The Asus A8Jc laptop under Linux


By the time you read this, most information on this page will probably already be out-dated.
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The exact name of the laptop this page is about is Asus A8Jc. If you wonder if this page is also useful for other laptops: it is possible that a similar laptop has some components that are very different: the A8Ja for example has an ATI card (A8Jc has an NVidia card).

This page is divided in two parts: a part about Linux on this laptop, and a part about this laptop in general (not Linux-related).

This page is mostly about hardware, and if there's something I don't know much about, it's probably hardware (well, and a lot of other things :) I do my best to provide accurate information, but I can't guarantee anything. Any information at this page may be incomplete, outdated or even wrong. If you damage your computer and/or your data by using this page, it's your own fault. The use of this page is at your own risk.

I can't tell whether this is a good laptop, just because it is my first laptop. Some comments I made on this laptop might be true for most laptops.

I'm sorry for poor photo's made by a cheap digicam and the poor photo's because I'm not a good photographer and didn't take the time to make pictures that are a bit pretty.

I'm not used to write in English and to keep maintaining and updating a page for a long time. The structure and style are probably horrible. Try to ignore it :)


The Linux Part

I have tested the laptop with Ubuntu 6.06 desktop (32bit version), and Ubuntu 7.04 desktop (also 32-bit). I've tried to remove Ubuntu-specific info, the goal is that this text is usuable for every distro.

Linux compatibility table

Hardware component Can it work under Linux? (AFAIK) Notes
CD-ROM Drive works and problems Works fine, but you can get system freezes if you use a system that automatically mounts inserted CDROMs. See [internal link]
Playing audio CD (analogue) ? With my Linux-installation it doesn't work, but you normally don't need this, just use digital extraction.

Christian wrote the following:
The problem with the audio CDs is an ALSA problem. Like the sound did not work at all up to kernel 2.6.16, audio CD kept being broken after this version. However, it is always a good idea to install the latest ALSA modules and not rely on what comes with the kernel. Audio CD might meanwhile work with these.

hddtemp ? Well uhm I'm not sure.
root@eusebio:~# hddtemp /dev/hda
WARNING: Drive /dev/hda doesn't appear in the database of supported drives
WARNING: But using a common value, it reports something.
WARNING: Note that the temperature shown could be wrong.
WARNING: See --help, --debug and --drivebase options.
WARNING: And don't forget you can add your drive to hddtemp.db
/dev/hda: ST9100824A:  36°C or °F
Infrared (Irda) ? [internal link]
lm-sensors ? sensors-detect cannot find any kernel modules that support the sensors. Use acpi.
Function keys Not tested Sound volume, sound mute, disabling the backlight, in/decreasing the brightness of the backlight, num lock, scroll lock works. The rest I haven't looked at.
Analog modem Not tested
SuspendNot tested enoughI've seen problems under both Linux and Windows. Don't know if they're fixed. I guess there are problems if the battery is not inserted.
Sound: SPDIFnot tested
External DVI screen Not tested
TV-Out Not tested
Bluetooth Not tested
ExpressCard Not tested
Temp via acpi Seems to work
willem@eusebio:~$ acpi -t
     Thermal 1: ok, 34.0 degrees C
Not measured if the reported temperature is correct.
Dual core CPU Works Just use a kernel that supports it. Use cat /proc/cpuinfo to see if your kernel supports dual-core. Don't worry about it, recent distro's will install a kernal that supports dual-core.
Widescreen Works In short: install NVidia drivers, add 1280x800 as resolution in /etc/X11/xorg.conf
Wired network Works Problems if you have an old kernel, works fine with a new enough kernel.

There are two kernel modules for this: r1000 and r8169. The version of r1000 I used had a lot of package loss if there's enough network traffic (a normal ping works fine, playing an online game is already enough traffic to cause packet loss. I had a POP3 server which I couldn't get my mail from because of this problem). In an old version of r8169, the network is unable to get up if the system boots without the UTP cable plugged in. In r1000 this is not the case. If the laptop booted without network plugged in, you can still get it up by unloading and reloading the r8169 kernel-module (rmmod r8169 ; modprobe r8169). Everything works fine with my current kernel (2.6.22) and r8169.

