Debian 3.1 on Acer TravelMate 4101LMi

(and now, for our international customers, my report in english, because I'm so good at it...)

Last Update: 19.8.2005 - This page in German (probably more up-to-date)

Everything I say on this page is only applicable to the very first version of the 4101 notebook (with X600, FSB533 and DDR1). To date, Acer has created an utter chaos by releasing several versions of the 4101 with different specs (for example Radeon X700, DDR2, FSB400 CPU or slow integrated Intel graphics) without changing the model number "4101".

Reports about unfitness of Acer's 4100 series notebooks for Linux are somewhat exaggerated now that the ACPI4Linux guys came up with an update for kernel 2.6.12-rc1.

Booting the installation CD

I've used a recent netinst-Image from for my installation. On these CD's, Debian uses a 2.6.8 kernel. The 4101LMi will only boot it with the following commandline, because its ACPI implemetation is somewhat non-conform to the ACPI standard:

 linux26 noapic nolapic acpi=off vga=771 pci=noacpi

Installation as usual. But you need to take care of two sound driver modules that will screw your system up. If you let hotplug auto-load the OSS driver for i810 cards, the kernel oopses (null pointer dereference). Before leaving the installation system, one should bring up a shell and say:

 rm /lib/modules/2.6.8-2-386/kernel/sound/oss/i810_audio.ko

The second trap is ALSA's snd-intel8x0m driver, which is somewhat broken. If hotplug loads it, you won't hear any sound because it keeps sitting on a semaphore. So get rid of it for the moment:

 rm /lib/modules/2.6.8-2-386/kernel/sound/pci/snd-intel8x0m.ko


Debian's XFree86-4.3 doesn't know anything about PCI Express or Radeon X600 - for obvious reasons. You have three possibilities:

  1. use the vesa driver and get happy without XVideo and other nice features
  2. try out proprietary ATI drivers
  3. steal X.Org 6.8.2 (xserver-xorg) from Ubuntu Linux and use it on Debian

I took number three. Ubuntu and Debian are close and compatible enough that you can use xorg-6.8.2 as a drop in replacement for XFree86-4.3 After that, you can use xorg's ATI driver (without 3D acceleration. I don't need it. For me, XVideo is more important). So I added the following line to /etc/apt/sources.list:

 deb hoary main

...then I said apt-get update and then:

 apt-get install xserver-xorg xlibs

It will download lots of Ubuntu packages on our system, but don't worry; we are compatible.


Kernel 2.6.8 boots only without ACPI and APIC. Because Acer has scrapped APM support in their BIOS, the notebook won't be able to powerdown itself on system shutdown. To make things work, you need at least kernel 2.6.12-rc1 (vanilla from suits best) and Len Brown's ACPI-Update acpi-20050309-2.6.12-rc1.diff. With this kernel patchset, ACPI works on the 4101. See my .config for what the kernel should look like or install my deb package 2.6.12-rc1-audrid6

With the module speedstep-centrino you can regulate the clock frequency between 800 and 1600 MHz in four steps. In connection with the ondemand frequency governor you can save lots of energy (unless sou don't run all the time like I do). Soe other more or less reasonable ACPI kernel modules are: thermal, video, button, ac, hotkey. Maybe someone needs them for ACPI event scripts... I didn't test software or ACPI suspend because I don't need it.


There is an Opensource driver for Centrino's WLAN at Just compile and install it, copy the firmware to /usr/lib/hotplug/firmware, load the modules and enjoy!.

Some last words

Did I miss something important? The remainder of the notebook is more or less standard. Even if it doesn't seem so at first glance, the 4101 is a capable Linux notebook - powerful and quiet (even under full load). For me, the only negative thing is it's sound system: The speakers sound terribly. You better get some decent stereo speakers... Feel free to contact me if you have any questions (or suggestions?) under ameschede at

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