Update Dell BIOS

I found this article that describes updating the BIOS, so I thought I would give it a try.

Here is the first command:

sudo apt-get install libsmbios-bin

Then, I ran the command to see what version my laptop was currently on:

sudo getSystemId

Here are the first few lines of the output (the version is A07):

Libsmbios version:      2.2.13
Product Name:           Inspiron 1720
Vendor:                 Dell Inc.
BIOS Version:           A07

On support.dell.com, I found that the latest version out there is A09.  Then, I used wine to extract the header:

 wine 1720_A09.EXE –writehdrfile

Sure enough, it created the hdr file:

$ ls *.hdr
1720_A09.hdr

Next, I loaded the module:

sudo modprobe dell_rbu

Finally, I ran the update:

sudo dellBiosUpdate -u -f 1720_A09.hdr

Here is the output:

Performing BIOS update...
Update successfully staged. Reboot the system to begin BIOS update.
No reboot option specified. The --reboot option is highly recommended.
Finally, I had to reboot.  After the reboot, I found I now had version A09.

XRandr

I found that the xrandr features did not work with my NVidia driver in my old laptop.  I had to use the nvidia-settings tool, which worked with shortcomings.  But, my new laptop has an Intel video card.  The xrandr works with it.

Here are the commands that are working for me:

switching to dual monitors

xrandr --output VGA --auto --output LVDS --auto --right-of VGA

What did not work:

  • Leaves a black section on three quarters of the bottom of my laptop LCD panel.
  • only puts the applications menu and application switcher on the external Monitor — I would rather it be on the LCD panel
  • Only displays the monitor at 1024×768 @60hz.  I need it higher than 60hz for the flicker.

switching back to a single monitor

xrandr  --output VGA --off

What did not work:

  • did not move my windows back to the center, may have been because it thought they were on the left screen.

Changes to xorg.conf

I had to add the virtual setting in the Screen section.  Also, I had to add the mode to make the monitor use a 85hz instead of 60hz.

What did not work:

  • I have to start XWindows with the external monitor unplugged.  Otherwise, the laptop uses the 1024×768 setting from the monitor for the laptop screen, which is normally 1440×900.

Resources

NVidia Drivers for Fedora 9 Update

Ok, Fedora 9 was released yesterday, and the driver issue was not fixed.

As far as I can find on the Internet, Xorg 7.4 is supposed to come out this month (May 2008).  An exact date is not mentioned anywhere.  I read somewhere that NVidia will wait until Xorg releases the version before releasing their driver.

In the meantime, RandR is my goal.  I want to take advantage of this new feature:
Xorg RandR 1.2 howto

Resources

The Progress of X.Org 7.4

Email on Fedora’s Involvement

X.Org Website

Nvidia Drivers for Fedora 9

This will probably be fixed by the time Fedora 9 is released, but I had trouble getting the NVidia drivers to work.

I tried the rpm packages from AtRPMS, but I couldn’t get them to work.  First of all, they forced me to downgrade to the kernel version 2.6.25-1 (I was at 2.6.25-8).  Then, they didn’t install the nvidia-settings program and didn’t update xorg.conf.  Finally, when I tried to update xorg.conf, XWindows wouldn’t start.

So, I decided to manually install the drivers.

The latest version that I found on the website was:

NVIDIA-Linux-x86-169.12-pkg1.run

I had to update to the latest kernel release again because I couldn’t find drivers for the one that I was on.  And, when I tried to compile it, I got an error.  Looking in /var/log/nvidia-installer.log, I found:
/tmp/selfgz5981/NVIDIA-Linux-x86-169.12-pkg1/usr/src/nv/nv-vm.c: In function
‘nv_flush_caches’:
/tmp/selfgz5981/NVIDIA-Linux-x86-169.12-pkg1/usr/src/nv/nv-vm.c:364: error:
implicit declaration of function ‘global_flush_tlb’
make[4]: *** [/tmp/selfgz5981/NVIDIA-Linux-x86-169.12-pkg1/usr/src/nv/nv-vm.
o] Error 1
make[3]: *** [_module_/tmp/selfgz5981/NVIDIA-Linux-x86-169.12-pkg1/usr/src/n
v] Error 2
make[2]: *** [sub-make] Error 2
NVIDIA: left KBUILD.
nvidia.ko failed to build!
make[1]: *** [module] Error 1
make: *** [module] Error 2

