[conspire] (forw) Re: Ubuntu help?
Deirdre Saoirse Moen
deirdre at deirdre.net
Fri May 18 16:43:06 PDT 2012
Chaz has recently moved to the bay area, so I'm not sure he knew about cabal before. He's a cool person.
On May 18, 2012, at 4:35 PM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> ----- Forwarded message from chaz at chazbrenchley.co.uk -----
> Date: Fri, 18 May 2012 23:59:09 +0100
> From: chaz at chazbrenchley.co.uk
> To: rick at linuxmafia.com
> Subject: Ubuntu help?
> Rick -
> In a ballpark sort of way, how much would it cost to have you come
> round here and make Ubuntu work on my computer? (Assuming you were up
> for that kind of low-level work.)
> (This irritates the hell out of me, because I've been using Linux
> almost exclusively - first Suse and now Ubuntu - for twelve years or
> more, but they made it that bit too easy, so I never really learned my
> way around the command line, and now that I need it I just don't have
> the expertise...)
> So, the position is that I bought a cheap HP box, on the assumption
> that there'd be nothing in there too new - but it has an ATI video
> card, which seems to make every distro trip up. A standard boot from a
> Live CD just produces a black screen; if I boot with "nomodeset" in
> the boot command I get a basic screen - the VESA driver, I think -
> which looks awful. I know I ought to be able to download fglrx or
> alternatives - but that's the second half of the problem, that I can't
> get internet access. I stupidly assumed that all PCs these days would
> have a wireless card. Not so. So I bought a USB plug-in, and Ubuntu
> 12.04 recognised it out of the box, and found the network - and won't
> connect. Keeps asking for the password, which I supply (correctly),
> and it dithers for a couple of minutes and asks again. Other people
> have had this, and the internet suggests various remedies, which I
> cannot make to work. Sob.
> So: is this the sort of problem with which you are willing to engage?
> And if so, roughly, what's the going rate? I feel like I've failed
> Geek 101, which really distresses me, but...
> - Chaz
> PS - see you at BayCon, I hope?
> ----- End forwarded message -----
> ----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----
> Date: Fri, 18 May 2012 16:27:40 -0700
> From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
> To: chaz at chazbrenchley.co.uk
> Subject: Re: Ubuntu help?
> Organization: If you lived here, you'd be $HOME already.
> Quoting chaz at chazbrenchley.co.uk (chaz at chazbrenchley.co.uk):
>> Rick -
>> In a ballpark sort of way, how much would it cost to have you come
>> round here and make Ubuntu work on my computer? (Assuming you were
>> up for that kind of low-level work.)
> I'm really sorry, but I just don't have the available time, Chaz.
> I'm a professional system administrator who's on a 24x7 on-call
> commitment most of the time.
> A group of friends and I do help people solve Linux problems on 2nd and
> 4th Saturdays at my wife's and my house in Menlo Park (near Stanford
> U.). It's a group that for in-joke reasons is called CABAL. Please
> see: http://linuxmafia.com/cabal/
>> So, the position is that I bought a cheap HP box, on the assumption
>> that there'd be nothing in there too new - but it has an ATI video
>> card, which seems to make every distro trip up.
> Ja, unfortunately the most ominous adjectives encountered in hardware
> intended for Linux use are 'new' and 'inexpensive'. The latter is
> perhaps surprising, but the manufacturers of some of the very cheap
> components tend to be irrationally zealous in protecting the secrecy of
> their hardware designs, which delays open-source coders in figuring out
> how to make well-functioning drivers.
>> So I bought a USB plug-in, and Ubuntu 12.04 recognised it out of the
>> box, and found the network - and won't connect.
> So, along the lines of the above, I see two possible sources of
> 1. USB is less a standard than a cheap bus over which standards might
> be invented on the fly. Each separate USB device thus tends to pose
> unique and new driver issues.
> Thus, if I wanted to add wireless to a cheap HP _desktop_ box, I would
> have eschewed USB and found a suitable wireless card on PCI form factor.
> However, USB is not in general _that_ problematic, just a bit cheesy and
> problem-plagued. More than likely, your problem is:
> 2. Many designers of wireless chips, especially the cut-rate cheap
> ones (**cough** Broadcom **cough**) are irrationally zealous in
> protecting the secrecy of their hardware designs, fail to cooperate with
> the open source community, _and_ tend to make key functionality
> (especially hardware initialisation at power-up time) depend on
> binary-only 'firmware' files that they then completely fail to permit
> the open-source community to redistribute. Since the open-source
> community is diligent about avoiding copyright violation, they cannot
> lawfully (and do not) include those 'firmware' files in Linux
> distribution media.
> Hence, workarounds are required to pull down those 'firmware' files off
> the Internet and install them with the necessary file names under
> /lib/firmware, whence the starting Linux kernel finds them and loads
> them into memory and uses their contents to initialise the wireless
> For example, here is an Ubuntu package, b43-fwcutter, that when
> installed and its main program executed reaches out across the Internet
> to find a set of published MS-Windows drivers for Broadcom 43xx wireless
> drivers and extracts ('cuts') from the drivers the firmware image, and
> copies it to /lib/firmware .
> More details and background at:
>> Other people have had this, and the internet suggests various
>> remedies, which I cannot make to work. Sob.
> You should be aware that, with Ubuntu specifically, much of the advice
> you will get on Ubuntu-specific forums is really awful. In particular,
> in looking for Ubuntu-related pages about Broadcom wireless 'firmware',
> my Web-searching immediately found discussions on ubuntuforums.org where
> the main advice was to fetch and kludge into one's Ubuntu system the
> extremely bad 100%-binary drivers from Broadcom rather than use the much
> superior open-source b43 driver with the necessary 'firmware' file
> fetched and put into /lib/firmware . Unfortunately, the Ubuntu
> community is pervaded by questionable ideas that will make your life
> harder over the long term rather than easier.
>> PS - see you at BayCon, I hope?
> To be sure!
> I could make a point of bringing some Ubuntu and related resources with
> me to the convention. If you and I have time, I may be able to help
> you. This is in the large category of things that I am willing to do at
> no charge given available time that I am not willing to do for a fee.
> ----- End forwarded message -----
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