Archive for the “Hardware” Category

Computer Hardware that I use, have used, or otherwise have experience with. Also my dreams for greater, faster, stronger hardware.

I’ve needed to post something here for a while now. I guess now is as good a time as any for you see, I have a plethora of other activity going at the moment and I can’t actually interact with -any- of it, so I might as well write.

On my primary Windows machine, running XP SP3, I’m engaged in a huge backup. I’ve not accomplished a full backup for better than a year so I’m due. The size is approximately 50GB and I’m only backing it up to a local external USB drive. It’s now on day three. I calculate is has a few hours left to go. In order to allow that machine to run with as much CPU and RAM available to the backup, I’m avoiding using that machine. Please understand, that machine is nearly 10 years old, running a 1GHz processor and a maximum of 512MB of RAM. Yes, I’ve checked and double checked, that’s the maximum the motherboard will take. Sigh.
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My HP ze2315us notebook computer recently developed a problem and it’s going to be a pain to get fixed.  The display has developed a single-pixel wide vertical line about two inches in from the left edge of the screen.  It’s enough to be annoying, but not enough for me to let it loose at the moment.

At first, I tried to find anyplace in town that might service the computer while I waited.  I figured a qualified service center could get a new display on order, then have me in, replace it and we’d be good.  The computer is still under warranty and as it turns out, there are -no- HP authorized service centers that can do warranty work.  What?!  I turns out I have to box up and ship my notebook to some other place for warranty work.  I’m really not a big fan of such practices, especially when I’m fully capable of replacing the display on my own.  To make matter worse, they have this nice disclaimer that you have to sign prior to them working on it. Read the rest of this entry »

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I recently took a Saturday, and installed SUSE Linux 10.0 to my new notebook computer. The installation was to the hard disk this time, versus the Knoppix boot I had done previously. Installing to the hard disk went smoothly and I was smiling happy by the end of the day.

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Briefly: How I got Knoppix 4.x to work on my new HP ze2315us to include sound, video and wireless.
Related blog postings (as I have time to write them):

Knoppix 4.0.2 on HP ze2315us

SUSE 10.0 on HP ze2315us

After over four years of using a refurbished HP n5120 notebook computer, I found it was time to upgrade. Rather, it was time to buy a new one, not that the old one doesn’t work anymore, it does. The old one performs marvelously, it’s just getting a bit slow and outdated. After looking through the ads in Sunday’s paper, I found what looked to be a good deal at Office Depot for an HP model, so I took a look the next day, Monday.

What I came away with, was not the advertised special, but rather, another clearance model that was sold out, except for the display model. This fact alone got me an additional 10% off the posted price. Between the 10% display model discount, the $200 Office Depot rebate and the $50 HP rebate. . . my end cost (once rebates are received) will be about $550. Though not “feature packed”, this notebook has everything I should need for the foreseeable future.

I purchased an HP ze2315us. It would appear to be a special model, similar to those greatly discounted models given away by Wal-Mart earlier this Christmas. It has an AMD Sempron processor, 512MB RAM, a 60G Hard disk, a couple of USB ports, and other standard I/O. It does however, lack a docking port of any kind, which I’m only a little bummed about, and does not contain the additional two USB ports, or media card ports of the full-feature model. At first, I was very disappointed, mostly at myself because I hadn’t thought to look closely enough when I first purchased it; I was in lust with the price. And after trying Ubuntu 5.10 Live and Knoppix 3.2, without full success, I almost took it back. That all changed after a little research on the internet.

Enter Linux on Laptops, where I found at least one other person had tried, and there were testimonials about Linux working on other similar HP models. Okay, it was worth a little more trying.

The Plan:
– Download and burn a copy of SUSE 10.0 Live DVD
– Try a burn of Knoppix 4.x
– Try different boot parameters on the Ubuntu Live CD

The Results:
– Ubuntu still won’t work
– Knoppix, was a total success
– SUSE 10.0 looks good as well.

