kjwcode: A woodpecker flies away with a power drill. (woodpecker)
In a move that stunned everyone who's heard of the LCL's fetish for not liking Linux, it decided to reverse its previous position and start working fine. As if that wasn't enough strangeness, it did it with a current distro.

Fedora 15 is its distro of choice, which is nice, given that it's mine as well. It appears that F15 got the correct Ralink driver and/or firmware added to the update stream sometime in the last weeks, and during the same period the ATI driver install script was fixed so it would install properly. The end result is a mostly-happy little lappie with a working wireless subsystem and the LCD firmly in "don't strobe" mode.

This makes me inordinately happy, as it now means I can use the operating system I actually want to use without having to boot Windows, start VirtualBox, boot Linux, and deal with such crappy performance that I wanted to tear my hair out, regardless of whether or not I have any. It also shows that if you have an AMD APU (like the E-350 in the LCL), the proprietary drivers are the way to go. Fortunately, this detail doesn't bother me as much as it bothers some other folks.
kjwcode: A perching chickadee. (chickadee)
A little while ago I bought an HP dm1-3040ca. Around three pounds, good battery life, 4GB of RAM (hey, this is before the dm1-3240ca came out...), and the price was right. First thing I discovered is that the Syntaptics Clickpad isn't at all well-supported under Linux. Soon after I discovered that the Ralink wireless chipset was also a no-go. No problem -- I reinstalled Windows and figured I'd wait it out.

Recently OpenSuSE 11.4 seemed to have both problems nailed. I installed, upgraded, and was mostly happy until a couple of days later when it decided to start showing video problems. The full-on system lock-ups were also inconvenient. I started casting about for an alternative distro.

Kubuntu 11.04, Arch 2011-08, Fedora 15... None would boot, all complaining about a disk error. I soon tracked the problem down to the USB optical drive I was using. After some deliberately chosen insults thrown at the drive, I switched to using a USB key. Fortunately, this works.

I tried Kubuntu, and it's a big old no-go -- no support for the wireless out of the box, but the real deal-breaker was the video flicker, seemingly at random intervals. Now I'm trying Fedora 16 alpha. It's still installing the last 200 or so packages, so I've got my fingers crossed that it'll work.

I tried Arch on my other laptop last night. Aside from giving me nostalgic fits as I was reminded about my countless errors selecting packages from the Slackware installer, it didn't give me any warm fuzzies. I just don't have the patience to install the system, convince X to work, and build the system up in bits and pieces. If it doesn't give me what I need pretty much out of the box (or after installing a few software groups), it's pretty much dead to me. I do enough sysadmin duties in a day at work to last me.

On the whole, this isn't Linux' fault at all. The new generation of hardware is pretty much brain-dead. I discovered that the PNP bridge in my little HP actually overlaps video memory. Seriously -- WTF? There's probably some driver in the Windows install that makes that all okay, but it's not useful if I don't want to run Windows (which is probably the precise reason they made it that way). Kind of like a Winmodem, but you can't just ignore it.

HP announced recently that it's getting out of the PC hardware business. If this is any indication of what HP finds acceptable for a retail product, I suggest they not let the door hit them on the way out.

Update: Fedora 16 alpha detected the wireless right out of the box, but doesn't seem to recognise the Clickpad, so that's a bit of a bummer. It also showed the video-strobe problem, which I'm afraid is probably bad for the LCD or backlight. Windows will be making a reappearance on the little HP today. Bah, humbug.
kjwcode: Bella, the little silly dog. (Default)
Finally -- OpenSuSE 11.4 supports my little HP's hardware with only a small amount of screaming and general abuse required. Actually, it doesn't need any beating -- just one-click installing the appropriate rt5390 packages from the builds site. To say that I'm happy with this arrangement would be an understatement.

So far I notice that the support for the Synaptics ClickPad is much nicer than in Windows. KNetworkManager is fiddly as usual, and I'm generally not used to OpenSuSE, but I'm happy to get used to it if it means finally having a portable Linux system again. \o/


kjwcode: Bella, the little silly dog. (Default)

February 2012

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