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Ubuntu on an Acer Aspire 2920

1. Juni 2008 von Christian Imhorst

After my adventures with the iBook G4 it was time for a new trusted friend, so I bought an Acer Aspire 2920. The notebook came with a pre-installed Vista Home Basic. Unnecessary to say that I erased it from the harddisk. Even if I was interested in Vista I would never do my first steps with Home Basic, because this version is too lame. However I am not really interested in Vista, because it is not unix-based like Gnu/Linux, *BSD oder MacOS X. I don’t see a future for me and MacOS and I don’t like Apples hardware that much, so I wanted to buy a notebook with an excellent Gnu/Linux support. But is this what I did? No. I bought the Aspire 2920 and why? Because it’s relatively low-priced for it’s specifications. Now it’s important to fit Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron for this piece of hardware. With Acer Aspire 2920Z and Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy: installation notes Spicifer’s blog helped me a lot. Spicifer had problems upgrading from 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon to 8.04 Hardy Heron. I think that some of these problems are avoidable if you do a new plain installation and not an upgrade. For example wireless works with Hardy Heron out of the box and you don’t need ndiswrapper any more.

First things first you can say that most of the hardware works out of the box with Hardy:

  • Graphics work fine with the right resolution and with compiz.
  • As I can see sound works without problems. Volume wheel works, too. For me it was too low, so I started alsamixer in a terminal and turned the controls as far as they would go.
  • Wifi works and extra keys, such as wlan on/off, web browser start, bluetooth device and e-mail start, too.
  • The bluetooth device works.
  • You can connect an external monitor to VGA out. Consider that Gnome places the menu bar on screen 0. The external VGA monitor will always be the default display if it is connected.
  • Hibernation (suspend to disk) doesn’t cause any trouble, except the sound doesn’t work anymore after the notebook wakes up. That’s a problem between kernel 2.6.24 and Intels soundchip. To fix it you have to put the following line in „/etc/modprobe.d/snd-hda-intel.modprobe“, which you have to create, and at the end of „/etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base“:
    options snd-hda-intel model=acer

    After that you have to fix „/etc/default/acpi-support“ by putting „alsa“ at the right place:

    # Add services to this list to stop them before suspend and restart them in
    # the resume process.

    After a restart sound should work fine after hibernation.

  • Touchpad works fine and you can turn it on and off with Fn + F7.
  • Most of the function keys for brightness, sound, etc. work.
  • The Crystal Eye Webcam works but you should check if you have installed xserver-xorg-video-v4l and v4l-conf. The camera will be recognized automatically by Kopete or Ekiga or you can test it in the terminal with luvcview.
  • Slot for memory card works fine.
  • The internal microphon and the microphon jack: In Hardy I had little success as I compiled a new module for ALSA. The way to do this in the command line is:


    sudo apt-get install module-assistant
    sudo m-a update
    sudo m-a prepare
    sudo m-a a-i alsa 
    sudo alsa force-unload
    sudo depmod -ae
    sudo modprobe snd-hda-intel

    At the end of the file „/etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base“ you should add this line:

    options snd-hda-intel model=acer

    It is like I have written above at the point Hibernation.

    After that start alsamixer and set it up like this:

    alsamixer -c 0 -V all

    My settings in alsamixer.

    My settings in alsamixer.

Unfortunately, the module won’t load correctly sometimes after reboot. So I have to unload it with sudo alsa force-unload and than to reload it with sudo modprobe snd-hda-intel. Normally it seems to work fine without doing so.

Now I can use the microphone with Gnome Sound Recorder:

Make a record with Gnome Sound Recorder.

Make a record with Gnome Sound Recorder.

I have not tested yet:

  • 56k modem

What does not work is

  • S-Video out. The TV will be recognized with xrandr -q
    Screen 0: minimum 320 x 200, current 2048 x 768, maximum 3200 x 1200
    VGA disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
    LVDS connected 1024x768+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 261mm x 163mm
       1280x800       60.0 +   60.0
       1280x768       60.0
       1024x768       60.0*
       800x600        60.3
       640x480        59.9
    TV connected 1024x768+1024+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 0mm x 0mm
       1024x768       30.0*
       800x600        30.0
       848x480        30.0
       640x480        30.0

    and I adepted my „/etc/X11/xorg.conf“ like How to enable S-Video says,

    Section "Device"
    	Identifier	"Configured Video Device"
    	Option          "monitor-VGA"  "VGA" ## Options von mir ##
            Option          "monitor-TV"   "TV"
            Option          "monitor-LVCD" "LVCD"

    but I had less success. I got a little monochrome picture and that’s all.

  • The notebook won’t wake up from suspend when you send it to sleep with Fn + F4, but suspend works manually with the hibernate package. I have installed it and I suspend the notbook with
    sudo hibernate-ram

    and it wakes up without any problem.

  • System beeps: If you want to deactivate the system beeps just unload the module:
    sudo rmmod pcspkr

    And if you don’t want to load it again at startup put the following in „/etc/modprobe.d/blacklist“:

    blacklist pcspkr

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