Posts Tagged ‘X.org’

Asus Eee Pc 1000H with Debian Lenny (testing)

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

I have bought an Asus EeePc 1000H which is one of the new popular netbook – a very small and light weight notebook.

I chose the Asus EeePc 1000H for several reasons:

  • I travel a lot, often by motorcycle and kayak,  and need something compact and lightweight for mail, internet, blog updates and social networks;
  • initially I wanted the EeePc 901, but its being discontinued and it costs almost the same as the 1000H, which has a hard disk and a larger keyboard;
  • though delivered with Windows XP, the hardware is quite Linux friendly and almost identical with the 901 which were sold with Linux;
  • its small and cute (even my wife says so).

The specs are:

  • Intel Atom N270 dual core CPU,
  • Intel Mobile 945GME chipset,
  • 1 Gb DDR2 667MHz RAM upgradable to 2Gb,
  • 160 Gb SATA harddisk,
  • Six-cell LiOn battery 6580 mAh,
  • 10″ WVGA display at 1024×600,
  • ElanTech touchpad,
  • RaLing RT2860 wireless network adapter – IEEE 802.11bgn,
  • Attansic Technology L1 Gigabit network adapter,
  • Broadcom BT-253 internal USB bluetooth adapter,
  • Alcor Micro SD/MMC Card Reader,
  • Genesys Logic USB 2.0 webcam 1.3Mpixel.

It is a fairly small laptop, measuring 27×19×3cm and weighing 1.45kg which is a bit more that I had hoped (the 901 is less than 1kg) but it is OK, as I won’t have to bring an extra USB disk for additional storage.

Conclusions

I have installed Debian testing/lenny on it, through the Debian Eee Pc projects installer. It is a specialised installer which does a slightly different installation and configuration, but the resulting system is a normal Debian system.

Most parts of the netbook work immediately with little or no manual configuration after a base install, but there are a few parts that doesn’t or that are a bit unstable. Most of these seem to have a solution on the way.

An install through the Debian Eee Pc installer of Debian Testing (lenny) with a Linux 2.6.26 kernel leaves these parts non-functional:

  • Front microphone doesn’t work (should be fixed in the latest ALSA release, included ibn Linux 2.6.27);

and these only partly functional:

  • Wireless network driver only works with certain setups (for me, open network and WPA/PSK work, WEP doesn’t);
  • Touchpad is working with a generic driver which doesn’t support all the functions of the hardware;

and these require an extra effort to get fully functional:

  • Keyboard hotkeys (editing a configuration file)

Installation

The installation procedure was more or less as specified on the Debian Eee Pc Wiki.

The computer came with Windows XP preinstalled and with the disk partitioned in a particular way. Since I’ve paid for that Windows installation, I’d like to retain it in case I should need it later.

The harddisk was initially partitioned like this:

  1. Windows XP system 75 Gb (type 7 – HPFS/NTFS)
  2. User data 60 Gb (type 7 – HPFS/NTFS)
  3. Windows accelerated boot 8Gb (type 0x1c – Hidden W95 FAT32)
  4. EFI partition for the BIOS “Boot Booster” 40Mb (type 0xef)

The partitions 1 and 4 would be needed for Windows XP and the BIOS, and I wasn’t sure what partition 3 was for, so I decided to leave it untouched. I think it is for an accelerated boot of Windows XP where they make a hibernation type snapshot at boot time which can then be used at subsequent boots to speed up things.

For Linux I would need a root, a swap and a user data partition, so I decided on this partitioning scheme:

  1. Windows XP system 10 Gb (type 7 – HPFS/NTFS)
  2. Extended partition 125Gb (type 5 – Extended)
    1. Linux root 8Gb (type 83 – Linux)
    2. Linux swap 1Gb (type 82 – Linux swap)
    3. Linux home 116Gb (type 83 – Linux)
  3. Windows accelerated boot 8Gb (type 0x1c – Hidden W95 FAT32)
  4. EFI partition for the BIOS “Boot Booster” 40Mb (type 0xef)

Starting the Debian Eee PC installer was quite easy. I downloaded the image, copied it to an SD card, inserted it into the card reader and booted while pressing ESC so the BIOS asked which device to boot. The installer is the normal Debian lenny installer, only with a payload of special modules for the EeePc specific hardware,  which for now include both wired and wireless network adapters and ACPI functions.

Before starting it is a good idea to disable “Boot Booster” and “Quick Boot” in the BIOS. Otherwise it is quite likely the system will just launch you into Windows XP so fast you have little time to press ESC for the boot device menu or F2 to enter the BIOS.

I had to start the installer several times to shrink and resize the Windows XP partitions and setup my own partitioning scheme as shown above.

