[conspire] (forw) Re: Linux Certified laptop

Margaret Wendall mwendall at gmail.com
Sun Mar 27 17:29:15 PDT 2011


I used to have a Toshiba laptop (made in USA of parts made in Japan!) which
required a PCMCIA wireless card. It's still in use by another Linux addict,
and it does a very good job of running Ubuntu. If it doesn't have a lot of
RAM, try xubuntu. It's what my old laptop is getting.

Margaret Wendall

On Sat, Mar 26, 2011 at 10:01 AM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:

> ----- Forwarded message from Linda R <lindamarcella at yahoo.com> -----
> Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2011 23:53:32 -0700 (PDT)
> From: Linda R <lindamarcella at yahoo.com>
> To: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
> Subject: Re: Linux Certified laptop
> X-Mailer: YahooMailClassic/12.0.2 YahooMailWebService/
> Hi Rick,
> Thank you for your reply and all of your helpful information.  I'm sorry
> for not providing more hardware identifying info.
> The wireless card is like credit card size.  Is that PCMCIA?  Sorry I'm
> ignorant on this. It says Netgear WG511 54 Mbps Wireless.
> I'm sorry for the late notice; I wasn't planning to come tomorrow, and I
> originally sent the email about a week ago.  Don't worry if you don't have
> time to respond for a while.
> Another reason I'm interested to convert to Ubuntu is that other people at
> a company I work for (contractually) use it.  Also the Unix sys admin at my
> (regular) job uses it or has used it at home.
> The kind of dual monitor I would like to try to configure would be to allow
> different content on each screen.
> I walk a lot so I wouldn't mind.  I'll look into the Berkeley users group,
> to find out if they have install fests.
> The output of lspci is below.
> Thank you,
> Linda
> lspci
> 00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 82845G/GL[Brookdale-G]/GE/PE DRAM
> Controller/Host-Hub Interface (rev 03)
> 00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82845G/GL[Brookdale-G]/GE/PE
> Host-to-AGP Bridge (rev 03)
> 00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL/DBM
> (ICH4/ICH4-L/ICH4-M) USB UHCI Controller #1 (rev 02)
> 00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL/DBM
> (ICH4/ICH4-L/ICH4-M) USB UHCI Controller #2 (rev 02)
> 00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL/DBM
> (ICH4/ICH4-L/ICH4-M) USB UHCI Controller #3 (rev 02)
> 00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBM (ICH4/ICH4-M) USB2
> EHCI Controller (rev 02)
> 00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 PCI Bridge (rev 82)
> 00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL (ICH4/ICH4-L) LPC
> Interface Bridge (rev 02)
> 00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801DB (ICH4) IDE Controller (rev
> 02)
> 00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL/DBM (ICH4/ICH4-L/ICH4-M) SMBus
> Controller (rev 02)
> 00:1f.5 Multimedia audio controller: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL/DBM
> (ICH4/ICH4-L/ICH4-M) AC'97 Audio Controller (rev 02)
> 00:1f.6 Modem: Intel Corporation 82801DB/DBL/DBM (ICH4/ICH4-L/ICH4-M) AC'97
> Modem Controller (rev 02)
> 01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Radeon RV250
> [Mobility FireGL 9000] (rev 01)
> 02:03.0 CardBus bridge: O2 Micro, Inc. OZ601/6912/711E0
> CardBus/SmartCardBus Controller
> 02:0a.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): VIA Technologies, Inc. VT6306/7/8 [Fire
> II(M)] IEEE 1394 OHCI Controller (rev 80)
> 02:0c.0 Ethernet controller: National Semiconductor Corporation DP83815
> (MacPhyter) Ethernet Controller
> --- On Fri, 3/25/11, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> [Snip Linda's inclusion of the entire preceding thread.  Sheesh,
> that reply mode is obnoxious.]
> ----- End forwarded message -----
> ----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----
> Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2011 09:55:24 -0700
> From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
> To: Linda R <lindamarcella at yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: Linux Certified laptop
> Organization: If you lived here, you'd be $HOME already.
> Quoting Linda R (lindamarcella at yahoo.com):
> > The wireless card is like credit card size.  Is that PCMCIA?
