<vote Acer-Aspire-3820-TimelineX-Rating check=ip> How do you rate this laptop with Linux? * Excellent * Good * Fair * Poor * Unusable </vote>
This is one of the recent Acer notebooks which focuses on long battery life and uses hybrid graphics switching with a discrete high performance ATI graphics and a weaker Intel one.
For full specifications see the Look up Acer database for specs, too lazy right now adding it. There are various variants which differr in hard disk size (320 GB, 500 GB or 750 GB) and the cheapest one does not feature the high-performance ATI graphics card.
|Name||Acer Aspire 3820 TimelineX|
|Screen||13.4“ (1366×768) Widescreen|
|RAM||Up to 8GB|
|HDD||up to 750GB|
|Graphics||Intel® HD Graphics, also ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 5650|
Intel® Centrino® Wireless-N 1000 802.11b/g/n
Tested on Kubuntu Linux 10.10 Maverick with latest updates, backports ppa, xorg-edgers bleeding edge Xorg and drivers, mainline (unpatched) 2.6.36 kernel
|HDD||Yes||Parks every 5 seconds or so in battery mode due to faulty acpi|
|Graphics||Yes||But switching graphics cards is a pain in the…|
|Sound||Yes||Speaker jacks work fine|
|Wireless||Yes||Frequent disconnects with kernel version < 2.6.36|
|Bluetooth||Easy fixable||Fn-key to enable does not work OOTB|
|USB||Yes||Mouse, Tethering Android phone, Mass Storages|
|Webcam||Yes||Fine with cheese, Kopete needs the most recent updates|
Note that not all of the problems may occurr on your machine, depending on the variant you are using. This article is tested using the 3820TG with 750 GB HDD. Using the Intel graphics on your daily work basis should be more than enough, it works smoothly and perfect with the built-in drivers. You may consider upgrading to Mesa 7.10 or newer. If you‘re planning to use this notebook with Linux only and not to play games, you should stick to the cheapest model without ATI graphics and just use the Intel graphics. The Intel graphics are not recommended for people planning to attach a bigger screen to that device, it can barely handle a FullHD screen. It is recommended that you replace the Hard Drive with a standard 2.5in SATA-2 Solid State Drive. This avoids the PWM problems and is amazingly fast.
Out of the box, there is an issue with the touchpad that you cannot scroll upwards, down works fine but scrolling up results in the document jumping to its bottom end.
To fix this, add
options psmouse proto=imps to
/etc/modprobe.d/psmouse.conf (create if neccessary). Now vertical scrolling using the right edge of the mousepad works fine in both directions.
The touchpad supports multitouch, although this is an ALPS touchpad and not a Synaptics (like in the 4820 model) and those are known for poor linux support. KDE recognizes the touchpad but only states it can detect 1 finger at a time, not multiple.
To be able to adjust brightness using Fn-keys, you need to add “acpi_osi=Linux” to your Grub kernel string. Adjusting brightness via software (i.e. based on power profile or a slider in your taskbar) works only on the ATI graphics, setting brightness using the Intel graphics works with Fn keys only and is a bit jerky. Also, Plymouth crashes when changing background brightness on startup.
When fully charged, even when using Intel graphics, the battery lasts max. 2 hours. This is due to the ATI graphics not being turned off, even though when not used. Unfortunately, you can only force the system to use the discrete graphics or BOTH (switchable) in the notebook‘s Bios. You need a kernel module that disables the ATI graphics. « Google for timelinex_acpi.ko module, works fine here » This will give you a battery life for normal surfing on WiFi of approx. 6 hours which is good. Also consider installing TLP from linrunner PPA.
When surfing on WiFi and not standing right next to the WiFi router (even though your signal strength is displayed Good) the connection drops without noticing. The indicator still states connected but surfing (and Ping to the router) fails and you need to re-connect. This seems to be due to WiFi power managment in Kubuntu 10.10. Updating to kernel version 2.6.38 solved the issue and WiFi works fine.
With Kernel 2.6.35 the enable key is the same as the WiFi key (although there were plenty of other F-keys available…) and so right away, you can only toggle WiFi. To fix this, you need to copy
/lib/firmware/ath3k-2.fw and overwrite
It works fine and out of the box with Kernel 2.6.38
In Kernel 3.0 there is a regression that causes Bluetooth to not be working anymore. To fix this, you need to blacklist the kernel module
acer-wmi (or acer_wmi), then it works fine.
Since you do not have a “watchdog” program like in Windows, the Fn-key toggles the WiFi and Bluetooth in about this pattern: 1. Bluetooth on, 2. Bluetooth off, Bluetooth on and WiFi off, Bluetooth off and WiFi on
The webcam works out of the box with Cheese but Kopete needs the most recent updates to recognize it, then it works just fine.
To enable KWin‘s blur effect on the Intel graphics, you need at least Mesa 7.10. Mesa 7.10 is shipped by Kubuntu 11.04 and newer.
This is a quite decent notebook and completely recommandable to people seeking for a quite cheap high-quality notebook with a good keyboard and long battery life.