Introduction

16 Apr 2003

Here is a brief summary of hardware:

The notebook was shipped with a faulty battery (made by Motorola), so I had to wait for the new one to arrive before I could really use it. Also, the new BIOS 1.73 is available from HP web site. I recommend you get it.

Before ACPI and the new BIOS, every time I'd turn the notebook off, it would get turned on by packets on the network, although those were not wake-on-lan packets. Not sure if this was BIOS or ACPI issue, but it was nonetheless there.

This machine has been upgraded to 768 MB of RAM by using Kahlon 512 MB SO-DIMM.

This notebook has been retired, so any updates to this page are unlikely.

Fedora 7

Fedora 7 Live RC2 CD boots fine on this notebook. That's the only testing that's been done with this new code.

Fedora Core 5

Upgrade from FC4 using yum was performed without issues. Only a few things are worth mentioning here:

Fedora Core 4

Fedora Core 4 installed nicely on this notebook.

Fedora Core 3

Fedora Core 3 installed nicely on this notebook.

Fedora Core 2

Fedora Core 2 installed nicely on this notebook (upgrade from Test 3).

Fedora Core 1

Fedora Core 1 installs cleanly on this notebook and things are looking promising. Here is a brief list of impressions:

Red Hat Linux 9

Graphical installation might have a few hickups (read: lockups), so I recommend using the text install (i.e. type text when prompted for install type). I still fail to understand what's the go with introduction of more points of failure (i.e. GUI install) into the installation process, but it seems marketing is more important these days :-(

XFree86

Video gets detected as VESA, but you'll have to pick the resolution yourself as the monitor type (i.e. the LCD screen) doesn't get detected. I found "Generic Laptop Display Panel 1024x768" to work just fine. VESA mode works OK and it is reasonably fast for regular work.

From what I've seen on the web, it should be possible to run the Radeon adapter in the native mode, with the Radeon driver and without any patching. A nice article about that is here: http://cybersym.com/linux-ze4100.html.

However, there is a patch for XFree86 version 4.3.0 that properly detects the chip (here is the original URL I found: http://www.mail-archive.com/xfree86@xfree86.org/msg03279/x430_radeon_1_igp.diff). I have gone down that road and applied the patches to XFree86 source RPM in order to create the new RPM release of XFree86, in this case release 3. The associated files are here:

Drop the first file into /usr/src/redhat/SOURCES after you installed XFree86-4.3.0-2.src.rpm and unpack it. Drop the second one into /usr/src/redhat/SPECS directory, back up the original spec file and unpack this one. Then run:

rpmbuild -ba XFree86.spec

This is a lengthy process (at least on my 1 GHz Athlon) and requires a few development RPMS, so be patient and persistent. Both the binary and new source RPMS will be built.

The redhat-config-xfree86 still won't detect the chip after this patch to the XFree86 RPMS, but you can pick it manually as "ATI Radeon (generic)". You'll have to set the video memory size, as this does not get detected automatically. In my case this was 16 MB. The "Enable Hardware 3D Acceleration" doesn't really matter. As far as I know, the ATI AGP is still not supported by Linux kernel, so even if you pick the option, it won't really work. As the matter of fact, this is explicitly disabled in the patch, so ticking the option might look nice, but does nothing.

I have found Radeon driver to be faster then VESA and cleaner too. There is no framebuffer residue. However, there are some reports on the web about problems with IGP 340M chips under XFree86, even with this patch, so be careful. I haven't had any, but I don't do graphics intensive work.

An interesting piece of software is xbrightness, which as its name implies, sets the brightness of the screen. It works a bit different then XFree86 supplied xgamma. If you want to give it a try, the URL is here: http://wildspark.com/xbrightness/. You will need XFree86 developement environment to build it.

ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface)

The Red Hat Linux 9 kernel is 2.4.20-9 (from the updates) as of this writing and its ACPI support is not up to date. The latest downloads from ACPI project web site http://acpi.sourceforge.net/ are for 2.4.21-rc1 kernel and they don't apply cleanly to this kernel. However, the ACPI patch maintained by Con Kolivas, available here: http://users.on.net/~ckolivas/kernel/, does apply if one line in the patch is changed. The patch for the patch can be found here:

So, if you install the kernel-source package, apply Con's ACPI patch modified by the above patch and enable ACPI, build and install the custom kernel (it will be called 2.4.20-9custom), things will start to look better. The GNOME provided Battery Charge Monitor will start showing the correct status of your battery.

A sample kernel configuration file (.config) can be found here:

The options in this file might not be what you want, so unpack it, copy it into .config in your kernel source, run make menuconfig and enjoy.

You can get the ACPI deamon from here: http://acpid.sourceforge.net/. It is a relatively small piece of software that listens to ACPI events and is capable of executing whatever you want at those events.

Kernel

Once you've tried Con's patches (http://users.on.net/~ckolivas/kernel/) that improve interactivity of your desktop, you'll never want to go back. Red Hat supplied kernel is, unfortunately, quite a bit slower in responding to your mouse/keyboard and X/GNOME runs significantly slower on it then on CK (Con Kolivas) kernels, so having a custom kernel is very nice. However, Red Hat kernel does come with NPTL (Native Posix Threading Library) support, which works wonders for threads on Linux. Getting NPTL into a stock 2.4 kernel or into a CK kernel is no trivial task.

Update 07 May 2003: I have been somewhat successful in porting the interactivity changes into Red Hat shipped kernel. Check out the software page for the required patch. This patch includes ACPI stuff as well. The configuration file I used for this kernel is here:

If you go with it, you can skip reading the rest of this section.


Because I wanted to have both the good interactivity and NPTL, I have decided to use a development kernel 2.5.68. It does come with its own set of headaches, but it is worth it. Here is the configuration file I used for ZE4201:

It is worth noting that 2.5.68 kernel comes with decent ACPI support, so all you need to do is enable it (which I did in the configuration file). Again, you probably won't like my kernel options, run make menuconfig to customise.

The problems with kernel 2.5.x on Red Hat Linux 9 that I have encountered so far are:

Other peripherals

Network card gets detected and works fine under the stock kernel. It also works fine with compiled kernels.

IDE chipset gets properly detected too. It is reported as ALI 15x3, which is fine and works well.

Sound hardware gets detected fine. I don't usually use sound (where I work silence is appreciated :-), but I have tested a few sound applications under GNOME and they all worked OK. The test was done under 2.5.68 kernel with ALSA drivers for ALi 5451 sound chip.

I haven't tested the modem at all because I don't use it. My understanding is that drivers are not part of the kernel, so you are on your own here.

Also, I don't have any PCMCIA cards, so that's not been tested by me either.

Conclusion

As I play with more stuff, I'll report back here. One thing to notice is that I have tried Red Hat Linux 8.0 on this hardware too and it was OK. However, version 9 seems much faster, so if you have it, don't waste your time on 8.0.

Overall, I'm happy with the way this notebook works under Red Hat Linux 9.

Copyright © 2003 - 2007 Bojan Smojver, Rexursive.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the licence is here
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