> Yes, that's exactly right!
> By the way, there's a standard joke about that -- that it stands for
> 'People Can't Memorise Computer Industry Acronymns'.  Which is a large
> part of why the official name was eventually changed from PCMCIA to PC-Card
> (though you'll still hear both mentioned).
> (No reason why you should need to know this, but the _real_ expansion
> for 'PCMCIA' is 'Personal Computer Memory Card International
> Association'.)
> > Sorry I'm ignorant on this. It says Netgear WG511 54 Mbps Wireless.
> Well, it turns out, that there are some very different sub-types of
> WG511 (which uses wireless chips capable of the 802.11g class of
> wireless protocols), depending on which generation of gear you have.
> A rather elaborate explanation follows.  (Apologies for the complexity,
> but it's not my fault; it's Netgear's fault.)
> 1.  The earliest WG511 v1 series used the Intersil ISL3890 Prism Duette
> chips.
>    Some sites say these cards say 'Made in Taiwan' on them.
> 2.  A later series (WG511 v2) used a Marvell Technology 88w8335 Libertas
> chip.
>    Some sites say these cards say 'Made in China' on them.
> 2.  The later WG511 v3 and WG511T series switched to the Atheros
>    AR5212 and Super-G AR5212 chips, respectively.  It is said,
>    however, that some other WG511 v3 cards use a more-problematic,
>    low-end, and undesirable Intersil Prism54-softmac chip.
> Details at:
> https://help.ubuntu.com/community/HardwareSupportComponentsWirelessNetworkCardsNetgear#PCMCIA
> Apologies for being obliged to reveal to you what amounts to a confusing
> situation, but this is one of the rare cases where a single
> manufacturer's model ('Netgear WG511') could be built on one of _three_
> underlying chipsets.  Each of the three (four?) chipsets is a different
> driver
> situation.  You _might_ be able to determine from examining markings on
> the card which situation applies -- whether it's an original WG511, a
> WG511 v2, or a WG511 v3 / WG511T.  Or, insert the card into your Linux
> machine and, as the root user, type this query:
>  cardctl ident
> To explain, the 'cardctl' (card control) utility is part of the
> pcmcia-cs (PCMCIA Card Services) package, and 'cardctl ident' forces the
> PCMCIA controller chip on your motherboard to directly ask all present
> PCMCIA cards what its burned-in version string is, and what its
> Manufacturer ID (manfid) is.
> For example, driver 'prism54' works for cards based on the Intersil
> ISL3890 chips.  The 'prism54-islsm' driver works for the Intersil
> Prism54-softmac chips.  The Madwifi driver works for the Atheros
> chips.
> The Marvell chips do not have native Linux drivers (last I heard) because
> Marvell Technologies is hostile to open source and the chips haven't
> been reverse-engineered yet, but you can make them work under Linux
> using a kludge called 'ndiswrapper' (that cleverly uses binary-only
> Marvell drivers intended for Windows 2000 _or_ an MS-Windows
> driver called "mrv8335").  That situation is detailed here:
> https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WifiDocs/Device/NetgearWG511andNdiswrapper
> Also, quoting part of
> http://www.oprekpc.com/forum/printview.php?t=1697&start=0&sid=2b920ccdad86b8d4832b992522c563ee
> :
>  Connecting to a Wireless LAN with Linux, Part 1
>  Using NdisWrapper and Verifying Kernel Support
>  Carla Schroder
>  Sunday, January 30, 2005 07:40:48 PM
>  Copy the Windows .inf driver to your Linux system, then run this command
>  to load the driver in the NdisWrapper, using your real file name of
>  course:
>  # ndiswrapper -i /wirelessthings/windriver.inf
>  Verify the installation:
>  # ndiswrapper -l
>  Installed ndis drivers:
>  windriver.inf driver present
> I'm afraid this is one of the games that some card manufacturers
> (in this case, Netgear) play on their customers, changing underlying
> chips without bothering to signal having done so by changing the model
> number.  The manufacturer assumes that you will just use the binary-only
> proprietary MS-Windows driver that they provide on a CD in the
> plastic-wrapped package (or that the manufacturer furnished to Microsoft
> to include in MS-Windows), with the binary-only driver made to match
> whatever chip-du-jour is used so the user doesn't know the difference.
