MODEL			AUDIO CHIPSET		DRIVER		SETUP (*)	TYPICAL USE			COMMENTS	

Apple iBook		standard Apple set	ALSA,OSS,USB	2		SoundTracker, XMMS, Snd, Yarec	

Apple G4 400 tiBook	PowerMac Screamer	ALSA,OSS,USB	2		Audacity, SpiralSynth, Pd,	no audio In; otherwise a good laptop for audio
			PowerMac AWACS						play MP3s

Compaq 7730MT		unknown SB16 compatible	OSS/Free	3		Midge, TiMidity, mpg321		acceptable audio via speakers/headphones

Compaq Presario 1200	VIA VT82C686		ALSA		2		Csound, GDAM			ditto

Dell Latitude CPi/A	NeoMagic NM256A/V	ALSA		3		MP3 player, GDAM		poor mic input (8-bit), power supply adds noise to sound

Dell i8100		ESS Maestro 3i		ALSA		3		XMMS, Pd, Csound, Ardour, Snd	poor latency, unreliable under a 1024 period
														size; output not bad, input is terrible;
														supports multiple open, useful for testing
														Jack + OSS emulation

Dell Inspiron		Intel i810		ALSA		2						poor internal audio, cannot be disabled in BIOS

Dell Inspiron 2600	Intel i810		ALSA		2		Jazz++, Pd, terminatorX, Audacity

IBM  Thinkpad 600E	CS4236			ALSA		1			

IBM Thinkpad 600E	CS4239			ALSA		2		XMMS, iMic recording, room	speakers tinny, headphones much better
										analysis with baudline

Sony VAIO R600HEK	Intel i810		ALSA,OSS	2		XMMS, Mplayer, GQmpeg	 	touchpad distorts sound	

Sony GRX580		Intel 82801CA/CAM (i810) ALSA		2		Snd, CLM, Pd			internal sampling rate hardwired to 48 kHz

Toshiba Tecra 9100	Intel ICH3 (i810)	ALSA		2						hardware detection difficult; poor latency,
														audio stream hangs or drops out

Toshiba 5005-S504	Intel i810		ALSA		2		Pd, CLM, Snd, Audacity, Mix,	good speakers, has internal subwoofer; has
										Speak Freely, XMMS		firewire port and optical digital out

Responses in the Setup category rated the experience 1 for Dismal, 2 for Determined, and 3 for Delightful. As the table shows, installing and configuring a Linux audio system on a laptop is still not a simple affair. Many users reported that considerable determination was required before their system was completely configured and usable.

Although I did not ask about preferred distributions readers reported using Red Hat, Mandrake, SuSE, Slackware, Debian, Yellow Dog, and Gentoo. Apparently there was no general consensus about a particular distibution's suitability for Linux on a laptop.

I also asked if any users were employing a serial MIDI interface, any USB devices, or any PCMCIA audio cards. Apparently none of the respondents used a serial port MIDI adapter. USB devices in use included the Griffin iMic and Roland UA-30 audio interfaces and the Midiman MIDIsport MIDI interface. PCMCIA audio cards are a rather rare item for Linux, but a few intrepid users reported trying out the new RME Hammerfall DSP card (a driver is available from ALSA).