Wireless network Works Closed-source driver. If it doesn't work, you're 100% dependent on the company that makes the driver.
Touchpad Works [internal link]
USB mouse Works
Sound: laptop boxesworks
Sound: headphonesworks
Internal microphoneworks Just open the mic in the mixer. That's more tricky than it sounds, there are usually some mixer tracks that are hidden by default but that you need to open. Also keep in mind that alsa sees two soundcards. I think the mic records at 96000Hz. If your recordings sound much lower than they should sound, your recording program probably thinks he records at 44100Hz.
External microphone
Battery informationWorks
Dim LCDWorks
Detect when panel closedWorksSome people use it to make the system suspend when you close the panel.
CPU freq scalingWorks
Stop harddisk rotationWorksUse hdparm
Webcam Works [internal link]
USB Works
Card reader Reported to work Christian wrote:
"The card reader is very easy to get to run. You have to have MMC/SD card support in your kernel as outlined in . You then get a device like /dev/mmcblk0 which you can mount like any drive."
Firewire Reported to work Reported to work by a friend with an a6jc which has according to lspci the same firewire device.
Reading CD(R(W))/DVD works
Writing CDR(W)
Writing DVD
Playing audio CD (digital)works
External screen (VGA connector) Works This is just using twinview with the NVidia drivers. There's no difference between setting up twinview with this laptop than with a normal computer with an NVidia card, so just read the twinview information if you want to get this working. The tool "nvidia-settings" is an easy way to configure twinview with a GUI.

CD Drive

The problem

You can get system freezes. The frequency and the duration vary (with duration I mean how long the freeze takes, e.g. your system is frozen 15 seconds and than you can happily work again). Having a CD inserted lowers the frequency a lot (from every 2 hours to every 2 days), but it still happens. The duration can take up to something like two minutes. In my case, with a CD-ROM inserted, a few times the CD-reader made some weird repetitive sound that does not sound healthy. In my case, both the duration and the frequency of the freezes seem to depend on which version of Ubuntu I had installed, but I can't tell for sure because I haven't tested thoroughly enough.

The cause

The problem appears because of a piece of software that is supposed to mount a CD-ROM when inserted. Because the hardware does not provide an interrupt when this happens, the software has to check every X seconds if there is a CD-ROM inserted (this is called polling).

The software that does the polling is part of HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer). The process that do the polling is hald-addon-storage.

The semi-solution

If you disable the polling, you won't get the freezes anymore. The command
sudo killall hald-addon-storage
will kill the program that does the polling, so the system won't freeze anymore.... until you restart your system because than hald-addon-storage is started again.

A better way to semi-solve the problem is to configure HAL and "tell him" to don't poll anymore:

sudo hal-disable-polling --device /dev/scd0
I think old versions of HAL don't provide this command but I'm not sure. You can re-enable the polling with sudo hal-disable-polling --enable-polling --device /dev/scd0.

dmesg's for the hackers

Setting the screen resolution

Even if the resolution is wrongly configured, it looks like the screen is already working. It indeed does work, but not as good as we want it. The installation might give you a 1024x768, while the screen has actually a resolution of 1280x800. What actually happens is that your screen resizes the 1024x768 it gets to 1280x800, and that's not nice because your screen is this way not as sharp as it can be, and the scaling is in the horizontal direction not the same as in the vertical direction. Let me make an image for you to visualise it:

You don't need NVidia drivers to configure the right resolution.

Edit, as root, /etc/X11/xorg.conf (watch out for capital-case and non-capital-case)

There will be a part that looks like this:

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "Default Screen"
    Device         "NVIDIA Corporation NVIDIA Default Card"
    Monitor        "Generic Monitor"
    DefaultDepth    24
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       1
        Modes      "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       4
        Modes      "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       8
        Modes      "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       15
        Modes      "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       16
        Modes      "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       24
        Modes      "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"

Change that part into this:

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "Default Screen"
    Device         "NVIDIA Corporation NVIDIA Default Card"
    Monitor        "Generic Monitor"
    DefaultDepth    24
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       1
        Modes      "1280x800" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       4
        Modes      "1280x800" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       8
        Modes      "1280x800" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       15
        Modes      "1280x800" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       16
        Modes      "1280x800" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       24
        Modes      "1280x800" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"

Restart your X (close all your applications and press Control + Alt + Backspace) to make it use the new resolution.

You can check what resolution you are using by executing the following command (learned from

xdpyinfo | grep dimensions

We need NVidia drivers, even if you don't need 3D

If you use the normal free nv drivers (not made by NVidia), there's a problem with the number of colours. If you would view this image:

you would normally see almost all kind of grays your laptop screen can show you. But this does not work, you only see a limited number of colours, more like something like the next image:

The NVidia drivers don't have this problem. That's why I suggest to install the NVidia drivers, even if you don't want to use 3D.

How to install the NVidia drivers?
Well, it's not really necessary to explain this here, because it's just the same as any other NVidia driver installation on any laptop or desktop.

Do not mix distro-installation with manual installation from, because they will conflict with each other. If you want to use drivers from, check first if /etc/init.d/nvidia-kernel does not exist, if it does than you still have the conflicting package installed.

However, you should read the next two topics first before you start installing NVidia drivers.

Screen goes blank when I switch to console when the NVidia drivers are installed
I don't know with which kernel versions this problem appears, I had the problem with the kernel of Ubuntu 6.06.

