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Wednesday 21 May 2008

Stop distracting wireless led blinking

While there's lots to like about my current laptop, one thing that had been quite annoying was the wireless indicator led. For a long time, it didn't function at all, because iwl4965 didn't contain support for driving it. Recently (effectively starting with Fedora 9 for me), that support came in, but now it's not annoying because you can't tell whether wireless is enabled, rather because the led is blinking all the time, which is a distraction.

I liked the behavior of my old laptop's ipw2200 much better: blink while searching/associating with a network, and then stay on constantly. Happily, Erich Schubert just pointed out how to fix the iwl4965 blinking behavior. That script is (I think) for Debian/Ubuntu, and a slightly different kind is needed on Fedora. I'm not sure this is the best way to go about it, but at least it works for me: put the following in /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/iwl-no-blink

if [ "$0" = "wlan0" ]; then
    for dir in /sys/class/leds/iwl-phy*X; do
        echo none > $dir/trigger

Wednesday 29 August 2007

Working 3D on the 965GM

I took a second (third, whatever) look at how to get 3D acceleration enabled with the TravelMate, and finally found the clue to avoiding a display lockup the moment an OpenGL application was started.

Fedora 7 will not support it as-is. You'll need at least kernel ( is now in updates) and Mesa 6.5.3. I found it easiest to install Richard Hughes' "Utopia" builds of mesa-libGL and libdrm and a rebuilt fc8 xorg-x11-drv-i810. With these three packages, DRI can now be enabled and the machine is stable. Performance isn't stellar, but it's plenty enough to enjoy compiz and a slightly blinged up desktop, which is essentially what I was looking for, anyway. Ready-made binary attached. Remember, you need to update the kernel and drm bits too with the linked stuff.

Tuesday 21 August 2007

Acer Crystal Eye and GStreamer

The Crystal Eye webcam in new Acer laptops, my TravelMate 6292 included, works with the linux-uvc driver, as I noted before. To use it in GStreamer applications, you need to have the v4l2src component, which recently moved from the gstreamer-plugins-bad collection to gstreamer-plugins-good. In Fedora 7, you must have g-p-g version 0.10.6, which was just released to updates-testing (in a few days in updates, I would expect).

Update: With Fedora 9 or 10, you need nothing extra: the default installs of gstreamer-plugins-good and kernel already have everything built-in. Just set your default video input to Video for Linux 2 in gstreamer-properties.

If you don't want to build linux-uvc yourself (it's very easy), you may want to enable the drpixel yum repo that has it pre-built for Fedora kernels.

rpm -ivh
yum --enablerepo=updates-testing --enablerepo=drpixel install gstreamer-plugins-good kmod-uvc

To test it, run:

gst-launch v4l2src queue-size=2 !  ffmpegcolorspace ! ximagesink

Wednesday 1 August 2007

Sound on Acer Travelmate 6292 under Linux

I know I said I'd wait until the end of my vacation to tinker with audio on this laptop, but I couldn't help it -- I wanted to watch DVDs, and movies without sound aren't all that great an experience. So, I had to dig in and see what the solution is.

Not all that easy, it turns out. Fedora 7's latest update kernel still has no support for the Realtek ALC268 sound codec, despite supporting a number of other codecs in Santa Rosa-based laptops. The latest development version of ALSA does have support for a couple of laptops with the 268 chip, but not the TM 6292. Another patch does exist that gets closer, and I made a version on top of that one that provides rudimentary support.

That is, the speakers work now, and so does the headphone jack. However, plugging in the headphones doesn't mute the speakers, and there is only one volume control for both of them. Actually, there are three (called Headphone, PCM, and Front), but only two of them do anything, and they do the same thing (control the volume of both speakers and headphones). Microphone input doesn't work at all. However, all those details are way beyond what I want to know about audio hardware control, and I'm satisfied enough to simply get some sound out of the machine for now. Some other enterprising soul may fill in the blanks.

