A Few Notes on the Asus TP510UF Running Debian SID Linux

Asus TP510UF Flip

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Asus TP510UF Running Debian Linux
Kernel : 4.9.0-7-amd64
Sold:  Centrecom

This   netbook works well running Linux, although some of the peripherals are not yet supported by Linux.

It has a 1920x1024 touchscreen which can fold backwards to flip . It comes with a solid-state drive of 128G and an internal hd of 1tB.

There is no RJ46 ethernet cable socket; an ethernet to usb adapter is required if cable connection is needed.

Debian linux loads without bugs, so long as a recent version is used. The touchscreen and glidepad work well.

A number of steps were required, as follows, to get a bootable USB stick with a full debian installation. This can be easily copied to either of the system drives.

The TP510UF has a UEFI bios with no legacy boot option. It starts with the usual nonsense of loading Windows as a default. It is necessary to ask Windows to boot an external device. The ASUS bios logo appears and an ESC will enter the bios menu. This is a bit obscure, but it is possible to turn secure boot off in this menu. The bios screen is a bit cranky and needs patience.

The UEFI bios implements a shell interpreter which boots with the help of a shell script on a special "ef00" vfat formatted partition. There are various booting shell scripts available , eg grub-efi etc. rEFInd seems one of the easiest to use. Copy the files extracted from rEFInd-zipped-files to an EFI system partition (formatted fat32/vfat, ~100Mb) on a USB stick, and the PC boot will be able to find the startup script. This process replaces the primitive MBR load used by earlier bioses. In my view the UEFI bios is mostly a big step backwards, overcomplicated, and therefore insecure.

The onboard 128G ssd appears as /dev/sdb, the 1T hdd as /dev/sda and the installation USB stick as /dev/sdc with root as /dev/sdc2.

If MS-windows multiboot is required, then windows must be started and free space for new partitions created. Then Linux OS can be installed where desired, and a small (110M) ef00 partition for the rEFind or other extra boot manager.

Debian linux-image-4.9.0-7-amd64 installs correctly without patches. this version is recent enough to run the wifi,touchscreen and glidepad.

The Refind boot manager could not find kernel images on the internal ext4 formatted drive partitions, although it happily located similar images on usb volumes (stick or hdd). I suspect kinks in the UEFI bios. The answer to this was to copy the kernel,initrd and refind_linux.com (edited to suit the root partition) to a directory on the same EFI system partition as Refind, which allowed Refind to find the kernel and boot successfully.

eg: cat /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/max_brightness # show max setting
cat /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness # show current setting

echo 2500 /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness # set to half max.

The wifi is an Intel iwl 8265 . It needed both the firmware-linux and the firmware-intel packages, together with a recent kernel. I found it necessary to purge older firmware files. The 8265 NIC is reliable with kernel 4.9.

The power supply is the (now) standard 19 volts DC.

The speaker channel seems to be connected to the headphone channel. This means the speakers only work when the headphones are plugged in, and that the headphones only work while the speakers are unmuted.

The sound quality from the internal speakers is quite good.

Bluetooth headphones made a good solution to the problem with channel switching. "Bluetoothctl" with instructions "power on","agent on","default-agent", "scan on","connect target-mac " exactly as described at ArchLinux pairs and connects reliably. The headphones I tried were low cost branded "QUDO" from Officeworks. The sound quality and dynamic range are very good.

Very occasionally the HCI0 bluetooth device does not appear on power up. The logs show the 8265 firmware does not seem to load or function properly. The only answer seems to be to fully power down for a while.

If the PC case needs to opened, then the screws on the bottom should be removed. After this the fascia top section holding the keyboard and touchpad can be unclipped from the bottom section with the help of a sharp blade. The keyboard and other top section components are connected with mylar ribbons to the motherboard in the lower section. The maximum extent of the ribbon cables is about 10 cm. It is essential not go beyond this extent when removing the top section, or the cables will disconnect, and possibly break.

The inbuilt webcam is good.

As yet the stylus/pen is not working with linux, and no documentation seems as yet available.

The fingerprint sensor is an EL7001 , which has no obvious existing Linux fprint support.