SuSE Linux on the
Last update: April 21, 2004
The Medion MD41100 (FIC MB05, Cebop CDG) is a low budget Centrino
notebook and is a reasonable compromise between equipment and quality
on the one hand and price on the other. The hardware can be (almost
entirely) expected to work with Linux, although not instantly (with
SuSE 9.0). For the time being some additional installation effort is
required, but this might well change with future releases of Linux
The MD41100 is offered by the German manufacturer/reseller Medion. Medion sells its products
online and frequently via the discount supermarket chain Aldi. The output of lspci -v suggests that the
notebook was originally manufactured by First
International Computers (FIC). Comparing the outer appearance and
technical data leads to the conclusion that it belongs to the model
series MB05. This hardware is also sold by other companies, e. g. under
brand name Cebop (model CDG).
extensive test of
the hardware can be found here.
This is the fact sheet for the Medion MD41100. The equipment of
MB05 notebooks from other brands may vary.
|Pentium M, 1.4 GHz
|i855GM, XGA Display (1024x768)
|40 GB (Seagate)
|Pioneer DVD Multinorm Burner
|Realtek RTL-8139 fast Ethernet
Intel PRO/Wireless LAN 2100 3B
|Alps Apoint 2K
|Intel 82801DB AC'97 Audio
|Intel 82801DB AC'97 Modem
|3xUSB 2.0, Firewire, 2xCardbus,
Serial, Parallel, VGA, PS/2, Line/Mic in, Line out
|Approximately 4 hrs.
The hardware makes a good and sturdy impression. The most positive
aspects are the display and the agreeable keyboard. The display is
bright, has large viewing angles and I was not able to find a pixel
error yet! The XGA resolution may not be state of the art any more, but
the nowadays often found SXGA+ displays lack support in the i855GM
bios, meaning that the native resolution of the display cannot be used
with the linux driver (so far)! To become happy with these
one needs a notebook with a third party graphics card (e. g. ATI, as in
the IBM Thinkpad T40), which can at the
moment only be found in high end Centrino hardware.
The most negative
aspect is the rather noisy fan (this can be done much better as the IBM
Thinkpads show!). Fortunately, its use is only necessary under
high load and the Intel speedstep technology allows the Pentium M CPU
to be efficiently clocked down otherwise. However, for
using these features enabling and configuring ACPI and cpufreq support
Installation of SuSE
Resizing the primary NTFS partition and installation of Linux worked
fine with the SuSE 9.0 DVD. I used the logical volume manager for all
partitions including root. ACPI support did not work out of the box
with the SuSE 2.4.21-99 standard kernel (ok, I didn't try too hard) and
neither did the ndiswrapper, I intended to use for WLAN support. Thus I
switched over to the 2.6 kernel series. I compiled the vanilla 2.6.3
with the latest ACPI patches applied. All in all, this might not
been the brightest idea, since the some kernel interfaces have changed
and are not compatible anymore with the utilities shipped with SuSE
This includes LVM (2.6.3 has only v2.x support but SuSE 9.0 still uses
v1.x by default) and the hotplug utilities. Fortunately, the LVM2
utilities can be installed from the SuSE distribution, but I was not
able to construct a working initrd, so I had to move the root
file system out out of the LVM system. Thus, if you intend to use LVM,
not make the root partition part of it. Maybe SuSE 9.1 will take care
this, but by now it is a possible pitfall for a future update! Fixing
was the more nasty thing. In the end, I installed the latest hotplug
packages from sourceforge
and lost functionality (automatic update of /etc/fstab). Later I found out,
that a SuSE version of the 2.6.3 kernel can be downloaded from the SuSE ftp server
(or one of its mirrors). This might have been the better choice.
Alternatively, it might be wise to install a late 2.4 kernel with the
appropriate patches first and switch to the new kernel line later, when
a new SuSE release appears with complete 2.6
Graphics Adapter / X11
Graphics and X11 work more or less out of the box (after choosing the
appropriate display type, e. g.
"LCD 1024x768@70Hz"). With a color depth of 16bpp 3D support works
according to 3Ddiag.
