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This is a guide to running Linux with the MSI CR500 laptop. There are still details missing, so if you have the MSI CR500 and are running Linux on it please consider editing this page or adding a comment below with your compatibility details. By contributing you will help other people running this laptop or trying to make a decision on whether to buy it or not.
This page is just for discussing using Linux on the MSI CR500. For a general discussion about this laptop you can visit the MSI CR500 page on LapWik.
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For full specifications see the MSI CR500 specifications page.
|Processor||Intel Core 2 Duo Processor|
|Screen||15.6 HD (1366×768)|
|Graphics||NVIDIA Geforce 8200M G|
|RAM||Up to 4GB|
|HDD||160GB to 500GB|
|Optical Drive||DVD Super Multi|
Built-in RaLink RT3090 802.11b/g/n
|Optical Drive||Not Tested||See below|
|HDMI Output||Partial||See below|
|Card Reader||Not Tested|
|ExpressCard Slot||Not Tested|
I have managed to install Ubuntu 10.04 on the CR500 with only a few issues. First off, the Ubuntu CD won't boot properly unless you use the nomodeset option, so be warned! The Ubuntu team tried to improve the experience for people with NVidia graphics cards in 10.04, but unfortunately the experience actually got worse on this laptop. Once you get the binary NVidia drivers installed manually from NVidia's script things get a lot better, although until you get into X the Ubuntu splash screen looks pretty ugly. This is an Ubuntu issue, so I don't know how things look on other distros.
I had no problems with the Processor, screen, HDD, or Ethernet. The webcam also worked straight out of the box. The optical drive works fine for playback of CDs and DVDs and recording of CDs, but I have not tested recording of DVDs yet.
The NVidia 8200MG graphics card isn't fully supported by the nv driver, so you will need to download the proprietary Nvidia drivers. The binary Nvidia drivers included with Ubuntu 10.04 don't work properly on this laptop, so you should install it manually from http://www.nvidia.com/object/unix.html. Please read the instructions on how to do it at http://www.ubuntugeek.com/howto-install-nvidia-drivers-manually-on-ubuntu-10-04-lucid-lynx.html.
The HDMI output works well with the binary NVIDIA driver. Both video and sound work with no problems. You will probably need to go to the NVidia Settings application and enable any screen you want to connect the computer to. You will also need to go to audio devices and select audio over HDMI to get audio working. This is all the tweaking of settings you will need, however. I haven't tested HDMI with the open source nv drivers, but my guess is that it would not work.
A note on connecting this computer to other monitors: the default resolution on the laptop screen is 1366×768. This is not such a common resolution, so please check that this resolution is compatible with any TVs or monitors you want to use before you buy. In my case, I got the laptop running at 1366×768 and my TV running at 1360×768 with a dual-screen setup with no scaling issues. I used TwinView with the proprietary NVidia drivers - it looks very nice.
The wireless works, but the driver needed (ra3090) is relatively new. It looks like people are having problems with it on Ubuntu 10.04, but I haven't tested it properly yet. I have tested the driver for Ubuntu 9.10 and it works well, but it is not available in the main Ubuntu repositories. There is also a driver for 9.04 made by the same person. You can download them from here: https://launchpad.net/~markus-tisoft/+archive/rt3090. If you need to search around the name of the card is RaLink rt3090. I'm not sure about other linux flavours, but the card itself works in linux.
The touchpad works, but on Ubuntu 10.04 it gets detected as a normal mouse, so you can't use advanced features. This is a little annoying when typing, as the cursor can suddenly move to a new location if you touch the touchpad by accident. This may differ with different linux flavours. You can, however, turn the touchpad off manually before you type using one of the fn keys.
USB worked straight away with my USB memory stick and my USB optical mouse. No problems here.
The sound works perfectly on linux. However, the soundcard picks up a bit of interference from the other components. This is not particularly noticeable when listening through the speakers, but you can tell when you listen through headphones. If you like your sound high-quality you could consider getting a cheap USB soundcard.
You may want to upgrade your RAM as the laptop only comes with 1GB. It's easy to upgrade the RAM as there is a spare RAM slot, but you will need to open the back cover and void your warranty to do it. For those who want to take the plunge see the memory upgrade wiki page at http://msi-cr500.wikispot.org/MemoryUpgrade.
If you are prepared to fiddle around, you should get most things working on your system. I am definitely happy with my purchase - as of May 2010 you would be hard pressed to find a laptop with better specs for the price.