openSUSE 13.2 on an Acer TravelMate B115-M

This document describes how I installed and configured GNU/Linux (64-bit openSUSE 13.2 distribution) on an Acer Travelmate B115-M netbook.

Technical specifications

The Acer TravelMate B115-M is available in various configurations. According to my retailer, my system's full model name is "Acer TravelMate B115-M-41RQ"; I can't find this exact model name listed on Acer's website, but it does show a Acer Travelmate B115-M NX.VA1EG.002 with mostly matching specifications.

ComponentDetails
CPU Intel Pentium Quad-Core N3530 (2.58 GHz mit Intel Turbo-Boost 2.0, 2MB Intel Smart-Cache)
RAM 4 GB DDR3L SDRAM (expandable to 8 GB)
Hard disk 250 GB 5400 RPM SATA
Display 11.6" Comfyview; 1366×768 (HD) resolution
Graphics controller Intel ValleyView Gen7
Ethernet RTL8111/8168 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller
Wireless LAN AR9462 Wireless Network Adapter (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n)
Sound ValleyView High Definition Audio Controller
Touchpad unknown model
Integrated camera unknown model
Ports 2× USB 2.0
1× USB 3.0
RJ45 (Ethernet)
SD card reader
HDMI
combination headphone/microphone

Summary

Component or featureDetails
Suspend to disk works out of the box
Suspend to RAM works out of the box
USB works out of the box
Ethernet works out of the box
WLAN works out of the box
graphics works out of the box
HDMI works out of the box
hard disk works out of the box
sound works out of the box
memory card reader not tested
touchpad works out of the box
camera works out of the box

Installation

The computer has no DVD drive, so to install openSUSE 13.2 I used an external USB drive. I had YaST completely wipe and repartition the hard drive, but apart from this used all the default settings. The installation appeared to complete successfully, but upon restarting, the computer didn't recognize the hard drive as bootable, giving me a message to the effect of "No bootable devices found".

The problem turned out to be that the hard disk had the pmbr_boot flag set. This flag prevents the computer's UEFI system from scanning the disk for EFI boot partitions. (See openSUSE Bug 932033.) I have no idea whether the flag was already there when I got the machine, or whether it's something the openSUSE installer added, but in any case it shouldn't be there for a successful UEFI boot.

If you encounter this problem, you can fix it by using the openSUSE installation disk to boot into Rescue Mode and then use parted to unset the pmbr_boot flag:

# parted /dev/sda
(parted) disk_set pmbr_boot off
(parted) quit

Details

Most components and features work out of the box. Here is a description of some components with special considerations, or which I have not yet gotten to work.

Touchpad

The touchpad does not have separate left and right buttons; instead you can left click by pressing the lower left corner of the touchpad, and right click by pressing the lower right corner. It is not possible to press both corners at the same time, which means that the usual way of simulating a middle click (i.e., the third mouse button) does not work.

However, there is another way of producing left, right, and middle clicks which works out of the box:

This behaviour can be customized in KDE using the "Input devices" module of the Control Center.

Keyboard

Contrary to reports I have seen online for other GNU/Linux distributions, on openSUSE 13.2 most of the special Fn+key combinations (including the Fn+Left and Fn+Right combinations for adjusting the display brightness) work out of the box. The only exception I've discovered so far is Fn+F3, which is supposed to disable wireless—this doesn't work, though I can still disable wireless on the command line or using the KDE network manager plasmoid.

To set up a keyboard shortcut for toggling wireless (i.e., airplane mode), create a script with the following contents:

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#!/bin/bash

wifi="$(nmcli r wifi)"

if [ "$wifi" = "enabled" ]; then
    nmcli r wifi off
else
    nmcli r wifi on
fi

Make sure you set the script as executable. You can then create a menu entry for this script in your desktop environment and bind a shortcut key combination to it. Unfortunately, it's not possible to use Fn+F3, or any other Fn combination, as the keyboard shortcut; this is most likely a problem with the keyboard driver used by the kernel. (See this discussion on the X.Org bug tracker for details.) I used Meta+F3 (where "Meta" is the key with the Windows logo).

Links