Some hardware issues with ASUS A7K Laptop

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Some hardware issues with ASUS A7K Laptop

Postby GGentzel on Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:25 am

Hello, I've recently installed Linux Mint on my ASUS A7K laptop through Vista (meaning Vista is the host). It's running great for the most part accept for a few issues (that I know of so far). The first issue is the wifi. At first it didn't work. I spent some time googling and reading and experimenting and eventually got it to work by installing the madwifi driver. The only issue now is that when I start the laptop up it doesn't immediately work. I have to stop and restart the device to get it work. I assume that it is initializing the old driver first, but I'm not sure. **Note: I am new to Linux and coming from Windows so I am very much in the ultra noob zone** I can live with this, but it'd be nice if it worked without doing that.

The major problem is that I don't have any sound. At first when I installed the sound mixer acted like there was a working device but there was never any sound coming out of it. I checked the volume controls, made sure everything was turned up, made sure it was un-muted, opened up the advanced and tried all the different audio event types. Nothing. Unfortunately, like a complete %&^@%!(% I didn't plug in earphones to see if I got sound like that. After reading some documentation I was under impression that there was a bug in the ALSA driver. I built and installed the driver that the site indicated would make it work restarted the computer and now the system doesn't even see that there is a device anymore. I'm really lost at this point, have made the problem worse, and have decided that instead of thrashing about making things even worse I should seek more informed help.

This is a link to the laptop: http://reviews.cnet.com/laptops/asus-a7 ... 53805.html

I would probably not worry about the sound it but I'm planning on using the system for producing multimedia. I am a student in the video game and multimedia field and am a advocate of Blender and open source software in general. Life would be good if I could use this software on a linux system.
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Re: Some hardware issues with ASUS A7K Laptop

Postby Husse on Sat Apr 11, 2009 7:47 am

Unfortunately the link you provide does not help that much - they seldom do
You have to tell us more facts.
The minimum is exactly which Mint you have - which version and which edition (main or any of the CEs)
We also need to know a bit about all your hardware.
Run " lspci " in a terminal and post here (to avoid misunderstanding - the first character is a minor L and you copy by marking with the mouse and then right click)
Some wifi and possibly built in sound can be connected to USB even if they are internal - if you suspect you have one of these run " lsusb " in a terminal.
Also tell us if this is using mint4win or not, quite important
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Re: Some hardware issues with ASUS A7K Laptop

Postby dfm7a on Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:44 am

I apologize if this is a bit technical. There is a problem in the specific electrical implementation of the sound encoder/decoder in the A7k (and probably other similar laptops from Asus). They are using a general-purpose pin on the device to control the internal audio amplifiers. The ALSA audio driver does not know about this, so you need to (temporarily anyways, until someone can get something in the driver to handle this) insert a handful of commands directly to the audio encoder/decoder (a.k.a. CODEC) from one of your initialization scripts.

1) First of all, you probably want to just do a fresh install of the OS. This problem is tricky enough that you don't want to start from a compromised installation and it is simply easier for someone who is new to Linux to reinstall rather than try to back-out changes.
2) Find and download the utility "hda-verb". It is available from a number of locations and may be pre-packaged already for your distro. You may need to compile it from source, but that is almost trivial (assuming that you have the gcc toolchain installed). This utility takes command-line arguments and converts it into a command to the CODEC (which is called a "verb" in the intel azalia high-definition audio specification).
3) Once you have found and (if necessary) compiled "hda-verb", copy it to /usr/local/sbin/ or some other directory that is in your command path. Verify that it is installed by typing "which hda-verb" and make sure that it says "/usr/local/sbin/hda-verb" or wherever you installed it.
4) In order to enable the speakers, type the following three commands at the terminal:
hda-verb /dev/snd/hwC0D0 0x01 SET_GPIO_MASK 3
hda-verb /dev/snd/hwC0D0 0x01 SET_GPIO_DIRECTION 1
hda-verb /dev/snd/hwC0D0 0x01 SET_GPIO_DATA 1

These will enable the general-purpose pin and drive it to a logic-high, enabling the speaker amplifiers. You may need to adjust the mixers at this point using "alsamixer -c0". The "master" "front" and "pcm" need to be unmuted and brought up to a reasonable level (100% pcm & front, ~80% master). You may also notice some clicking or popping when you type on the keyboard. This is the microphone capture picking up the vibration. Temporarily mute or turn-down the "Front Mic" to suppress this. One person enabling this got hit with a wicked feedback screech when he turned everything on.and woke-up his neighbours.
5) Assuming that you have all of that working, we want to set things up automatically at boot time. Not knowing much about your Linux distro, there is usually a local setup script that is executed after everything else is booted-up and running called rc.local. On most distributions it is located at /etc/rc.d/rc.local. Add the following to your rc.local (assuming that hda-verb was installed to /usr/local/sbin):
/usr/local/sbin/hda-verb /dev/snd/hwC0D0 0x01 SET_GPIO_MASK 3
/usr/local/sbin/hda-verb /dev/snd/hwC0D0 0x01 SET_GPIO_DIRECTION 1
/usr/local/sbin/hda-verb /dev/snd/hwC0D0 0x01 SET_GPIO_DATA 1

And that should be it. I am also working on getting the optical S/PDIF output operating and I'll be posting to the Fedora forum if you are interested.

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Re: Some hardware issues with ASUS A7K Laptop

Postby Husse on Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:45 am

Thank you very much dfm7a
It almost sounds as if you are in the technical staff of ASUS
Do I understand this right that it is the Azalia that is the problem?
Would this hit other brands using Azalia as well?
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Re: Some hardware issues with ASUS A7K Laptop

Postby dfm7a on Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:43 pm

I don't work for Asus; I just spend a bunch of time trying to figure out why my own A7K doesn't want to cooperate with Linux drivers.

The high-definition-audio (a.k.a. Intel Azalia) codecs are highly configurable and can be wired-up in a variety of ways. In some cases the general-purpose pins are used to implement special features, which creates problems for generic hda audio drivers. The codec is designed to be interrogated in order to set up the various audio paths, but the electronics external to the chip are not visible and are only known to the vendor drivers.

In the case of the A7K, it has a Realtek ALC660-VD codec, which apparently works out of the chute on some machines. However, the A7K was designed using one of these general-purpose pins controlling the speaker amplifiers (this is a little strange because there is a pin and a function in the codec that is supposed to do this, but there must have been a reason to set it up this way). The ALSA driver does the right thing setting up the codec, but never turns on the amplifiers because they're not hooked up the the expected switch. I understand that others have experienced similar problems on different models with different hda codecs (even when trying to get machines designed for Vista to work with XP reference drivers).

The good news for your original poster is that he should be able to get the sound working. This has been confirmed on Fedora, Ubuntu and Mandriva. Also, once everything is installed and working, the machine is a heck of a lot more responsive than it is running Vista... I'm not going to be dual-booting much longer.

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