Monday, June 27, 2011

Some more things that required tweaking

Touchpad is recognized by the system as a generic PS/2 mouse. As a result, scrolling does not work (that I do not mind much) but more importantly it cannot be disabled while typing. Strangely enough, tapping works.
Patching psmouse.ko (using results in system recognizing the touchpad properly (in particular, touchpad settings in KDE become available).

SD card reader works only after 1394 interface was disabled in BIOS

Monday, June 13, 2011


Hardware profile:
CPU: Intel Core i7-2720QM CPU @ 2.20GH (4 cores, 8 threads)
Memory: 8GB
Display: 1920x1080
Graphics: Nvidia NVS 4200M (512M)
Hard drive: 500GB/7200rpm
WiFi: Intel Centrino Advanced-N + WiMAX 6250 AGN
Bluetooth: Dell Wireless 375 bluetooth module+Dell Travel BT mouse

Stage 1: Partition the disk. It was very tempting to remove Windows altogether. However, unfortunately, sometimes one needs Windows (for example, Netflix chose non-portable and buggy Silverlight rather than portable and more stable Adobe) and Virtual Machines do not always work well.
You immediately realize - for the nth time - that you want to have as little as possible to do Microsoft and Windows. The 500G disk comes partitioned in ONE chunk, and you cannot shrink it, using the built-in Windows tools, more than to 50%, although only 5% of disk space is used! The reason was that some history files for Explorer are marked as unmovable. And you cannot even delete them because they do not really exist!

I used EASEUS partition manager ( that shrunk the partition without any problem whatsoever. It simply ignores non-existent unmovable files.

Sage 2: Installation
I installed Fedora 15 from a Live CD (KDE spin). Several things required a bit of tweaking:

1. The laptop comes with Optimus TM enabled, which results in the nVidia card being shadowed by the on-board graphics controller. BIOS says that this feature should be disables for OS different from Windows.

2. For some reason (completely unclear from the diagnostics) wireless refused to operate until I rebooted into Windows, connected and then rebooted again with Fedora.

3. Once the proprietary nVidia driver is installed, plymouth uses text (this is a common phenomenon). After a bit of research on the web I found that one should add vga=ask in the command line for the kernel. That shows available video modes at the next boot. For E6520 the right one is 0x34D (so after testing it one can replace vga=ask with vga=0x34D). Needless to say, nouveau should be disabled. However, I've spent a lot of time on this since nvidia-settings started crashing. I suspected that plymouth loads some kernel module interfering with nvidia, but it turned out that it's a known bug: nvidia-settings (270.41.06) crashes if $HOME/.nvidia-settings-rc exists. The solution is to run it with --no-config option. The problem disappeared after a couple of upgrades.

4.Bluetooth (and Dell Bluetooth travel mouse): I expected a real fight, but it was relatively easy, although I wish I knew that bluetoothd does not start by default.
The mouse integrates seamlessly with KDE.

What does not work yet:

Reboot: any attempt to reboot the system (from Linux or from Windows) results in a system halt. Windows also turns the power off; Linux doesn't. Still working on it.

VM/Windows partition: I am still trying to figure out how to boot Windows 7 from a virtual machine. VMware-server cannot install properly on Fedora 15, and VMware-player lacks the capability. Besides, Microsoft eliminated hardware profiles from Windows 7 (perhaps, because people were doing just that) and I have heard that once you boot from a Virtual Machine, you cannot boot normally, as the system thinks that it was copied illegally and requires a new activation code.