Then, I found an FTP link where later drivers were listed.  I tried the 173.08 version.  After manually deleting a broken link created by the previous install (/usr/lib/xorg/modules/libwfb.so), it compiled without a problem.  But, I could not start the XWindows.

Here is what I got:
(EE) module ABI major version (0) doesn't match the server's version (1)
(EE) Failed to load module "glx" (module requirement mismatch, 0)
================ WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING ================
This server has a video driver ABI version of 4.0 that this
driver does not officially support. Please check
http://www.nvidia.com/ for driver updates or downgrade to an X
server with a supported driver ABI.
=================================================================
dlopen: /usr/lib/xorg/modules//libwfb.so: undefined symbol: miZeroLineScreenIndex
(EE) Failed to load /usr/lib/xorg/modules//libwfb.so
(EE) Failed to load module "wfb" (loader failed, 7)
(EE) NVIDIA(0): This video driver ABI is not supported.
(EE) NVIDIA(0): Use the -ignoreABI option to override this check.

The best information that I can find so far, is that NVidia does not support the latest version of XWindows yet.

Conclusion

So far, I have determined I have to wait for NVidia to update their drivers.  I am hoping they will have it done in the next couple of weeks only because Fedora 9′s release dates is in 14 days.

Resources

Thread pointing to the latest drivers

Thread on incompatibility

Advanced Driver Search

Another Thread

Bug: Fedora 8 Test 2 Boot

Fedora 8 Test 2 freezes when I try to boot it. This happens both with the install DVD and once I have it installed. I need to try to “post a report”, but until I figure out how, here is the output:

Linux Plug and Play Support v0.97 (c) Adam Belay
pnp: PnP ACPI init
ACPI: bus type pnp registered
pnp: PnP ACPI: found 11 devices
ACPI: ACPI bus type pnp unregistered
usbcore: registered new interface driver usbfs
usbcore: registered new interface driver hub
usbcore: registered new device driver usb
PCI: Using ACPI for IRQ routing
PCI: If a device doesn’t work, try “pci=routeirq”. If it helps, post a report

For now, I am trying out Ubuntu. I am kind of dead in the water with Fedora right now unless I go back to Fedora 6 or maybe 7.

Update: Here is the bug — 316811

Actually, I did not do a good job searching for a bug.  My bug was marked duplicate and here is the actual bug: 299301

Laptop Specs and Linux Status

Model: Acer Aspire 9300

Acer Website Specs

I have installed Fedora Core 6, and below are the things I have working so far.

Component Specs Working In Linux
Screen 17″ WXGA Works great at 1440×900@50hz
Video Card nVidia GeForce Go 6100 Works by installing nvidia driver rpm from freshrpms repository;
had one small problem with Beryl and NVidia combination.
Installing Nvidia Driver
DVD/CD DVD & CD Burner CD works fine — burned both CD and DVD from K3b
Touchpad “Scroll wheel” does not work, but the touchpad works fine as a regular mouse.
Camera Not Sure
Modem Not Sure Haven’t tried to use it
Ethernet nVidia Corporation MCP51 Ethernet Controller Works fine
Wireless Atheros AR5005G 802.11abg Works by installing madwifi rpm from freshrpms repository
Audio nVidia Corporation MCP51 High Definition Audio Works fine — had a little hickup with a kernel upgrade. Forced change to Alsa drivers and had to adjust volume for Alsa.
Card Reader Texas Instruments 5-in-1 Multimedia Card Reader Not Sure; never used it.

