From Ben Okopnik
Answered By: Robos, Ben, Karl-Heinz Herrman, Jason Creighton, Thomas Adam
X11 and acer laptops ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This is by far the longest thread of the month with over fifty replies and many that I have deferred. I have tried to split it into sections where appropriate.... enjoy! -- Thomas Adam
I've got this brand-new Acer Aspire 2003LMi laptop - slick, sleek, and faster than a greased weasel on dexedrine. However... it doesn't seem to be too Linux-friendly. (( Sorta. Here are the details:
I can boot LNX-BBC, and even run X. So far, so good - but this is a
really high-res display with lots of fancy goodies. Besides, although
I remember LNX-BBC as having some sort of an HD install procedure, it's
really not what I want to install here.
I can boot Knoppix. Well, more or less, with a lot of emphasis on "less". It comes up, gets through the KDE stuff... and freezes about 10
[Robos] Try disabling acpi. In my laptop, if I move the mouse and kde wants to look what the battery status is the mouse jumps all over the place. Maybe yours is worse. append acpi=off should do the trick.
[Ben] Interestingly enough, ACPI is what works here, while APM doesn't. I've had to install the entire ACPI kit'n'kaboodle (kernel recompilation, userland stuff) and remove APM to make it work. Don't have suspend going yet, but all the other power management stuff works.
[Thomas] ACPI overrides APM in its functions and callings. On my laptop it works rather well, and coupled with swsusp is a dream to suspend to disk.
To get swsusp going, I cannot do better than to recommend the patch for it from:
A kernel compilation is again going to have to ensue, but afterwards, you can do cool things like:
sudo echo 4 > /proc/acpi/sleep
which will dump everything onto your swapspace.
That does look pretty cool... however, I'm not really all that wild about having to maintain a stable of patches. I might do it anyway - I really want that "suspend to swap" feature - but it just seems like an annoying thing to have to remember in addition to the kernel upgrades.
seconds after I start moving the mouse. "knoppix 2" (console only) works fine. "fbdev", "vesa", etc... none of the servers that I've tried for X work in any reasonable way.
[Robos] What's the graphics-card?
Radeon Mobility 9200 (9M+). New enough that "pci.ids" in the 2.6 kernel (I had to upgrade - just moving the mouse (Synaptics touchpad) would completely lock the machine with 2.4.22!) doesn't have it yet, although the folks that actually maintain "pci.ids" already have it. I'd tried, several times, to use the "experimental" xfree86 server, which supposedly can handle it via the "ati" driver, but no luck - so I'm stuck with the proprietary ATI driver. However, I'm a lot happier with that than Dell's nVidia; at least I know that in a year at most, ATI will release the interface.
[Thomas] Yeah, the experimental xserver-xfree86 package is the one you're going to have to use for this. I apt-get'ed it the other day.
There are four partitions on the new machine's HD: Wind0ws C:, Wind0ws D:, "suspend", and... ready for this?... Linux. I kid you not. This gadget has what's called "EFI", which I just happened to read about the day before I bought it by pure coincidence (I had no idea that this machine would have it) - it's a BIOS "replacement" that allows much easier pre-boot programming. What these folks have done, clever buggers that they are, is create an app - two of them, really - called "Arcade" (plays VCDs/DVDs, shows your picture repositories, etc. - sound familiar? Think "MoviX", etc.) and put a button on the front of the laptop. When the 'top is _off,_ pushing this button fires up "Arcade" without starting Wind0ws. When it's on, it fires up a Wind0ws app that looks exactly the same. Is this cool, or what? The way I found out
[Robos] This sounds cool. I heard about it but quickly forgot again.
that it was Linux is by running LNX-BBC and looking at the partitions. When I saw "/bin", "/boot", "/etc" and so on, I thought I was having a brain cramp... took me a bit to figure it out. Aside from that, though - obviously, FIPS won't work with this rig. What I need to do is shrink that first partition (Wind0ws) and put Linux into the newly-created second partition (I don't want to just blow away Wind0ws - there are a few gadgets here, such as a built-in SD/SmartMedia/etc. card reader that are going to take some research
[Robos] I'd say they connected this to the internal usb plug and so this should be easy to get working: enable "probe all LUNs" in the scsi section and then it should show up with scsi-emulation on. This is at least how my 6in1 card reader shows up when I plug it in (is external)
[Ben] before I can use them under Linux.) I wouldn't mind reinstalling Wind0ws after tweaking partitions - but all I have are "recovery" CDs (which will, presumably, restore the system to exactly the way it is now.)
