Monday, May 11, 2009

Asus Pro57Vr notebook (M51VR) and Linux

I bought this Asus Pro57Vr notebook (scroll and click "Specifications") about 10 days ago; it's reported as M51VR on Ubuntu.

It's very nice, for its price. Plus, I've grown fond of Asus over the pas
t years, due to the great quality/price balance. After I've stuffed my desktop system with a lot of Asus components, I thought I'd buy a laptop from them as well.

Operating system and drivers

I was glad to find it at a local distributor with no operating system installed whatsoever.

Asus recommend Vista for it and of course it forces this upon customers -- the CD with the drivers is for Vista (32b) only. Still, you can download the Windows (XP, 2000 etc.) drivers from their website.

I set it up as a dual boot between Windows 7 RC (which I was curious to try) and Ubuntu 9.04.

I have to mention the fact that on Windows 7 RC I didn't need to install additional drivers - everything was handled by Windows *somehow* and when there were a few unrecognized devices left in "Device Manager", just as I began to wonder how to handle them, the operating system somehow automatically downloaded and installed them. Very nice.

Things that didn't go as expected

Two annoying things here:

1. The ambient light sensor -- it's designed so stupidly -- it's probably meant for outdoors situations (when you have more direct sunlight, the display will be bad so you'd need more brightness and, respectively, when it's not too sunny you can see the screen quite well so you don't need so much brightness).

However, for indoor use, this ambient light sensor behavior makes no sense -- it's quite the opposite! When the lights are turned off, I need more brightness and the other way around.

The thing that is annoying from Asus' part is the fact that, while on Windows turning off the ambient light sensor is done easily ('Fn' key + 'a'), they didn't bother to draw any blue symbol on the "A" key to show you can use it in a "Fn" combination (whereas all other possible "Fn" options are drawn on the keyboard).

On Linux however, surprise! this doesn't work. So you will have to do (as root):

echo 0 > /sys/devices/platform/asus_laptop/ls_switch

in order to turn off the ambient light sensor.

Obviously, this is necessary because as long as the stupid sensor is turned on, you can't adjust the brightness manually.

2. Built-in microphone. As of Ubuntu 9.04 and Alsa v. 1.0.18 (and 1.0.19, which I've also tried), the built-in microphone doesn't work.

The problem is the Intel ICH9 device and the Realtek ALC663 codec.

I've tried editing /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf and adding (among other things)

options snd-hda-intel model=m51va

also changing the model to the ones available in Alsa's configuration (ALC662/663 section here), but still no go. Also, everything in alsamixer is unmuted and properly volume-d.

It simply won't work. Maybe... someday...

Anyhow, I can always plug in an external microphone (from my headset) -- the jack controller is infallible. Still, this issue is annoying.


Everything else : ) I really love this notebook. For its price, it does a lot of things.


  1. Hey, just thought I inform you that while trying the latest kernel for the propriety ATI driver. The ATI driver won't work, but the internal mic now works! ;-)

  2. Thanks for the info. It's a great news! I'm still using 2.6.28-13 right now, but I'll give 2.6.30 a try as soon as possible.

  3. Oh yes, and also won't work without this:


    options snd-pcsp index=-2
    alias snd-card-0 snd-hda-intel
    alias sound-slot-0 snd-hda-intel
    options snd-hda-intel model=auto
    options snd-hda-intel enable_msi=1


  4. Knows anybody a linux version that works fine on ASUS PRO57VR because of that light sensor? I know almost nothing about linux, but I like it (ubuntu) more than windows. Please answer

  5. Well, I have not tried other Linux distros on this laptop, but it really isn't a big trouble.

    Each time my laptop boots, I open a console and (having already typed that instruction before) search the bash history: you simply have to hit Ctrl+R, you will get a prompt reading "(reverse-i-search)`':" and here you have to enter the beginning of the command you want to search in your bash history. For me, "ec", "ech" or "echo" is enough to bring up the whole command:

    sudo echo 0 > /sys/devices/platform/asus-laptop/ls_switch

    Nevertheless, I would not blame this on the Linux distribution. The last times I booted in Windows I noticed those awful light intensity flickers so I had to disable the ambient lighting sensor in Windows, as well. It is more like... the fault of the manufacturer for supplying such a crappy sensor.

  6. Is there a BAT commnad that I could write and put it in STARTUP like in WINDOWS with your intructions instead of searcing every time?

  7. "A BAT command"? If you're asking how to do this automatically on Windows, I don't know.

    On Linux: edit your /etc/rc.local file and add, before the "exit 0" line, the following:

    echo 0 > /sys/devices/platform/asus_laptop/ls_switch

    So your /etc/rc.local file should look like:

    #!/bin/sh -e

    # some comments

    echo 0 > /sys/devices/platform/asus_laptop/ls_switch
    # other commands
    exit 0

  8. Alexandra esti romanca? Imi e mai usor decat sa ma chinui cu engleza

  9. Îhî.

    Merge cu linia aia adăugată în /etc/rc.local, parol (tocmai am încercat-o cînd am scris comentariul anterior).

  10. Eu ma descurc binisor in windows, dar sunt ultra-afon in linux. Ma bucur ca am gasit pe cineva care sa ma lumineze putin. Am sa incerc deseara cand ajung acasa

  11. Succes! Și eu sînt cam în aceeași situație (la capătul „Windows”).

  12. cum ai reusit sa inveti linux? la scoala?

  13. stii ceva de comanda aircrack-ng? nu pot sa imi dau seama cum e sintaxa corecta desi citesc helpul

  14. Nu, nu la școală. Am trecut de la Windows la Linux prin 2006 și am stat călare pe multe forumuri.

    De aircrack-ng auzisem, dar nu am avut (din fericire) de-a face cu el. Văd că au pe-aici ceva resurse.

  15. Folosesti yahoo messenger sa imi dai adresa?

  16. Scrie-mi pe adresa de contact din profil.

  17. nu merge instructiunea
    am incercat si cu SUDO SU si imi da acelasi raspuns

  18. si imi spuneai sa caut in etc/rc.local dar nu am asa ceva
    am gasit in ETC niste RCuri. De ex DE LA rc0.d la rc6.d
    chiar asa se numeste? RC.LOCAL?

  19. Da, doar că vezi că în UNIX (y compris Linux) fișier.ext e diferit de FIȘIER.EXT – e un sistem de operare care face diferențe între majuscule și minuscule.

    Ce nu am înțeles este ce distribuție anume de Linux folosești. Ce am scris eu funcționează bine-mersi de vreo cîteva variante de Ubuntu încoace.

  20. i really like to ask u all about Laptops with ATI RADEON graphic cards installed.Are they getting hot enough so that mabe sometimes can result in overheating the mainboard and probably freezing the whole system?
    looking forward into buying an ASUS PRO57VR and a little skeptical about radeon...
    what do u say?

  21. @Anonymous (#20): I guess it depends heavily on what you use your laptop for. I've used mine for 12 hours daily in the past 16 months and haven't got any video card heating issues, but keep in mind that I used it for anything but games.

    A slightly annoying thing that got apparent about 6 months after I bought it is that the fan got a bit louder. However, taking off the lid on the bottom, taking the fan out and removing the dust seems to fix the problem for about another 3 months.

  22. the ambient sensor light is for extended battery life. If it is dark the sensor sets less brightness because you can see in the dark with lower light but is difficult in lighted conditions if the brightness is low. so actually it's pretty good:)