lspci listing:

00:00.0 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation C51 Host Bridge (rev a2)
00:00.1 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation C51 Memory Controller 0 (rev a2)
00:00.2 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation C51 Memory Controller 1 (rev a2)
00:00.3 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation C51 Memory Controller 5 (rev a2)
00:00.4 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation C51 Memory Controller 4 (rev a2)
00:00.5 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation C51 Host Bridge (rev a2)
00:00.6 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation C51 Memory Controller 3 (rev a2)
00:00.7 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation C51 Memory Controller 2 (rev a2)
00:02.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation C51 PCI Express Bridge (rev a1)
00:03.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation C51 PCI Express Bridge (rev a1)
00:04.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation C51 PCI Express Bridge (rev a1)
00:05.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation C51 PCI Express Bridge (rev a2)
00:09.0 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation MCP51 Host Bridge (rev a2)
00:0a.0 ISA bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP51 LPC Bridge (rev a3)
00:0a.1 SMBus: nVidia Corporation MCP51 SMBus (rev a3)
00:0a.3 Co-processor: nVidia Corporation MCP51 PMU (rev a3)
00:0b.0 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation MCP51 USB Controller (rev a3)
00:0b.1 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation MCP51 USB Controller (rev a3)
00:0d.0 IDE interface: nVidia Corporation MCP51 IDE (rev f1)
00:10.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP51 PCI Bridge (rev a2)
00:10.1 Audio device: nVidia Corporation MCP51 High Definition Audio (rev a2)
00:14.0 Bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP51 Ethernet Controller (rev a3)
00:18.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] HyperTransport Technology Configuration
00:18.1 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] Address Map
00:18.2 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] DRAM Controller
00:18.3 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] Miscellaneous Control
04:05.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications, Inc. AR5005G 802.11abg NIC (rev 01)
04:06.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCIxx12 Cardbus Controller
04:06.2 Mass storage controller: Texas Instruments 5-in-1 Multimedia Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO/xD)

smoltSendProfile

We are about to send the following information to the Fedora Smolt server:

UUID: 727afa5c-bf79-46ea-a530-a1ccd4b6dca3
OS: Fedora Core release 6 (Zod)
defaultRunlevel: 5
language: en_US.UTF-8
platform: x86_64
bogomips: 1608.26
CPUVendor: AuthenticAMD
CPUModel: AMD Turion(tm) 64 X2 Mobile Technology TL-50
numCPUs: 2
CPUSpeed: 1600
systemMemory: 873
systemSwap: 1759
vendor: Acer
system: Aspire 9300 0100
formfactor: laptop
kernel: 2.6.19-1.2911.fc6