[Robos] partimaged? Have some place to put the image? And I have had the experience with my backup-partition that when I did run it (when you activate the playing-back mode in the bios) it started dos and ran the win installer - LOL. But this way I was able to keep my partition the way they were and have a c: which is still fat32.
Hmmm... I just thought of something. I could blow it all away, install Linux - I'd have at least console-mode stuff, which would be sucky but workable, and copy everything over from the old machine. Then, when I come back, I could buy an external HD for backup, copy it all off, reinstall Wind0ws, and be abck to the same status. Hm. Frankly, this sounds really last-ditch. Worst of all, the new 'top has no serial port, so I wouldn't be able to use my cell phone to connect to the Net.
[Robos] Does your cell-phone have irda? Believe me, this is rather easy (if your acer has irda too and this is supported). I was surfing in my holidays back in the spring with my siemens ME45 lying beside my thinkpad r31. Connectivity!
[Ben] I did too. Didn't work for me.
[Thomas] The first thing I could be inclined you did, Ben, is provide your "lspci" output, along with "lspci -n". What you should probably ensure is that your PCI entry is valid for the detected card.
On my laptop, I have:
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corp. 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device (rev 01)
dpkg-reconfigure -plow xserver-xfree86
and when prompted for your PCI entry add
where nn is your numbers from the correct entry for your card, but they HAVE to be in decimal format. lspci gives you them in hexadecimal and do you have to convert them. Using my example then...
I want you to try VESA this time, Ben. See if that makes a difference.
However without knowing much more information about your card specifically there is not much more I can do You should ensure that you have AGP support compiled into your kernel at least.
The thread then changes slightly, but we're still on similar lines -- Thomas Adam
OK, so here's the follow-up: since Thomas prodded me, and I have a weakness for unrestrained bouts of geekery anyway, I gave it one more try... and got some good results (didn't have much to do with configuring X, though. Sorry, pal.) I even got my framebuffer stuff working, including Tux at boot time - yay!
Oh well, didn't hurt -- Thomas Adam
I installed the 2.6.0-test11 kernel so I could do the "swsusp" patch - haven't yet, the network here at the hotel died for an hour or so and just came back up - and compiled it (I think this is where the framebuffer stuff came from; I hadn't changed anything in that section.) Previously, though, I got a very thin lead from a discussion I saw where somebody recommended turning off AGP in the kernel config, since the ATI driver does its own, followed by someone else recommending trying it both ways - according to them, some ATI cards will only work with ATI's AGP while some others work only with in-kernel AGP. Actually, that didn't help anything, but while twiddling this, and making corresponding tweaks in the ATI "fglrx" driver configuration, I got an error from trying to load "fglrx" - 'The fglrx module must be loaded before any other DRM driver!' From there, it was a short trip back to the kernel, compiling the ATI Radeon DRM as a _module,_ then loading "fglrx" followed by "radeon" in /etc/modules, and - /voila/! Well, partially.
I now have 1280x800 video with 24 bit color (still not fantastic as compared to what the card/screen can do, but certainly better.) According to the messages in the X log, this is the best that the ATI driver can do - which is pretty sad, but what can you do. Hopefully, they'll make it better as time goes on.
"swsusp" and the card reader are next on the list...
(For those of you who think I'm blowing my time in Hawaii on this stuff, wrong. I'm getting up at 4:30 a.m. local time - which is 9:30 a.m. by my internal clock, which I'm lucky enough to have decent control over - and banging away on this until it's time to go to work. Ooops - it's that time now!)
