After successfully finding an x86 laptop that is compatible with free software: ASUS EEE PC 1000HE (http://kerneltrap.org/node/17096), I got another order to find an x86 laptop that was bigger (preferably 14.1 inches laptop) and cheaper than ASUS EEE PC 1000HE. So, I went searching for one. After trying some tight-budget laptops that I dismissed because their wireless cards (e.g., Broadcom or newer Ralink cards) or graphics accelerators (e.g., new SiS chipset) were not compatible with free software, I landed on an A*Note 12.1 inches laptop whose vital devices were mostly free software compatible (fingerprint reader and built-in modem are nonvital for me).
Since my new FSF member card just arrived a week before I got this laptop and I don't have another machine that can boot from a USB disk, I tried to boot the laptop with the USB member card containing gNewSense 2.1 as shown in `1 - A*Note 12.1 Inches Laptop On The Boot Selection Screen.jpg'. Yes, the USB member card works well as shown in `2 - A*Note 12.1 Inches Laptop Booting FSF Membership Card.jpg'. Of course, at the end I installed gNewSense 2.2 as well as the newest Ali Gunduz home-baked linux-libre kernel because the laptop uses Atheros as its wireless device. Once installed, everything works well except, of course, the nonvital devices I mentioned above.
The laptop is equipped with the following working components under gNewSense 2.2 + Ali Gunduz's 2.6.29-1 linux-libre:
The output of `lspci -vvv' can be found in `lspci.txt'.
This laptop has one quirk. If someone touches the wireless on/off touchpad-like button on gNewSense no matter how many times the button is touched, the wireless device will not be disabled until the next time gNewSense is entered again as a result of restarting or shutting down the laptop, in which the wireless device stays disabled. To activate it, just touches the button again no matter how many times and restart the laptop to have it active again. It will stay active across restart and shutdown as far as no one touches the button again. Otherwise, the wireless device will be disabled again and has to be reenabled again in the aforementioned way. If instead someone touches the button while outside gNewSense (e.g., during BIOS POST screen) no matter how many times, if the state of the wireless device is active, the device will be disabled upon entering gNewSense, and vice versa.
To conclude, when looking for a free software compatible laptop, it is best to bring gNewSense live CD as well as Ali Gunduz's home-baked linux-libre kernel for enabling Atheros wireless card and an apt-cacher's cache in a large USB disk for downloading further packages to test the laptop to see whether all of the vital components work. Of course, you may have your own definition of vital components.
|1 - A*Note 12.1 Inches Laptop On The Boot Selection Screen.jpg||827.63 KB|
|2 - A*Note 12.1 Inches Laptop Booting FSF Membership Card.jpg||784.12 KB|
|Wireless Select Switch Screen.JPG||66.54 KB|
|Wireless Indicator - Wireless Is On.jpg||119.9 KB|