Gateway 3522GZ Laptop
- Planet CCRMA/Fedora Core 3 and OpenSuSE 10.0
Update: 22 March 2007
page documents my continuing impressions over more than a year of
using my Gateway 3522GZ notebook. I am a musician and music
lover, and use Planet CCRMA intensively on my systems for multimedia
and music. I have used Red Hat and Fedora (and several other
Linux distributions) since April 1996. See (5.0), Resources
below for how to obtain Fedora and Planet CCRMA At Home. I will
not do any politicking here, since I figure that, if you're reading
this, you're at least already receptive to Linux. See http://www2.netdoor.com/~horus/linux.html
for further edification, please.
the system shipped with a Toshiba DVD burner, 512 MB RAM, and 4200 RPM
60 GB Hitachi Travelstar hard drive. On 30 December 2005, I used
Snappix and QTParted to resize the partition on the original NTFS
filesystem down to 12 GB, using the rest for FC3, and am now running
that 60 GB drive with XP Home and OpenSuSE 10.0 in multi-boot. This allows
me to select between Windows XP and OpenSuSE from the GRUB menu at startup, with SuSE being the default.
of the Planet CCRMA-enabled distribution of Fedora Core 3
was uneventful in the main, with a few small problems as noted
below. I opted to replace Fedora Core 3 with SuSE after seeing
how well integrated the SuSE offering is. By and large, what was
running well under Fedora runs well under SuSE 10.0
3522GZ System Specifications:
||Intel Pentium M 725, Centrino, 1.6 GHz, 256 MB L2 cache
||Decent performance so far - I have a tendency to set for max performance, though.
||SODIMM DDR RAM, 512 Meg, 400 MHz FSB
||256 on board, 256 socketed, no open sockets
||Intel 852GME Integrated Graphics Device
||Shares 32 MB of main RAM
||Standard HD-15 port on left side, 2048x1538, 32 bit, 75
||up to 85 Hz max refresh up to 1280x1024, dual display capable
||14" WXGA, 1280x768, 32-bit, 60 Hz max refresh
||Bright, narrow view angle. Glossy overlay on screen.
||60 GB Hitachi Travelstar
||EIDE 4200 RPM 2.5" drive
||No Floppy disk drive supplied. Has not been needed so
||HL-DT-ST DVD-RW GWA4080N (16X multi-format DVDRW)
||Works well so far - have not attempted to use DVD-R/RW media
as yet, just +R and CDR. Cannot do double-layer media.
||3 USB 2.0 ports, 4-pin, on right side
||Intel 82801DB-based controller. Various
key drives work well with this system, as does my HP PSC1410v multi
||1 Firewiree (IEEE 1394)
||TI 8032-based. I don't use Firewire yet.
||Broadcom Corp. BCM4401 100BaseTX
||Works great at the Holiday Inn Express!
||Have not yet been able to properly configure this device in
||Integrated V.92 56k modem
||Have yet to attempt to use this device
||Synaptics touchpad with vertical scroll and 2-button controls
||Touch pressure a bit twitchy. (There is a fix to turn
off taps, though)
||Multi-format memory card reader
||Supports memory stick, memory stick pro, SD, and MMC memory
card types. Have yet to figure out where to mount this device in fstab (I don't use it much).
||Integrated ADI 1981B
||Use Intel snd8x0 AC'97 driver, see below.
||One type I slot, presently empty
||No PC Cards in use presently.
has many desirable features, not the least of which is light weight for its size
(5.9 lbs). It has a low overall profile, being 1.25 inches thick, and a pleasant
enough overall finish, being in a subdued silver with black
bezel work. The silver finish tends to scratch easily, and
application of a "skin" to this unit would do much to preserve it
against this type of wear. Over time, the built-in keyboard has
acquired a tendency to cause the cursor to fly to unwanted locations
while typing if even slight pressure is placed on the case in front of
it. (For any serious typing chores I've recruited a USB keyboard which
works nicely.) Case badges displaying the Centrino and Windows XP logos are not too
intrusive given their obiligatory nature. Indicating lights are a bright electric
blue, but can be switched off from the keyboard via function keys (Fn-F1). (That's
a nice touch when watching a movie.)
and size are kept to a minimum, but the system gets about three hours battery life at
current power settings (and that's running the DVD all the time...).
