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MSI VR705

Model 171F (full name 9S7-171F44-SKU9)

Author(s)

Ersin Sümer, Heidelberg, Germany
2010-01-13 finally find time and occasion to test microphone and webcam. Have to return it.
Date: see Old revisions

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Introduction

This guide is intended to provide you details on how well this laptop works with Linux and which modules you need to configure. For details on how to actually install and configure the required modules have a look at our guides section for distribution specific instructions.

I have tested the following distro/video driver combinations:

Linux distroNVIDIA video driver 1440×900standard video driver 1280×720
Ubuntu 9.10
Karmic Koala
190.42, 190.53not tested
Ubuntu 9.04190.32betatested

How it all starts

A week ago I helped a friend buying a new low cost big screen laptop.
We finally choose a MSI VR705 for two reasons
* it was bundled with good old FreeDOS.
This was OK since an old Windows XP licence was left over and any bundle with Windows would be more expensive.
* special offer with unbeatable 450 Euros.

However, since this guy was used to a GUI, I first give his old XP CD a try.
And right before his eyes XP's setup crashed with a blue screen.
(Fortunately the BIOS default mode of the hdd controller was AHCI ;-)
After this convincing self-demonstration of XP, he asked me for Linux.

This page is just for discussing using Linux on the MSI VR705. For a general discussion about this laptop you can visit the MSI VR705 page on LapWik.

Specifications

For full specifications see the MSI VR705 specifications page.

NameMSI VR705
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo processor
Screen17” WXGA+ Widescreen
OEM Seiko
RAMUp to 4GB
HDD160GB to 320GB
Optical DriveDVD+-RW
GraphicsNVIDIA Geforce 8200M
Network10/100/1000 Ethernet
802.11b/g/n WLAN Card

Linux Compatibility

DeviceCompatibilityComments
Processoryes
Screenyesnative 1440×900
HDDyesBIOS offers SATA
and AHCI mode (default)
Optical DriveYes
GraphicsYesGeforce 8200M G
SoundYes
EthernetYes
WirelessYesAtheros 5700EG
BluetoothYessee Notes
ModemNot Tested
USBYes
Card ReaderYes
ExpressCard SlotNot Tested
WebcamyesBisonCam, NB Pro

Notes

Works right from the start using Ubuntu Linux 9.04. All hardware recognized immediately.
Webcam and ExpressCard slot not tested, however SD cards in the card reader slot work well.

Bluetooth

Tested successfully with following adapters (short chipset name) USB_Vid_&Pid_&Rev_
* Cambridge Silicon Radio, Ltd (CSR) Bluetooth Dongle (HCI mode) Vid_0a12&Pid_0001&Rev_1915
* Integrated System Solution Corp. (ISSC) KY-BT100 Bluetooth Adapter Vid_1131&Pid_1001&Rev_0373

Tested negativ
* SGS Thomson Microelectronics (ST Micro) Bluetooth Device Vid_0483&Pid_5000&Rev_0100

Graphics

Ubuntu installs a standard driver which delivers a resolution of 1280×720.
However, in order to take full advantage of the GeForce 8200M G and the 1440×900 wide screen display,
give Nvidia's Linux Display Driver a try. Though not open source, its the only driver I know of,
which supports decently the GeForce 8200M G.

Downloading NVIDIA's Linux driver

I tested successfully the current beta version 190.32 (2009.09.08)
You may download it right from NVIDIA's site.

Edit: Meanwhile newer and certified versions 190.42 190.53 are available.

Installing NVIDIA's Linux driver

The driver is a self-installing script. Therefore, make sure the executable bit is set.
You need administrator rights, either via sudo or a root shell.

Open a text based console (via ctrl-alt-F1) [It has to be a console and definitely not a terminal from inside the GUI because in the next step stopping gdm will kill the terminal]

cd to whichever directory you have downloaded the installation script and take care script is executable (otherwise enter, for instance, sudo chmod u+x ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86-190.42-pkg1.run)

Since the script reconfigures the graphical interface,
you better stop the X11-server, run the installation script and then restart X11.

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop
sudo ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86-190.xx-pkg1.run (follow instructions)
sudo /etc/init.d/gdm start

While the standard resolution right from the shelf is merely 1024×768 (which is OK for installing),
your eyes enjoy now crisp 1440×900. The difference is impressing.

Keep in mind that you may have to reinstall the driver after each kernel update since the script creates a kernel specific module. Otherwise the next start up may end up with no graphics and an error message like 'could not load module'. Therefore any update of Ubuntu involving the kernel is a good occasion to look for and install a newer version of the driver.

Headphones and build in Microphone

Work fine taking profile 'Analog Stereo Duplex' in tab Hardware and 'Microphone 2' in tab Input in the Audio settings.

WebCam

The embedded webcam is a 1.3 MP BisonCam NB Pro often found in other netbook & notebook brands like Asus, Packard Bell etc.

Linux UVC driver

The webcam is supported by the Linux UVC driver which is included natively in kernel 2.6.26 and newer.
dmesg | grep uvc should display something like uvcvideo: Found UVC 1.00 device BisonCam, NB Pro (5986:0203) and the device should be listed as /dev/video0.

UVC viewer

While Ubuntu Karmic Koala includes the driver, unfortunately it comes out of the box without a decent application actually using the driver. Just install GTK+ UVC Viewer (guvcview) or luvcview via synaptic. Install gnome Device Manager as well (so you can easily check wether webcam is ready: it should list it below USB EHCI Controller)
Mind that the embedded webcam is not activated by default (no /dev/video0). You once have to press the webcam button (the one to the left of the power on/off). This button is crucial since it toggles the webcam on and off. (Check if device is ready either with gnome's device manager or by entering ls /dev/vid* in a terminal.)

If you happen to push the button meanwhile, guvcview will crash while luvcview aborts gracefully. Apart from that, both of them work well.

Summary

msi's VR 705 works 'right from the shell' under Linux. All hardware are recognized immediately (you have to install, however, a UVC viewer like guvcview or luvcview to use the web cam).
Watch out for offers without MS Windows, so you can save money.


Discussion

Fabio Mosti, 2009/12/05 00:58

same issue here, the webcam of this laptop seems to have problems working with linux… any idea to fix this?

kamal, 2009/12/04 10:15

my built in webcam is not working i got 2 laptop msi(vr705) on both of webcam is not working i need webcam most of the time so give me a solution for that

steve, 2009/10/10 13:28

Have you tried headphone support for this laptop under alsa. I can not seem to get headphone sense to work with it. Also have you tried recording from the keyboard mic?

ersin, 2009/11/13 17:03

I did not tried headphone support at all.
Recording from the keyboard mic failed (well, _something_ seemed to be recorded though, but the speakers produced nothing but noise). Since I had to give it back, I had no time to fix it. Neither I had time for trying the build in webcam.

ersin, 2010/01/13 16:06

Hi Steve,
finally have tested Mic and webcam.
Work fine (see above).
regards.

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msi_vr705.txt · Last modified: 2010/10/13 15:21 (external edit)
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