Sunday, September 10, 2006

Fedora Core on the Presario V2617LA

Recently, I became the happy owner of a Compaq Presario V2000, model V2617LA.
This is a reasonable good notebook, particularly regarding it's price, and my distribution of choice (Fedora Core) installs smoothly on it.

Every device I use works properly under Linux (I haven't checked the modem, and I don't think I'll be doing that anytime soon), with the drivers included in the distro, except for the wireless card, which needs ndiswrapper and the Windows driver.

What's included

The machine comes with Windows XP Home edition, for which I was forced to purchase a license that doesn't even include a CD. You're entitled to a rescue media set, on your choice of CD or DVD, but if you're interested in keeping Windows, take good care of that media because you can only create the set

Fortunately, I wasn't interested in this so I proceeded to boot off the FC5 cdrom and wipe XP out of the hard disk.

Installing Fedora Core

You can just hit enter on the isolinux boot screen, since the setup procedure properly detects and configure the display and video adapter (Proprietary ATI drivers are needed later, in case you want to make use of the board's 3D features).

The installation process is smooth, and includes detection and configuration of the ethernet board.

Once it's over, the screen resolution is set to 800x600, which is awful for the widescreen display.
However, as I said, the board and display are detected properly, so all you have to do is edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and manually add the 1280x768 and 1024x768 (in case you want it) modes to the Screen section.

In order to get the wireless LAN working, you'll need the windows drivers. These are available from the hp/compaq web site if, just like me, you forget to back it up before wiping out XP (you'll need the
SP31463A exe).

I installed them with wine, which of course failed, but nevertheless uncompressed the files, which was my goal anyway.

Once available, you must install it with ndiswrapper, like this:

ndiswrapper -i bcmwl5.inf # installs the driver with ndiswrapper
ndiswrapper -l # verifies the driver installation process
modprobe ndiswrapper # loads the driver into the kernel
ndiswrapper -m # fixes /etc/modprobe.conf accordingly

You must also blacklist the open source bcm43xx driver, since it doesn't work properly on this board. In order to do this, add the line blacklist bcm43xx to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklists

If you can't connect to your AP, be sure to check that you've physically enabled the wifi card (the button to the left of 'power').

With this problem solved, you can safely say that FC5 is installed on the notebook.

Some issues:
  • pm-hibernate doesn't always detect the LCD-closed event.
  • The wifi card is physically disabled after hibernation and it must be manually turned on.
  • After several 'hibernations', the battery charge is reported wrong (this happened just once).
  • The sempron is configured to low speed even with the power on. I use cpuspeed to fix this.

All in all, the V2617LA is a good notebook for it's price, and runs gnu/linux smoothly and with just one proprietary driver (or two, if you really need 3D video).

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