Devices
=================================
(4318:760:4133:274) pci, Unknown, OTHER, C51 Memory Controller 5
(4318:761:4133:274) pci, Unknown, OTHER, C51 Memory Controller 4
(4318:583:4133:274) pci, nvidia, VIDEO, C51 PCI Express Bridge
(4318:755:4133:274) pci, Unknown, OTHER, C51 Host Bridge
(4318:639:4133:274) pci, Unknown, OTHER, C51 Memory Controller 3
(1204:32897:None:None) usb, usbhid, OTHER, USB HID Interface
(1204:32897:None:None) usb, usbhid, OTHER, USB HID Interface
(None:None:None:None) input, Unknown, None, PC Speaker
(None:None:None:None) usb_device, Unknown, None, USB Raw Device Access
(None:None:None:None) ide, ide-cdrom, None, IDE device (master)
(None:None:None:None) ide, ide-disk, None, IDE device (master)
(4318:625:4133:274) pci, Unknown, OTHER, MCP51 PMU
(4318:624:4133:274) pci, Unknown, OTHER, MCP51 Host Bridge
(4318:762:4133:274) pci, Unknown, OTHER, C51 Memory Controller 0
(4318:763:0:0) pci, pcieport-driver, OTHER, C51 PCI Express Bridge
(4318:764:0:0) pci, pcieport-driver, OTHER, C51 PCI Express Bridge
(4318:765:0:0) pci, pcieport-driver, OTHER, C51 PCI Express Bridge
(4318:766:4133:274) pci, Unknown, OTHER, C51 Memory Controller 1
(4318:767:4133:274) pci, Unknown, OTHER, C51 Host Bridge
(None:None:None:None) net, Unknown, NETWORK, Networking Interface
(None:None:None:None) serio, Unknown, None, i8042 AUX0 port
(4318:638:4133:274) pci, Unknown, OTHER, C51 Memory Controller 2
(None:None:None:None) platform, Unknown, None, Platform Device (bluetooth)
(4172:32827:4133:274) pci, tifm_7xx1, OTHER, 5-in-1 Multimedia Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO/xD)
(None:None:None:None) pnp, i8042 aux, None, PnP Device (SYN0302)
(None:None:None:None) input, Unknown, None, Cypress PS/2 to USB Adapter
(4318:617:4133:274) pci, forcedeth, OTHER, MCP51 Ethernet Controller
(4318:608:4133:274) pci, Unknown, OTHER, MCP51 LPC Bridge
(4318:612:4133:274) pci, nForce2_smbus, OTHER, MCP51 SMBus
(4318:613:4133:274) pci, AMD_IDE, IDE, MCP51 IDE
(1026:22018:None:None) usb, Unknown, OTHER, USB Vendor Specific Interface
(None:None:None:None) input, Unknown, None, SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad
(None:None:None:None) usb_device, Unknown, None, USB Raw Device Access
(4172:32825:4133:274) pci, yenta_cardbus, SOCKET, PCIxx12 Cardbus Controller
(4318:620:4133:274) pci, HDA Intel, OTHER, MCP51 High Definition Audio
(4318:621:4133:274) pci, ohci_hcd, USB, MCP51 USB Controller
(4318:622:4133:274) pci, ehci_hcd, USB, MCP51 USB Controller
(4318:623:0:0) pci, Unknown, OTHER, MCP51 PCI Bridge
(None:None:None:None) platform, i8042, None, Platform Device (i8042)
(None:None:None:None) platform, pcspkr, None, Platform Device (pcspkr)
(None:None:None:None) usb_device, Unknown, None, USB Raw Device Access
(None:None:None:None) usb_device, Unknown, None, USB Raw Device Access
(None:None:None:None) net, Unknown, NETWORK, Networking Wireless Control Interface
(None:None:None:None) serio, Unknown, None, i8042 AUX1 port
(4130:4352:0:0) pci, Unknown, OTHER, K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] HyperTransport Technology Configuration
(4130:4353:0:0) pci, Unknown, OTHER, K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] Address Map
(4130:4354:0:0) pci, k8_edac, OTHER, K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] DRAM Controller
(4130:4355:0:0) pci, k8temp, OTHER, K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] Miscellaneous Control
(None:None:None:None) input, Unknown, None, Cypress PS/2 to USB Adapter
(None:None:None:None) net, Unknown, NETWORK, WLAN Interface
(None:None:None:None) serio, Unknown, None, i8042 AUX2 port
(None:None:None:None) pnp, i8042 kbd, None, IBM Enhanced (101/102-key, PS/2 mouse support)
(None:None:None:None) serio, psmouse, None, i8042 AUX3 port
(None:None:None:None) serio, atkbd, None, i8042 KBD port
(None:None:None:None) input, Unknown, KEYBOARD, AT Translated Set 2 keyboard
(None:None:None:None) platform, Unknown, None, Platform Device (vesafb.0)
(None:None:None:None) platform, serial8250, None, Platform Device (serial8250)
(5772:26:5224:1048) pci, ath_pci, OTHER, AR5005G 802.11abg NIC

Send this information to the Smolt server? (y/n)

My Last HP Computer

I don’t think I will ever buy a Hewlett-Packard again!

