Tuesday, May 11, 2010

HOWTO: Linux Mint 8 on T91MT

The Asus's T91MT is a fantastic device for many reasons, but one thing I dislike about the device is that it ships by default with only Windows 7. I firmly believe a computer is a terrible thing to waste, so as such the first thing I did was to install Linux on the system when I opened the box. After trying many different flavors of Linux over the course of two weeks I finally settled on Linux Mint 8 as the primary operating system for my tablet device. The following is a summary of how to get the T91MT mostly functional under Linux Mint 8.

#1 Fixing the Wifi
There are two issues with the wifi I have under Linux Mint, one I have corrected and one I have not. The first is that for some odd reason the wifi in the laptop is disabled at startup - meaning I have to press function+f2 to toggle the wifi on before I can get a connection.

The second issue is one we can easily fix. If you notice once you do get a connection to something it will not be a very strong signal. To fix this we need to install the back-port modules for the wireless drivers. To do so run the following in terminal (while you are online):
sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-karmic \
My wireless signal jumped from 2 bars to 4 bars at my desk after I installed these.

#2 Fixing the Microphone

By default you will notice your microphone does not work (which is a killjoy if you are like myself and want to use skype on your netbook). This is a simple fix again - just run the following in terminal (while you are online):

sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-alsa-karmic-generic

#3 Resolving the Graphics Card Issue
The graphics card in the T91MT is the notorious Intel GMA500 (look for a rant on this one coming soon), in short it is not really an Intel graphics card. It is a chip made by an outside company that Intel stamped their name on, as such it needs some closed source drivers installed to function properly. To install the drivers run the following in terminal (while you are online):
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade && \
sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic && \
wget http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1338581/Gma500/scripts/poulsbo.sh && \
sh ./poulsbo.sh
After this finishes (and it will take some time) reboot the computer and it should boot into the beautiful 1024x600 resolution.

Also note if you ever upgrade/change kernels you will need to run this command at start-up to fix the "low graphics mode" issue:
dpkg-reconfigure psb-kernel-source
#4 Setting up the Touch Screen
The default evtouch package in the repositories does not support the T91MT by default, to resolve this download this file. The following assumes the file was downloaded to your ~/Downloads folder, run the following in terminal:
cd ~/Downloads
tar zxvf xf86-input-evtouch-0.8.8-T91MT.tar.gz
sudo cp 69-touchscreen.rules /etc/udev/rules.d/
sudo cp 50-asustek.fdi /usr/share/hal/fdi/policy/20thirdparty/
cd xf86-input-evtouch-0.8.8-T91MT
sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-input-evtouch xserver-xorg-dev
make clean && make
sudo cp ./.libs/evtouch_drv.so /usr/lib/xorg/modules/input/evtouch_drv.so
For some reason the calibrate program does not function on the T91MT while the display manager is running (meaning you might want to open this page on another system for the next few steps). Press ctrl+alt+f1 to drop down to a tty, enter your username and password and then run the following:
sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop
sudo /usr/bin/calibrate_touchscreen
The on-screen instructions do not appear, instead you are simply presented with the calibration window. To calibrate the screen first place the pen in one corner of the screen and trace along the edges of the entire screen until you get back to your starting point (you know it is working if the numbers on screen are changing). After you have traced all four edges of the screen press the enter key. After a moment one of the Xs on screen will turn red, tap the center of the X that is red. Repeat this with each of the Xs as they appear red. After you have finished this, if the calibrate does not automatically close press the enter key, this should return you to the terminal login. To start your display manager back up run the following in terminal:
sudo /etc/init.d/gdm start
That concludes the configuring of the three key functionalities on your T91MT under Linux Mint 8. If you are looking for some fun/useful touchscreen applications I use the following on my tablet:

CellWriter - Best on-screen keyboard I've found for Linux. Also includes hand-writing recognition if you train it some to your writing style
EasyStroke - Allows you to fire command or push buttons when you pen in certain gestures on screen. Some of the things I use it for are right clicking, switching desktops, and loading my favorite programs.

GIMP - You classic image manipulation program for all operating systems. It is fun to play with on the tablet.
Xournal - Turns your computer into a pad of notebook paper. Allows for easily importing pdf files to write on and does one click pdf exporting for documents you create. I use this for all my note taking in class.
MyPaint - For free hand drawing this one I prefer to GIMP (also a bit less resource intensive). This one is not included in the repositories however, you need to install it from GetDeb.net

Asileroit Solitaire - Because who uses a real deck of cards anymore?
Palapeli - A jigsaw puzzle game.
Phun - A 2D physics game, lots of fun to poke around with. This is another one that has to come from GetDeb.net
World of Goo - Runs quite well on the GMA500, this one is a blast on the tablet. You do need to purchase this one though.

Finally, I would like to mention these instructions pertain only to Linux Mint 8. Due to an issue with the GMA500 graphics driver and the Xorg server higher than 1.6.x these instructions will not work with a version higher than Linux Mint 8.

