LINUX ON THE ASUS L8400-K /MEDION 9467 NOTEBOOK
Original document: June/16/2001
Hardware & Software
This notebook was offered by ALDI, an ordinary supermarket normally
grocery. It was such a good offer I just could not resist buying it. So
I went early in the morning to a shop close by. When the supermarket
a huge que had already assembled behind me. Luckily I got a notebook,
only had 5 pieces in that particular shop!
The brand is Medion, but the german computer magazin c't soon discovered
that the notebook is based on a Asus L8400-K notebook, Medion only put
a harddisk, memory and a processor onto the mainboard. My notebook is
with a 10Gb HDD, 128Mb RAM, an 8Mb Savage/MX graphics accelerator with
TV-out and a vga connector, a floppy disk drive, an ESS Allegro sound
with modem, a Realtek 8139 10/100MB Ethernet adaptor and a 8X Toshiba
(Toshiba SD-C2502 PS). Of course there are two PCMCIA slots (RICOH), a
FIR irda port, the usual two USB ports, PS/2 and one serial as well as
a parallel connector. The memory is onboard, a free slot can take up
with a size of up to 256Mb, thus the maximum amount of RAM is 384Mb. I
you want to add a 256Mb module be sure it is equipped with 16 128Mbit
chips, newer SO-DIMMs with 8 256Mbit chips will not work, the Intel BX
chipset will recognize only half of the memory! The processor is a
Pentium III with 850MHZ, thus enough processing power is available.
a desktop processor does not feature SpeedStep technology, but the
powers the notebook for over 2 hours anyway.
Here all the PCI devices as lspci show them:
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 440BX/ZX - 82443BX/ZX Host
bridge (rev 03)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 440BX/ZX - 82443BX/ZX AGP
bridge (rev 03)
00:06.0 Multimedia audio controller: ESS Technology: Unknown device
1988 (rev 12)
00:06.1 Communication controller: ESS Technology: Unknown device
1989 (rev 12)
00:07.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82371AB PIIX4 ISA (rev 02)
00:07.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82371AB PIIX4 IDE (rev
00:07.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82371AB PIIX4 USB (rev
00:07.3 Bridge: Intel Corporation 82371AB PIIX4 ACPI (rev 03)
00:08.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RT8139
00:0a.0 CardBus bridge: Ricoh Co Ltd RL5c476 II (rev 80)
00:0a.1 CardBus bridge: Ricoh Co Ltd RL5c476 II (rev 80)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: S3 Inc.: Unknown device 8c10
There was a huge software package included, WindowsME and other
stuff. I immediately started to install Linux, to escape from this
monopoly. I have used many Linux distributions, but now I have arrived
at Debian, in my eyes the most
distribution and well suited for notebooks.
What works, what doesn't
Good news: everything except the (sigh!) internal faxmodem, which of
is a winmodem (see the Modem section).
Prior to attempt to install anything you have to change a few BIOS
I installed Debian, release 2.2r3 on my notebook over the internet
I have DSL!). Installation is straight forward, except that this
of Debian lacks support for the new kernel 2.4 and XFree86 4.0, thus I
upgraded the distribution. If you intend to use Debian too, I would
you to do the same, otherwise you can skip this section and look at the
parts with a detailed description on how to get the hardware running.
to installation you should also look at the APM section, as it contains
instructions on how to use the suspend-to-disk feature of the Phoenix
You have to create a new partition for that purpose. For the new kernel
many new packages are required, just add the following lines to your
- On the page "advanced" switch the setting "installed os" to
is very important because the kernel 2.2 (necessary for installation)
otherwise not switch on pci devices.