Patch filed at ALSA's bug tracker. If you're using the kernel (the latest update Fedora 7 kernel as of this moment), you can download a replacement snd-hda-intel.ko kernel module that should enable sound for this machine. Install with

rm /lib/modules/
cp snd-hda-intel.ko /lib/modules/
depmod -ae
kill $(lsof -t /dev/snd/*)
modprobe -r snd-hda-intel
modprobe snd-hda-intel

Wednesday 18 July 2007

Acer TravelMate 6292 and Fedora 7 Linux

As I mentioned in my previous note, my previous laptop destroyed its fan last week. Since it had started to show its age in other respects as well and was deemed not worth repairing, I got a new one yesterday -- an Acer TravelMate 6292. This is a Core 2 Duo / Santa Rosa chipset based model, with some pretty cutting-edge technology inside. I'll write down the details later when typing is easier, but for anyone who might be considering one to use with Linux: yes, it does work, quite well in fact, but a bit of tweaking is required due to its very new components.

Update: it's been 17 months since I wrote this post, and it keeps being one of the more popular things in this blog. Time to add some up-to-date detail.

  • Fedora 7 LiveCD didn't like to boot, possibly due to a missing driver (it didn't like my previous laptop's external Firewire CD drive either). It might be possible to work around by changing BIOS settings, but I borrowed a USB CD drive instead. Update: this hasn't been a problem since F8.

  • Otherwise, the LiveCD install experience (including resizing and moving the Windows partition out of the way) was a very smooth one. I hadn't done this before, and was positively surprised. I'm certain Microsoft hasn't made their install this smooth, and I doubt Apple has, either. Much recommended, if you're even a little bit curious.

  • Network-based update post-install no problem using a wired network. All in all, the install took about 1 hour to move Windows partition, 20 minutes to install Fedora, and 30 minutes for it to load updates afterwards (this was surprisingly slow for some reason).

  • Wireless (Intel Wireless 4965 A/G/N adapter) driver (iwlwifi) was preinstalled, but the required firmware wasn't (the package only included firmware for the previous model, 3945). No problem, just install iwlwifi-4965-ucode from ATrpms. Update: Intel has an official wireless site for the firmware.

  • Things which worked without any effort at all: battery monitoring, CPU frequency control, temperature monitoring, wired Ethernet, Bluetooth, docking station, and many other things I take for granted. In fact, the machine was entirely functional save for the missing wireless adapter microcode straight off the LiveCD, and all that I did for it was to improve performance past the "functional" stage.

  • Display was a bit fuzzy, and 3D acceleration didn't work. This was because the preinstalled Xorg Intel driver v 2.0 includes only basic support for GMA X3100. Both problems disappear by installing a new kernel (for updated 3D/DRI driver) and Xorg 1.3.0/Intel 2.1.0 (for 2D etc), ie by running this command: Update: Display has worked perfectly since F8 and the Intel driver keeps improving in capabilities and performance
  • Both suspend-to-ram (S3) and hibernate-to-disk work fine, once the usb drivers are forced out of the kernel prior to suspend. Create /etc/pm/config.d/unload_modules with one line:

    SUSPEND_MODULES="ehci_hcd ohci_hcd uhci_hcd"
  • Update: The Crystal Eye webcam (USB ID 064e:a101) works using the linux-uvc driver, which needs to be installed from source (download, extract, make, make install) is included in the kernel since F9. Make sure you configure each application to use V4L2 instead of the old V4L API. For example with Ekiga, choose V4L2 instead of V4L in the configuration druid or in the Video Devices Preferences. Same goes for anything based on GStreamer.
  • Something still to do about audio, apparently common to many Santa Rosa laptops and the ALSA Intel HD Audio driver, at least ones which use a Realtek codec. Notes from Ubuntu might guide you along - me, I'll try again after my vacations. Perhaps someone else will bother to fix this one. :) Update: Sound playback as well as recording work - though the recording quality isn't quite what I would expect from a "noise cancelling" three-mic setup the hardware has. I never tested it under Windows, though, so I can't say how close this is to intended quality.

  • Haven't tried to use the fingerprint reader (USB ID 147e:2016) yet, the biometrics libraries required look a bit overwhelming to install. Update: this is still not out-of-the-box functional, but the ever-industrious Bastien Nocera has recently packaged libfprint and fprintd for inclusion in Fedora 11. I've tested those packages, and they support the hardware - not quite ready for end-users, though.