back port of the driver from a 2.5.74 kernel didn't look too hard, there wasn't much difference and the newer one had support for later versions of the SiS900. So I grabbed the 2.4.18 kernel source RPM from Mandrake 8.2 and inserted the new SiS900 driver. After some small changes to get it to compile OK I now had a working Lan connection as well (to do this I used an old NE2000 PCMCIA card for loading software).

The Hardware

So, what is the hardware in this beast? From lspci we can get some idea:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS645DX Host & Memory & AGP Controller (rev 01)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS 530 Virtual PCI-to-PCI bridge (AGP)
00:02.0 ISA bridge: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] 85C503/5513 (rev 14)
00:02.3 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] FireWire Controller
00:02.5 IDE interface: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] 5513 [IDE]
00:02.6 Modem: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] Intel 537 [56k Winmodem] (rev a0)
00:02.7 Multimedia audio controller: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS7012 PCI Audio Accelerator (rev a0)
00:03.0 USB Controller: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS7001 USB Controller (rev 0f)
00:03.1 USB Controller: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS7001 USB Controller (rev 0f)
00:03.2 USB Controller: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS7001 USB Controller (rev 0f)
00:03.3 USB Controller: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS7002 USB 2.0
00:04.0 Ethernet controller: Silicon Integrated Systems [SiS] SiS900 10/100 Ethernet (rev 91)
00:0a.0 CardBus bridge: ENE Technology Inc CB1410 Cardbus Controller
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Radeon R250 Lf [Radeon Mobility 9000 M9] (rev 01)

So, we have a SiS chipset, a 645DX that includes 5513 IDE controller of some description.

What Works?

What H/W Works? Notes
Video ATI Radeon 9000 Yes No DRI so tuxracer is a bit slow.
Audio SiS 7012 Yes Seems good.
IDE SiS5513/962 Yes (but) Didn't work in 2.4.20 or 21 kernels, is OK but slow (3.5MB/sec read) in 2.4.18. Support for this actual chipset seems to have progressed in the 2.4.22 and the 2.5 kernels, 2.5.74 worked for IDE but had other problems. 2.4.22-pre6 and 2.4.22-rc2 are OK for this with a transfer rate of about 21MB/sec read rate.
Lan SiS900 Yes Required a back port of the 2.5.74 driver into the 2.4.18 kernel. The driver in 2.4.22-pre6 and in 2.4.22-rc2 seem to be fine
Modem [SiS] Intel 537 Maybe This is a winmodem. There is a pctel driver for it that should work but I failed to get it to work as did another person I was in contact with. He recommended the slmdm driver from (Smart Link which is not open source but does seem to work. I can talk to the modem now via minicom but have not tried it on a phone line as yet.
USB SiS 7001/7002 Seems OK I don't have much to test this with, seems OK with my Logitech Trackman Wheel.
Firewire SiS No idea I don't have anything to test this with.
I will complete this table soon :-)