Archive for January, 2008

Sound on Zepto Znote 3215W almost there

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Today a Linux 2.6.24 kernel appeared in Debian unstable, so I immediately gave it a try, to see if it did anything to the sound issues on my Zepto Znote 3214W laptop.

First thing, the 2.6.24 kernel has ALSA 1.0.15 which is needed. The Realtek ALC268 doesn’t work with earlier versions of ALSA.

Still the sound didn’t work. I then tried setting different values of model= for the snd-hda-intel module in /etc/modprobe.d/sound, and the setting model=acer did the job.

The whole line is

options snd-hda-intel index=0 model=acer

There is one remaining problem: when I plug in headphones the speakers aren’t turned off automatically. For now I’ll just have to do that manually, but I believe it is fixed in a later version of ALSA.

Suspend / hibernate problems in new Debian Testing install

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

MenuI’ve had quite a bit of problems getting suspend and hibernate to work in Gnome on my new Zepto Znote 3215W.

The problem was that Gnome Power Manager simply refused to suspend or hibernate.

The actual functions of suspend or hibernation works great, with a minimum of fiddling. The Gnome Power Manager comes with a handful of wrapper scripts around the uswsusp programs s2disk and s2ram. The pm-hibernate script works out of the box from the command line as root. The system resumes correctly afterwards.

The laptop isn’t on the whitelist for s2ram, but it works with the –force flag, and that is easily automated by creating a file /etc/pm/config.d/s2ram with the line


and making the file executable. That will cause the pm-suspend script to pass –force to s2ram as default. Again, the system resumes correctly.

The problem was that when I tried to suspend or hibernate though the context menu of the Power Manager applet, I immediately got a dialog with the text:

Sleep Problem
Your computer failed to suspend.
Check the help file for common problems.

It happened so fast that no attempt at suspending could possibly have been made.

One track I followed was that the applet uses HAL to do the actual suspend/hibernate and HAL will only do that if it believes the laptop is capable of it. That can be checked by running the command:

lshal | grep power_management

I currently, after I solved my problems, get this output:

$ lshal | grep power_management
  power_management.acpi.linux.version = '20070126'  (string)
  power_management.can_hibernate = true  (bool)
  power_management.can_suspend = true  (bool)
  power_management.can_suspend_hybrid = true  (bool)
  power_management.can_suspend_to_disk = true  (bool)
  power_management.can_suspend_to_ram = true  (bool)
  power_management.is_powersave_set = false  (bool)
  power_management.quirk.none = true  (bool)
  power_management.type = 'acpi'  (string

To get HAL to recognise the laptop I have made a file
with this content:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?> <!-- -*- SGML -*- -->
<deviceinfo version="0.2">
    <match key="system.hardware.vendor" prefix="ZEPTO">
      <match key="system.hardware.product" string="ZNOTE">
             <merge key="power_management.quirk.none" type="bool">true</merge>

and restarted HAL and logged out and in again. That should, as far as I have understood, whitelist the laptop in HAL by affirming that pm-suspend doesn’t need any additional options to work.

It didn’t make any difference, though. I still got the error message when trying to suspend from the applet’s context menu.

At this point I was about to give up. One last search on google brought up something new, however. There’s another level of permission checks involved, which is specified in the file /etc/dbus-1/system.d/hal.conf. In this file I found, among many other things, these lines:

  <!-- This configuration file specifies the required security policies
       for the HAL to work. -->


  <!-- Debian groups policies -->
  <policy group="powerdev">
    <allow send_interface="org.freedesktop.Hal.Device.SystemPowerManagement"/>
    <allow send_interface="org.freedesktop.Hal.Device.LaptopPanel"/>

which seem to indicate that I need to belong to the “powerdev” group to be able to use these functions.

I added myself to the group, logged out, logged in again, and everything worked.

This is the kind of experience that leaves you feeling a bit stupid. Totally unjustified, because I’m not to blame, but after having spend so much time looking in other directions, the solution is so simple.

Now the problem is solved, I hope to be able to use many of the useful functions of the Gnome Power Manager, such as automatic hibernation in low power situations.

I have notices another little thing that has changed. When I used the Fn-F4 and Fn-F5 keys to adjust the backlight on the display, I got a little on screen display, but it didn’t do anything, it just sat there. After I’m in the “powerdev” group, the on screen display actually shows an indicator of how the backlight is changed.

What kind of argument is this?

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

From Microsoft: IBM masterminded OOXML failure 

Nicos Tsilas, senior director of interoperability and IP policy at Microsoft, said that IBM and the likes of the Free Software Foundation have been lobbying governments to mandate the rival OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard to the exclusion of any other format.

“They have made this a religious and highly political debate,” Tsilas said. “They are doing this because it is advancing their business model. Over 50 percent of IBM’s revenues come from consulting services.”

