Thursday, October 18, 2007

Linux: Ubuntu 7.10 on a Compaq Presario C500

I just installed Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) on my Compaq Presario C500. Things went really well. Have I mentioned how much I love this little $375 laptop?

My laptop has enough room for Windows Vista (which I never use) and two copies of Linux. I like to keep around the old version of Ubuntu while upgrading to the new in case something goes wrong and I need a working system. This time, it recognized the other copy of Linux and migrated the users and their settings. By settings, I mean the settings for Gaim, Mozilla, and Evolution. This seems like a rather odd feature, considering it didn't copy all of the other files. Nonetheless, it didn't hurt anything.

Note, that it's probably better to be plugged into a wired network during the install so that it can setup repositories and download security updates. I wasn't, so I had to setup the repositories later.

Happily, the weird resolution (1280x800) just worked this time. Unfortunately, attempting to suspend crashed my machine, but hibernating still works. Sound works, even though it was crackly during install. Using my headphones still doesn't disable the speakers, which is a known bug in ALSA.

Here are my instructions for getting wireless to work:
  Enable repositories:
System >> Administration >> Synaptic Package Manager:
Settings >> Repositories:
Click on all of them except source code.
Unclick cdrom.
On the updates tab:
gutsy-security
gutsy-updates
System >> Administration >> Restricted Driver Manager:
Click enabled.
Download from Internet.
At this point, my blue wireless light came on.
If it doesn't, try pressing the wireless button.
Click on the correct icon on your panel to pick an access point.
My buddy, Adam Ulvi, has the same laptop, but is having more trouble than I am with his wireless card. However, it was also giving him a hard time in Ubuntu 7.04.

Due to the location and sensitivity of the touchpad, I find it necessary to turn off tapping and scrolling:
  apt-get install gsynaptics
Added 'Option "SHMConfig" "true"' to the "Synaptics Touchpad" section of
/etc/X11/xorg.conf and logged back in.
System >> Preferences >> Touchpad:
Disabled tapping and scrolling.
Adjusted the sensitivity very slightly or else it gets set to zero on the
next login.
Because this is a laptop, the fonts look better if you turn on subpixel smoothing in System >> Preferences >> Appearance. Note that the location of the font preferences has changed. While you're in there, you can click on the "Visual effects" tab if you want to turn on more eye candy.

Anyway, I'm happy. I've been waiting for this release for like a month, so today kind of felt like Christmas ;)

23 comments:

Adam U. said...

I'm going to reinstall 7.10 this evening and see if things go smoother. I don't hold out much hope, but I did throw Kubuntu on last night just for kicks. It reminded me how much I hate KDE, I'll give it another run in a couple years :-)

I also did an install of 7.10 today on my work computer, and it was OK, but not great. The dual monitors weren't detected and the bandwidth sucks so badly here that it was taking forever to download packages (even after finding the fastest repository.) Additionally, one of my CRITICAL apps is an old 16-bit client, and it wouldn't work properly in wine, which is a HUGE issue for me. It worked fine at home on my 7.04 box, so I'm confused as to why it's crapping out.

Damn it all though, Linux has come a long way but still has miles to go. As much as I want to kick the Windows world to the curb, I cannot do so entirely since my job function requires me to interop with these systems. Additionally, I couldn't RDP from Linux into my remote desktop server.. it just kept hanging and crashing. This has not been a good Linux week for me.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Ugh, sorry to hear about that, Adam. I'm having wireless issues at work. I think that this new wireless driver isn't ready for prime time. I actually had to go back to 7.04 where I'm using ndiswrapper. I might switch to ndiswrapper on 7.10 to see if it brings me joy.

adam u. said...

The forums are pretty unhappy with Gutsy right now too, lots of bugs. I'm going to wait a month and try again, there probably just wasn't a big enough turn-out for beta testing. So it goes, so it goes :-)

All in all, wireless was the only really flaky thing on my laptop that I couldn't live without.

Sorry to hear you're back on 7.04. I'm reinstalling it right now as well, ha ha ha!

- A

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

I switched to ndiswrapper, and it seems to be stable and fast. I'll have to wait until I get back to work to see if it works there. I suspect the problem was that the new driver is limited to 802.11b. Hence, during the day, I was being run over by all the 802.11g users, while at night and at home, my wireless access was fine. Anyway, if you're having issues, try out ndiswrapper, and see if it improves your situation:

apt-get update
apt-get install ndiswrapper-utils-1.9
apt-get install build-essential
apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r`
wget http://ftp.us.dell.com/network/R151517.EXE
rmmod bcm43xx
modprobe ndiswrapper
unzip -a R151517.EXE
cd DRIVER
ndiswrapper -i bcmwl5.inf
ndiswrapper -l
ndiswrapper -m
echo ndiswrapper >> /etc/modules
echo blacklist bcm43xx >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist
Reboot.

Computer Forums said...

