Acer 8204 and Fedora

As some of you may have read or somehow learnt, I do own a new laptop now. Well, actually it’s only used-new, but as good as new and still with warranty. Anyway, first thing I did: Put in the Fedora 8 Live-CD, booted, enjoyed. Almost everything worked out of the box. Exceptions were the graphics (ATI Mobility Radeon x1300) and the webcam, at least everything else I checked worked, including wireless (most important!) and the CPU-throttling, which cools the laptop quite down a lot. So, next logical step: Install Fedora. After doing so, I activated the additional repositories, livna, freshrpms and atrpms. Following the guidelines from this tutorial, I got almost my previous installation. Only one really bothering thing was still there: Graphics not working!

The laptop does have the already mentioned ATI Mobility x1300 graphics chipset and there is the proprietary fglrx driver for it.  BUT: the version available until some time ago (7.12) did not support the native resolution of the screen, which is 1680×1050. I want that resolution, badly, that’s what I spent the money for! So, what are the alternatives? I don’t use the 3D-effects of the desktop, so any driver would be fine. That’s how I found out about the radeonhd driver. It’s a free, though yet incomplete driver for ATI graphic cards. At least, with it I got my 1680×1050 resolution. Too bad though, that it doesn’t allow me to use my webcam, at least it’s not working within skype and cheese but it worked when I used the fglrx driver for testing. Lately, a new version of that driver was released and it promises to fix my resolution problem. I will give it a try, as soon as it is in the livna-repo. And yes, I am too lazy to circumvent my package manager!

What would be the overall conclusion, regarding the Acer Travelmate 8204 and Fedora? Well, it is a pleasure. I barely, if ever reboot, as Suspend and Hibernate are working as well and I can say for sure, that this is the most productive and fastest laptop I’ve ever worked with. Well done, Acer! Not so well done, ATI!

Fedora 7 and problems with the laptop fan

Maybe this also concerns others, despite me.
I have Fedora running on my Acer Laptop, which is a Travelmate 661 LCi (now running flawlessly for almost four years!). Since I upgraded to Fedora 7 with its Kernel 2.6.21 I had problems with the fan of the laptop: When it started spinning, the laptop froze. Under X, it froze the whole computer, the num lock led was blinking. When using the console solely, the computer just froze and sometimes threw some acpi error messages on the console.

Well, after a while I found out, that it is a regression in the Linux kernel, bug #8385 in kernel’s bugzilla, to be more precise.

So, what to do about that? I want to use Fedora 7 and its kernels. Just patch them with the patch supplied in Comment #50 of the above mentioned bugzilla report. And for those new to building kernels, here is a short howto on how to do so (hence the name „howto“…)

  1. Install the fedora-devtools package: yum install fedora-rpmdevtools unifdef
  2. Create your rpmbuild-directory: fedora-buildrpmtree
  3. cd ~/rpmbuild/SRPMS
  4. wget http://download.fedora.redhat.com/pub/fedora/linux/updates/7/SRPMS/kernel-2.6.21-1.3228.fc7.src.rpm (or whatever kernel you would like to install)
  5. rpm -ivh ~/rpmbuild/SRPMS/kernel-2.6.21-1.3228.fc7.src.rpm
  6. cd ~/rpmbuild/SPECS; rpmbuild -bp kernel-2.6.spec
  7. cd ~/rpmbuild/BUILD/kernel-2.6.21/linux-2.6.21.i386 ; vi Makefile (your actual directory may differ)
  8. Change the string behing EXTRAVERSION to something sensible, let’s say -own.kernel
  9. Download the patch:
    wget -O p1.patch „http://bugzilla.kernel.org/attachment.cgi?id=11684“
  10. Apply the patch:
    patch -p1 < p1.patch
  11. make oldconfig (we will not customize the kernel in any way, so no make menuconfig or similar done now)
  12. make; su -c „make modules_install && make install“
  13. reboot
  14. When rebooting make sure to chose the new kernel in grub. The default choice can be selected by editing /etc/grub.conf

I hope, this mini-howto helps anyone out there to get Fedora 7 turned back into a usable system again.

Update: edited to include the recent development / updates / better patches