Since when is it wrong for a business to “advance their business model” ?

Zepto Znote 3215W with Debian Testing/lenny

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Zepto Znote 3215WAs my old Asus M2N laptop got older and older, and for some reason slower and slower, I decided to buy a new one. I ended up gettinng a Zepto Znote 3215W with a few customisations. There were several reason for this choice:

  • Zepto has very competive prices,
  • Zepto will sell laptops without an OS preinstalled – no involuntary Microsoft tax,
  • laptops can be customised as you want them,
  • and then this quote: “Works with Ubuntu Linux. 3215W is tested and will work together with Ubuntu Linux 7.10 beta, Out-of-the-box. For Wifi you will need to use the Intel Pro/Wireless 4965 netcard.”

The specs of mine are:

  • Intel Centrino “Santa Rosa” chipset
  • Intel Core2 Duo CPU T5450 @ 1.66GHz (*)
  • 2 Gb DDR2 800MHz RAM (*)
  • 120 Gb SATA harddisk 7200 rpm (*)
  • DVD-RW DL drive (*)
  • 15.4″ WXGA “Crystal Clear” display at 1280×800
  • Intel GMA X3100 graphics chipset
  • Intel Pro/Wireless 4965AGN wireless network adapter (*)
  • Broadcom NetLink BCM5906M network adapter
  • Broadcom internal USB bluetooth adapter (*)
  • Ricoh Firewire adapter
  • Ricoh SD/MMC card reader

The items marked with (*) are where I have asked for changes or additions to the default configuration.

It is a fairly large laptop, measuring 36×27×4cm and weighing 2.8kg which is OK for the kind of semi-stationary work I do currently.


Most parts of the laptop work immediately with little or no manual configuration on a Debian Testing install, but there are several parts that doesn’t. Most of these seem to have a solution on the way. Zepto states that the laptop is fully Ubunto 7.10 compatible, but not everything went that smooth with Debian.

An install of Debian Testing (lenny) with a Linux 2.6.23 kernel leaves these parts non-functional:

and these only partly functional:

  • X server sometimes fails to restore textmode correctly
  • Touchpad not recognised but it still usable
  • ACPI works only partially
  • Minor issues with sound and headphones

and these require an extra effort to get fully functional:

  • Compiz window manager
  • SD/MMC card reader
  • Keyboard hotkeys


Verbatim SmartDisk NAS External Harddrive

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Verbatim SmartDisk NAS External HarddriveI was low on disk space for photos and music, so in a whim I bought a “Verbatim SmartDisk NAS External Harddrive” from where I usually buy blank media. It had a decent size, it wasn’t expensive and it supported NFS.

The first thing I did was to reformat the drive as ext3 in stead of the default vfat. I then enabled NFS and created two users and tried it from my Debian/Gnome laptop.

Then everything went wrong. The user specific folders didn’t show up for NFS, though they did for CIFS. If I tried to copy files over from my desktop via CIFS the NAS blocked immediately. It worked from a Mac though. Ownership and permissions were a mess between CIFS and NFS. In short, it didn’t work very well.

It took quite some time and effort to sort it out, and a bit of tweaking too.

I first wanted to use NFS because I have Linux and Mac OS X clients, but immediately ran into the usual problem of mismatched user ids and there was no way on the NAS to adjust that. It could have worked if I could use NFS exclusively, but I still need CIFS to work, also on shared directories.

Also, user specific mounts didn’t appear as NFS mounts, only as CIFS shares. I could work around that, however, by creating an NFS mount with the same name and location as the user share.

Then I tried to use CIFS on Linux but the default of using some Unix extensions to CIFS carried the user id problem over there too. Besides that, the NAS would block as soon as I tried to write to the disk through CIFS. It would write 8kb of the first file and then block everything.

Somehow I figured out that the default Linux CIFS settings caused the NAS to block due to byte range locking, and once I changed my automounter setup, it worked a bit better. There was also a character set problem between NFS and CIFS, but that was easily fixed. The line in /etc/auto.master

/smb    /etc/auto.smb nobrl,iocharset=utf8

must have the final “nobrl,iocharset=utf8” added to disable byte range locks and fix character translation in file names.

I also found a way to disable the Unix extensions to CIFS, but again it completely messed up interaction with NFS due to differences in user ids.

In the end I used a bit of brute force to get all combinations of Linux and Mac OS X, and NFS and CIFS to play together. I found a way to get enable telnet on the NAS, there was no root password, and I edited /etc/passwd and changed the user ids of the users to match what I have on the other systems. That did it.

The address to enable telnet on the NAS is http://sohonas/cgi/telnet/telnet.cgi

Nokia Nseries N810 on the way

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

The discount codes are finally activated on the Danish Nokia direct shop, so I have now ordered my new N810 tablet. It should be here in a few days time. I can hardly wait 🙂