However, programs like tuxracer
still complain about the missing 3D capabilities (I am not quite sure
why, I suspect that the correct agpgart module is not loaded
experienced some nasty keyboard hangs, when the CPU fan switched on or
off while typing. This seems to have changed after switching to the new
"kbd" driver. You can find my XF86Config here.
The three additional function keys (labeled with "P1", "P2" and a WLAN
symbol), can be made usable under Linux. For this you can execute the
/bin/setkeycodes 6b 120
before the X server starts. The keys can now be assigned using xmodmap or the KDE key bindings
/bin/setkeycodes 6d 121
/bin/setkeycodes 66 122
The lineakd can be
placed in the KDE autostart folder to execute arbitrary actions upon
key pressing (see my /usr/local/etc/lineakkb.def
files as an example).
The touchpad is an Alps Apoint2k with four buttons (left/right
mouse buttons and up/down scroll buttons).
It works out of the box with the generic PS2 driver (the down
button acts as the middle mouse button). A lot more functionality
(like horizontal/vertical edge scrolling) can be gained by installing
appropriate kernel patch. The latest synaptics drivers come with a very
useful utility for controlling the properties of the touchpad on the
fly. For the configuration options see my XF86Config
(still not optimum, sorry).
Beware that the evdev.ko
module must be loaded before the X server starts. Otherwise it will
render the system unusable. Same applies as the wrong event-device is
chosen in the XF86Config.
The soundcard is supported by ALSA. The appropriate module (option
be found in the 2.6 kernel tree. However, using a vanilla 2.6.3 kernel
and SuSE 9.0 the sound system has to be configured manually (not a big
deal, see my moprobe.conf.local).
Remember to unmute the audio device ;-).
The softmodem works fine using the latest Smart
Link Soft Modem driver (v2.9.6). Patching the kernel is not
instead one can use the slamr.ko
module (see my moprobe.conf.local
The Realtek RTL-8139 ethernet adapter is well supported by Linux. The
Intel PRO 2100 wireless LAN adapter can be but into operation using
module, which has to be downloaded and compiled separately. This
driver supplies the linux interface for windows WLAN driver, which are
loaded in addition. For this purpose you have to copy the files w70n51.sys, w70n51.inf and w70n5msg.dll from your windows
partition to a place in your linux installation (e. g. /lib/windrivers/). The antenna
can be switched on and off using the tool
which is shipped with the ndiswrapper package.
ACPI power management is supported by the 2.6 kernels and seems to
general well together with the hardware. However, I experienced
instable behavior when using the modem (see below). Beware that most
suspend states do not work yet and lead to a
system crash when invoked (like S3, "suspend to RAM" after closing the
lid). A solution may be software suspend, which allows the contents of
the system memory to be saved into swap space before powering off
system (included in 2.6 kernels, not tested yet).
The power consumption and thus battery life and fan noise can be
efficiently controlled by with the cpufreqd
daemon which sets the CPU into high performance mode when in heavy use,
but switches back into powersave mode otherwise. This behavior
can be configured by the user (for details see my /usr/local/etc/cpufreqd.conf).
When the mouse pointer is moved while the fan switches on or off, the
mouse/touchpad driver seems to loose some bytes. This may result in
arbitrary mouse actions, doing occasionally havoc to the desktop. I
have no clue why this happens. When using the modem the system
sometimes even crashes when the fan switches on (but I'm not sure
whether this is the cause or the consequence...). I fiddled around with
the interrupt handler without much effect. Maybe I'll have to wait for
a newer ACPI or smart link modem driver.
With kernel 2.6 ide-scsi should not be used anymore and the kernel
options "hdc=ide-scsi hdclun=0"
which are appended by SuSE by default are obsolete (and should
therefore be deleted from /etc/lilo.conf).
The warnings about cdrdao
which k3b issues on
startup can be safely ignored (at least with version 0.11.2).
Not Tested Yet
Cardbus support, Firewire, audio input.
- System crashes when using the soft modem (while the fan switches
on). An update to the 2.6.5-rc3 kernel with -mm and acpi-patches and a
lot of fiddling around with the acpi kernel parameters did not solve
- Strange mouse behavior when the fan switches on or off
- 3D support
The ACPI4Linux homepage
The cpufreqd homepage
The Smart Link modem driver
(C) Markus Gruner (me _at_ thp.uni-duisburg.de)