- The obvious thing, disable virus protection, also on the
#Kernel 2.4 utils for potato
deb http://people.debian.org/~bunk/debian potato main
deb-src http://people.debian.org/~bunk/debian potato main
#XFree86 4.0 Packages are available from Charl P. Botha:
#XFree86 4.10 for potato
deb http://people.debian.org/%7Ecpbotha/ xf410_potato/i386/
deb http://people.debian.org/%7Ecpbotha/ xf410_potato/all/
#I prefer KDE over Gnome, if you do the same just add this to
deb http://kde.tdyc.com potato main crypto optional
Now you have to call 'apt-get update' which will retrieve the
lists and 'apt-get dist-upgrade' which will replace old packages and
the distribution ready for the new kernel 2.4. If you are impatiend you
can grab my kernel configuration here,
(just place it into the base directory of the source) but I encourage
to read through the device section of my little HOWTO to be able to
tune some options for your needs.
The ethernet controller shares a connector with the modem, consequently
you cannot use the modem and network simultaniously. Luckily the modem
is not supported so you will not have to worry about that ;-).
The Realtek 8139C chip is supported by many kernels, with the kernel
2.4 I could use the network even after a susepend-to-disk.
If your distribution has problems with the network interface, read
Linux & the
RealTek 8129/8139 chips page.
The S3 Savage/MX graphics chip is supported by XFree86 4.0.3. I have
some time configuring XFree86, so if you like you can use my XF86Config-4.
If you do not have a German keyboard, you should change the
It seems to be important to run the server with a color depth of 16,
32 I ended up with a corrupt screen. Just put "DefaultColorDepth 16" in
your config or use mine. It is advisable to set the resolution of the
to the default of the LCD, which is 1024x768.
Important notice: If you intend to run
StarOffice, you have to set the environment variable:
prior to running X-Windows. Otherwise X will freeze already during
You should place the line with a preceding "export" into the file
Then it will be set automatically.
The audio chip is made by ESS, it
is called Allegro (1988). The kernel 2.4 provides the module maestro3.
When you load the modules the ac97_codec modules is being loaded too. I
advice you to use modconf to automatically load the driver.
You have to enable APM support in the kernel configuration, it then
flawlessly. The system autmatically shuts itself down if you issue a
nice feature especially for as I did not have an ATX machine before.
The command "apm" then gives you an account of the battery status or
whether you are on AC power. Another cool feature is suspend-to-disk,
works very well on this notebook. It requires some preparations though.
The Medion version of the notebook has no hibernation partition, you
to create one. I did this before installing Debian and used a single
Linux to boot the notebook. I prefer tomsrtbt for such purposes. You
also need lpdisk. The small utility "lpdisk" prepares the newly created
partition, you can download it here. If you do not want to compile a
version (this enables you to use lpdisk with tomsrtbt) by yourself, I
put a static
version on my webpage. Just extract it onto another floppy. Once
have tomsrtbt and lpdisk on two floppies, you boot tomsrtbt. Create a
primary partition with fdisk, which must be "/dev/hda4"! The size of
partition depends on the amount of installed system memory. For 128MB
should create a 160Mb partition, for more memory you have to make it
larger. The type of the newly created partition must be a0 (IBM
Hibernation). Now you can run lpdisk (" "). Once finished, reboot,
the BIOS setup program with "F2" and change the suspend type to
That's it! If you get bored with your superb notebook now just hit
under Linux and the system will save its state in /dev/hda4.
Some devices do not deal well with suspend-to-disk, I have
with Irda, but surprisingly the network and the soundcard work without
removing the correspondent modules. Debian however is well prepaired
for notebooks and offeres "script execution on suspend". All scripts
in the directory /etc/apm/event.d will be executed with "suspend" or
Just create a script with the following lines:
case "$1" in
This will remove or reinsert the appropiate irda drivers. For
see irda section.
The modem is a "winmodem" with very little intelligence on its
(like everything connected to windoze ;-) ).
Sadly, no one has given the modem the required intelligence for Linux,
but the Linmodem project has succeded in coding drivers for a few
but not for this one. It does not work.
Information Page lists a binary only driver for the ESS modem,
is unfortunately only available for some 2.2.x kernels, thus I did not
try them. If you manage to make it work, just drop me
The hard disk is an IBM-DJSA-210, it works best with DMA enabled (as
all drives do). I have change some kernel options, so that DMA get
at bootup, you can grab my kernel config,
set these with your prefered interface.
