[K]Ubuntu on Asus N73SV

So my employer replaced my old work laptop HP nx9420 by a new ASUS N73SV, more precisely N73SV-V1G-TZ393V, which by the way is  a great name (not…). The Asus N73 is the bigger screen brother of the Asus N53.

My old HP was able to do any work I could ask for, but it’s limitations on handling virtual machines where showing up, delaying work significantly. This Asus is a completly different beast. It’s fast, and has 3 SODIMM slots, so right now I have it with 12GB of RAM (8GB are two 4GB of Kingston memory plus the original 4GB of RAM). To open up it, you must remove the keyboard (small tabs near the ESC key, F5, F9, PRTSC and End at the top)  and one SODIMM slot is available right away (on th Q2630 CPU’s). Then after removing some screws (check the manual), the disk bay and remaining memory slot is also available at the bottom by removing the bottom cover.

The first thing to do with it was of course to nuke Windows 7, and after much indecision between KUbuntu and Arch, I installed Kubuntu 11.04 64 bit edition. After some fiddling with partitioning (I just left the original recovery partition), everything installed smoothly. Going to KUbuntu was more for getting a full working computer as fast as I can, without too much fiddling, but I left a partition to try out Arch on my spare time.

So what works out of the box? Well almost everything. Let’s talk about what doesn’t work.

First I’ve followed these instructions on the Ubuntu Help Pages for the N53SV and installed the acpi4asus_dkms, blueetooth driver and Bumblebee for the dual card support.

Still USB3 with USB2 devices doesn’t work, and hibernation/suspension doesn’t work. Regarding USB3 it’s a confirmed bug, so in the near future a solution will be available. Regarding hibernation/suspension I think it’s related to the NVidia card driver, but not sure because the computer does shutdown, but comes up to a black screen.

Also this specific version of the N73SV ha a DVB-T card with the Philips chipset SAA7231. It doesn’t work and there is no driver available because the manufacturer doesn’t won’t to support Linux. There is a two year old drive, but I think I doesn’t work with the recent kernels.

At the end I have a full accelerated desktop, dual monitor support, Wifi, bluetooth, networking, webcam, USB2, TurboBoost and the left media keys working fine.

Moving from the old computer, was just a matter of copying my home directory and following these instructions to re-install all software.

The good:

  • Screen size and quality: Superb
  • Fast, fast, fast
  • Big Hard disk (640GB). Available slot for a second hardisk/SSD
  • Allows a lot of memory: 12GB
  • ExpressGate

The bad:

  • Fiddly keyboard, getting time to get used to.
  • Keyboard sunken a bit when pressing keys.
  • No ExpressCard Slot
  • No eSata port
  • Location of some USB ports at the back is not very practical.
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