Running Linux on an Acer TravelMate 800 series laptop

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This page documents my attempts (and successes!) to get Linux fully working on an Acer Travelmate 800 series laptop.

NOTE: The information contained herein assumes that you know how to work from the commandline, patch kernels and compile programs.

DISCLAIMER: This information is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. If you fry your system by using this information that’s _your_ problem. Not mine. I accept no responsability for what happens with this information whatsoever.

Update notes

I no longer have the Acer Travelmate 800 series laptop (sold it), so I can no longer update this page. I’ll keep it up as a reference.

On March 10 2005 I’ve decided to give this page a complete overhaul, and throw out any references to the 2.4 series of kernels since I don’t run them anymore, and IMO users should upgrade to 2.6 to make 100% decent use of their laptops.
For reference purposes I’ve put up a file which contains the 2.4 stuff, but it will not be updated any longer.

Technical Specifications

Intel Pentium M processor (1024KB L2 Cache), supports Enhanced Intel SpeedStep
Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 network connection
Intel 855PM chipset with 400MHz processor system bus
Standard 512MB DDR-266 SDRAM, upgradeable to max. 2048MB
Hitachi IC25N040ATMR04-0 – 40GB Ultra ATA/100 HDD with Disc Anti-Shock Protection system
Acer MediaBay for modules: hot swappable standard 24/10/8/24x DVD/CD-RW combo drive
15.0″ SXGA+ TFT colour LCD, 1400×1050, 16.7M colours
ATI Radeon 9000, dedicated 64MB DDR video memory
SoundBlaster-Pro and MS DirectSound compatible
TravelMate SmartCard solution including PlatinumSecret suite
10/100Mbps Fast Ethernet; Wake-on-LAN ready
56K ITU V.92 data/fax software modem; Wake-on-Ring ready
Integrated Bluetooth

PCI Specs

0000:00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 82855PM Processor to I/O Controller (rev 03)
0000:00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82855PM Processor to AGP Controller (rev 03)
0000:00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL/DBM (ICH4/ICH4-L/ICH4-M) USB UHCI Controller #1 (rev 03)
0000:00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL/DBM (ICH4/ICH4-L/ICH4-M) USB UHCI Controller #2 (rev 03)
0000:00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL/DBM (ICH4/ICH4-L/ICH4-M) USB UHCI Controller #3 (rev 03)
0000:00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBM (ICH4/ICH4-M) USB2 EHCI Controller (rev 03)
0000:00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev 83)
0000:00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801DBM (ICH4-M) LPC Interface Bridge (rev 03)
0000:00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801DBM (ICH4-M) IDE Controller (rev 03)
0000:00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL/DBM (ICH4/ICH4-L/ICH4-M) SMBus Controller (rev 03)
0000:00:1f.5 Multimedia audio controller: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL/DBM (ICH4/ICH4-L/ICH4-M) AC'97 Audio Controller (rev 03)
0000:00:1f.6 Modem: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL/DBM (ICH4/ICH4-L/ICH4-M) AC'97 Modem Controller (rev 03)
0000:01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Radeon R250 Lf [FireGL 9000] (rev 01)
0000:02:02.0 Ethernet controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4401 100Base-T (rev 01)
0000:02:04.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless LAN 2100 3B Mini PCI Adapter (rev 04)
0000:02:06.0 CardBus bridge: O2 Micro, Inc. OZ711M1/MC1 4-in-1 MemoryCardBus Controller (rev 20)
0000:02:06.1 CardBus bridge: O2 Micro, Inc. OZ711M1/MC1 4-in-1 MemoryCardBus Controller (rev 20)
0000:02:06.2 System peripheral: O2 Micro, Inc. OZ711Mx 4-in-1 MemoryCardBus Accelerator
0000:02:07.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments TSB43AB21 IEEE-1394a-2000 Controller (PHY/Link)

Here’s a detailed pci listing.

Subsystem Notes

Linux 2.6.x kernel

The latest 2.6 kernel is:
Here’s my kernel configuration.


Hardware: this is the Intel 82801DB USB chip.

USB worked out of the box by loading the following modules:

  • usb-uhci (USB 1.x support)
  • ehci-hcd (USB 2 support)
  • usbcore (which is automatically loaded by the previous ones)

It is advisable to install the hotplug system so the necessary modules are loaded upon plugging. For Debian, install the hotplug package.

10/100 MBit ethernet LAN

Hardware: this is a Broadcom Corporation BCM4401 100Base chip.

Lan also worked out of the box, using the b44 module.


