How do you rate this laptop with Linux?
Excellent
 
18% (7)
Good
 
63% (25)
Fair
 
10% (4)
Poor
 
3% (1)
Unusable
 
8% (3)

Acer Aspire 5536 and 5536G

Introduction

Ubuntu 9.04 64-bit installed with no difficulties whatsoever, and pretty much everything “just worked”.

This page is just for discussing using Linux on the Acer Aspire 5536. For a general discussion about this laptop you can visit the Acer Aspire 5536 page on LapWik.

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Specifications

Acer UK lists at least ten configurations for Aspire 5536. Some of them are called 5536G and others not. It is not clear what the logic is; although it seemed at first that the 5536G configurations use Radeon HD 4570, there's also one 5536G with Radeon HD 3200. The Aspire 5536G-654G32Mn configuration has “Aspire 5536” printed near the keyboard and listed in DMI information; the G suffix appears only in stickers.

Summary specifications of one configuration from the Acer web site:
AMD Athlon™ X2 Dual-Core Processor QL-64 (1MB L2 cache, 2.1GHz); 3GB (2/1) DDR2 667 SDRAM; 320GB hard drive; integrated Super-Multi drive; 5-in-1 card reader; Acer® CineCrystal 15.6“ WXGA (1366 x 768) TFT display; ATI Radeon™ HD 3200 graphics; 802.11b/g/Draft-N WLAN, gigabit LAN, V.92 modem, webcam
For full specifications see the Acer Aspire 5536 specifications page.

NameAcer Aspire 5536
ProcessorAMD Athlon™ 64 X2
Screen15.6” 1366 x 768 Widescreen
RAM2GB, 3GB, or 4GB. Upgradeable to 8GB.
HDD250GB, 320GB, or 500GB
Optical DriveDVD±RW
or Blueray
GraphicsATI Radeon™ HD 3200
or ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 4570
Network10/100/1000 Ethernet
and either Acer InviLink™ Nplify™ 802.11b/g/Draft-N
or Acer InviLink™ 802.11b/g

Linux Compatibility

DeviceCompatibilityComments
Processorworks QL-64: 64-bit tested
QL-65 in Aspire 5536G-654G32Mn: 64-bit tested. The powernow-k8 module can drop the clock rate from 2100 MHz to 1050 MHz (only these two speeds are available), saving about 4.5 W when mostly idle or 19 W with both cores busy. ACPI reports no support for C2 and C3 power-saving states but Linux does use the AMD-specific C1E state.
Screenworks Aspire 5536G-654G32Mn: The brightest backlight level costs about 4.5 W more than the darkest one.
HDDworks Aspire 5536G-654G32Mn: WD Scorpio Blue 320 GB (WDC WD3200BEVT-22ZCT0). When resuming from suspend-to-RAM, Linux 2.6.32 sometimes reports I/O errors1); rebooting is then the only option.
Optical Driveworks
Graphicsdepends ATI Radeon™ HD 3200: The default driver doesn't support desktop effects.
ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 4570 in Aspire 5536G-654G32Mn: Accelerated 3D requires binary-only firmware (RV710_cp.bin and RV710_pfp.bin), Linux 2.6.32, and Mesa 7.6; and some problems remain. 2D graphics work even without the firmware but scrolling is then particularly slow. Only 256 MiB of the 512 MiB graphics RAM is accessible over PCI and current free drivers cannot use the rest. Option “DynamicClocks” “On” saves perhaps 2 watts in X11. The radeon driver of Debian's linux-image-2.6.32-5-amd64_2.6.32-15 supports kernel modesetting on this chip and provides a framebuffer; the radeonfb driver doesn't. As of Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) beta 1, desktop effects seem to be working.
Soundworks only basic functionality tested so far
Ethernetworks Aspire 5536G-654G32Mn: PCI ID 14E4:1698 (Broadcom Corporation NetLink BCM5784M Gigabit Ethernet PCIe), subsystem 1025:0207, Linux driver tg3. Can boot with PXE.
Wirelessworks 802.11b/g: no comment
802.11b/g/Draft-N in Aspire 5536G-654G32Mn: PCI ID 168c:002a (Atheros Communications Inc. AR928X Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express)), subsystem 105b:e006, driver ath9k added in Linux 2.6.27
BluetoothN/A Aspire 5536G-654G32Mn: This configuration doesn't have Bluetooth, even though it has a dedicated key for that.
ModemNot Tested
USBworks
Card Readerworks Only MMC (SD) and XD tested so far
ExpressCard SlotN/A Apparently not included in any configuration
Fingerprint ReaderN/A May be included in some configurations
Webcamworks Aspire 5536G-654G32Mn: USB ID 04f2:b044 (Chicony Electronics Co., Ltd. CNF7017), Linux driver uvcvideo
Touchpadworks Aspire 5536G-654G32Mn: “Synaptics Touchpad, model: 1, fw: 7.2, id: 0x1c0b1, caps: 0xd04731/0xa44000”, i.e. has two buttons and reports the amount of contact and the finger width but not separately the number of fingers. The Linux psmouse driver supports all of this; it is not clear whether X does too. Linux 2.6.31 fixes the touchpad-disable button not reenabling the touchpad when pressed again, but GNOME reintroduces the problem.

Notes

I picked this up on sale for $400, definitely a steal at this price. Acer did a good job of choosing components that are well supported in a modern Linux distribution (I think they actually sold a variant of this model with Linux… in India).

Summary

This would be a good first laptop for someone who wants to try Linux but doesn't want to have to become a guru in order to get it to work.

Unfortunately, the Aspire 5536G-654G32Mn model has pretty short battery life, at least in Linux: it constantly pulls 28-30 watts when idle, the fan stays on, and the battery runs out in about 1 h 50 min. Closing the lid and running powertop over the network shows 22.5 watts; this is obviously not a solution, but it at least gives a hint of where the power may be going.

1)
[31153.992114] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] Unhandled error code
[31153.992119] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] Result: hostbyte=DID_BAD_TARGET driverbyte=DRIVER_OK
[31153.992123] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] CDB: Read(10): 28 00 1c 9d 15 4a 00 00 08 00
[31153.992130] end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 480056650
[31154.166787] end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 429836642
[31154.166804] Read-error on swap-device (253:1:4288)