> Why do some manufacturers do this?  I assume they switch chips because
> they go with whatever's cheap at the moment.  I assume they don't bother
> to inform customers of the change (e.g., through a revised model number)
> because they (some manufacturers) are indifferent or hostile to open
> source and just don't care.
> One might joke that open source considers the following to be swear
> words:  Marvell, Broadcom, ATI, NVidia (all chip manufacturers who are
> notably hostile to open source).
> A further matter:  It used to be that card manufacturers put the
> low-level code to initialise the card into a small ROM chip furnished
> with the card.  Later, they realised they could save money by omitting
> that ROM chip and furnishing the same initialisation code as a 'firmware
> image' file provided with the binary-only MS-Windows drivers.  The
> manufacturers tend to furnish that firmware file to Microsoft under
> non-disclosure, and embed it into the Windows drivers, but not bother to
> give the open source community permission to redistribute that file.
> So, Linux users often need tricks to extract the needed firmware file
> from MS-Windows drivers and write it to your /lib/firmware directory
> for the Linux kernel to use.  Reputedly, sometimes 'cardctl ident'
> doesn't even give you useful information until you've furnished the
> firmware file so the card can be initialised.
> The 'tricks' that Linux users employ often involve utilities with names
> like 'fwcutter' (i.e., firmware cutter) that 'cut' the firmware image
> file right out of a Windows driver CD or drive download Zip or Exe file,
> and then write the extracted firmware file to /lib/firmware on Linux
> for your future convenience.
> Before I attempt further explanation, perhaps you should just
> attempt to determine which chip you have, as you'll notice that
> I started simultaneously researching each of the possible chip
> situations, and it's more efficient for you to collect relevant
> data, first.
> Personally, if I determined that I had Linux-hostile hardware
> that was going to hassle me or put me through kludge solutions
> like ndiswrapper, I might prefer to shake the piggy bank and see
> if I had budget to buy a replacement card with better Linux support.
> (However, I'm not saying that situation necessarily applies to you.
> That awaits your determining which chip Netgear stuck you with.)
> > I'm sorry for the late notice; I wasn't planning to come tomorrow, and
> > I originally sent the email about a week ago.  Don't worry if you
> > don't have time to respond for a while.
> By the way, I should mention that I'm going to post our conversation
> onto CABAL's public mailing list, for public benefit.  Not a complaint
> in any way, but the Linux community's process of documentation and
> help works best when it is in our collective discussion forums,
> whether those be Web forums or mailing lists such as CABAL's 'conspire'
> e-mail mailing list, which (by the way) you can join if you wish to,
> here:    http://linuxmafia.com/mailman/listinfo/conspire
> There is only one of me, so I participate in public in order to benefit
> the entire Linux community.  If I assisted people only in private mail,
> then, well, personal assistance is a start but it doesn't scale very
> well.
> > Another reason I'm interested to convert to Ubuntu is that other
> > people at a company I work for (contractually) use it.  Also the Unix
> > sys admin at my (regular) job uses it or has used it at home.
> Nothing wrong with Ubuntu.  At a fundamental level, though, all
> Linux distributions are pretty much alike under the hood.  The
> ornamentation and the names of some of the glitzy front-end utilities
> may differ, but ultimately those talk to always the same pcmcia-cs
> utilities such as cardctl and to the same kernel utilities such as
> modprobe (which loads, say, the prism54 driver into the running kernel
> to drive a Prism GT card).
> At CABAL, we help people with any Linux (or BSD) distribution, and
> basically cases like yours come down to, it doesn't make any difference
> what the distribution is.  You just open a shell, become root, do
> 'cardctl ident', figure out what the chipset is, make sure you have the
> distro package for the necessary driver (or, God help you, ndiswrapper
> if necessary), and it then should Just Work (given presence of necessary
> drivers and a recent enough kernel).
