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The Averatec 32xx series of laptops are a good price/performance match for running Linux. With the exception of Suspend To RAM, all the hardware on the laptop is well supported and works under Linux. This document attempts to list the basic information you need to get Gentoo running on your Averatec, it doesn't really go into enough detail for beginners (yet!), but should provide all the information an experienced Gentoo user needs to set up the laptop. If there's an area lacking in information (the Video section would be one), please jump in and help!
Use insecure-drivers when emerging xorg to get the via driver. I have had more luck with the snapshots from http://dri.freedesktop.org/wiki/ ; they install over xorg-x11. This will need to be updated (and will probably be much simpler!) when modular X is unmasked. For right now, this page has more details on setting up the unichrome drivers for X.
Emerge x11-misc/synaptics for an X driver for the touchpad. In the "Module" section of your xorg.conf, you'll need a line that reads 'load "synaptics"' to load the driver. See the README and INSTALL files in /usr/share/doc/synaptics-* for more information on configuration. The synaptics driver does cool stuff like enabling the scroll regions on the touchpad and letting you use one, two or three fingers for left, middle and right clicking. See this wiki entry for more information.
Early versions of the 32xx series use a Broadcom chipset, for those you will need to use NDISWrapper. More recent versions use the RaLink chipset and require the RT2500 kernel module or NDISWrapper. The RT2500 drivers are in portage, simply emerge net-wireless/rt2500. However, the RT2500 drivers don't seem to work well with the existing Gentoo wireless configuration scripts, you may have to use the RaConfig2500 utility to configure the wireless. NDISWrapper also works well for the wireless card and may yield better connections. NDISWrapper definitely plays better with the standard Gentoo network configuration scripts. Just as an aside, the RT2500 drivers will work regardless of whether the wireless adapter is turned on or off (the middle blue light on the front of the machine), however, the NDISWrapper driver will only work if the adapter is turned on. See this page for more information on setting up the native drivers.
The internal ethernet uses the via-rhine module supplied with the kernel. There have been mixed results reported from using the wired and wireless network connections simultaneously.
The drivers for the modem are also in portage, emerge net-dialup/slmodem for them. The SmartLink modem driver is in two pieces, a kernel module and a user space daemon that handles the modem control. You have two choices for the kernel module, you can use the closed-source slamr module that is installed when you emerge slmodem, or you can use the ALSA modules in later versions of the kernel. As I've not used the modem extensively, I can't vouch for one over the other, but I prefer to use an open source solution when practical. To use the ALSA drivers, you'll need to reconfigure your kernel and compile the new modules.
|Linux Kernel Configuration: ALSA Modem Drivers|
Device Drivers---> Sound---> Advanced Linux Sound Architecture---> PCI Devices---> <M> VIA 82C686A/B, 8233/8235 AC97 Controller <M> VIA 82C686A/B, 8233 based Modems
You'll want to load both modules at startup, I recommend making the AC97 controller snd-card-0 and the modem controller snd-card-1. Load the modules, emerge slmodem and run /etc/init.d/slmodem and you should be set. Make sure that any user you want to be able to use the modem is in both the "dialout" and "uucp" groups. The slmodemd daemon will use a pts and create a link to it in /dev called ttySL0. It also creates a /dev/modem symlink.
The kernel ALSA drivers for via-82xx work nicely and require no special configuration. See the modem configuration above for which modules to include in the kernel.
See this guide.
The accessible USB ports are USB 2.0 and work fine with the EHCI driver. It appears that each port is connected to a different bus internally, so bandwidth for multiple USB 2.0 devices shouldn't be too badly constrained. Also, the USB ports continue to provide power when the notebook is turned off, so you can recharge another device, or drain the computer battery if a device that uses this power remains attached.
Use a custom DSDT (available from the linux ACPI project, this one is for the 3225 but works for the 3250 as well) for better control of the screen brightness. There's also a patch for the fan available (see the link on the DSDT description) that will give better control of the fan speed from software. This DSDT will also let you read the CPU temp using acpitool.
You'll get much better battery life and the system will stay cooler if you emerge powernowd and athcool. Powernowd throttles the CPU speed up and down depending on system load while athcool enables the system to go into halt mode when idle. Both will help with battery life and heating issues.
Suspend to RAM (S3) seems to be seriously broken in this laptop, it may work under Windows, but it definitely doesn't work under Linux (any version, so far as I can tell). However, both the Software Suspend built into the 2.6 kernel series and Software Suspend 2 work quite well for suspending to disk. For Software Suspend 2, emerge sys-kernel/suspend2-sources and sys-power/hibernate-script. For that matter, sys-power/hibernate-script is also useful for the kernel version.
Another good resource for the Averatec systems in general is the unofficial Averatec support forums site. They have a lot of general information on the machines and quite a bit on running linux on them.
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