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Linux Mandrake 9.1 (Bamboo) on an Acer Aspire 1300XC

In this page you can read my experience with a
Linux Mandrake 9.1 on an Acer Aspire 1300XC.




SUMMARY:
        Introduction
        Disclaimer
        Page Update Information
        Installation Hints
        Supported Hardware
        Used Software
        Details
       
Links
        Thanks To
       



Introduction:

This document is written basically to provide some support about a mandrake installation on an Acer Aspire 1300xc. This document is quite specific about it but you could find some useful information for generic Linux systems as well. A very well documentation about Debian
(and generic Linux installation) on an Acer Aspire Laptop  has been written by nervous and you could find it here. I found it very useful, check it out :)

You can reproduce, use and share this documentation freely . If you want to publish it completely or partially contact me and at least link me to your site :)

About problems or other issues if you want to bury me, please read the Disclaimer first. If I made mistakes, you want to add something or you don't find something clear (RTM first!)  feel free to contact me writing to "nisco77@libero.it".

Disclaimer:

This is an unofficial support page for the Acer Aspire 1300xc.  I do not assume any responsibility for errors or omissions, or damages
resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

No liability for the contents of this documents can be accepted. Use the concepts, examples and fother content at your own risk.

All copyrights are held by their by their respective owners, unless specifically noted otherwise. Use of a term in this document should not be regarded
as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark. Naming of particular products or brands should not be seen as endorsements.
  
nstallation Hints:


Well, I installed Mandrake 9.1 because I wanted a Desktop oriented distribution. I know all major distributions are good but for an experience issue I use this one (so no flames please :-) ). I don't use any other OS on this machine so I just created a root partition of about 5 Gb an home partition abobut 1 Gb, a 520 Mb swap partition and a "Data's" partition using the remaining space. If you want to keep the on shipped Windows XP Home version you first have to install it on a separate partition and then install linux in the remaining space. If you want to share data I advice you to create a "Data's" partition using a Fat32 (vfat) filesystem. Anyway before doing anyting if you have datas on you machine DO A BACKUP! Backups are easy, low cost (you can use the laptop cd burner) and IMPORTANT!
Anyway you can find a very good installation help in the First Mandrake cd (Installation CD 1) so I won't spend much more words about it.


Page Update Info

24 Jun 2003 - Changed color scheme - Added Usb memory stick device info.
22 Jun 2003 - Published



Supported Hardware:

 Good news for you (and for me): hardware is fully supported! With a couple of adjustments, at least for a normal use :) 


Ok! - CPU: AMD Athlon 1400+ powernow!
It works fine and supports CPU frequency scaling with a kernel patch. You can scale frequency and voltage so you can produce less heat and save batteries.
Ok! - Battery: Battery status Information
Enabling ACPI you can handle your battery state, some feature are thus not implemented like e.g. automatic suspension and standby.
Ok! - Sound: Apollo Super AC97/Audio
It works, how can work an integrated audio card ;-)
Ok-- Video: S3 Savage4 Twister-K
It works fine but (S3 are in any case not magic cards) it is quite slow. I manage to watch DVD and multimedia file in a decent way :) I don't play much so I don't have a clue about 3D games.
Ok! - Modem: Conexant HSF modem It works fine for me, but is not automatically recognized and configured by Mandrake. In the download edition drivers are not shipped in so you have to download them from: 
Ok! - Ethernet: Rihne 10/100
Automatically recognized and configured during installation. No problem.
??? - PCMCIA
I don't have any PCMCIA devices so I don't have any idea if PCMCIA slots work or not.
Ok! - DVD/CDRW: MATSHITA UJDA730
Can burn CD and read DVD using scsi emulation. Automatically configured. No problem.
Ok! - HD: Toshiba MK2018GAP
Works fine in DMA mode. Still have to tune it with hdparm.
Ok! - Floppy
Works. No problem.
Ok! - USB
Works. I have an USB logitec optical mouse and an Epson Stylus C25S USB printer working fine.
Ok! - Mouse
I rated an Ok! But I still have to understand how to use both my USB mouse and PS2 Trackpad at the same time. More information below.
Ok! - Printer: USB Epson Stylus C25S
Works really fine.
??? - Scanner: Canon FB 620U
I did not try it yet. Wait for page updates.
Ok! - USB Memory Stick
Plugged, recognized, configured and worked perfectly!

Used Software:

Linux Mandrake 9.1 (Bamboo) with 2.4.21-0.13mdk kernel (patched)  and gcc (GCC) 3.2.2

Details:

CPU: AMD Athlon 1400+ powernow!

If you already tried to install a linux distribution on this laptop you surely noticed 2 things:

Batteries are blown in less than one hour.
Your laptop is becoming more and more similar to a toaster (Heatwave!)