The short story:
I started off with the Ubuntu 5.10 live CD, rebooting several times and passing it various boot paramaters such as vga=771, noapic, pci=noacpi, etc. all with no luck. The system would boot through to the graphic interface but not actually build it on the screen. I would get an error message about the graphic display not being correct, and then before I had a chance to answer yes, or no to reviewing the problem, the system would start respawning endlessly. I was totally helpless. So I finally gave up on Ubuntu. It may be noted however, the disc I was using works fine in another desktop system. So, strike one against the new HP notebook. Let’s move on the Knoppix.

I have Knoppix actually installed on my other HP notebook, in a dual boot partition. I can run either Windows, or Knoppix, selected at boot time. It’s worked very well on that computer. However, when I tried that same version of Knoppix on the ze2315us, it didn’t quite work as desired. First, though it -did- build the graphic display properly, there was -no- sound, and wireless was right out.

Now I should explain that my older HP has no internal wireless card; I have to use PCMCIA or USB wireless devices, and I’ve never actually got anything working via Linux. My hope here was that systems have progressed to a point that I might be able to use the internal wireless with Linux. So I needed to do some investigation. Right off the bat, I now knew the old version of Knoppix I was using, wasn’t going to work, but I also knew there had been several revisions of Knoppix since the version I was using.

I grabbed my latest Knoppix burn from work and proceeded to try it out on the new notebook. The first thing I noticed was that sound worked; I immediately squirmed in my seat, this might work after all. The keyboard repeat rate was extremely annoying and virtually un-adjustable since I was running a live CD at the moment, but I got through it. The major work involved trying to get the wireless working.

Knoppix 4.x comes with some tools for working with wireless, this was the good news. The bad news was, it wasn’t quite working as well as I wanted. After doing some reading from Linux on Laptops, I found that one person had to install the drivers using the ndiswrappers. Knoppix comes with a utility that is supposed to configure the ndiswrapper once you point to the .inf file for the driver you need. In my case, it just didn’t work; the utility kept telling me the file was corrupt, or failed to load. This meant I had to do a few things by hand. Working from instructions found on another site linked from Linux on Laptops, I manually installed the drivers using the ndiswrapper. Everything checked out just as it was in those instructions. Then using things like ifconfig, and the WLAN Configurator in Knoppix, before long, the Wireless LED was ON, telling me the wireless was active. Then using the Knoppix wireless utility for connections, I was able to connect to my home wireless network and actually surf the internet.

Well, that did it. I was sold. I got sound, I got video, right off the bat using Knoppix 4.x. I was able to get wireless using the ndiswrapper; I got all the functionality I really needed. At this point I was very glad I had not taken the notebook back to the store, and instead had invested a little more time in discovery. Next, I was going to try the SUSE 10.0 Live DVD, because when I install Linux, it will most likely be a SUSE install.

Now one must remember, that because I was using Knoppix from a live CD, all changes I made while running would be lost. Therefore, once I restarted the computer, all the ndiswrapper stuff I had done to enable wireless connectivity, would be gone. I wasn’t sad about that though, because I knew it worked. At this point, I just needed to see if SUSE was going to work right off, or if it was going to have problems.

SUSE 10.0 live DVD booted just fine. The graphics loaded perfectly. I have not yet tried sound or wireless, as I ran out of time, but I will tonight. Knowing that I was able to get wireless working under Knoppix, I have a high confidence I can get it working under SUSE. As I recall, SUSE does not have a default start-up sound, though I may be wrong, which is why I believe I didn’t hear any sound. I will need to check if sound works under SUSE 10.0 or not, and if not, I’ll see how difficult or easy it is to get working.

I plan to work out the details and document them in separate posts. Once that is done, I will have them linked at the top of this page.

Linux has certainly come quite a long way since I first started playing with it almost 10 years ago. I was pleased at how little I really had to do in the end, to get everything I wanted, working. I am most pleased with how I was able to get it all working on a notebook computer that I got a killer deal on though. Happiness all around.

Asa Jay

Linux On Laptops

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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton