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So, considering there aren't many (any?) useful articles out there for using Gentoo on an Alienware Laptop (Let alone an Aurora M9700), heres a guide for everyone who was wondering. However, make sure to check that the device lists here match your own; Alienware ha made a few changes to the peripherals sold with the m9700 over time.

Overall though, heres what I still can and can't get working and may be good for someone else to try and figure out.

What Works:

What Doesn't Work:

Thats it. As of the writing of this guide, all other miscellaneous hardware not listed in the "Doesn't work" is working great.


Here is a list of all the hardware which is in the laptop. This is of course, Alienware's list & lspci, so we know absolutely everything that should/might be/is in the laptop.

What Alienware Said:

Code: lspci output
00:00.0 Memory controller: nVidia Corporation CK804 Memory Controller (rev a3)
00:01.0 ISA bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 ISA Bridge (rev a3)
00:01.1 SMBus: nVidia Corporation CK804 SMBus (rev a2)
00:02.0 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation CK804 USB Controller (rev a2)
00:02.1 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation CK804 USB Controller (rev a3)
00:04.0 Multimedia audio controller: nVidia Corporation CK804 AC'97 Audio Controller (rev a2)
00:04.1 Modem: nVidia Corporation CK804 AC'97 Modem (rev a2)
00:06.0 IDE interface: nVidia Corporation CK804 IDE (rev f2)
00:07.0 IDE interface: nVidia Corporation CK804 Serial ATA Controller (rev f3)
00:08.0 IDE interface: nVidia Corporation CK804 Serial ATA Controller (rev f3)
00:09.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 PCI Bridge (rev a2)
00:0b.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 PCIE Bridge (rev a3)
00:0c.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 PCIE Bridge (rev a3)
00:0d.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 PCIE Bridge (rev a3)
00:0e.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 PCIE Bridge (rev a3)
00:18.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] HyperTransport Technology Configuration
00:18.1 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] Address Map
00:18.2 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] DRAM Controller
00:18.3 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] Miscellaneous Control
01:06.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Ricoh Co Ltd R5C832 IEEE 1394 Controller
01:06.1 Generic system peripheral [0805]: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Host Adapter (rev 19)
01:06.2 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd Unknown device 0843 (rev 01)
01:06.3 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C592 Memory Stick Bus Host Adapter (rev 0a)
01:0a.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8185 IEEE 802.11a/b/g Wireless LAN Controller (rev 20)
05:00.0 Ethernet controller: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88E8055 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (rev 12)
07:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation GeForce Go 7900 GS (rev a1)



The M9700 has the Turion 64 mobile chips. In the kernel, it is configured as the Opteron/Athlon-64. In 2.6.22, it seems to also support all the appropriate CPU Frequency Scaling and Temperature monitoring thats needed so the battery lasts longer than 20 minutes.

Linux Kernel Configuration: CPU drivers
Processor type and features  --->
        Processor family (AMD-Opteron/Athlon64)  --->
            (X) AMD-Opteron/Athlon64
    --- Machine check support
    [*]   AMD MCE features

You'll also want to enable all of the temperature monitoring and scaling options..

Linux Kernel Configuration: PowerNow! drivers & schedulers
Power management options  --->
    CPU Frequency scaling  --->
        [*] CPU Frequency scaling
        <*>   'powersave' governor
        <*>   'userspace' governor for userspace frequency scaling
        <*>   'ondemand' cpufreq policy governor
        <*>   'conservative' cpufreq governor
        ---   CPUFreq processor drivers 
        <*>   AMD Opteron/Athlon64 PowerNow!
        <*>   ACPI Processor P-States driver

Dmesg output shows that this processor supports 2 states: 2600 MHz & 1200 MHz. Some AMD procs seem to be able to power down to 800 MHz.

Code: PowerNow! detection
powernow-k8: Found 1 AMD Turion(tm) 64 Mobile Technology ML-34 processors (version 2.00.00)
powernow-k8:    0 : fid 0xa (1800 MHz), vid 0x4
powernow-k8:    1 : fid 0x8 (1600 MHz), vid 0x6
powernow-k8:    2 : fid 0x0 (800 MHz), vid 0x16


See this guide.


When it comes to NVidia cards, especially ones as beefy as are in the M9700, you have two options, although I only recommend one. You have the open source 'nv' drivers, and the official nvidia drivers. Depending on which you want, you just need to emerge one or the other, and configure X appropriately.

I recommend the official drivers from nvidia due to the fact that they handle opengl and games much better than the open source drivers; beryl, E17, compiz-fusion and the like are basically going to need you to use the official drivers. The only drawback is that they are not compatible with the nvidia framebuffering drivers in the mainline kernel.

Additionally, the video cards in the m9700, if configure correctly, are extremely fast. For more details on configuring them, See:

Warning: If you intend on using the Official NVidia drivers, you must disable the nvidiafb driver within the kernels 'Video Settings'.
Code: emerge nvidia-drivers or nv
	emerge nvidia-drivers
	emerge nv


Set your VIDEO_CARD in make.conf to one of the two above as well.

VIDEO_CARD="nvidia" or VIDEO_CARD="nv"

Note: Hardened Users - My current build of gentoo is using the latest hardened-sources, 2.6.22-hardened-r2. There are no conflicts with the nvidia-drivers and hardened with full pax, ASLR and non-executable pages enabled


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Last modified: Thu, 28 Aug 2008 07:39:00 +0000 Hits: 4,422