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Installing Linux on a Toshiba Tecra S2 Laptop



The Acer Aspire 1511 LMI is an AMD64 based laptop. I obtained mine in june 2004. The machine is based around the following CPU:

processor       : 0
vendor_id       : AuthenticAMD
cpu family      : 15
model           : 4
model name      : AMD Athlon(tm) 64 Processor 3000+
stepping        : 10
cpu MHz         : 1800.000
cache size      : 1024 KB
fdiv_bug        : no
hlt_bug         : no
f00f_bug        : no
coma_bug        : no
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level     : 1
wp              : yes
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush mmx fxsr sse sse2 syscall nx mmxext lm 3dnowext 3dnow up ts fid vid ttp
bogomips        : 3594.80

I've used this machine both running a 64 bit gentoo and 32 bit Debian and now 32 bit Ubuntu. The main reason why I don't use any 64bit OS on it is because of the lack of proper wireless support. The cpu also has 64k l1 chace and using powernow it support 3 throttling modes:

[17179595.372000] powernow-k8: Found 1 AMD Athlon 64 / Opteron processors (version 1.60.2)
[17179595.372000] powernow-k8:    0 : fid 0xa (1800 MHz), vid 0x2 (1500 mV)
[17179595.372000] powernow-k8:    1 : fid 0x8 (1600 MHz), vid 0x6 (1400 mV)
[17179595.372000] powernow-k8:    2 : fid 0x0 (800 MHz), vid 0x12 (1100 mV)

The following PCI devices are available:

edb@elske:~$ lspci 
00:00.0 Host bridge: nVidia Corporation nForce3 Host Bridge (rev a4)
00:01.0 ISA bridge: nVidia Corporation nForce3 LPC Bridge (rev a6)
00:01.1 SMBus: nVidia Corporation nForce3 SMBus (rev a4)
00:02.0 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation nForce3 USB 1.1 (rev a5)
00:02.1 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation nForce3 USB 1.1 (rev a5)
00:02.2 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation nForce3 USB 2.0 (rev a2)
00:06.0 Multimedia audio controller: nVidia Corporation nForce3 Audio (rev a2)
00:06.1 Modem: nVidia Corporation nForce3 Audio (rev a2)
00:08.0 IDE interface: nVidia Corporation nForce3 IDE (rev a5)
00:0a.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation nForce3 PCI Bridge (rev a2)
00:0b.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation nForce3 AGP Bridge (rev a4)
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
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation NV36 [GeForce FX Go5700] (rev a1)
02:06.0 Ethernet controller: Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5788 Gigabit Ethernet (rev 03)
02:07.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI4510 PC card Cardbus Controller (rev 02)
02:07.1 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments PCI4510 IEEE-1394 Controller
02:08.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4306 802.11b/g Wireless LAN Controller (rev 03)

A main problem I had when using Debian earlier was that I was unable to query the battery status which was due to a faulty DSDT (documented here for example). I have no clue wheter this is an Ubuntu fix or something generic but querying the batter information isn't that grand now but at least you're getting some estimate now. Suspend to ram and hibernate are fully functional now, although I can't recall if suspend to RAM worked previous also.
The gigabit ethernet onboard is simply a tg3 and as rather default that simply works.

Hard disk throughput:
edb@elske:~$ hdparm -tT /dev/hda
/dev/hda: Permission denied
edb@elske:~$ sudo hdparm -tT /dev/hda

 Timing cached reads:   1476 MB in  2.00 seconds = 737.19 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads:   80 MB in  3.02 seconds =  26.51 MB/sec

The installation

Well I simply wrote the CD, performed that install and a basic system was up and running. The only thing giving me troubles was the wlan which is described below. After the installation I used EasyUbuntu to get flash, java, nvidia etc installed. 3D acceleration is only a matter of getting running nvidia-xconfig.


The major pain in the ass on this laptop is getting the wireless to work. After a defult Edgy install is kinda 'sees' the wireless interface but everything related to getting it work fails. This is mainly traced back to

[17179590.412000] bcm43xx: Error: Microcode "bcm43xx_microcode5.fw" not available or load failed.

Some tutorials on the Internet suggest using some fwcutter tool to obtain this microcode, but the same tutorials say this will result in a degraded performance. So I decided to follow the ndiswrapper way. So I simply installed the following packages:

edb@elske:~$ dpkg -l | grep ndis
ii  ndiswrapper-common                         1.18-1ubuntu2                 Userspace utilities for ndiswrapper
ii  ndiswrapper-utils-1.8                      1.18-1ubuntu2                 Userspace utilities for ndiswrapper

After this ndiswrapper still requires the original windows drivers. I downloaded this from: ACER, more specifically this file. (Mental note, mirror this file). Once extraced you'll see:

edb@elske:/tmp$ find 80211G/

A quick overview of the ndis flags:

edb@elske:/tmp$ ndiswrapper 
Usage: ndiswrapper OPTION

Manage ndis drivers for ndiswrapper.
-i inffile        Install driver described by 'inffile'
-d devid driver   Use installed 'driver' for 'devid'
-e driver         Remove 'driver'
-l                List installed drivers
-m                Write configuration for modprobe
-da               Write module alias configuration for all devices
-di               Write module install configuration for all devices
-v                Report version information

where 'devid' is either PCIID or USBID of the form XXXX:XXXX

Looks simple doesn't it ? Well I simply went to the driver subdirectory and installed both .inf files:
edb@elske:/tmp$ cd 80211G/Driver/
edb@elske:/tmp/80211G/Driver$ sudo ndiswrapper bcmwl5.inf 
edb@elske:/tmp/80211G/Driver$ sudo ndiswrapper bcmwla5.inf 
edb@elske:/tmp/80211G/Driver$ ndiswrapper -l
Installed drivers:
bcmwl5          driver installed, hardware present 
bcmwl5a         driver installed, hardware present 

So far so good. After this I blacklisted the old driver and threw it out:

echo 'blacklist bcm43xx' | sudo tee -a /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist
sudo rmmod bcm43xx

And used the other flags of ndiswrapper in order to get the modprobe files writen:

sudo ndiswrapper -m
sudo ndiswrapper -da
sudo ndiswrapper -di

After this the nidswrapper module needs to be loaded manually:

modprobe nidswarpper

Which results in the following output in dmesg:

[17182648.428000] ndiswrapper version 1.22 loaded (preempt=no,smp=yes)
[17182648.436000] ndiswrapper: driver bcmwl5a (Broadcom,07/17/2003, loaded
[17182648.436000] ACPI: PCI Interrupt 0000:02:08.0[A] -> Link [LNK4] -> GSI 16 (level, low) -> IRQ 225
[17182648.448000] ndiswrapper: using irq 225
[17182649.096000] wlan0: vendor: ''
[17182649.096000] wlan0: ethernet device 00:0b:6b:49:e4:05 using NDIS driver bcmwl5a, 14E4:4320:185F:1220.5.conf
[17182649.096000] wlan0: encryption modes supported: WEP; TKIP with WPA; AES/CCMP with WPA
[17182649.100000] ndiswrapper: changing interface name from 'wlan0' to 'eth1'
[17182649.192000] ADDRCONF(NETDEV_UP): eth1: link is not ready
[17182650.004000] ADDRCONF(NETDEV_CHANGE): eth1: link becomes ready
[17182660.160000] eth1: no IPv6 routers present

Comments and questions

For comments and question just e-mail me a elie[@] without '[' and ']' that is.

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