Well... you're right, the fact is linux hasn't yet an automatic CPU frequency scaling system yet. I mean, processors can work at different frequency and voltage, e.g.  this Athlon XP 1400+ powernow can work in a range of frequencies from 500 Mhz to 1200 Mhz. By default your system will run always at  maximum speed even when the system is idle. This causes more power needs and cpu heating.

How to avoid this problem? Linux supports cpu voltage and frequency scaling for many kind of processors, Athlon XP powernow included. The current stablekernel (2.4.21 when I'm writing this document) does not support it, so the relatice ac patch is needed to have it. You have to download a recent kernel source with an ac patch and recompile it with some features enabled. On http://www.kernel.org yu can find the last kernel source and relatives patches. If you want you can use an "unstable" kernel (2.5.xx series) which has already cpufrequency enabled.
Anyway Mandrake Linux has a custom kernel, and provides sources as well. 2.4.21-0.13mdk Kernel provides already cpu frequency scaling but it has to be an old version so AMD powernow! support is not present yet.  Using a Mandrake system is always better using a mdk kernel, sadly official ac patches won't apply in a correct way to a mandrake kernel. To solve this problem I joined the cpufreq official mailing list and I found it very helpful.
Lars Gemeinhardt customized a patch for mandrake and gave it to me :) I patched the kernel, recompiled ad everything went very well!

This patch is reported to work for:
2.4.21-0.13mdk (mine)
2.4.21-0.15mdk

It should also work for
2.4.21-0.18mdk (unreported) 

Here you can download this patch and a clean.sh script. Download decompress with bunzip2.

Mandrake Lars Patch
clean.sh Lars Script

(Both the Patch and the Script are under the GPL - Gnu Public License)

So to recompile the kernel follow this instructions:

Install the kernel source with:

    # rpm -i nameofthekernel.rpm (or using mandrake control center).


then copy the kernel patch and the clean.sh script into

      /usr/src/linux

enter this directory:

    #cd /usr/src/linux

run the script

    # ./clean.sh

patche the kernel

    # patch -p1 < "patchname"

and then run xconfig or menuconfig with:

    # make xconfig / menuconfig

Take your time, choose whatever you want and disable whatever you don't need.  This is not a kernel howto so I'm giving you just some information, read the kernel documentation for more information. Enable cpu frequency scaling, frequency table helpers and powernow! k7 as a module in the Processor Type and features section. save your configuratione file and run:

    # make dep
    # make clean
    # make bzImage
    # make modules
    # make modules_install
    # make install
 
then run lilo

    # lilo

Your kernel is compiled and installed. The "make install" command has already copied your custom kernel image and you just have to reboot your system with the custom kernel by choosing it at boot.

Once recompiled if everything went well you should have a /proc/cpufreq file with

    # cat /proc/cpufreq

you should have an output like this:

          minimum CPU frequency  -  maximum CPU frequency  -  policy
CPU  0       500000 kHz ( 41 %)  -    1200000 kHz (100 %)  -  performance

To lower cpu frequency yo have to "echo" a line to this file:

    # echo -n "500000:1200000:powersave" > /proc/cpufreq

and now your cpu frequency should be set at 500 Mhz. You can verify it with

    # cat  /proc/cpufreq

wich now should return:

          minimum CPU frequency  -  maximum CPU frequency  -  policy
CPU  0       500000 kHz ( 41 %)  -    1200000 kHz (100 %)  -  powersave

and with:

    # cat /proc/sys/cpu/0/speed

which should return:

500000

Of course if you want to run at 1200 Mhz you shall do this:

    # echo -n "500000:1200000:performance" > /proc/cpufreq

Automatic frequency and voltage scaling should be implemented in the near future... stay tuned on linux releases :)



ACPI support: Battery status information

This is easier :) When you boot your mandrake for the first time and try to run Klaptopdeamon you will notice a strange message:

on line - battery not present

Well this is generally not true :) the fact is Aspire bioses don't use the default APM (Advanced Powe Mangement) but ACPI (mi ricordero' che significa prima o poi) so you have to enable it.

First install acpi and acpid. Mandrake 9.1 ships this version:

acpi-0.6-5mdk.rpm 31 KB 
Displays information on ACPI devices. Attempts to replicate the functionality of the 'old' apm command on ACPI systems, including battery and thermal information.

acpid-1.0.1-3mdk.rpm 22 KB
ACPI kernel daemon and control utility. The ACPI specification defines power and system management functions for each computer, in a generic manner.  The ACPI daemon coordinates the management of power and system functions when ACPI kernel support is enabled (kernel 2.3.x or later).

