Ubuntu Feisty Fawn & Acer Aspire 5572 ZWXMi

This HOWTO was listed at
TuxMobil – Linux on Laptops, Notebooks, PDAs and Mobile Phones (Now replaced by: Fedora 9.)

I recently couldn’t resist in buying a notebook… To be precise, it’s an “Acer Aspire 5572 ZWXMi”. It came with Windows Vista Home Premium preinstalled. I played a bit with Vista and then decided to install Windows XP. That was easy and no fun at all. So I went for Linux and installed Ubuntu Feisty Fawn.
But first things first.

The hardware of this Acer Aspire is rather common for notebooks:

  • Intel Pentium dual-core (T2060) @ 1.6 GHz
  • 1024 MB RAM
  • Integrated Graphics Intel 945GM
  • Intel 82801G (ICH7 family) high definition audio
  • Broadcom BCM 4318 WLAN
  • Texas Instruments integrated 5 in 1 card reader
  • 160 GB harddrive

Right away: everything works with Feisty (even suspend-to-RAM/suspend-to-disk) – at least as far as I know: I don’t use the card reader nor the integrated modem. I guess the former may work, the latter maybe won’t.

But now for installing Ubuntu 7.04…

To install Ubuntu you’ll need a connection to the internet. As we’ll make the WLAN chip work later, use a cable to connect the laptop to your router. Get the 32bit desktop edition of Feisty from here and boot it. Once on the desktop (don’t worry about the wrong screen resolution, we’ll fix this later) install Ubuntu by clicking on the “Install” desktop icon and follow the few simple instructions. When it comes to partitioning, I chose the manual way, because I wanted to keep the first partition sda1. I guess it holds data for restoring the original Vista OS. I created two more primary partitions for “swap” and “/” and an extended partition with two logical drives for “/home” and another one for some data which I mount under “/media”. But that depends on what you prefer.

After the first reboot – Ubuntu may run a filesystem check on this first reboot – you’ll be presented with the login screen in 1024×768 resolution.

Screen resolution and touchpad

One of the first things I turned off is the “tapping” ability of the touchpad, because it made me doubleclick on nearly every entry of the Gnome menu just by passing it. The other thing we want to fix, of course, is the screen resolution. The native resolution of the display would be 1280×800. Ubuntu makes this very easy for us. Open Synaptic package manager or install by command line:

sudo apt-get install 915resolution gsynaptics

“915resolution” will automatically probe for the right screen resolution and creates appropriate start scripts – no more action required!!
“gsynaptics” (or, if you prefer KDE “ksynaptics”) is a graphical frontend to configure your touchpad. To make this work, we need to add a few lines to “/etc/X11/xorg.conf”. So, use your favorite editor to edit the file:

sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Then add the following lines (just between the other input devices):

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Synaptics Touchpad"
Driver "synaptics"
Option "SendCoreEvents" "true"
Option "Device" "/dev/psaux"
Option "Protocol" "auto-dev"
Option "SHMConfig" "on"
Option "HorizScrollDelta" "0"
EndSection

Then scroll down to ‘Section "ServerLayout"‘ and add

InputDevice "Synaptics Touchpad"

to this section. Now save the file and reboot. Upon reboot you will now see the correct screen resolution and you’ll find the touchpad configuration utility in your settings menu under “System”.

desktop
Touchpad

Sound

One thing which really drove me nuts was sound… The solution is very easy though: doubleclick on the speaker icon on the upper right near the clock of your Gnome desktop and the mixer will open. Go to “Edit -> Configure” and check “Surround”. You may now turn up the volume via the “Surround” slider.

WLAN

To get WLAN working we need “ndiswrapper”. There is a native driver for the built-in Broadcom chip, but reading some posts on different forums made me prefer the Windows driver via ndiswrapper and I strongly recommend this way. (Original HOWTO by nbound on Ubuntu Forms can be found here – thanks!!!)

First we need to prevent Ubuntu from loading the native driver. Therefor we edit “/etc/modprobe.d/blacklist”:

sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist

Add the following line

blacklist bcm43xx

save the file and unload the driver by:

sudo rmmod bcm43xx

Then, download the Windows XP driver from Acer Support and unzip the archive to a temporary directory. We’ll need the files in this driver archive later.

Now install “ndiswrapper”:

sudo apt-get install ndiswrapper-utils-1.9 ndiswrapper-common

Once done, install the Windows driver by

sudo ndiswrapper -i /path/to/bcmwl5.inf

See if everything went well:

ndiswrapper -l

Should return something like this:

bcmwl5 : driver installed
device (14E4:4318) present (alternate driver: bcm43xx)

Now check if ndiswrapper loads properly:

sudo modprobe ndiswrapper

If that worked, add a new line to “/etc/modules”:

sudo echo "ndiswrapper" >> /etc/modules

I don’t know if the next step is necessary, but I edited “/etc/network/interfaces”

sudo gedit /etc/network/interfaces

and commented out every line with the exception of those for the loopback interface. So, I ended up with this:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

#auto eth0
#iface eth0 inet dhcp

#auto eth1
#iface eth1 inet dhcp

#auto eth2
#iface eth2 inet dhcp

#auto ath0
#iface ath0 inet dhcp

#auto wlan0
#iface wlan0 inet dhcp

Then: reboot.

You may now use the network-manager applet (upper right, near the clock) to connect to a wireless network. I had to play a little with it but it finally worked. If your WLAN doesn’t show up you may need to use the WLAN button at the front of your Acer Aspire and/or scan for networks via

iwlist eth1 scan

Then your WLAN should show up. I have problems though when trying to connect to network which hides it’s ESSID, but I had the very same problem when running Windows on this laptop.

NetworkManager

That’s it! You may now customize Ubuntu to your liking. I’d recommend installing “guarddog” as firewall for example, but that’s of course up to you. Have fun!