Jaguar: Portrait of Xena
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Acer Aspire 5, A515-54-51DJ (2019)
Subsystem Checkout

Jim Carter, 2019-10-06

When the new machine was received, I checked out these features. In summary, most of the features that the machine was supposed to have, performed with no hassle out of the box.


Box Worked out of the box.
Conf It needed editing a configuration file or running a setup GUI.
Add-On Needed additional or patched software: download it; follow instructions to compile and/or install it; it works.
Fiddle As with Add-On, but it required some workarounds in the procedure, which might seem minor to an experienced user but which might prevent a newbie from making it work.
Hack So you call yourself a guru? This one will challenge your skills. But this guru eventually got it working.
Fail I wasn't able to get this one to work, at least so far.
WIP I'm still working on getting this working.
N.T. Not tested.
* A prerequisite did not qualify for the Box or Conf rating, but once that was set up, the listed component worked with no further hassle.

Checklist of Features

Does it boot at all? Box
  It boots the network installer and the rescue system off USB sticks; Linux off the Samsung EVO 860 SSD; and Windows (but not Linux) off the Kingston NVMe SSD, with the back-version BIOS (1.00) as shipped, and also after the BIOS Upgrade (strongly recommended).
UEFI Boot Box
  All the OS's mentioned above are set up for UEFI, and boot successfully. However, this BIOS is not capable of legacy (BIOS) booting, nor does it have a CSM (Compatibility Support Module) which could emulate BIOS booting under UEFI.
Processor: Intel Core i5-8265U Box
  Cores (each hyperthreaded) 4
  Lithographic technology 14nm
  Nominal clock speed 1.6GHz
  Turbo clock speed (1 core) 3.9GHz
  Minimum clock speed 0.4GHz
  Bogomips (one/all processors) 3600/28800
  Jimc's benchmark (Mb/sec) 248.3
  MPEG-4 playback (VLC), CPU% 5.5%
  Chipset: Cannon Point
Memory Box
  Main memory: 8Gb; 4Gb hardwired on the motherboard plus 4Gb in socket. Capacity limit is 1 LPDDR3-2133 up to 16Gb (20Gb total). L3 (?) cache 6Mb shared among all cores. Normally I report detailed speeds from memtest86+, but that requires real mode which is only accessible with BIOS booting, which this machine cannot do.
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 Box
  On the 1920x1080px display (1080p), the machine can perform MPEG-4 encoded media with no problems: way more than enough CPU power and no dropped frames. Graphics base frequency 300MHz, up to 1.1GHz. Video RAM is allocated dynamically from main memory. Graphics code name: Whiskey Lake.
Display Box
  Display size is 1920x1080 pixels (1080p). Technology: IPS. Colors are uniform in all directions, ±90°. Brightness seems to emphasize perpendicular viewing. Brightness reported as 250nit.
  Kingston PCIe NVMe 256Gb (model number not given). It works great under Windows. However, the Linux driver reports that it is remapped in RAID mode, and will have to be switched to AHCI mode before the driver can do anything with it. But the setup GUI for the BIOS in this machine has no way to make this switch. So the NVMe disc is useless in Linux. Fail
  Samsung 856 EVO 500GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD. Works fine in Linux. Add-on
  Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 gigabit ethernet (IEEE 802.3). r8169 driver. PCI ID 10ec:8168. My net uses MOCA and so is limited to 100Mbit/sec. 802.3 was used for initial setup and was reliable. The RJ45 jack is openable to accomodate the cable when in use, but to fit the contour of the chassis otherwise. One reviewer mentioned trouble with his RJ45 not opening enough, but mine was fine.
Wi-Fi Box
  Qualcomm Atheros QCA6174 802.11ac. Driver: ath10k_pci . Backward compatible with b/g/n. PCI ID: 168c:003e. Firmware was loaded (what filename?) This device has been operating with no problems on 802.11n; not yet tested on 802.11ac (no access point). Informal evaluation indicates good communication from the usual locations in my house, as much as 20 meters away through walls. **UPDATE: do a real speed test and reception distance test.
Bluetooth WIP
  USB ID 04ca:3016 by Lite-On Technology Corp. There is limited evidence that this device is part of, or integrated in the same package as, the Qualcomm Atheros QCA6174 Wi-Fi NIC. Needs firmware from package kernel-firmware-bluetooth. Successfully paired Xena with Selen (cellphone) and sent a file to it.
Keyboard Box
  It has 100 keys (counting the power button). It's backlit. The feel of the keys is fine, with normal negative resistance. Key spacing is standard size, except F1-F12 etc. on the top row are shrunk about 15%. There is a numeric keypad on the right side, normally laid out. You don't get the block of Home, End, etc. with arrows below; the arrow keys are below the right shift key, and Up and Down are split into one key cell, which some people may complain about. Home, PgUp, PgDn, End are on the numeric keypad and you need numlock off to use them. There are separate Ins and Del keys, both on the top row and on the keypad. There are many multimedia keys which are multiplexed on the function keys (F1 etc); there is a BIOS option to choose which group of keycodes comes out when you do or don't press the Fn shift key.
Touchpad Box
  The touchpad is civilized in its feel; speed and acceleration are set adequately out of the box. For buttons (two) you press the pad corners; the setup page has a section on Setting Up the Touchpad where I show how to get three buttons. A two finger gesture works for vertical or horizontal scrolling.