Hardware: Intel Corp. 82801DB AC’97 Audio Controller

What can I say? It worked out of the box using the OSS/Free i810_audio module.
You can also use the ALSA module, called snd_intel8x0 module. This is actually the preferred driver.

For Debian, install the alsa-base and alsa-utils packages.

VGA Framebuffer console

Hardware: ATI Radeon Mobility 9000 M9

Works out of the box by compiling ATI Radeon display support in the kernel.

NOTE: if you plan on using ATI’s fglrx driver (for better 3D performance) you have to choose the VESA display support option instead!

VGA XFree86/X.Org

Hardware: ATI Radeon Mobility 9000 M9

Make sure you’re using _atleast_ XFree86 4.3, or X.Org 6.8! Earlier releases don’t support the ATI Radeon M9

To make it working just set your video driver to radeon:

Section "Device"
			Identifier	"Generic Video Card"
			Driver		"radeon"
			Option		"AGPMode"  "4"

The screen section looks like this:

Section "Screen"
			Identifier	"Default Screen"
			Device		"Generic Video Card"
			Monitor		"Generic Monitor"
			DefaultDepth	24
			SubSection "Display"
				Depth		24
				Modes		"1400x1050" "1024x768"

An alternative driver is ATI‘s FireGL driver.
Debian users can look here for downloading and building the package.

Here’s my complete XF86Config-4 file

TV Out

This is rumored to work with ATI‘s FireGL driver. I haven’t confirmed this, tho.


Hardware: Intel Corp. 82801DB AC’97 Modem Controller – Winmodem.

this modem is made by Agere (a Lucent subsidiary).

You can get it to work by using the latest release from the smartlink driver:
Compile the driver (make) and install it (make install). Next, start the slmodemd daemon with the following parameters:
slmodemd -c <COUNTRY>
This will start the daemon and link it to the /dev/ttySL0 port. Now you can use that for dialout.
For more info, see this email on

Another way to get this to work is by using ALSA and enabling the Intel i8x0/MX440; SiS 7013; NForce; AMD768/8111 modems option in the kernel. Then you can just load slmodemd with the --alsa parameter.

For Debian, look for the sl-modem-daemon and sl-modem-source packages.


Hardware: MATSHITA UJDA740 DVD/CDRW, burns CDR4s at 24x.

You can use /dev/hdx (the cdrom device) directly for cd burning.


Hardeware: Cambridge Silicon Radio, Ltd – connected to the USB bus.

Works perfectly with the bluez and hci-usb modules. In fact, if you install hotplug the driver will be loaded automatically if you press the bluetooth button!

Debian users might want to install the bluetooth package.

I configured my Palm Tungsten T3 for Bluetooth sync, more info here:

FireWire (IEEE 1394)

Hardware: Texas Instruments TSB43AB21 IEEE-1394a-2000 Controller (PHY/Link)

To activate the port load the ieee1394 module.
It works perfectly with my sbp2 type external cd-writer.


Hardware: Seagate ST9808211A (earlier: IBM IC25N040ATMR04-0 and before that HITACHI DK23EA-40)

I added the following call to the bootup system to activate DMA transfers:
hdparm -c3 -d1 -A1 -m16 -u1 -a64 -F/dev/hda


  • -c3: enables 32-bit data transfers with special ‘sync’ sequence.
  • -d1: enable DMA
  • -A1: enable drive read-ahead
  • -m16: enable multiple sector mode (IDE Block Mode) with 16 sector-reads
  • -u1: set interrupt-unmask flag
  • -a64: set sector-count for filesystem read-ahead
  • -F: set security-freeze (so that nothing can accidentily lock your disk with a password)

For Debian; check the hdparm package.


You need this if you don’t want your CPU to eat your batteries empty. It’s included in the kernel config.

It works perfectly after loading the speedstep-centrino and any of the cpufreq- modules.

You can either install the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="external">cpufreqd</a> daemon, or use the cpufreq_ondemand module (which modulates the speed by requirement).
I use this init script to setup everything at bootup.

For Debian, check the cpufreqd or powernowd packages.

Wireless Lan

Hardware: Intel Corp. PRO/Wireless LAN 2100 3B Mini PCI Adapter

Driver status: native linux driver available at

The native driver works out of the box. Just extract, compile (using make; make install) and run modprobe ipw2100.
For information on how to configure your wlan card, please see the above website.

For Debian there are the ipw2100-source and ieee80211-source packages available, which simplifies following up on new releases.

Acer Launchkeys

Most of these you can get to work with the acerhk driver.

