Monday, October 22, 2007

Work log for getting backlight on the Clevo M720R

Currently backlight control on the Clevo M720R is by hotkey only. Under windows there is a hideous program which activates the hotkeys and also displays some rather hideous bitmaps onscreen.
This series of posts will describe my attempts to disassemble the windows program. This, in turn, will enable the possibility of manually setting the brightness under linux. This will be incorporated into a hald addon or equivalent which enables nice autodimming, etc.

Today I've successfully disassembled the binary, found a way to extract the installshield application and to mine the hideous bitmap images located inside the exe. I've stilled not fully mastered the disassembly GUI. Further attempts will try to locate the actual commands given for setting and reading the brightness.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Review of the Clevo M720R

I've recently purchased a Clevo M720R 12" laptop preinstalled with Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon.

This review is split up into two parts, covering the hardware and the software.

The machine is nice looking and sports a 12" widescreen with a 1280x800 resolution. As this is a barebone system, a wide range of different processor and memory configurations are available. This particular unit is equipped with a Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz, 4 GB of memory and a 120 7200 RPM SATA drive. Naturally, the speed of it is blazing. A weak spot is its 4-cell battery. This equates to only about 2 hours of battery time, something that doesn't rhyme well with the mobility of a small laptop. The fan is audible when the machine is put under high load but a hotkey on top of the keyboard triggers a whisper mode, which slows the fan down and lowers the backlight.

The integrated camera is of VGA-resolution and the rendered picture is of moderate quality, it is not supported in linux at the moment but a driver is under development at . The fingerprint sensor works as expected in windows and the placement between the touchpad buttons feels natural. I haven't got it to work under linux.

The keyboard is of mediocre quality, it flexes when pushed hard. The keys are small and I strongly question the layout of the keys. For instance, the PgDn, PgUp keys are placed on the arrow up and are accessible with pressing the function key. This is non-ergonomic when you read a lot of texts. Various hotkeys are present on the keyboard such as: vol up, down, mute, touchpad on/off, brightness up/down, wireless and bluetooth killswitch.
Another disturbing fact is that it's easy to trigger the optical drive eject button.

Finally, suspend and resume to ram / disk works.

Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon 7.10 is the successor to Feisty Fawn and sports a number of incremental upgrades. Compiz is now preinstalled by default, unfortunately is the i965GM graphic chipset blacklisted as XVideo doesn't work.

Neither the webcam or the fingerprint sensor works. There is a
beta driver for the camera, but is, as of now not working correctly.

A link to the ubuntu wiki laptop testing page.