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Linux 5.11 to see better support for ASUS gaming laptop keyboards

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Love ASUS hardware and their ASUS ROG tech? Well it seems Linux Kernel 5.11 will be pulling in some better support for their keyboards.

Developer Luke Jones messaged us about their work a while ago, which we talked a little about here. It's all unofficial, and done by community developers since ASUS won't do it themselves. Jones mentioned there is now a newer set of projects up on GitLab to cover most of it, and parts of it are slowly getting upstreamed into the actual Linux Kernel properly.

With a new patch being sent into the Linux Kernel git, which adds in proper support for the ASUS N-Key keyboard. It appears they use the same productId of "0x1866" across almost all of their modern gaming laptops, so support with this patch should be quite wide. The proposed patch enables "Fn+key hotkeys, keyboard backlight brightness control" and does some adjustments to the initialisation of it all to make it work nicely.

Jones also mentioned to us that various contributors are "also working on sound fixes for some of these latops, such as G14 and G15. Though time is slim, and the work hard. GX502 had sound fixes for audio jacks merged a while ago.".

Nice to see one less hassle taken away for users trying to use Linux on ASUS hardware. Every little issue adds up.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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11 comments
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I've been thinking of getting one of those. Is there anyone knowledgeable enough to give me a good idea for what would be the best gaming laptop with Linux support. Obviously system76 has some of the best hardware... but they're also rather expensive spec for spec and not particularly well optimised for the task.

I was looking at Legion 7i from Lenovo or getting a decent gigabyte. The issues with those is that I don't know how repairable they are...

I'm looking for something reliable first and spec'd to game second, ("good looking" or being "traditionally laid out" are not priorities at all).
I can't tell for other brands, but I'm in charge of configuring MSI portable workstations and laptops for my engineering firm. From my personnal experience, the ootb Linux support (Pop_OS!) is pretty great with MSI. Haven't got any major problems yet (ex: unsupported wifi), shortcut keys are working and I've tried many different versions of these MSI laptops. The only issue was with RGB Steelseries keyboard software but the msi-keyboard-gui tool is doing a decent job:

https://github.com/stevelacy/msi-keyboard-gui

Hope it helps.

Edit 1: If I have tested these laptops, it was out of curiosity, not for my job which requires Windows. :)

Edit 2: Right now, there is a GL65-Leopard sitting on my desk fully configured with Pop_OS!. Not much to say about it. Before that, I had a GF65-Thin which I used to make my run of Metro:Exodus... Terrible experience. I don't recommend this laptop. Performances are great, but with RTX on, this thing becomes a hot furnace and the fan sounds like a whistle... 25' appart, my wife was complaining about the sound and I was barely able to hold my hand on the keyboard.

Edit 3: If you want to do serious gaming, I would consider a 17" laptop. It might just be coincidence, but I witnessed that the noise level is lower and they tend to generate less heat... Size of the case that gives them more breathing room/venting capabilities/better cooling solutions? Just my personal experience, no actual facts.

I had the luck of testing Sager laptops too (excellent laptops), which used to be the basis for many System76 products:

https://www.sagernotebook.com/home.php


Last edited by Mohandevir on 3 November 2020 at 8:51 pm UTC
Miles 3 Nov
I've had my ASUS RoG laptop for about three years now doing tons of gaming on it (mostly STEAM and Lutris w/Overwatch) and it's worked GREAT. I did notice the keyboard LED lights weren't always behaving right until sometime this year--suddenly, they're behaving perfectly lately!
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This just reminds me of all the talks about Windows switching kernels to use Linux. How many little weird things out there like RGB lighting or special features require Windows applications (not even talking drivers here) to configure all the features that wod never work with different kernel drivers?
Something like Creative labs' crappy sound mixer thing for the AEX line of cards. Or all the weird overclocking tools Asus, EVGA, etc package with their hardware. You know, the stuff most system builders never install because they tend to be buggy crap, or just one more piece of software that takes system resources.
Also, I would like see better optimus support still (Pop_OS has this weird issue on my thinkpad P52 where if I put it solely into Discrete GPU mode, my trackpad/trackpoint stops working). Everything else worked OOTB extept my fingerprint reader, which I think is only barely getting any Linux support.

Pretty sweet that Asus is getting attention. We actually need more manufacturers helping with some of their more esoteric hardware, lkke folding screens and such.
Jones here.

Just a quick amendment regarding
QuoteJones also mentioned to us that they're "also working on sound fixes for some of these latops, such as G14 and G15. Though time is slim, and the work hard. GX502 had sound fixes for audio jacks merged a while ago.".

"they're" is more than one person, the prime mover for the G14 sound is ZappeL (on our discord), but they have a lot on their plate right now with starting a business. A lot of the work is helped by many people contributing in various ways from providing dumps of settings, dumps from windows, testing etc. the Realtek stuff is a frustrating mess with a lot of vendor specific stuff.


Last edited by Luke_Nukem on 3 November 2020 at 9:29 pm UTC
Quoting: slaapliedjeThis just reminds me of all the talks about Windows switching kernels to use Linux. How many little weird things out there like RGB lighting or special features require Windows applications (not even talking drivers here) to configure all the features that wod never work with different kernel drivers?

So much of this stuff would be trivial for the actual vendors to implement rather than community members trying to reverse engineer stuff. Gettign the backlight for these keyboards working was as simple as possible, all the work was already done at the kernel level and only the init sequence and a struct was needed. Same for the extra fn-keys. So trivial it was annoying because ASUS could have bloody well done it in an hour or less.

The same can be said about the per-key RGB stuff. I painstakingly used wireshark and ASUS Armory Crate to set each individual key and capture the packet, then create a spreadsheet of how it all works. ASUS could have released an OSS lib for this, or even just a document.

Do you know how long it would take ASUS to fix sound for all these laptops? They have the specs, all the kernel framework is laid out bare and ready, it would take maybe 15 minutes per laptop with the spec handy. Instead we have to fart about with trying to divine the secrets of the inner working by trial and fire.
Liam Dawe 4 Nov
Quoting: Luke_Nukemmore than one person
Good to know, have adjusted the text to be clear.
Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: Luke_Nukemmore than one person
Good to know, have adjusted the text to be clear.

Thanks mate. Tried to find a button or link to send article feedback but couldn't see one.
Liam Dawe 4 Nov
Quoting: Luke_NukemThanks mate. Tried to find a button or link to send article feedback but couldn't see one.
For future reference: there's a big black box directly below the article for it. The comments area also has a dedicated button too labelled "Send Correction Report". You can use either.


Last edited by Liam Dawe on 4 November 2020 at 8:12 pm UTC
Oh, thanks. It's not a black box for me, so I must have glazed right over it.
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