> Anyone who tells you 'You really should be running distribution [foo]'
> is pretty much trying to sell you something.  And, hey, isn't that
> exactly the error that got people stuck on MS-Windows?  ;->
> > The kind of dual monitor I would like to try to configure would be to
> > allow different content on each screen.
> Right.  Traditional name for that in Linux (but see also below) is
> xinerama.
> > The output of lspci is below.
> OK, you have an ATI Radeon RV250 'Mobility FireGL 9000' video chip.
> Basically known as 'Mobility 9000', but the specific sub-variant
> identifier is RV250, which is the specific chip whereas 'Mobility 9000'
> is the chip family.  (Lots of Marketing-speak, there.)
> ATI's more than a bit open-source hostile.  <sigh>  It turns out that the
> least-hassle way to get xinerama (display of adjoining images on the two
> output displays) might be, and often is, to install ATI's proprietary,
> binary-only fglrx driver set for Linux, then follow its instructions.
> You should note that xinerama is distinct from 'twinview', in which the
> same image is shown on both monitors.
> So, the proprietary driver (which you can download off the Internet and
> run as root to install it) is called 'fglrx'.  The open-source
> alternative driver, which you already have, is called 'radeon'.
> Here's the manpage for the 'radeon' driver.
> http://linux.die.net/man/4/radeon
> I notice that they have an interesting 'merged framebuffer' (MergedFB)
> optional mode of operation for the driver, that sort of replaces
> xinerama:
>  Option "MergedFB" "boolean"
>  This enables merged framebuffer mode. In this mode you have a single
>  shared framebuffer with two viewports looking into it. It is similar to
>  Xinerama, but has some advantages. It is faster than Xinerama, the DRI
>  works on both heads, and it supports clone modes.
>  Merged framebuffer mode provides two linked viewports looking into a
>  single large shared framebuffer. The size of the framebuffer is
>  determined by the Virtual keyword defined on the Screen section of your
>  xorg.conf file. It works just like regular virtual desktop except you
>  have two viewports looking into it instead of one.
>  For example, if you wanted a desktop composed of two 1024x768 viewports
>  looking into a single desktop you would create a virtual desktop of
>  2048x768 (left/right) or 1024x1536 (above/below), e.g.,
>  Virtual 2048 768 or Virtual 1024 1536
>  The virtual desktop can be larger than larger than the size of the
>  viewports looking into it. In this case the linked viewports will scroll
>  around in the virtual desktop. Viewports with different sizes are also
>  supported (e.g., one that is 1024x768 and one that is 640x480). In this
>  case the smaller viewport will scroll relative to the larger one such
>  that none of the virtual desktop is inaccessible. If you do not define a
>  virtual desktop the driver will create one based on the orientation of
>  the heads and size of the largest defined mode in the display section
>  that is supported on each head.
>  The relation of the viewports in specified by the CRT2Position Option.
>  The options are Clone , LeftOf , RightOf , Above , and Below. MergedFB
>  is enabled by default if a monitor is detected on each output.
>  [...]
> Here are pages that detail how to use the radeon driver's MergedFB mode,
> or either driver in xinerama mode, giving some working examples:
> http://dri.freedesktop.org/wiki/MergedFB
> http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=221174
> http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Additional_options_for_the_radeon_driver
> Again, we at CABAL would attempt to walk you through solving that
> configuration problem on any distribution.  Just because one of those
> pages is on an Ubuntu Web forum that is no doubt populated by ernest
> young Ubuntu users telling you that you should run it so _they_ can
> (in theory) help you doesn't mean we need to drink the Kool-Aid.  ;->
> When I say "walk through", I don't mean that solving these setup
> problems is necessarily easy.  We often just Web-search around to find
> promising tips, we trying them out, see what happens, and experiment
> until it works or it's time for dinner.
> A larger point to note is that many problems are best solved in person,
> because we can check your gear directly to see what chipsets it has
> without needing to have a back-and-forth while we tell you how, and
> some problems are just easier with hands on for other reasons.
> Anyway, I hope that helps, and that maybe some time you'll be free to
> join us on a CABAL Saturday.
> ----- End forwarded message -----
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Margaret Wendall
"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" - Juvenal
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