Linux on the Medion MD9630

I owned a Medion MD9630 Laptop, labeled microstar, but produced by Medion. I never ran MS Windows on it (although it shipped with XP Home, so this might work :-)
This is a Linux-only computer running on Gentoo Linux. And I like it.

Hardware

The MD 9630 is equipped with the following:

  • Desktop Pentium III 1.1 GHz
  • Realtek RTL-8139 10/100 MBit ethernet
  • VIA AC97 sound chip, microphone in, speaker and line out with SPDIF
  • O2 Micro, Inc. OZ6933 Cardbus Controller
  • S3 Savage AGP graphics card, VGA-out and TV-out
  • DVD/CD-RW/CD-R combo drive, 24x,8x,4x
  • 20 GB HDD
  • 256 MB SDRAM (I extended it to 512 MB)
  • 1x [Lucent] FireWire
  • 2x [VIA] USB
  • 2x PCMCIA type II or 1x type 3, Cardbus 32 bit (3,3 and 5 volt)
  • internal modem
  • 14.1" TFT 1024x768, 24bit
  • 3,5" floppy drive

  • There is a clone of this machine sold by Gericom, but I don't know its name.
    lspci and lshw output is available at the bottom of this page.


    General information

    ACPI

    Nothing really works without ACPI - neither sound, nor network, not even the CD burner. So you should always have a recent ACPI-patched kernel running, and ACPI compiled in (not als module). This also helps saving battery power and spins down the fan (and up when needed). It also makes a lot of status information available in /proc/acpi.



    Battery life

    When working normally, i.e. not compiling stuff, watching DVD, or doing other things that are known to exhaust battery power more than usual, the battery gives me quite exactly two hours (with the WLAN PCMCIA card plugged and used).
    It is possible to slow down the CPU using /proc/acpi/processor/CPU0/throttling and temporarily turning off the fan via /proc/acpi/fan/FAN/state (as of ACPI version 20030328).



    DVD watching

    DVD playing works fine using MPlayer, but really needs all of the machine's power due to the graphics card sharing memory. Using the mplayer options -dr -framedrop -vo vesa fullscreen playback is possible and smooth (maybe play with nice or renice if neccessary) on 800x600x16 resolution. The machine can scale this to the 1024x768 of the LCD display (try Fn-F5 if neccessary) by hardware.

    When using xine, playback is much smoother and does not need any dirty tricks like with mplayer. So I prefer xine.



    Modem and Firewire

    I have not tried either of them, though firewire looks as if it would work. I think there is a driver for modem by Intel, but I have never used nor missed it.


    Kernel

    2.4.19 (patched with the most recent ACPI-patch for it) and 2.4.20-pre7 (also patched with ACPI) work perfectly. You can get my sample .config file at the bottom of this page.
    2.4.18-acpi was the earliest I tried. Stock 2.4.20 and the -ac tree cause problems (even hangs).


    Network

    The Realtek card seamlessly works with the 8139too module from the kernel. My Lucent PCMCIA WLAN card also runs without any problems.


    Sound

    Using the ALSA driver module snd-via82xx (and snd-pcm-oss for OSS emulation), sound playing is possible without any problems. Currently, I use ALSA 0.9.2, but earlier 0.9 RCs also worked fine.


    Graphics

    Using the savage driver included with XFree86 (I use 4.2.1 at the time of this writing), X works fine, even with DGA 2.0 and X-Video extensions. Unfortunately, I have not yet managed to set the display contrast or saturation (which should be possible). But at color depth 24, it is possible to achieve a great deal of improvement using xgamma or kgamma and the brightness keys (Fn-F7 or -F8). I am very content using an overall xgamma value of 0.85
    The Savage chip is fast enough for video (DivX etc.) or DVD playback under linux.


    CD burning

    The CD burner runs as excpected when spoken to via the ide-scsi SCSI emulation module - as usual.


    HDD

    hdparm -tT says:
    Timing buffer-cache reads: 128 MB in 1.16 seconds =110.34 MB/sec
    Timing buffered disk reads: 64 MB in 3.24 seconds = 19.75 MB/sec

    I have not yet managed to let the HDD spin down for power saving. DMA works.


    USB

    Does not cause any problems, neither with my USB keyboard (works after issuing modprobe usb-uhci usbkbd) nor with my MMC card reader ( modprobe usb-uhci usb-storage). MMCs can be spoken to like a SCSI hard drive.


    IrDA

    Works fine with irtty, ircomm etc. modules. Sometimes I use the integrated modem of my cell phone via IrDA.

    Hardware information and Config File

    lshw-md9630.html

    lshw information for MD9630

    lspci-md9630.txt

    lspci output for MD9630

    config-2.4.20-pre7-acpi

    kernel config file