If you can't work with a command-line (or if you don't know what a commandline is) this won't really be a problem for you because you won't know what to do when you're in the console anyway.

The solution is to use framebuffer. It's possible that your distro has framebuffer by default (Ubuntu 7.04 has, I thought Gentoo has it too but I'm not sure).

I won't explain here how to configure framebuffer because it is distro-specific and has nothing to do with this specific laptop. Read the docs about framebuffer (also called fbdev) and grub/lilo.

UPDATE 2007-07-17: I read that NVidia 100.14.11 fixed "console restore problems in several different configurations". This might fix this problem, but I haven't tested it yet. I don't know what the real cause of the problem is.

How to configure the touchpad as a real touchpad

It is possible that your touchpad is configured as a wacom tablet (this is the default on Ubuntu 6.06). I've used it this way for a few days, so it really works, but there are a few disadvantages:

So, it's interesting to reconfigure this.

There's a good guide about it at (not really Ubuntu-specific).

I noticed by accident that Fn+F9 disables/enables the touchpad under Linux (yes I know there's no icon on that key for it). It doesn't work if you still leave it wrongly configured as a Wacom tablet.


Technical information

It is actually an USB webcam. lsusb says the vendor is "Z-Star Microelectronics Corp." with ID 0x0ac8 and the manufacturer is "Vimicro Corp.". The product ID is 0x0321

If you want to see what Windows think about it:

Screenshot of the properties of the webcam in Windows

That last window ("Select Source") is of the GIMP under Windows, who can access the webcam via a TWAIN interface.

Getting it working under Linux

Works, see Christian's page about exactly the same webcam on a very similar laptop (Asus A8Js).

Infrared (irda)

This works much better than irda
This works much better than irda

Well, at first I had written here that it works. But it looks like a lot of times it does not work, and I don't know why. The way I get it working is usually rebooting a few times until it works again :(

This is how I got it (sometimes) working:

All low-level irda stuff works out of the box in Ubuntu 6.06 (sry that I can't explain about kernel modules and irattach). To print, I just had to put the printer close enough to the laptop (and remove all the objects between the printer and the laptop so that the infrared ports literary can see each other), make /dev/irlpt0:

mknod /dev/irlpt0 c 161 16
Make sure cups has permissions:
chown cupsys /dev/irlpt0
And configure cups just the same way as always. If you don't know how to say to cups that /dev/irlpt0 is the device: say it's a network printer of type "Cups Printer (IPP)" and type as URI "parallel:/dev/irlpt0" (without the "" quotes).

Note 1 : /dev/irlpt0 will not exist anymore the next reboot. You will have to run the two commands after a reboot, or write the commands in a quick&dirty script or look up the clean way to do this :)

Note 2 : if you play too much with irda config ((un)loading kernel modules, stopping the already running irattach, ...), the chance is high that you stop working what already works. A good idea is to just reboot when you have messed too much.

Note 3 : beware that printing (in fact: sending the data to the printer) can be much slower than you're used to.

Note 4 : You can also use file:///dev/rilpt0 as URI, but than you have to enable file:// URIs in the cups config

Note 5 : Windows autodetects the Irda printer. But, if the connection gets interrupted (e.g. you hold your hand between your laptop and the printer), Windows XP starts printing the whole job again. This means, that if you want to print 200 pages, and the connection gets interrupted at page 199, he will print 198 pages again.

I've solved my printing-problem by just buying a USB to parallel "convertor" (14 Euro in Sept 2006), which works very well.

in fact this all has little to do about the laptop, but because information about irda is so hard to find, I didn't remove this section.

UPDATE 2008-04-04: I got a report from someone who went to Asus Warranty because of the IRDA on his A8Jp. Quote: "it worked occasionally as yours. ASUS said that it was motherboard damage - they replaced it".


Output of lspci -v

Output of lsmod

My xorg.conf

"nvidia-settings" can be used to connect a second screen without having to restart the X (just general NVidia, not specific for this laptop).
btw, if you use mplayer, don't forget to put
in the file ~/.mplayer/config to tell MPlayer your screen size is not 4:3 but 16:10 (also called 8:5)

Other "Linux on my laptop"-sites about similar laptops

General info (not Linux specific)

Some notes:

Interesting things to know when you have this laptop:

Making the display show colours more correctly


Right after the installation I had the feeling the colours were much too blue, and plain white often looked more like yellow.

I thought it was just minor and I would get used to it, until I saw The tradition yellow looked pink in stead of light yellow. I've seen on different monitors, some displayed it like hard yellow and some like yellow-that-is-so-white-that-you-would-think-it-is-white, but this laptop's TFT was the first one that went so far that it was not even yellow anymore :)

How to make it a bit better?

