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Author Topic: VL for laptops  (Read 6948 times)
nubcnubdo
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« on: August 02, 2007, 08:26:23 am »

Is there a Linux distribution that is good for laptops, that handles the variations of power management that laptops require? I dont know of a single distribution that people proclaim as the distro for laptops.  That might be a good feather in the cap for VectorLinux, to be the best distro for laptops. We already have most of the ingredients for a superlative laptop operating system. I mean, who wants a slow laptop? If we could become the laptop specialty distro, that would be a boon, eh?

Laptops: This might be an area where VL can make a big difference, and enjoy a big payoff in usage and popularity. If we could make VL "the laptop distro"...

So, what needs to be done? The last time I had a dual boot laptop, the Linux (Mandriva) partition had a multitude of issues (eg. fan never cutting off), and when I tried to remove grub, things got munged, and I wound up wiping the drive and re-installing WinXP as sole OS.

1. power management: The following article has a few remarks about PM in SOHO
http://www.linux.com/articles/62092?tid=127

2. special resolutions/configurations for X

3. touchpad drivers

4. nVidia, ATI graphics drivers

5. wireless support

...and so on. Your $0.02?

« Last Edit: August 02, 2007, 08:40:11 am by nubcnubdo » Logged
The Headacher
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2007, 08:54:00 am »

Quote
Laptops: This might be an area where VL can make a big difference, and enjoy a big payoff in usage and popularity. If we could make VL "the laptop distro"...
Please no.

I try to turn off as much powermanagement stuff as possible (yes on my laptop), to make all the cpu intensive stuff (games, realtime audio, video editing) perform better. I'd rather have a few unused cycles than hiccups in my games or worse, in my recordings. That being said, I'm sure somebody could build a laptop specific kernel with suspend2 enabled.

Quote
1. power management

2. special resolutions/configurations for X

3. touchpad drivers

4. nVidia, ATI graphics drivers
Not sure about 1, I never use that.
2) For me, the option that'll let X figure it out always found 1280 x 800 just fine.
3) Touchpad always worked out of the box for me. Some people like to use the rightmost part of it for scrolling, I can't stand that so I'm glad it isn't enabled.
4) Both nVidia and Ati drivers come with SOHO, I'm not sure how well the ATI drivers work but the nvidia card in my laptop works just dandy out of the box.
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easuter
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2007, 09:53:39 am »

Quote from: The Headacher
That being said, I'm sure somebody could build a laptop specific kernel with suspend2 enabled.

Yeah, that is probably the best option...having  suspend2 compiled in does make the kernel image larger.
Anyway, by making adequate packages, installing a suspend2 enabled kernel and all the extra power management goodies will be trivial with slapt-get. 1 CD is already getting quite cramped as it is....
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lagagnon
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2007, 11:03:52 am »

nubcnubdo: Your idea is a good one, but I am really not sure how achievable getting ALL hardware on every laptop working really is. As discussed in the posts above much of what you request is already implemented in VL anyways. Laptops generally come preloaded with WinXP (and now Vista) but the manufacturer themselves provide special software/drivers to enable such stuff as the special buttons and extraneous hardware features that even Vista does not natively support. The manufacturer's rarely provide those drivers for systems other than MS, unfortunately.

Ubuntu works quite well with many laptops, at the expense of a providing one CD distro which is very minimalist in terms of software and codecs provided (VL probably has more than twice the number of applications (and multimedia tends to work out of the box, unlike Ubuntu where you have to add a lot of stuff after the fact)).

Personally, I think the job is a huge one that may not be possible for VL to accomplish without a lot more developers....
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caitlyn
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2007, 11:57:47 am »

My take on this is that I would make only one change in terms of what is included in VL 6:  include suspend2 in the default kernel.  VL already includes almost all the kernel modules for various laptops (i.e.: my Toshiba boxes). 

What VL doesn't do well is detect that it's on a given laptop and load the modules it has.  Perhaps that's one area where VL can learn from Ubuntu without becoming bloated.