On the Elan-504 with the default configuration, slow motion diagonally from a screen corner takes you to the center of the screen. Fast motion gets you to the opposite corner, but it has to be really fast. On earlier laptops there was room to spare, while on this one you barely reach the corner. Motion starting in the left or right about 10% of the pad doesn't move the cursor, and taps are ignored. Multi-touch taps are recognized: 2 fingers for right mouse, and 3 fingers for middle mouse.

I would like to increase the acceleration parameter for about 1.5x faster motion starting at 0.8x slower speed. I would also like to turn off the left and right margin areas, which don't seem to do anything except ignore events.

It was a challenge to figure out what the touchpad really is: device, vendor and model. Since the Elan fingerprint sensor is physically integrated, it's very likely that Elan is the pad's vendor also. It is on an I2C bus, and its name is ELAN0504. Its driver is called hid_multitouch. Find a link to it as /sys/class/input/input$N (the number varies). Recognize it by looking for the driver name in input$N/device/driver.

Fingerprint Sensor WIP
  USB ID 04f3:0c03 by Elan Microelectronics Corp. It's presumed to work on Windows, but there is no sign that its Linux driver is loaded. However, there is a driver and software under the name libfprint. See here for progress getting libfprint to work.
Audio Box
  • Intel Cannon Point-LP High Definition Audio Controller
  • Analog stereo (speakers): tested and works, but far from audiophile quality.
  • Analog stereo (wired headphone): tested and works.
  • S/PDIF on HDMI: avaiable but not tested.
  • Microphone: records speech.
  • It has a four-wire jack for a headset including a microphone, but I didn't test the wired mic.
  • **UPDATE do the tests properly again.
Webcam Box
  USB ID 0408:a061 by Quanta Computer. Dimensions 1280x720px (I think). The cheese selfie software uses it with no setup needed.
USB Ports Box
  It has 4 USB ports: on the left are 3 USB-3.1 ports (1 type A, another type A with poweroff charging, 1 type C), and one USB-2.0 on the right. They seem to work. The machine cannot charge from the type C port.
Special Features
  Random number generator (use rng-tools package) Box
  Virtualization (using qemu) Box
  Wake on LAN N.T.
  Watchdog timer from iTCO N.T.
  PXE (network) boot N.T.
Suspend and Wake Box
  The machine wakes on the power button or lid opening. In the BIOS it can be configured to wake from S3 (not S4) on LAN. It suspends to RAM (S3) on lid closing and wakes on opening. Times to suspend and to wake, in seconds, with the SSD:
  S3 (suspend to RAM): on lid close/open; if you do systemctl suspend something wakes it immediately. 4 / 3 sec
  S4 (hibernate to disc); press power button; ignores lid opening. 7 / 15 sec
  S5 (power off and boot to greeter) 13 / 80 sec
  Greeter to XFCE desktop 2 sec
  Onboard devices including graphics can suspend and wake successfully.
Power use and battery life OK
  In Linux. Life was calculated from capacity/power (except * = measured). Windows does better on some activities. More power measurements here.
  S3 (suspended to RAM, 2x 4Gb) 0.41W, 118hr
  Idle, screen off (DPMS) 5W, 9.5hr
  Idle, screen on 12W, 4.0hr
  Light web surfing 8.5W, 6.2hr*
  Playing MPEG-4 1080p video 9.2W, 5.1hr*
  Maxed out, both cores 27W, 1.5hr*
  Charging an empty battery (and time to charge) 28W, 2.25hr*
  Power brick provided 45W
  Battery (when new): 3.22 amp-hr x 14.74V = 47.5 watt-hr.
Jaguar: Portrait of Xena