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Lenovo Ideapad S10-3s


J.A. Watson (


The latest update of the S10-3 line, with new CPU and higher resolution display

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NameLenovo Ideapad S10-3s
ProcessorIntel Atom N475 1.83 GHz/667MHz/512Kb
Screen10.1” 1280×720
Optical DriveNone
GraphicsIntel GMA 3510
NetworkBroadcom Hybrid 10/100 wired, B/G/N WiFi, Bluetooth

Linux Compatibility

Optical DriveN/A
WirelessPartialSee comments below
56K ModemN/A
Card ReaderYes
ExpressCard SlotN/A


There are two significant problem areas with this netbook - the Broadcom 4313 WiFi adapter and the Synaptics touchpad (ClickPad, actually).

The Broadcom adapter works best with the brcmsmac driver (originally called brcm80211) that was recently released as FOSS by Broadcom. This driver was in “staging” until Linux Kernel 2.6.39, so some distributions have it and some do not. It will also work with the Broadcom driver known as “STA” in Ubuntu, or “wl” or “broadcom-wl” in other distributions, but the network performance and throughput using that driver are very poor. I generally get about 2.5Mbps with the brcm driver, but only about 250Kbps with the wl driver. Also, some distributions (Debian, Ubuntu and derivates of those) include a driver called “acer_wmi” which interferes with the operation of the Broadcom 4313 adapter, either preventing it from working entirely, or causing Wireless Networking to be disabled every time the system is booted. To check for this problem, use the command “lsmod | grep acer”, and if the acer_wmi driver is listed then go to /etc/modprobe.d and find the blacklist.conf file (the name varies slightly between distributions), and add a line to the end of it that says “blacklist acer_wmi” then reboot. The older b43 driver does not work with the 4313 adapter at all.

The Synaptic ClickPad works best with the synaptic driver 1.3.0 and later; with earlier versions the touchpad buttons generally don't work, but tapping will work.

The Atom N475 can use DDR3 memory, but Lenovo chose to stay with DDR2 in this system.

The case is completely closed, and I don't see any easy access to access/change things like the memory, hard drive or whatever.


If you want to install Linux and run, without having to change/adjust/fix anything, then openSuSE 11.4 is the best choice. If you don't mind having to take two minutes after the first boot to make a one-time fix, then Debian/Ubuntu/Mint/Mepis are all good choices. If you are a Mandriva fan, the new Mageia release works well. If you are determined to use Fedora… well, it can be done, but it takes a bit more effort than the others.

Ubuntu 11.04 and Linux Mint 11 install and work well, once the “acer_wmi” problem has been solved by adding it to the /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf file. After installing, the “Hardware Drivers” utility will pop up and offer to install the Broadcom STA wireless driver - DO NOT accept this, it is not necessary and it will severely degrade wireless throughput and reliability. The brcm80211 driver is included in the base distribution, and once the acer_wmi problem is solved, it works very well.

Ubuntu 11.10 Beta installs and works. It still requires the acer_wmi blacklist fix.

Ubuntu 10.10 and Linux Mint 10 install, but with some niggles. The touchpad buttons are not recognized; the Broadcom WiFi driver is not in the base distribution. After installing and rebooting the “Hardware Drivers” utility will pop up and offer to install the Broadcom STA driver, which will then get the WiFi working. However, throughput is not good, and you have to disable the acer_wmi driver as described above to get the system to boot with Wireless Networking enabled.

Linux Mint 201109 (Gnome and Xfce) installs and works quite well. The base distribution includes the brcmsmac driver but not the necessary firmware for it, so after installation completes go to Package Manager and install firmware-brcm80211. You will, of course, need a wired network connection to do this. Once that is installed and rebooted, fix the acer_wmi problem as described above, and then wireless networking will work.

openSuSE 11.4 installs and works very well. The brcm driver is included in the base distribution, so wireless networking works just fine, as does the ClickPad touchpad, including buttons. This is the best distribution I have tried so far.

SimplyMEPIS 11 installs and (once the acer_wmi problem is fixed) works very well. The acer_wmi fix should be added to the file /etc/modprobe.d/b43.conf. Everything else works just fine, including the ClickPad. If it weren't for having to fix the acer_wmi problem, I would rate this distribution as even better than openSuSE.

