I’ll eventually write a longer post about how different bits and pieces of this laptop’s hardware fare under Linux. For now, I’ve managed to strike one of the more annoying issues: proper audio. Scroll down if you’re impatient and want the code; read on if you want the full story.
This laptop is peculiar because it has built-in “5.1″ audio. Yes, it does really have 6 speakers, though you’d be hard pressed to get much spatial separation out of them (and they aren’t even placed around symmetrically). However, the speakers do end up making a very decent multiway audio system, by laptop standards: the “rear” pair (which is actually between the keyboard and the screen; the mind boggles) is good with the high end, the “front” and center speakers (front edge of the laptop) are your average mediocre speakers that can handle mid-end, and the “Tuba” not-so-”sub” woofer fills in enough low-end to equal a decent overall speaker, although of course with zero stereo/spatial separation since there’s only one of it (actual subwoofers can pull off mono because the human ear can’t really hear spatial position at low frequencies, but the Tuba is more like the only non-sucky speaker in the entire laptop).
What this boils down to is that you really want good audio support for all 6 speakers if you want to take advantage of the audio capabilities at all. Most importantly, stereo needs to be upmixed and a good portion of the normal audio needs to be routed to the Tuba. ALSA’s asound.conf makes this easy, assuming the actual hardware works fine. Of course, that’s not the case.