Running Linux (Fedora) on a Lenovo Ideapad S12

I got a Lenovo Ideapad S12 netbook (the version which has Intel’s CPU and GPU) a few months ago. It requires a couple of quirks to work with Linux, I’ll write about them here, in case they’ll be useful to someone else as well.

Wireless

The netbook has a “Broadcom Corporation BCM4312 802.11b/g LP-PHY (rev 01)” wifi chip. It works with the “b43” open source driver, which is in the kernel. However, I think that it may not actually reach the speeds it should. You could also use the proprietary “wl” kernel module, available in RPM Fusion as “kmod-wl”, but I don’t like to use closed source drivers myself.

The b43 driver needs the proprietary firmware from Broadcom to work with the 4312 chip. Following these instructions should get you the firmware.

Kernel

The kernel needs the “nolapic_timer” parameter to work well with the netbook. If that parameter is not used, it seems like the netbook will easily sleep a bit too deep. Initially people thought that the problem was in the “intel_idle” driver, the whole thing is discussed in this bug report. However, according to my testing, the problem with intel_idle was fixed, but the netbook still has problems, they are just a bit more subtle. The netbook boots fine, but when playing music, the system will easily start playing the same sample over and over again, if the keyboard or the mouse are not being used for a while. Apparently the system enters some sort of sleeping state. I built a vanilla kernel without intel_idle and I’m seeing this problem with it as well.

Then there’s “acer-wmi”. The module gets loaded by the kernel and in older versions it was probably somewhat necessary, because it handled the wifi/bluetooth hardware killswitch. It causes problems with NetworkManager, though. It disables the wifi chip on boot and you have to enable wifi from the NetworkManager applet by hand. Here’s my bug report, which hasn’t gotten any attention, but then again, I may have filed it under the wrong component. Anyway, in the 2.6.37 series of kernels there is the “ideapad_laptop” module, which apparently handles the hardware killswitch, so acer-wmi shouldn’t be needed any more and can be blacklisted.

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