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This page last updated in Aug. 2004

Linux Hardware notes

These are quick notes on the steps required to get Linux working with various pieces of hardware. Some of the steps required are fairly trivial, I hope that listing these may be useful to other people and save them a few minutes of fiddling or swearing.

This is never intended to be in any way a complete or authorative list, just things I've come accross and remembered to write down.

Dell Optiplex sx270 Acer Aspire 1350 Abit uGuru AI7 motherboard

Dell Optiplex sx270

I helped install 'Fedora Core 1' on one of these. The first step was to shrink the Windows XP NTFS parition to roughly half the size of the disk, which was easily achieved using 'qtparted' from the System Rescue CD.

The only awkwardness was the system memory shared by the graphics chipset (Intel 865G). By default the Dell BIOS does not allow enough graphics memory to run high resolution graphics modes, and Linux (neither framebuffer nor X-Windows) can modify the amount of graphics memory. To remedy this enter the BIOS setup (I think that's "F12" sometime shortly after the computer is powered on). Go to 'integrated devices' then to 'onboard video buffer' and increase the amount of memory reserved (I think we increased it to 8MB). This allows the System Rescue CD to function correctly, and allows X to run in high resolution modes.

The System Rescue CD could also be made to work in a lower resolution graphics mode, I think this was achieved by passing 'vga=0x301' to the kernel on startup, but my memory is hazey. I think the same number ('301') can be given to the System Rescue CD when it states that the default mode it tried was not available.

Other than the issue with the Intel graphics chipset, Fedora Core 1 installed without problems.

Acer Aspire 1350

Installing Linux on laptops can sometimes be problematic, but on this machine things went fairly smoothly. I chose to install 'Fedora Core 2'. The first step was to enter the BIOS setup using the F2 key and enable booting from CDROM. I then made space for Linux by using qt_parted on the Linux System Rescue CD to shrink the Windows partition to 12GB and the second Windows partition (some Acer thing) to 2GB, also moving it to be located immediately after the first partition. This left a large hole in the disk into which I put an new extended partition (which I left empty for the Fedora installer to deal with automatically).

The machine appears to crash as a result of ACPI when using the supplied kernel so you need to add the boot parameter acpi=off when booting from the installation CD. After that the install worked fine, although I had to manually select the display type: a 1024x768 LCD.

After installation I discovered that the graphics card was using the (slow) Vesa driver. Fortunately life here is easy, Fedora ships with the via driver necessary so it's just a matter of changing driver 'vesa' to driver 'via' in /etc/X11/xorg.conf. I also added an option to enable both the CRT and LCD outputs by default (see man via for option details).

I upgraded to the 2.6.6 kernel provided in the Fedora Core 2 updates, and was then able to remove acpi=off from the corresponding entry in /etc/grub.conf. This means that some of the special 'Fn' key combinations now work, and it is now possible to monitor the CPU temperature, battery status, and so on using ACPI.

Abit uGuru AI7 motherboard

I moved a RedHat 9 installation (2.4 kernel) to a machine with this motherboard. Most things worked with no problems, including the hard drive which is connected via SATA. The only issue was sound, which didn't work. Install the kernel source RPM, then download, build and install the latest ALSA drivers from source and then sounds works fine. I assume this means that if you have a 2.6 kernel it'll just work out of the box.

I haven't tested all the ports on the box: IDE (and SATA) work, LAN works, sound works (no idea about the digital outputs and such like), USB works. Much beyond that I didn't have cause to test.

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