[Thomas] Odd. Did you:
cp /boot/config-$(uname -r) /usr/src/linux/.config
before you compiled the kernel?
If you try doing this from 2.4.X -> 2.6.X it will not work. In any case, I always like to build kernels using a fresh config file no matter what I last used.
[Ben] Not at all. My first experience with the 2.6 kernel was this past week, and I was greatly tickled by the fact that it automatically takes the previous .config and (obviously) does a bit of intelligent parsing. You can even (and this is what I did) do
after installing the new kernel, and it will load up the old config file and only ask you about the differences (there weren't any between 2.6.0 and 2.6.0-test11.)
Well, at this point, I've managed to take a largish step back. :/ "swsusp" docs say that you should have at least $MEMSIZE * 1.3 in swap, so I blew off the empty partition that I had following swap, deleted both of them, resized swap and created a partition out of what remained... and now, when I boot, "fsck" falls down with a loud "THUD" and cries that it found an error and I should re-run it as root without "-a" or "-p". When I do so, it tells me I have a mismatch between what the BIOS and the partition info say (about 2,000 sectors) and requires me to press 'Enter' 6,000 times (it generates 3 error messages/prompts per sector.) No, you cannot pipe the output of 'yes' to it. Laying a weight on the 'Enter' key (hi-tech solutions is us!) gets it done in about five minutes... after which it proceeds to repeat exactly what it did before. However, in this case, "Hit Ctrl-D to continue normal startup" actually does work, so here I am. [sigh]
[Thomas] Hmm, did you use cfdisk for this? It might be that you have to have a new map file in your /boot partition. Try running lilo again to see if that'll kick it? It might be worth just disabling swap for the time being and manually running:
I used cfdisk. Deleted them both, made two new ones using the space. However, it's fixed already. Deleted them again, rebooted with them still as free space (that way I knew that "fsck" couldn't complain about partition mismatches there), then recreated them on the next boot. Whew.
[Robos] There have been sone synaptic touchpad fixes gone into 2.6.1 according to changelog.
[Ben] Not enough of them - tapping the touchpad, which has always worked, got borked in the process, and "gpm" doesn't work with the "synaptic" driver in the kernel (TONS of spurious messages.) Fortunately, I found patches for both of them. Tapping still doesn't work in the console, but it's not a huge issue. Also, the touchpad buttons are arranged like this:
_______________________ | | | | | | | Touchpad | | | | | | | | | ----------------------- | _|_ | | / \ | | Button | X | Button | | 1 \___/ 2 | | | | -----------------------
where 'X' is the four-directional 'scroll' button... which makes it damn near impossible to click 1+2 to paste. There's yet another patch that allows 'up' on the scroll button to be used as button 3, but I haven't managed to make it work yet.
Other than that, I'm actually doing reasonably OK with it for the amount of time I've spent tweaking it:
Working: 1024x768 video Sound Touchpad (except the above issues) NIC USB2.0 ACPI (no suspend yet, though) Untested but everything loads OK: Wireless networking Bluetooth interface CD-RW/DVD-RW Firewire Parallel port Video out FIR Not working yet: 4-in-1 card reader Better video Framebuffer Modem (Lucent winmodem, bleh :( There's probably a binary driver somewhere, but I think I'll get a PCMCIA modem.) Five-way "media control" keys
[K.-H] Dell Inspirons (and maybe others) had 1600x1200/15" for some years now at least starting with the Insp. 8000 on which I'm typing. There were Insp. 5000 with high res 15" screens as well. The current 8600 or higher have an even higher resolution on the top models. As you sit rather close to a lapscreen I like the display. I had to switch some fonts to a slightly larger one, but the displays are very sharp at the native resolution and a 10pt full A4 page in gv (antialias on) is quite readable.
Currently I'm thinking about a desk TFT -- and am rather unimpressed as you almost can't get more then 1024x768 up to 17", then 19" have 1280xWhatever. Admittedly that screen is further back from the keyboard, but why is no company offering any TFT with a higher res. They are possible after all.
