The ASUS X551CA with i3 processor is a quite nice and low cost laptop that comes (at least here on Italy) with free-dos, so you have full freedom to install any OS you want.
It is a good machine to run Linux on it: fast, light, does not make noise, does not heat, good (but not brilliant) autonomy and good graphics (SuperTuxKart runs flawlessly on full screen 😉 ). If you don’t need a lot of power, this laptop is a good alternative, even if it have a couple of weak points that will be considered below.
|Processor||Intel Core i3 3217U Processor|
|Screen||15.6” 16:9 HD (1366×768) Glare panel|
|Optical Drive||Super-Multi DVD ±RW|
|Graphics||Integrated Intel HD4000 Graphics|
|Network||10/100 Base TIntegrated 802.11 b/g/n|
|HDMI Out||Not Tested|
|Display Port||Not Tested|
|Microphone-In Port||Not Tested|
|Wireless||Yes||Needs to be “unlocked”. See notes below|
|Card Reader||Yes||Needs kernel 3.14 or later|
|TouchPad||Yes||Needs kernel 3.13 or later|
After installing openSUSE 13.1, 64 bits on this laptop (the i3 version) wifi was hard locked. To unlock I just needed to run the following command as super user followed by a system restart
echo "options asus_nb_wmi wapf=1" | sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/asus_nb_wmi.conf
As noted on the compatibility table above, in order to have everything working on the ASUS X551CA you need an updated kernel. At the moment of writing this lines, no distro have 3.14 by default, so you’ll need to use some extra repositories. For openSUSE, the repo is the following one: repositorio kernel:/stable/standard/ para openSUSE.
Fn keys that control screen brightness do not work with 3.13 or previous kernels, and work quite strange on 3.14 (brightness changes only on very small steps and the changes seems not to be recorded by KDE power management tool), but assigning a different shortcut to those events (mines are now Ctrl-Meta Up / Down arrows) works without problems on the KDE session.
A word to characterize this laptop could be “minimalism”: just two usb ports (one of them usb-3, thought), just one minijack to both, headphone and external mic, no leds for cap lock or num lock (I’m using a plasmoid called “lock keys controller” to indicate the state of both keys), no dedicated multimedia keys (but the fn keys work out of the box).
All in all, an 8+ over 10. Not bad 😉