ACPI support is already present in the precompiled kernel but for hardware security reasons is not run by deafault. You just have to edit your /etc/lilo.conf changing the default parameter:

acpi=off

with

acpi=on

Reboot and Klaptopdeamon deamon will show you your battery status information.
ACPI can do other things like e.g. suspend the machine when the sistem is idle for a certain period of time. I'm sorry to tell you this is not implented yet  for this laptop.

More information about acpi are present in the kernel documentation.



Sound: Apollo Super AC97/Audio

It works, just tune it after installing with:

$ aumix -v 100

By default the volume is set to 0 after installation.



Video: S3 Savage4 Twister-K

It works, as I said is a bit slow. You could improve it with with the original modules... I'm satisfied this way so I did not try to change it very much.


Modem: Conexant HSF modem

Supported (and work better than XP drivers IMHO) Download the drivers on  http://www.mbsi.ca/cnxtlindrv/hsf/

you will find an rpm for 2.4.21-0.13mdk kernel. Install and follow instruction.

I advice to download the generic drivers as well, in fact after recompiling the kernel the modem won't work anymore with 2.4.21-0.13mdk custom drivers as they are specifically builded for that kernel. Installing the generic packet it will work again.


Ethernet: Rihne 10/100

It works fine. no problems.


PCMCIA

I don't have any PCMCIA devices so I don't have any idea if PCMCIA slots work or not. If you have tried and it works please contact me :)


DVD/CDRW: MATSHITA UJDA730

Cd burning works fine at 16x, DVD works as well but you will not be able to see them in fullscreen due to X11 and the video card. If you manage to do it in some way please contact me :)

To view DVD I use mplayer. Don't forget to install libdcss and libdvdread otherwise it will not work. libdcss are not shipped with mandrake distribution, you can download them here. Install the last win32 codecs as well. mplayer is shipped with mandrake but you can dovnload an updated version here: you will find win32 updates as well.

Enjoy!


HD: Toshiba ‎MK2018GAP

I works for me, no problem. Read the hdparm manual for tuning.


Floppy

It works.


USB support

Works. I have an USB logitec optical mouse and an Epson Stylus C25S USB printer working fine.


Mouse

My logitech optical USB mouse works fine, I still have to understand how to use both trackpad and mouse the same time. Standalone installations with Trackpad will work without problems. If you managed to run both please contact me.


Printer: USB Epson Stylus C25S

Great! It prints better than XP. There is a very good monitoring tool called Mtink which let you see ink levels and helps you managing the printer.


Scanner: Canon FB 620U

I have one but I  did not try it yet. Stay tuned for page updates.


USB Memory Stick

I bought this device as I had to do a quick backup from a non ethernet pc (Running XP). I went to the shop and I asked to try it before buying. I plugged it, booted and harddrake found it automatically. I had to specify mount  point
(by default /mnt/removable) and filesystem (I choosed vfat as I want it to be compatible with Microsoft Systems).
Mandrake automatically updated /etc/fstab and added a device icon on my desktop. As Mandrake configured perfectly my USB2 ports it is damn fast copying and managing files!
USB Memory Stick: Vendor: Hamlet - Model: Exagerate Zelig Pen

Links:

Mobilix Project
URL: http://www.mobilix.org
The MobiliX site is dedicated to Mobile Unix systems. It leads you to a lot of useful hands-on information about installing and running Linux, BSD, Solaris and other Unices on laptops, PDAs, cell phones, wearables and other mobile computer devices.

Linux Laptop
URL: http://www.linux-laptop.net
Database with a lot of stuff for many different laptops

Michael's Acer Aspire 1300XC Page
URL: http://stud3.tuwien.ac.at/~e9725694/laptop/linuxaspire1300.html
Michael's describes how to run Linux on Acer Aspire 1300XC.

NERvOus  Acer Aspire 1300XV Page
URL: http://www.nervous.it/hw/linux_aspire1300xv.html

My (We)Blog Page (In Italian)
URL: http://www.angelfire.com/blog/madrid/

Thanks To:

Thanks to everyone helped me tuning this laptop.
Dave Jones (mantainer of the cpufreq fernel section), Domink Brodovski, Lars
Gemeinhardt and all the people f the cpufreq mailing list.
In particular Lars
Gemeinhardt , who gave me the right patch for my kernel and the clean.sh script
NERvOus - http://www.nervous.it for his very well written documentation about a Debian 3.0 on an Acer Laptop, I have some debts with him in writing this document.
visit his page as well, you could find more useful information!
Fred, who supported me and borrowed me an internet connection to download some missing drivers - visit his homepage
Linuxtrent mailing list for useful information - Visit the Linuxtrent website
Mandrake community and mailing lists
All the linux community for providing me such a good OS.

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