Running Linux on a Chinese Laptop

**UPDATE** The motherboard died in early December and it will not power on… this is within a few months of purchasing it. Needless to say, what a piece of junk.

I’m not really impressed by this, but at least I can use the parts.

Moral: Oh well? This won’t stop me from doing something like this in the future, but it is disappointing. I’m sure Michael Dell and others had similar setbacks.

This being the first post of said blog – so I will try to include a brief description of what I’m working on without including a brief history of my life.

Currently, I am obsessing over a project I started about a week ago that and is still ongoing (and will probably keep going until either I:

1. Finish the project successfully

2. Don’t finish but carry on with plan b

3. Go completely insane.

What I’m working on is a Macbook air look-a-like that I bought from China over Alibaba directly from a merchant called Enzo Tech.

Anyway, it came pre-installed with a really bad bootleg version of Windows 7 — so you ask, are you saying some bootlegs are good? Well, yes, some don’t constantly remind you that this is a pirated version and that I should probably buy a license if I want any sort of support, stability, not-being-hacked-by-Chinese-goodness, etc.  In order to remedy that (as I figured I might have to, I reviewed several version of Linux thinking that this could be a permanent solution, both being stable, customizable, fast, and really pretty all at the same time.

Needless to say, I found this great operating system called Linux Mint 11. After overcoming a few hurdles getting it to properly partition the harddisk and install, I was confronted with a series of trials that took days of persistence, browsing forums (in English, Spanish, and Portuguese), and consumed countless hours that I could have used for rest.

And why did this happen? Afterall, Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, and Ubuntu is awesome, right? Yes, yes it is, but the main problem I was facing was that the wireless card installed by Enzo Tech was this lovely thing called a 3DSP Blue W2310u wireless internet and bluetooth card. In theory, this card made in China by 3DSP will work wonders, allowing me to use both Bluetooth and Wireless without any sort of external adapters. In reality, this company stopped providing support for linux in 2009 and because it’s so underground (and this Chinese company is comprised of hipsters?). When I run commands such as lspci or lsusb or do anything of that nature, the card isn’t listed at all.

This seems to be something that spans across all versions of Linux I’ve tried, but lo and behold, some guy who speaks Portuguese with a lot of free time and/or talent has been able to create a patch that works with the kernel 2.6.38 (although when you translate it, don’t use the translated scripts, use the original scripts).

So problem solved? More or less, it still doesn’t want to load on startup and I have to manually turn on the card via a notification icon.

The other glaring problem is that since they are using an Intel Cedarview-M chipset with a GMA 3600 integrated graphics card I can’t use compiz nor, more importantly, can I adjust my resolution.  The native resolution for the computer (and what is listed in the bios) is 1366×768.  A funny size I know, but certainly not 1280×768 which is the resolution Linux seems dead set on using.

So apparently I can compile my own drivers for the graphics card using http://www.x.org/wiki/IntelGraphicsDriver but I’m not entirely sure if they even have what I need.

So right now, I’m thinking I can either

1. Try to recompile the kernel

2. Try to install Arch Linux (because supposedly you have to compile your own kernel and drivers anyway

3. Give up and install XP since I know windows works and 3DSP provides support for it (on second thought, maybe they’re not hipsters but just really mainstream)

I’m thinking I’ll go with recompiling the kernel first (and if I screw everything up, then I’m in a good position to try option 2 anyway).

Wish me luck!

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