Linux on ASUS X551CA (English)

Versión en castellano

Versione italiana

Introduction

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.

Specifications

Name ASUS X551CA
Processor Intel Core i3 3217U Processor
Screen 15.6” 16:9 HD (1366×768) Glare panel
RAM 4 GiB
HDD 500 GiB
Optical Drive Super-Multi DVD ±RW
Graphics Integrated Intel HD4000 Graphics
Network 10/100 Base TIntegrated 802.11 b/g/n

Linux Compatibility

Device Compatibility Comments
Processor Yes
Screen Yes
HDD Yes
Graphics Chip Yes
HDMI Out Not Tested
Display Port Not Tested
Optical Drive Yes
Sound Yes
Microphone Yes
Headphone Port Yes
Microphone-In Port Not Tested
Ethernet Yes
Wireless Yes Needs to be “unlocked”. See notes below
Bluetooth Not Tested
USB Yes
Firewire Not Tested
Card Reader Yes Needs kernel 3.14 or later
Webcam Yes
Keyboard Yes
TouchPad Yes Needs kernel 3.13 or later
Suspend/Resume Yes

Notes

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

Summary

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 😉

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