Mageia 1 (the new fork of Mandriva) installs and seems to work right out of the box, with no changes, adjustment or fixes required. The brcm80211 driver is included in the base distribution, and works despite the fact that acer_wmi is also present (don't ask me why). The Synaptic driver is version 1.4.0, which works very well with the ClickPad. Overall this looks like a very good distribution for the S10-3s, I would rate it at least as good as openSuSE and SimplyMEPIS, with the caveat that it is still a very new distribution, so the future development, stability and support have yet to be proven.

Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 installs and works just fine, once the acer_wmi problem is fixed.

Fedora 15 still does not include the brcm80211 driver, so it still requires the STA (broadcom-wl) driver to get wireless networking going. Everything else seems to work just fine, including the ClickPad.

Fedora 14 also does not recognize touchpad buttons or taps by default. Tapping can be enabled in the Preferences / Mouse utility, but I haven't gotten the buttons working yet. The Broadcom WiFi adapter does not work in the base installation, but after installing the latest updates it will work with the STA driver.

PCLinuxOS 2011.6 installs and works, but it includes both the brcm80211 and wl drivers, and the wl driver seems to get precedence, so you have to blacklist that in /etc/modprobe.d. The touchpad works, including buttons.

Jolicloud 1.1 (Preview) does not recognize the touchpad buttons, but at least tapping works by default. The Broadcom WiFi adapter works, but you have to “Enable Wireless” in the Network Manager after every boot.


J.A. Watson, 2011/05/22 09:31

Another Update - As I had hoped/expected, things have gotten much better for Linux on this netbook over the past couple of months. The brcm80211 driver is included in more and more distributions, and there are some very good Synaptic ClickPad drivers coming along now too.

On these distributions there is a kernel driver called acer_wmi which gets loaded by default and interferes with the brcm80211 driver, which prevents the WiFi networking from working. All you need to do is go to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf and add a line which says “blacklist acer_wmi” then reboot and the WiFi will work.

- openSuSE 11.4, with the latest updates installed, works extremely well, both the WiFi and ClickPad are fully supported.

- Linux Mint Debian Edition and Linux Mint Debian Xfce edition, with the latest updates installed, also work very well.With all of the latest updates installed, these distributions include version 1.4.0 of the Synaptics driver, which fixes all the problems with the ClickPad.

- SimplyMEPIS 11 works. For the brcm80211 driver, you can add acer_wmi to the b43.conf file and at the same time uncomment the wl and ndiswrapper blocking, and comment the ssb driver startup. MEPIS still uses version 1.2.2 of the Synaptic driver, but it seems to work just fine with the ClickPad, I'm not quite sure how they managed that when no one else has.

- Ubuntu 11.04 works, including WiFi and ClickPad

- Linux Mint 11 looks like it is going to work (no surprise, it is based on Ubuntu 11.04), but it is still a Release Candidate, so no final information yet.

J.A. Watson, 2011/01/11 14:18

Update - Here is a little more information, now that I have another month or so of experience on this rather nice netbook.

- Touchpad: This is actually a Synaptics ClickPad, and therein lies the problem. Ubuntu 10.04 and derivatives actually handled this pretty well, but 10.10 and derivatives almost don't handle it at all. There is hope for the future, though, because openSuSE 11.5 Milestone 5 (Build 990 and later) include the synaptics driver version 1.3.0, which gets the buttons right.

- Wireless Networking: The network card is a Broadcom 4313, and it is NOT supported by the existing “b43” drivers. It IS supported by the “broadcom-wl” driver (also sometimes known as simply “wl”, or in Ubuntu as “STA”, but performance/throughput is inconsistent. Once again there is hope for the future; this device is supported by the “brcm80211” driver which was released as FOSS by Broadcom recently. It is now in the “staging” hierarchy, and is slated to move in the standard distribution. So far I have seen one distribution in which it actually works - Linux Mint Debian Edition 201012/201101 - and several others which include it but are still not working yet, such as openSuSE 11.4.


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lenovo_ideapad_s10-3s.txt · Last modified: 2012/06/09 07:55 by billg
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