Anything else (utility programs, special feature support outside the t should go into the Extra.  I know that I packaged toshset and toshutils for 5.8 and I expect to do the same for 6.0, hopefully before release this time.  Those are good examples of what should go into Extra.

One other thing you really need to keep in mind:  there are tons of different laptops and even within one manufacturer standards change quickly.  The reason Ubuntu, Fedora, and SuSe do so well is that they have large corporate backing and large testing labs.  They also require the manufacturers to certify their own machines.  If you're Novell or RedHat you can get away with that.  VL cannot.
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eMachines EL-1300G desktop, 1.6GHz AMD Athlon 2650e CPU, 4GB RAM, nVidia GeForce 6150 SE video
CentOS 6.5 (will try VL64-7.1 soon)

Toshiba Satellite A135-S4727,  Intel Pentium T2080 / 1.73 GHz, 2GB RAM, Intel GMA 950

HP Mini 110 netbook, 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU, 2GB RAM, Intel 950 video, VL 7.1
GrannyGeek
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2007, 07:07:03 pm »

I use my laptop for several hours every day, but I don't really run it like a laptop. That is, it's always plugged into AC power; I never run it on battery. So I don't care about power saving features for my own use.

It's a Toshiba Satellite but I've never looked for or used Toshiba-specific software. I have no idea what Caitlyn's Tosh stuff does and not feeling the need for anything extra, I've never bothered to find out.

I don't like the touchpad and I use a USB mouse instead, so touchpad support is not a concern of mine, either. I don't have wireless, but if I did, I'd like to see it more bulletproof in Linux. It seems to be a trouble spot for many users of many distros, judging by the messages I see on various forums. I don't see wireless as primarily a laptop issue.
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Happily running VL 7 Gold on  a Sempron LE-1300 desktop (2.3 GHz), 4 G RAM,  GeForce 6150 SE onboard graphics and on an HP Pavilion dv7 i7, 6 gigs, Intel 2nd Generation Integrated Graphics Controller
apock627
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Posts: 35


« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2007, 08:44:56 pm »

As newbie user on toshiba agree completely with caitlyn. And thanks for packaging toshset/toshutils.

Basic install of VL5.8 was great for me but if you want to get a laptop-friendly reputation my humble suggestions would be:
1. Do everything possible to make wireless and networking configuration easy and intuitive. I know your target users are not completely ignorant but this did not work out of the box with 5.8 (5.1 was better). Even now i don't find the options in vasm very intuitive - you have to know quite a bit (for a newbie) about inets, interfaces, wrappers etc. Unlike the rest of VL install. Once you're connected it's easier to solve other hardware problems if you have them.

2. Not that there's anything wrong with it now, but it wouldn't be that hard to have the best post-install laptop support of any distro through the website/forum. And what a great free way to attract users if googling for laptop problems starts bringing up more matches on VL. If there was a place to put it even I could post things like kernel config, touchpad settings in xorg.conf, how i got my ipw3945 wireless working, could save someone some time if they had the same model.
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easuter
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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2007, 10:11:49 pm »

apock627: there is an idea for easy wireless networking for VL6...that idea has to be tested first though:

http://www.vectorlinux.com/forum2/index.php?topic=3782.msg24579#msg24579
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Artthou
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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2007, 11:03:26 am »

Quote
Touchpad always worked out of the box for me. Some people like to use the rightmost part of it for scrolling, I can't stand that so I'm glad it isn't enabled.

Is there an easy way to enable this?  (ie, does it just need an update to xorg.conf?)
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The Headacher
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« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2007, 12:12:02 pm »

Well, it had to do something with editing xorg.conf alright. I
linux googled a little and found this :
http://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Touchpad_Synaptics .
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Most music on my soundcloud page was arranged in programs running on VL.
mithion
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« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2007, 01:36:02 pm »

I don't have wireless, but if I did, I'd like to see it more bulletproof in Linux. It seems to be a trouble spot for many users of many distros, judging by the messages I see on various forums.

