Fujitsu Esprimo Mobile U9210

Gentoo Linux

TuxMobil - Linux on Laptops, Notebooks, PDAs and Mobile Phones

I no longer have this machine. Information is retained for reference only.

At my new job, I was instructed to order myself a computer via the official channels, with their usual lack of variation. A colleague spoke againt the usual Dells and recommended Fujitsu instead, which was fine for me owning a Fujitsu already. The Esprimo 9210 line had three different sizes with identical guts, so I ordered the smallest 12'' model with a full 4 GB of DDR3. (Apparently the chipset allows 8 GB, but the DIMMs were not available.)

The laptop arrived on 2008-12-16 and I immediately installed the latest (8.10) 64-bit Ubuntu to get started. But since I wanted to get some real work done, I soon installed Gentoo from within that install. I used stage3-amd64 the usual way, with no problems while checking the handbook. Using Ubuntu turned out a nice way of installing Gentoo, since you have a full Linux system available at the same time.

General experiences

I based the configuration of the kernel and other drivers on my other machines using mobile Intel chipsets, and there is nothing unusual here. Xorg.conf is taken from the Ubuntu install, with font paths and keyboard config taken from my other machines.


Linux drivers

ComponentKernel module(s)Notes
WLANiwlagnwpa_supplicant (for higher security than WEP)
Ethernete1000enot tested
SATA drivesahci
CPU frequency scalingacpi_cpufreqPHC patch for undervolting
CPU temperature monitorcoretemplm_sensors
Graphics / Xi915, drmxf86-video-intel; kernel modules backlight, fujitsu_laptop, and acpi->video needed for brightness control
Graphics / consolevesafbno native 1280x800 mode
Sound / ALSAsnd_hda_intel (Realtek)
USBuhci_hcd, ehci_hcd
3G modemhsoWorks as intended with PPP scripts such as Wvdial, after finding the correct /dev/ttyHSx. Extra features may be available with some userspace scripts.
Smart card reader?not tested
Memory card adapterusb-storage, with usbat support
Trusted platform module?not tested

USB devices

A lot of 'minor' devices are connected via USB internally:

This may seem weird, but it is a good design choice at least from the driver point of view: they all work as generic USB devices, as far as I've tried. In contrast, my personal Fujitsu laptop has a memory card slot from the same vendor, without Linux drivers.

Port replicator and displays

As of 2009-01-05, this laptop has a serious bug with the port replicator. If you boot while docked, all displays are blank. Xdm or something similar is then convenient, because X11 activates the internal LCD. External displays are still blank, even though they seem connected (using xrandr). Windows XP manages to activate both displays, so presumably a better xf86-video-intel could improve the situation for Linux. In any case/OS, the bug means that you cannot configure BIOS or use a boot menu, or do anything text-based (including some Windows safe modes) while docked.

[2009-02-18] Update: BIOS release 1.05 fixes this bug :)

On 2009-01-27 I experienced lockups related to console switching, while using xf86-video-intel-2.6.0 that was not yet released in Portage. When doing a hard reboot, the display was often blank until starting X, and this was while undocked. I wonder if it's possible for Linux/Xorg to mess up graphics this deeply; on the other hand, with the battery in place, power was not genuinely switched off at any point.

Display quirks

There are also some general issues when booting up and starting X with multiple displays.

Vesafb modes are limited to the traditional 4:3 and 5:4 ones, up to 1280x1024, while the native laptop display is 1280x800. The machine cannot boot with 1280x1024, instead you get a squashed 1024x768 (on all connected displays) which is also how X starts. My quick and dirty solution for this is a small Xrandr script that briefly turns off the external monitor, enabling a switch to the native LCD resolution, and reconnects the other display. This way I get 1280x1024 on the external, while the top portion is mirrored on the laptop.

AFAIK, intelfb provides a way to boot into 1280x800. However, from my brief experiments on Sigmatrix, intelfb messes up X. There are ways around this, by setting up separate portions of video memory for each. So far I haven't found this important enough, as I'm content with a fully working X.

Fn + buttons

Usability experiences

At 12'' this is a relatively small laptop, and the keyboard is smaller than full size, though not as small as most netbooks. There is some unused space on the sides though, which makes you wonder if they could have fitted a proper keyboard instead. I miss the wonderfully logical Home-PgUp-PgDn-End column on the right side, instead these are scattered in various locations. I guess nobody uses these anyway, since keyboard navigation is so 1960s :-/

On the plus side though, they have included both a touchpad and a trackpoint. I generally prefer the latter, and they can be individually turned on/off in the BIOS menu, though in mostly docked use I haven't touched these.

Strangely enough, in this case I've found I prefer the touchpad. The trackpoint is a somewhat wide and deep indentation, unlike the micro-joystick of Thinkpads and Toshibas I've grown to like. On the other hand, I usually hate touchpads for their excessive sensitivity (palm touches during typing) but this one is better in that regard. Now if only someone could make a laptop with three mouse buttons...

About the name

My research group brought to mind one of my favourite Waltari songs.

Risto A. Paju