For usage instructions, see the Gentoo wiki


Hardware: O2 Micro, Inc. OZ711M1 SmartCardBus MultiMediaBay Controller

You have to install the pcmcia_cs or (for recent kernels) the pcmciautils package, and enable the yenta_socket module in the kernel.

For Debian, check the pcmcia-cs or the pcmciautils package.

SmartCard reader

Hardware: O2 Micro, Inc. OZ711Mx MultiMediaBay Accelerator

There’s a driver available at

I haven’t tried it out yet tho.


I only got this to work with the FIR driver. Johannes Zellner did it with SIR, see the notes below.

I did get it to work with the nsc-ircc module.

To get the nsc-ircc module, you need to enable ISA Support in the Bus Options menu.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Enable the port in the BIOS
  2. Disable the tty port in linux: setserial /dev/ttyS1 uart none
  3. Load the nsc-ircc module with the correct parameters: modprobe nsc-ircc io=0x2f8 irq=3 dma=1
  4. Launch irattach on the irda0 device: irattach irda0 -s

Now you should be able to connect e.g. a palmpilot on /dev/ircomm0. Atleast, it works for me.

UPDATE: Johannes Zellner has informed me that this laptop can indeed do SIR, but you need to limit the baud speed.
I haven’t tested this myself, email follows:

You CAN get SIR on the irda chip and in fact you have to operate in SIR
mode for example if you want to connect (like me) to your gprs handy to
use it as a modem. The trick is to limit the baud speed:
(something like /etc/modules.conf):

# <snip>
	alias tty-ldisc-11 irtty
	alias char-major-161 ircomm-tty

	# see also
	options nsc-ircc irq=3 dma=3 io=0x2f8 dongle_id=0x09
	alias irda0 nsc-ircc
	pre-install nsc-ircc setserial /dev/ttyS1 port 0 irq 0

	# limit max baud rate to 115200 to avoid MIR/FIR bug.
	# !! This has to be done BEFORE doing 'irattach irda0 -s' !!
	post-install nsc-ircc echo 115200 > /proc/sys/net/irda/max_baud_rate
# </snip>

For Debian, I advise the irda-utils package.

Multimedia Keys

This laptop has several ‘function’ and ‘multimedia’ keys, which are not mapped by the bios but generate scancodes.
These include:

  • Volume up
  • Volume down
  • Mute
  • Help (pops up a window with some basic info about the laptop under windows)
  • Setup (opens a program to change some bios settings)
  • Change power mode

I used the hotkeys for it, with this acertm800.def file in /usr/share/hotplug/ and then starting hotkeys as
hotkeys --no-splash --cdrom-dev=none --osd=off from your .xsession file.

Debian users can install the hotkeys package.

Software Suspend

Not yet tried.

Suspend to RAM

This works pretty well starting kernel 2.6.12.
You can’t use the ATI fglrx driver, and you can’t use the Radeon framebuffer.

I use the following suspend script in /etc/acpi/events (which is triggered when I press my suspend button), and this suspend2ram script to do the actual suspending.

Here you can find more information which might help you get it working.

Touchpad in XFree86/X.Org

This is a Synaptics touchpad. You can use it with this driver.
Extract from the INSTALL file:

1. Copy the driver-module "synaptics_drv.o" into the XFree-module path
"ex. /usr/X11R6/lib/modules/input/".

2. Load the driver by changig the XFree configuration file through
adding the line 'Load "synaptics"' in the module section.

3. Add/Replace in the InputDevice-section for the touchpad the
following lines:

Section "InputDevice"
Driver  	"synaptics"
Identifier  	"Mouse[1]"
Option 	"Device"  	"/dev/psaux"
Option	"Protocol"	"auto-dev"
Option	"LeftEdge"      "1900"
Option	"RightEdge"     "5400"
Option	"TopEdge"       "1800"
Option	"BottomEdge"    "3900"
Option	"FingerLow"		"25"
Option	"FingerHigh"	"30"
Option	"MaxTapTime"	"180"
Option	"MaxTapMove"	"220"
Option	"VertScrollDelta" "100"
Option	"MinSpeed"		"0.02"
Option	"MaxSpeed"		"0.18"
Option	"AccelFactor" 	"0.0010"

Change the Identifier to the same name as in the ServerLayout-section.
The Option "Repeater" is at the moment for testing.

4. Add the "CorePointer" option to the InputDevice line at the ServerLayout section:

Section "ServerLayout"
InputDevice "Mouse[1]"  "CorePointer"

Here’s my complete XF86Config-4 file

Debian users can install the xfree86-driver-synaptics package (for both XFree86 and X.Org).