I own a HP laptop which is based on the C500 [identical except HP branding and a cut-down Core Duo inside]. I managed to get the sound to mute when I plugged headphones in by doing this:
In a terminal window, run
sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base
Then add the following line to the bottom of the file:
options snd-hda-intel model=laptop

Either restart X [ctrl-alt-backspace] or reboot, and you should find that plugging in headphones mutes the main speakers :)

drewpca said...

booooo
http://drewp.quickwitretort.com/2007/10/22/0

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Yeah, switching to ndiswrapper did indeed improve my wireless connection at work.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Drew,

Wow, that really sucks. Of course, as I was about to reply to you the first time, my machine froze solid and I had to hold the power button down for 5 seconds. Yeah, a lot of people are not happy at this point.

Instead of fvwm, have you considered trying out Xubuntu? I'm tempted to give it a go. On the other hand, it's Firefox that's eating most of my RAM, and there's no complete open-source alternative to Firefox. Konqueror is nice, but it doesn't work well with GMail, which is crucial for me.

Did you really upgrade instead of installing from scratch? If so, I'd try installing from scratch. I didn't have nearly as many issues as you did. I'm always suspicious of upgrades. Of course, from the sounds of it, you might be happier in 7.04!

By the way, my text-mode virtual consoles still work.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Computer Forums,

Wahoo! That fixed it.

I actually had to reboot. Restarting X wasn't sufficient.

Thanks for the tip!

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Rats. Ubuntu just crashed on me again. I'm giving Xubuntu a shot via the instructions here.

There's definitely one thing I can say. It's *crazy* fast. And I haven't seen a free gig of memory in a long time ;)

drewpca said...

Hey, I used to be a _slackware_ user. I can get past some brokenness in my systems :)

I found that gutsy does ships 2.6.20 kernel so I can have linux-wlan-ng back.

The fvwm move isn't actually a step backwards, since I use a heavily-customized fvwm setup on all my other boxes.

Now it's just the little things that are annoying me (where zsh stopped inserting a space; how 'less' draws differently; eog mousewheel doesn't zoom; etc).

Heikki Toivonen said...

Hi JJ,

I also upgraded my Dell Inspiron D820 to Gutsy last week from Dapper. I am slightly happier than I was with Dapper.

It seems like suspend is more reliable, but if I ever happen to wake it up in location without wireless I will be greeted with a black screen the next time I try to wake it up. Logging out occasionally leaves me with black screen, meaning have to power off to recover. Hibernation seems to be almost completely broken now.

Wireless is also more reliable in a single location, starts automatically after suspend most of the time. However, if NetworkManager can't connect it stubbornly shows that it is connected. So I have wireless working great at home, but it won't reconnect at work, and vice versa. And NM can no longer turn off wireless or networking (previously turning wireless off/on solved most problems). I have to kill -9 NM and restart it to get wireless working again.

On the other hand, I can now plug in a projector and the display is automatically cloned. I can finally give presentations at work! My printer/scanner worked like magic. Headset and sound in general seems to work more reliably. Also lots of improvements in almost all software since Dapper, so I am generally happy.

I've written about my experience here, and will update as I learn new stuff: http://chandlerproject.org/Journal/UbuntuGutsyGibbonOnLatitudeD820

Heikki Toivonen said...

Hmm, seems the link was broken. Another attempt: Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon on Dell Latitude D820.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Please see my other blog post: Linux: Xubuntu 7.10 on a Compaq Presario C500. Xubuntu is quite nice ;)

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Nice to hear from you Heikki :)

Retr0Rob said...

I have the same Presario and love it!
You can fix the headphone problem by typing:


sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base

Then add this line with the other options:

options snd-hda-intel model=laptop

Save it and reboot. Your headphones will now turn off the speakers. REBOOT IS REQUIRED!

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> You can fix the headphone problem by typing:

How is it that two commenters knew about this, and I didn't? ;) Thanks.

Dallas Vogels said...

For the most part my installation on my Compaq Presario C500 went just fine with exception to the sound. No sound, nothing. I finally managed to get the sound working by passing some kernel paramters for IRQ routing via the GRUB menu.lst file. Click here for the fix.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> No sound, nothing.

I get the same messages, but my sound works. Weird!

Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

just wanna say that i love 7.10 i've got a destkop with xp and 7.10 dual boot and a c500 presario same as the one mentioned initially. i was running 7.04 with ndiswrapper till the wireless stopped working, did a fresh install of 7.10 and simply updated the driver allowed it to be used as it still said it was restricted and now got wireless. thanks a lot for everything. loving ubuntu by far the best distro i've used, and yes gnome is much simpler, i dont know why kde wont work wireless.

Rob said...

Hey i have the same laptop but cant get any sound at all can you help with this isssue?

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Did you read all the other comments? One of them is really helpful.

I've also found that sometimes you have to play a lot with the mixer in order to figure out which setting is turned down all the way when it shouldn't be.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> loving ubuntu

Glad to hear it ;)