Built-in speakers are tinny, but clear enough for normal use, and
sound quality on my California Acoustics 2.1 speakers is more than
adequate. (Fidelity on a set of Sony MDR-V150 headphones is
system runs Fedora Core 3 well enough, but not perfectly. OpenSuSE is somewhat better overall, but has more overhead.
The touchpad is
somewhat annoying, and seems overly sensitive. I'm using a GE
wireless USB "mini-mouse" which eats AAA batteries like there's no
tomorrow. It works well enough, but batteries only last me about
Under Fedora Core, the audio
subsystem was a bit tempermental at first, but readings at Bugzilla (bug no. 123631), at
http://www.alsa-project.org (look for snd-intel8x0), and on the Planet CCRMA
fora yielded some valuable insights into the problem.
It seems the ADI
1981B audio engine is a very versatile piece of hardware, and can be implemented in
various ways by numerous vendors. Gateway chose, in this case, to swap the
headphone and Master mixer channels. Fortunately, the folks who developed the
snd-intel8x0 driver saw this one coming. Entering the option line:
as the last
option line for the sound card in /etc/modprobe.conf swaps these two channel of the
mixer, restoring proper operation.
using YAST to set this option is the way to go. Mucking about
with SuSE's highly complex modprobe.conf file is not for the timid, but
the GUI tools in YAST work so well that it is seldom necessary.
Use of Xine for
playing DVDs and multimedia files is flawless, and installation went simply
enough. I recommend using DivX for Linux with Xine to expand its usefulness.
Using that and the Win32 codecs and LAME encoder libraries for Xine,
too many media files out there Xine can't handle. (Note: as
of this writing, it is my considered opinion after much research on the
subject that the w32codecs are not legal for use. Fluendo.com is
in the process of publishing a series of legally licensed codecs to
allow Linux media players to play .wma and .wmv files, among others.
As yet, I have no experience with them.)
installing the latest Xine version available from Planet CCRMA At Home.
This seems to work better than the version shipped with FC3 or
Glare on the glossy surface of the screen is evident and bothersome in
certain lighting conditions (under normal room lighting from some
angles). Dimming the lights or moving away from a direct
reflecting path will minimize this, though. Overall, the display
is bright, clear, and fast. No ghosting was noted during movie
acquired this laptop in the period closely after Hurricane Katrina, as
a replacement for my old desktop, a Dell Precision Workstation 220.
It has, in many respects, been much superior to that old
workhorse, and that's saying a lot.
This unit didn't ship with a case, so I bought an Icon "Hacker" bag at
Wal-Mart for under $30, and it has so far served me well despite the
salacious name. Anyone looking for a case for a unit up to 15.4"
wide would do well to consider this bag - it's well laid out without
being too bulky, yet affords plenty of protection for your laptop.
This system was purchased from Tiger Direct refurbished. The tale
of this purchase is noteworthy, as I at first wanted to purchase an
Emachines M5312 (having heard elsewhere how well it runs under Linux)
but the unit I bought was an "open box" system, which is Tiger's nice
way of saying someone sent it back for some reason. Well, the
reason in this case was that the unit was unreliable on powerup.
At first, Tiger offered me an exchange to the M6805, but that has
an Athlon 64 CPU, something I wasn't sure would run Planet
CCRMA's kernels. After casting about, I found the 3522GZ, and
selected it. Overall, the experience was frustrating at times,
especially with regard to the paperwork (I never received an original
invoice for the first unit), and their phone support after sale is all
but non-existent. To their credit, though, Tiger did ship the
exchange promptly, and eventually made good on this purchase despite
having to deal with Hurricane Wilma during the initial timeframe of
Overall, this unit's performance under Linux is very satisfactory, if
not quite flawless. My initial score for this machine on a scale
from 1 to 5 was a grudging 4.5. Over time, that rating has
dropped somewhat, mainly influenced by the problems with unwanted
cursor movement. If the touchpad on this unit were of higher
quality and the outer finish just a bit more durable, this would be a
perfect notebook. Still, for under $750.00 (including insured
shipping) 18 months or more ago, this wasn't a bad deal. Okay: 4
out of 5.