Apparently, kernel 2.6.22 has a brand new wireless stack which might help wireless compatibility and functionality.  I can't wait to see the first major distros that will implement this kernel. 

As for the suspend feature, that is something that even windows has trouble with.  My desktop is dual booted with Vista and VL 5.8, and I had some big problems with the sleep mode where resuming from it would make my system very unstable.  In my own opinion, if your using your laptop on a battery, any power state in between hibernation and fully turned "on" will waste too much energy and drain the battery.

Laptop hardware is undersupported if you ask me.  I have a dell inspiron equipped with a Geforce Go 7900 GS running windows vista home premium.  If you look at Nvidia's website, there are no drivers available for this chipset on this operating system.  The drivers are offered through dell which take care of tailoring them for each laptop model.  So developing a linux version which runs perfectly on any laptop sounds like a huge challenge.  Is it worth the effort, that's what we must ask ourselves.
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caitlyn
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« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2007, 12:45:46 am »

Apparently, kernel 2.6.22 has a brand new wireless stack which might help wireless compatibility and functionality.  I can't wait to see the first major distros that will implement this kernel. 

Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon Tribe 4 (beta 4) has a 2.6.22.9 kernel.  The 64-bit version is very fast and wireless works extremely well.
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eMachines EL-1300G desktop, 1.6GHz AMD Athlon 2650e CPU, 4GB RAM, nVidia GeForce 6150 SE video
CentOS 6.5 (will try VL64-7.1 soon)

Toshiba Satellite A135-S4727,  Intel Pentium T2080 / 1.73 GHz, 2GB RAM, Intel GMA 950

HP Mini 110 netbook, 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU, 2GB RAM, Intel 950 video, VL 7.1
MikeCindi
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« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2007, 07:27:52 pm »

As for the suspend feature, that is something that even windows has trouble with.  My desktop is dual booted with Vista and VL 5.8, and I had some big problems with the sleep mode where resuming from it would make my system very unstable.  In my own opinion, if your using your laptop on a battery, any power state in between hibernation and fully turned "on" will waste too much energy and drain the battery.

I've found that over the last 4 years the 4 of the 6 different desktops that I've had did not do well with hibernation or suspend with a Windows-based OS (and not at all with a linux OS) until the last 2 (Dell and home built with ASUS MB) but the 3 laptops I've had worked both hibernation and suspend without a hitch (in Windows). It has only been in the last month that I've been able to get my laptop to consistently suspend or hibernate using linux (VL of course). As for suspend to RAM "wasting too much energy" I've not seen that to be an issue for me under WinXP and I'm still working on the issue with VL. Of course I may never need to find out because the resume time from hibernation is about 15 seconds and about 5 from suspend. It's rare that I need those 10 but you never know...

The development of VL specifically for a laptop may take some work which may not be profitable for VL but now that software development for linux has caught up to my laptop to my satisfaction (BTW it's aToshiba Satellite A15 which is few years old) I run most of my Windows applications in VirtualBox. There are a few minor bugs for me to get through still. If I had a shiny, new laptop I don't know that I would be able to say that though. Sad So to have someone who is much more adept at distro development to do it for me would be great. Tongue
« Last Edit: August 16, 2007, 07:30:54 pm by mikecindi » Logged

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VL64 7.1b3                                     RLU 486143
nubcnubdo
Vectorian
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Posts: 675


« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2007, 04:41:59 am »

Zenwalk 4.8 release notes
Quote
The Zenwalk Team is happy to announce the Zenwalk 4.8 release.

After several release-candidates, it seems that we are ready for a very stable release. Overall, testers have found Zenwalk 4.8 the fastest version ever.

Kernel is now at 2.6.22.9, with its new wireless stack, tickless clock and 1000 Hz scheduler for better reactivity while lowering power consumption (ideal for laptops).