The Ricoh PCMCIA controller works, but I lack PCMCIA cards, so I could
not test it. USB support is quite god with kernel 2.4, the Intel
gets recognized. Sadly I do not have any USB devices, so again, I
verify that they work, but I am pretty sure they will. This is taken
HOWTO on an Asus notebook:
A user reported me that his USB mouse works, so you should expect
that everything's ok. I'm still using an external PS/2 mouse, since
an USB one disables the internal pointing device (which is a true PS/2
"mouse"); the same should reasonably apply to USB keyboards.
I've played with a keyboard/mouse splitter (a Y-shaped cable
allows two PS/2 devices, keyboard and mouse, to plug in a single PS/2
and it works perfectly, so - again - I see no need of USB devices here.
I am succesfully using a cordless PS/2 mouse, really nice with a
I managed to syncronize my PALM III via its IRDA port. You have to
a new pilot-xfer package, the one shipped with potato cannot syncronize
using the /dev/ircommnew0 special device. Once you have inserted
the necessary modules (irda, ircomm) issue a "irattach /dev/ttyS1 -s
this will load additional drivers and the port is up and running in SIR
mode. To let Debian do this for you, you have to edit
but you can also grab mine
If you use the nice suspend-to-disk feature of the Phoenix BIOS you
have to unload/load the modules before a suspend, see the APM section
The notebook has a fast Irda chip, which is a nsc. Inserting the
nsc-ircc works, and the chip and a Sharp dongle gets recognized. I did
not test it beyond this point, but I am confident the chip will work.
Dual boot / MS Windows
The Medion notebook is equipped with Windows ME , a nusiance with
to network performance. But if you want to watch DVDs, play some games
or use some legacy windows applications you hardly have a choice. I use
which is in my view a superp bootmanager. If you cannot stand shareware
you may use grub
another good bootmanager.
Unfortunaetly the Medion/Asus notebook is equipped with a desktop CPU.
A mobile Pentium III does consume as much power as a desktop Pentium
under full utilization, but features more sophisticated methods to save
power, like SpeedStep technology. Nevertheless I found it interesting
know how hot the CPU actually gets, so I installed the lm-sensors
which can read out the two sensors of the notebook. Asus says that the
fan starts to work at a temperature of 70° Celsius and stops again
at 55°. With the sensors package you can verify this behaviour
For Debian just install the package lm-sensors via apt-get and compile
the modules from the package lm-sensors-source in the directoy
After installation load the module adm1021 for the built-in Analog
chip and put the following lines into the file "/etc/sensors.conf":
label remote_temp "CPU"
If you call the program "sensors" now you will get the current
of your chassis and cpu. There are some programs for X available, but
desired candidate khealthcare did not compile properly under Potato.
Here I compiled some links to other HOWTOs or laptop related sites.
- Linux-Laptop is a
HOWTOs on using Linux on notebooks.
- Mobilix (down due to legal
difficulties) is a great resource for information
about Linux running on notebooks. Here you will find the Mobile Guide
the InfraRed HOWTO, both documents are a must read if you want to get
most out of your notebook.
- I used the HOWTO
for the ASUS L-8400B/C/K as a base for this document. Thanks to the
- Medion occasionally offers
for their notebook, which can also be found on the Asus homepage.
- HOWTO on Linux
on MD9467 is much more uptodate than my page currently is. (and
probably never will be)
I am content with my new notebook, although the fan is much too loud.
runs smoothly and supports nearly everything except the stupid
The S3 Savage graphics adaptor with separate memory makes it fast, as
notebooks in this class come with a shared memory graphics chip I would
always prefer this notebook. For a "All-In-One" notebook it was quite
and if you consider to buy it, just do it.
Finally, If you feel you have questions or comments just
contact me at
martin_asus (at) mknetz.de . If you know German you may write me
So long. And thanks for all the fish!
Caution! Replace the (at) with the real @!