After looking around, I decided on an HP laptop that I found at Circuit City. It was fully featured, but at the same time the price was very reasonable.

The model: dv9010us

The outside was sleek and shiny, and it just looked impressive. I really liked the bright shiny 17″ screen and the keyboard with the 10-key. I was a little apprehensive about buying another HP after mine just quit on me, but after all, mine was 2 years old. I also noticed that they had moved the power connection from the back to the side. Maybe it was improved to avoid issues like my old one.

Everything was great until I started using the CD burner. Of course, with new laptops, you don’t get any hard copies of the software; you have to burn backup DVDs just in case. The first DVD burned just fine with no problem at all. The second one did not! The first try failed part way through leaving me with a coaster. The second try, the same thing happend. The third left me with three wasted DVDs and no alternative.

So, I called HP technical support, and talked to a very nice representative. Although he tried to sell me the extra warranty, he also helped me with my problem. He logged into my computer and watched me try it again. Of course, it worked for him with no special tricks.

Next, of course, I tried to install Linux. I downloaded the 6 CDs for Fedora and attempted to burn them. But, I could not, for the life of me, get the first one to burn. The computer came with Sonic, which was easy enough to use. I double clicked on the iso file, and then, told it to burn the CD. After the first one failed, I changed the maximum speed to 16x. But, again it failed.

So, back to HP support I went. The person had me right click on the CD drive in My Computer and check to make sure that CD burning was enabled. It was — no fix. Then, she had me check the services panel to see if the “IMAPI CD-Burning COM Service” was running. Before I could check it out, I received an important phone call, and I had to tell her that I would call her back. None of the technicians that I would talk to later knew anything about the service that she had me look at.

The next person’s conclusion was that my media was bad. I had used that batch of CDs in my old laptop with no problem. They were 52x Memorex CDRs. But, the technician claimed that you could only use HP or Sony CDs with the CD burner.

So, off to the store I went to get some CDs. I was low on time, and Walmart was the only thing I could get to during my lunch break. The only Sony CDs they had were CD-RW, which actually was great since I would not have to waste the CDs each time I tried.

The next technician walked me through burning just a basic CD with some pictures on it. Of course, it worked for her! I later determined that it was probably because the CD was not very full. I had trouble later when I tried to burn a CD to backup the all pictures on the laptop including the ones the technician tried. The complete set of pictures almost filled up the CD and did not successfully burn. That technician’s conclusion was that I needed to pay extra for the next level of support so that I could have someone teach me how to burn a CD. I asked to talk to a manager, and had to press the issue. We conveniently got disconnected when she tried to transfer me.

I called back to talk to the next technician and immediately asked for a manager. This technician insisted that he could help. He offered several suggestions that would just prolong the pain. His last suggestion was to restore the laptop back to factory settings. I, of course, had a few things to save before I could even attempt that. He also said that if it did not work he could send me a new CD drive in the mail. But, the drive would not get there for 2-3 business days, and I would be gone on a business trip. When I got back from the business trip, it would be too late to return the laptop to Circuit City.

Final conclusion, return the laptop. Even if I did get a new CD Drive, it would probably be refurbished. Would it work? Was the CD Drive the problem? Could it be the mother board or the hard drive? I did not want to spend the rest of the laptop’s life on the phone with HP.

The technicians were probably the main reason I felt I needed to return the laptop. While they said they could fix the problem, they were not convincing. They retried things that a previous technician had already tried. If they were purposely double checking the result, they did not give me any indication. None of them seemed to know what an “ISO” file was — they only knew how to burn pictures or documents. Finally, while the one technicians insisted that they had a process that they had to go through, I could see no pattern or process in the things they were trying. They did not listen very well and were very quick to jump to the conclusion that I was doing something wrong whether it be what I was doing or the media I was using.

So, I don’t plan on buying another HP any time soon.

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