The first several boots into the Debian installer was to shrink and resize the Windows XP installation, and setup my partition scheme. I repeatedly took the installer up to the point where it wants you to partition the harddisk, then pressed Alt-F2 to get a shell. The first time I used ntfsresize to shrink the Windows XP NTFS filesystem from 75Gb to 10Gb. Second time was to resize the actual Windows XP partition using fdisk, followed by a boot to Windows XP to make sure the installation was still bootable. Then the third time to setup the Linux partitions, and only afterwards did I let the installer continue and do the actual installation.

The Debian installer is so easy these days its almost boring. I only had to answer a few questions, enter some passwords and select what I wanted of software on the computer. I let it install all of the Gnome desktop environment, which was probably a mistake, since I had a bit of work afterwards reducing it to only the parts I actually wanted.  I have no use for Windows terminal services or remote desktop systems, or all the CD/DVD ripping and mastering software I had installled automatically.

Hardware walk-through

CPU – Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz works out of the box with both cores available and CPU frequency scaling activated.

Disk – the SATA disk works as expected.

Sound – works except for the front microphone, which is supported in the next version of ALSA, included in Linux 2.6.27.

SD card reader – works.

USB – works out of the box.

Wired network – the Attansic Technology L1 Gigabit network adapter uses an “atl1e” driver which works without any problems noted.

Wireless network – works partially with the rt2860sta driver included in the Debian Eee Pc install. It works for me with a WPA/PSK access point, and with an open network, but not without some problems. The driver drops the association at high throughput and subsequently fails to re-associate to the access point without a manual intervention. With a WEP setup it associated with the access point,  but failed consistently to get an IP address from the DHCP server. There is no hardware kill switch.

Bluetooth – the internal USB adapter works out of the box. There is not hardware kill switch.

ACPI – this is governed by a special eeePc driver included in the Debian Eee Pc installer. It seems to support everything: power switch, lid, extra keys, battery, cpu, suspend states etc.

Video out – not yet tested

Video – Intel Mobile 945GME chipset, which works with X.org. It is automatically configured by the Debian Eee Pc install, so X windows works immediately, compositing included.

Touchpad – works partially. It is currently controlled by a generic driver, which doesn’t support all the functions of the hardware. The touchpad works as such, with tapping and the two buttons below it. The middle mouse button can be activated by a two finger tap, and a scroll wheel simulated by a two finger drag. A three finger tap works as a right button click, but it is almost impossible to get right on the small touchpad.

Extra keys – works with initialisation – see later “Hotkeys”

Suspend – both suspend and hibernate works through the Gnome Power Manager. I have uswsusp installed, but I don’t know if the Gnome Power Manager uses the kernel suspend functions or uswsusp. Sometimes bluetooth disappears after a resume, but I still haven’t figured out why. You need to belong to the “powerdev” group to get full Gnome Power Manager functionality.

Webcam – the necessary Video4Linux drivers are automatically installed, and the camera seems to work. I can get mplayer to show me live video from it.

Keyboard – while it has nothing to do with Linux, I do have a few grievances about the keyboard. It has at least two deficiencies. While is has a nice and usable size, the right shift key is placed in a very annoying position, to the right of the “up” arrow key, which I alway hit by mistake. Also, the shift lock key has no status indicator anywhere, so you cannot see if shift lock is on or off, except trying to type something.

X Windows

Basic X.org configuration was automatic.

The X.org server uses the “intel” driver for the Intel 945GME graphics chip set. It is by default set up with EXA acceleration, but the Debian Eee Pc wiki states that using XAA might be better, and my experience confirms it. It feels quite a bit snappier with XAA, especially when scrolling in Firefox.

DRI was configured automatically.

The touchpad it is an Elantech touchpad but it is not recognised as such by the kernel. It detected as a “ExplorerPS/2”, not as a proper touchpad. The funny thing is, however, that the touchpad still works to some degree. It reacts to movement and taps, there is a scroll wheel area on the right side of it, and a two finger tab becomes a middle click. A three-finger tap becomes a right click but it is very hard to reproduce reliably. There seems to be a driver for the touchpad in the working, but it’s currently only semi-functional. I haven’t delved deeper into this, as it does work.

Compiz was only an “aptitude install compiz” away. All the necessary prerequisites were taken care of by the Debian Eee Pc installer.

Hotkeys

The keyboard has some special keys, which are handled by a special eeepc ACPI module.

I had to edit the /etc/default/eeepc-acpi-scripts file to get the sound volume keys to work properly.  I needed to set the variables

VOLUME_LABEL='Master'
HEADPHONE_LABEL='Headphones'

Apparently the default setup is for the latest Alsa release, but not the one used by the 2.6.26 kernel.

Major outstanding issues

  • Front side microphone is not working,
  • Touchpad not fully supported.