There's an NVidia configuration tool where you can adjust the brightness. This is not the same as the brightness of the backlight! If I set it to like 85%, the colours look a lot more correct.

Under the default Windows installation of the laptop, this tool is installed by default.

Linux users can use the same program, called "nvidia-settings". Add "nvidia-settings -l" to your startup programs to load the configuration every time you start your computer.


The broken laptop "hinge"

The laptop's plastic went broken: there are two pieces of plastic around the LCD near the rotating joints, and they got seperated. The screen still worked perfectly. I didn't drop the laptop, I just noticed the problem.

Left: the problem, before sending it to warranty. Right: after receiving it back from warranty

The top cover isn't so much reflective, there's only a plastic protection on it which I didn't erase yet before taking the photo.

The warranty did a good job, it looks like it's repaired well.

The problem appeared after using the laptop for +/- 10 months. I brought the laptop to the shop on Saturday 30 June 2007, and received it back on Wednesday 11 July 2007.

If your laptop gets broken in the same way, stop using it as quickly as possible (read: make a backup now, and don't use the laptop after making the backup) because if you keep using it, I think the problem only get worse.

UPDATE: I got an email from someone with exactly the same problem with an Asus A8Js: the plastic around the hinge split in 2. Just like me, he never dropped his laptop. The only differences are the laptop type (he: A8Js, me: A8Jc) and that I only had the problem at the left hinge, while he had the problem at both hinges. He contacted Asus Warranty, but they said the warranty does not cover this. After that, he went to the shop where he bought his laptop and showed them the laptop. The shop accepted the laptop without any problems and just sent it to warranty. After 7 days he got his laptop back (repaired). The warranty report said they replaced the hinges, all the covers, and the LCD. They also reinstalled Windows and updated the BIOS to version 213.

Some photos (click to enlarge):



UPDATE: I got another report from someone with the same problem, but at the right side (above the fan) instead of the left side like me. After sending to warranty, he got his laptop back in 3 weeks.

The broken backlight

I noticed that backlight was rather dark, so I wanted to turn it brighter (just press the Fn+brigther key), but it didn't became brighter at all (also not under Windows). Also making it less bright didn't work. It turned out that controlling the brightness was broken. If you put the computer on, the backlight is usually dark (sometimes nearly impossible to read what's on your screen). If you let the laptop running for a while (15 or 30 minutes I think), the backlight becomes brighter and brighter during those 15 or 30 minutes, until it is at the normal bright again. You can't control the brightness, the brightness just doesn't react on pressing the "brighter" or "less bright" keys or via software configuration. It just lives it's own life.

So I went to the shop where I bought it and luckily the laptop's backlight was dark enough so that they immediately saw that there was indeed a problem. There was a guy who pressed under the screen (on the ASUS logo) and the screen became brighter (I was impressed:) He told that, at the place he pressed his thumbs, there is a device that generates a high voltage, which is broken. Don't ask me about the details. So anyway, they sent it to warranty.

UPDATE: The shop got it back on 14 January 2008. It works again now. The day I sent it to warranty was 21 December 2007.

The recovery CD

Because the recovery CD does not let you specify what you exactly want to do, so I'll write some comments about the behaviour of the recovery CD. It has the following boot menu. I've also written the comments that are shipped on a little paper:

  1. MS-DOS with CD-ROM Support.
  2. Recover Windows XP to first partition only.
    "This option will delete only the first partition, allowing you to keep other partitions, and create a new system partition as drive "C"."
  3. Recover Windows XP to entire HD.
    "This option will delete all partitions from your hard disk drive and create a new system partition as drive "C"."
  4. Recover Windows XP to entire HD with 2 partition.
    "This option will delete all partitions from your hard disk drive and create two now partitions "C" (60%) and "D" (40%)."

Option 2 does not what the official text says it does, sometimes it overwrites partitions and sometimes it creates new partitions.

Option 4 does not recover the MBR. If you've installed a bootloader like GRUB, it doesn't make sense to keep the MBR after overwriting everything else on the harddisk. You won't be able to boot anymore. Option 3 does overwrite the MBR.

If you get an error like

"PowerQuest PQImage has found an extended partition on disk 1
that crossed the 1024 cylinder boundary and is not
marked as an ExtendedX partition.

This condition can cause data corruption on this disk.

After fixing this problem, PowerQuest PQImage must reboot your system to reinitialize the file system drivers.

Would you like PowerQuest PQImage to change the Extended partition to an ExtendedX partition?"

It might turn out that whether you answer yes or no, the recovery won't work but only give errors like "Error #1822 Error: No partition selected" and "Error #1826 Error: Free space not found". What you can try in such case is remove the Windows partition manually (e.g. with a Linux live-CD) and try again.

Some last pieces of advice:


This text was written by Willem Penninckx with additions by Christian Rothländer.

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