So I recently purchased an Asus PRO31S laptop and I figured I should report on how it plays with Linux in case other people out there are looking at the machine also. The specs are really nice using the new Intel Santa Rosa chipset, nvidia graphics, lightscribe capable DVD writer, Wireless card supporting up to 802.11n. It also sports a built in camera above the screen, built-in bluetooth and DVI out.
I am writing this entry on the laptop so obviously it do work, but I have to admit getting it set up was a much bigger challenge than I expected. The first problem was that no Linux distribution was able to properly detect and access the DVD drive. As you might guess this is slightly painful when trying to install linux as the DVD based installs fail as soon as the install for the first time tries to access the DVD drive. Managed to get latest Fedora installed in the end by using Network install. Once I had the core system installed I realized I needed the very latest proprietary nvidia driver to get X working at all, version 100.14.11. Problem is that the system seems unable to have the X display reset, so if I start the system with the graphical boot loader or try to go into a console I just get a black screen. So ctrl+alt+f1 etc., is not currently available and if I have the graphical boot enabled I will only get a black screen instead of the gdm login screen.
The Intel wireless cards works, well sorta. It seems to consider the signal strength very weak even if I am sitting next to the wireless router. With the original Fedora 7 kernel I needed to manually install the updated kernel driver from Intel, but with current kernel updates it seems to work fine out of the box apart from the signal strength issue. While I am not 100% sure at this point I also think the signal strength issue is what is making Skype etc., useless on the laptop.
The Asus also comes with its own annoying startup sound, you can turn it of in the bios, but it seems doing that causes the sound card to not initialize properly or something under linux, giving you zero volume sound.
Things which seems to work perfectly however for me on the laptop is the smartcard reader and the bluetooth support. The camera also seems to work fine with latest kernel updates.
Suspend partially works in the sense that I do seem able to suspend and then resume the system, but things like the wireless networking did not seem to want to resume again.
So the current status is that I have a useable laptop for my day to day needs, but there are still a lot of things that aren’t working fully. Hopefully the driver issues will sort themselves out over the next Months, but at this point in time it is not a laptop I would recommend for a great out-of-the-box linux experience.