The Inspirons use either nvidia Geforce 2 (or up in later models) or ATI Cards -- which won't help you Ben. I hope you figure out how to get into native resolution. For most others XFree4 seems to calculate good modelines by itself (I've not specified any). As yours is slightly weird maybe you need to specify one, keep looking on google.
The thread then changes -- Thomas Adam
There are four partitions on the new machine's HD: Wind0ws C:, Wind0ws D:, "suspend", and... ready for this?... Linux. I kid you not. This gadget has what's called "EFI", which I just happened to read about the day before I bought it by pure coincidence (I had no idea that this machine would have it) - it's a BIOS "replacement" that allows much easier pre-boot programming. What these folks have done, clever buggers that they are, is create an app - two of them, really - called "Arcade" (plays VCDs/DVDs, shows your picture repositories, etc. - sound familiar? Think "MoviX", etc.) and put a button on the front of the laptop. When the 'top is _off,_ pushing this button fires up "Arcade" without starting Wind0ws. When it's on, it fires up a Wind0ws app that looks exactly the same. Is this cool, or what? The way I found out that it was Linux is by running LNX-BBC and looking at the partitions. When I saw "/bin", "/boot", "/etc" and so on, I thought I was having a brain cramp... took me a bit to figure it out.
[Jason] Okay, so there is actually some version of Linux installed on the laptop? That is really interesting. If you have time (Ha ha!), I'd really like it if you could post some details sometime.
I don't have the HD installed (although I have it with me), but what I remember of it is this: it's a minimal (sorta like a "chroot" jail) system with a large tarball in "/". Looking inside the tarball revealed a more complete system; presumably, it works something like the LNX-BBC system (Oy, Heather!) by using the basic system to fire up, then decompress the tarball into memory and "pivot_root" (I'm guessing here.)
[Jason] BTW, when I first heard about EFI, my first thought was "Cool!". My second thought was "Somebody is going to code up a Tetris clone for this thing". Really, what could be more fun than playing tetris without having to boot up an OS? Actually, I expect people to more or less treat it like another OS, because, AFAIK, that's basically what it is. So expect all manner of useless programs.
I've explored it a little further, and it seems to be some Chinese-assembled version of Linux; fires up, opens up a tar archive, chroots into it, and runs a rather flashy Linux app (a front-end for lots of neat-o music/DVD/CD/etc. utils - mostly based on "mplayer", AFAICT.)
[Robos] Well, you should then write the mplayer folks a nice email telling them that. Quite recently they even started a new ml called mplayer-legal... Or do you think you can get the sources somewhere?
[Ben] It's quite cute, with a bunch of "lilo.conf.X" entries in /etc - obviously in case the partition ends up being anything other than hda4 which is where it is by default. Cuter yet, there's no alternate VT you can flip to - but there is a getty running on a serial port, and "/etc/passwd" doesn't have an entry for "root" but does contain one for "ava:0:0:..." Ain't that preeeecious?
Heck, I might just copy the thing and put in on a CD for a stand-alone movie/slideshow/etc. player.
I've actually considered doing that [a howto], on the principle that if I had that much trouble, other people surely will as well. However, I've held off so far because I'm not quite finished yet; I've zapped the original HD back into the Acer, and am now trying to split hda1 into hda1 and hda5, for Wind*ws on 1 (10GB or so) and Linux on 5 (40GB). However, the DVD+R media that I bought for backing up hda1 turns out to be incompatible with the drive (which does only DVD-R and down), so I have to go back to the store.... all this in between yoga classes, a flight medical (I now have my class III flying license), actual flying, chanty singing with a reenactment group, trying to somehow get Net access going (I've sorta got it - by buying a new cellphone), patching a leak that my dinghy has mysteriously developed, dealing with a couple of clients who have picked this time to play some highly shitful games with paying me (until I threatened legal action), fixing a recalcitrant propane heater in my aft cabin, and handling the initial stages of what looks like a local romantic involvement.
Actually, Ben did just that. The URL for which is here:
http://okopnik.freeshell.org/acer -- Thomas Adam
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