Have any trouble or questions feel free to drop me a line below and I will do my best to answer.

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. Did you have the screen in landscape or portrait? If portrait. It's easy the configuration for portrait mode?

  2. I don't know if this will work in your particular situation, but I have found that PC/OS is EXCELLENT at detecting and properly setting up wireless cards.

    In my case, I've found that PC/OS can properly detect and configure the Broadcom wireless card in my wife's laptop, which had been a BEAR to configure with other distros. Since it was able to do that, PC/OS is now my official distro of choice, which I've got installed on two other computers around the house as well as on my flash drive whenever I use her laptop.

    I still have yet to convert my wife to Linux, as she still likes her Windows XP. However, it's nice to know that if her XP installation should one day become permanently irreparably borked, that PC/OS can readily step up to the plate and work right out of the box on a moment's notice.

  3. You know I am so used to using my devices in landscape mode I never even tried to setup portrait on the tablet.

    @Last Anonymous if PC/OS supports the GMA500 I might give it a try, other wise it is horrid only having an 800x600 resolution with choppy performance.

  4. The poulsbo driver script didn't work for me. upon rebooting it says it need DRM to operate...

  5. It this a clean Mint 8 install? Any error messages while running the install script?

  6. It works now. I had to, according to the ubuntu support page (https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupportComponentsVideoCardsPoulsbo)
    boot into safe mode and:

    # dpkg-reconfigure psb-kernel-source

    after that it worked like a charm.

    Thanks for the page dude.

  7. Ahh, sounds like you upgraded/changed kernels after installing the drivers.

  8. Have you tested the new version, linux mint 9? Also because I m new to linux can you tell me how to install it on t91mt? And how to have windows 7 and mint on my tablet?

  9. Does Mint support Ubuntu's PPAs? There's one here for the GMA500 that may be of interest: https://launchpad.net/~gma500/+archive/ppa

  10. Yes Mint does support Ubuntu PPAs (9.10 works for Mint 8 and 10.04 works for Mint 9)

    @Anoymous "Due to an issue with the GMA500 graphics driver and the Xorg server higher than 1.6.x these instructions will not work with a version higher than Linux Mint 8." It is very simple to install both Mint and Win7 on the tablet (although the default space in the device is small, only 32 gigs) just select install along side in the Mint installer.

  11. In case anyone is following the comments on this post, I updated the post with a quick fix that makes the microphone work under Mint 8.


  12. I tried Linux mint fluxbox on it. There the calibrate_touchscreen didn't work either, and it doesn't use gdm. Any ideas for a workaround to calibrate it?

  13. @Max I am not sure off hand, need to figure out what display manager Mint LXDE uses. I made a post here asking for you - http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=160&t=48720

  14. can't get touch to work ...

  15. Hey man im having problems with the gma500 still
    It was a clean install
    I did as you listed below and rebooted and it worked.
    then i rebooted again at a later time and it stopped working when i booted up it tried to boot me into low graphics mode
    so i tried to rebuild the kernel again and it said it was either missing or broken
    so i removed the updated kernel with sudo apt-get remove psb-kernel-source
    and tried to apt-get install psb-kernel-source and it told me that package was no longer available any ideas? thanks man

  16. @Anonymous Be sure to run "dpkg-reconfigure psb-kernel-source" if you ever need to reconfigure the graphics drivers again after a kernel update/change. If you removed the drivers be sure to reinstall them before running this command.

  17. Great Tutorial!!!
    Now my t91mt is a real computer!!

  18. JJ Manrique (Gijon - Spain)August 6, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    Great tutorial, I have now my touch screen, but can't fix the hi resolution. The problem seems to be that


    is not working anymore (!?)

    Any ideas

  19. JJ Manrique (Gijon - Spain)August 6, 2010 at 3:36 PM


    A solution to resolution problems with GMA 500

  20. I am installing Ubuntu 10.04 on the t91mt. I have used the GMA500 PPA and got the video mode OK. (Suspend seems broken though.)

    However I can't get touch even to the first hurdle. I see the "ASUSTek" and "ASUS" devices in lsusb but the kernel does not assign input/eventN device nodes for either of them. I grep the 0486 device code in /lib/modules/*/* but I don't have a match. I looked at usbtouchscreen.c in the kernel and it does not seem to know of these devices either.

    How is this working for you? Is usbtouchscreen the driver associating to your device?

    Any pointer could help and would be appreciated.

  21. Thanks for the great post. This pointed me in the right direction for getting my T91MT up and running Ubuntu 10.10.

    I managed to fix the annoying wireless problem. Somehow the Poulsbo drivers disabled my wireless card at the BIOS level. In the BIOS configuration, select ADVANCED -> Onboard Device Configuration. From there you can enable the onboard WLAN.

  22. You know mate, Linux Mint 8 is built on Ubuntu 9.10 and I have since sold the little tablet to a friend (I went with the T101MT). So I can't be of much help :-/

    Try over at the Ubuntu forums.