Talking about applications, the very visible change in 4.8 is the substitute of firefox and Thunderbird into the equivalent GNU Licence versions, named IceWeasel and IceDove. Zenwalk is setup with Firefox and Thunderbird support so that all softwares work with IceWeasel and IceDove.

Video/Xorg auto-configuration has been improved to handle widescreen monitors as well as to provide full features for Synaptics touchpads.

The fine-tuning of the user interface continues with new desktop artwork, new bootsplash.

Zenwalk 4.8 introduces GMusicBrowser, an application that can do everything you can dream of to categorize your music collection, edit tags, normalize filenames, and browse thousands of music files very easily.

Audacious has been removed (now available in the "Extra" repository), all functionality is now handled by other pieces of software, including GMusicBrowser (the jukebox), Streamtuner (the stream browser) and G-Mplayer (the multimedia player) , each taking care of their own specialty.

Thanks to our great community packagers, Zenwalk now boasts 1000 of recent packages in the "extra" repository, including OpenOffice 2.3.0, KDE 3.5.7, Gnome 2.18.3 and many other new packages as well as numerous language packs.

We hope you will enjoy working with Zenwalk 4.8 and we hope to see you soon on support.zenwalk.org to join one of the best Linux communities Wink

Cheers
JP
« Last Edit: October 07, 2007, 04:44:23 am by nubcnubdo » Logged
Freston
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Posts: 165


« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2007, 04:41:15 am »

Vector a laptop specific distro? Sounds good to me :-D

A touchpad always needs configuring in xorg.conf. This is not a technical issue, but a legal one.
Quote from: Synaptics FAQ:
* Is this free software?

    Yes, the source code is released under the GNU General Public
    License.

* When will the driver be included in the XOrg distribution?

    This is unlikely to happen because of copyright issues. Although
    the GPL license is compatible with the license used by the XOrg X
    server, the XOrg project doesn't want to include GPL code in their
    source code, because it would effectively make the whole XOrg
    project GPL. The synaptics license can't be changed unless all
    copyright holders agree to change the license, but previous
    attempts to find all copyright holders for the synaptics source
    code have failed.

    So unfortunately, the best we can currently hope for is that the
    synaptics driver is included as a separate package by the major
    distributions.

That said, luckily configuring a touchpad is easy. And as the driver is GPL, one might just include the settings in xorg.conf, but commented out. As far as I can tell, the Xorg copyright permits modification and redistribution in source and binary. You might want to check that if you're serious about doing this. (Dunno about the other touchpad manufacturers though)



Wireless is the bigger problem. And something I really don't understand. Maybe that I'm just not 'getting it'. [rant]I don't run Mandriva for several reasons, but! the LifeCD picks up my rt2500 perfectly. Once installed to HD, my wireless is dead as ever. As always. Dead. I spend hours, if not days in pure almost solid frustration. Grrrr... Nurse! I need to lie down again[/rant]
Anyway, you'd be raising expectations about wireless, when you advertise Vector as 'build for lappies'. You'd be needing someone who knows his/her wireless. Dunno, is there a wireless expert in the house?

About the power settings. They seem to vary a little with the lappies hardware(??). I'm not really sure about the causes and origins of different laptop behavior.
Anyway, no distro has ever guessed the correct settings for my lappy, and the transition to 2.6 kernel has made the matter ever more elaborate. That's neither here nor there though. I know which settings I need to feed to the kernel in order to have it work. I'm actually more comfortable doing this manually.
I don't use suspend though. The machine is either 'on' or 'off' as far as I'm concerned.


So yeah... It sounds like a good idea. But is it worth the effort? Main trouble is auto recognized ACPI settings and wireless. Touchpad magic is easily solved, and the graphics cards aren't lappy-specific(or are they?). Vector already _is_ a good distro to run on a laptop. Fast and light, yet as complete as you'd want a default install to be.

Maybe add some 'out of the box' bluetooth functionality?
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