Links

Logitech Cordless Desktop LX700 with the Xorg X server

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

This is an update to the item “Logitech Cordless Desktop LX700” after I switched from XFree86 to Xorg. I’m not sure where to cast the blame, though, since there have been many other changes, like an upgrade to Debian Sarge and a new Gnome.

Something changed, thats certain, because some keys died at various levels.
(more…)

Logitech Cordless Click! Plus mouse

Saturday, June 4th, 2005

Logitech Cordless Click! Plus mouse

My “Logitech Cordless Desktop LX700” set came with a “Logitech Cordless Click! Plus” mouse. Its a fancy wireless thing with loads of buttons.

It has the normal left, middle (pressing the wheel) and right buttons.

The wheel acts as buttons 4 and 5 and the two buttons on the thumb side are buttons 6 and 7.

The mouse wheel can also be tiltet left and right by making a sideways motion on the wheel without pressing it down, and there is a separate botton on the top of the mouse, but these buttons don’t appear to send anything to X. Testing with xev gives absolutely nothing.

XFree86 configuration fragments are below the fold. (more…)

Logitech Cordless Desktop LX700

Saturday, June 4th, 2005

LX700

I was getting tired of my old keyboard and decided to buy a new on. The choice fell on a “Logitech Cordless Desktop LX700”, with a “Logitech Cordless Click! Plus” mouse included.

The keyboard has a gazillion extra keys, including a roller on the left side, doubling for the arrow keys on the right, and some mouse buttons on the keyboard. It also has a bunch of keys for controlling a media player, and for other applications.

Basic functionality is there and the keyboard works out of the box with Linux. The problem lies with all the extra keys.

Some of the extra keys are known to the Linux keyboard driver and to to XFree86, and they can be configured in Gnome or your window manager without any problems. In my case this happened for several of the media player keys and the Email key. All I had to do was select “Logitech Desktop Pro” as the keyboard type in the Gnome preferences.

Many of the extra keys did not work, however.

It took quite an effort to get everything to work, but in the end each and every key on the keyboard is usable under Linux.
(more…)

Transparent cursors in XFree86

Monday, November 15th, 2004

My laptop used to have these fancy semi-transparent cursors, but my harddisk died and after a reinstall they were gone – just like that.

It took me a while to figure out how to do it. The cursor theme is called “whiteglass”, and it can be enabled in two ways. The easiest is to set the environment variable

XCURSOR_THEME=whiteglass

before starting the X server.

The other option is to change the file /etc/X11/cursors/core.theme to read:

[Icon Theme]
Inherits=whiteglass

Before the change it will say “core” instead of “whiteglass”.

Some people find the cursor too hard to find on the display when it is white and semi-transparent — and sometimes they’re right — and for them there is the theme “redglass” with red semi-transparent cursors. I find it a bit too intrusive, visually.

Yet another wonderful Gnome error message

Saturday, July 3rd, 2004
Error activating XKB configuration.
Probably internal X server problem.

X server version data:
The XFree86 Project, Inc
40300001
You are using XFree 4.3.0.
There are known problems with complex XKB configurations.
Try using simpler configuration or a newer version of the XFree software.
If you report this situation as a bug, please include:
- The result of xprop -root | grep XKB
- The result of gconftool-2 -R /desktop/gnome/peripherals/keyboard/xkb

So I’ve got a keyboard problem! No, I haven’t. Everything is great, every key sends exactly what it should.

Anyway, it’s an error message from the X server. Nope. It is apparently from an obscure program called gnome-settings-daemon which is started automatically by gnome-session. Only it doesn’t say so anywhere. Needless to say, there is no manual for the gnome-settings-daemon or even a –help option to help me gain some insight.

So I have a working keyboard, an annoying dialog with a misleading message at each login and a top panel that is misplaced due to this dialog taking up the top-left corner of the screen well before the window manager is even started. On top of that the login takes at least 30 seconds longer due to some problem starting this gnome-settings-daemon, which I’m inclined to believe is tried several times, since I get this message on the console at each login:

You can only run one xsettings manager at a time; exiting

I still haven’t found a way to get this dialog to disappear.

UPDATE: Well, I’m not the only one with this problem, as can be seen at http://www.gnomesupport.org/, especially

http://gnomesupport.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6179&highlight=xkb
http://gnomesupport.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6827&highlight=xkb

but there is no solution there either.

UPDATE 2004-07-17: The problem just went away today, and I’m not quite clear why. I did have a .Xmodmap file which I initially ran from my .xinitrc, that is before gnome-settings-daemon was started, and I moved that to a session startup program, so it’ll run after gnome-settings-deamon is started, but I’m not 100% sure that was the culprit. Might have been, though.