Thanks for commenting, Luis. I booted with noexec=off a couple of times with 3.2.0-24-pae, but it didn’t seem to change anything, i.e. the boot still (seemingly) froze when wistron_btns was enabled.
I was unaware of fsam7400 prior to this, so I tried that too, instead of wistron_btns. With fsam7400, the -pae kernel boots fine here even without noexec=off, apart from a ”Waiting for network” , and the wireless network never coming up (can’t bring it up from the desktop either). So here, at least, the noexec=off workaround isn’t needed with fsam7400, though it isn’t much good wrt the wireless either.
To reiterate: the only way currently to have this system boot with the wireless working is to have wistron_btns enabled and to use a non-pae kernel.
I should mention that I’ve upgraded the laptop to Quantal.
I should also mention that Precise’s mainstream installation media refused to boot on the laptop. I believe the message was ”This kernel requires the following features not present on the CPU: pae”. This despite the fact that the -pae kernels, once a system has been installed, *do* boot and work just fine, albeit not with wistron_btns loaded. So currently I’m unsure whether the CPU actually supports pae or not.