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Installing Linux on a Clevo 410E (D410E)
Michael Sheldon (webmaster at mikeasoft dot com) - Last Changed: 10/05/2004
About the laptop
Clevo make laptops which are distributed by many different resellers under many different names. I bought mine from Lindengrove (http://www.lindengrove.net), a UK company which sells Linux laptops (as well as Windows ones). I was pleased by the efforts of the company to help me get the system running and would recommend them to any other UK users.
The Clevo laptops are generally fairly customisable, and are often shipped to resellers to customise, the specifications of mine are as follows:
Processor: Intel Pentium 4 2.8Ghz.
Chipset: SIS 962.
Memory: 256MB DDR.
Graphics: ATI Radeon Mobility 9 (M9) 64MB DDR.
Ethernet: 8139too based Realtek chipset.
Sound: SIS integrated i810 based chipset.
Modem: Smart-Link compatible.
CD: DVD/CD-RW 24x Write.
Screen: 15.1" SXGA+ 1400x1050.
Dimensions: 329(w) x 275(d) x 26.5(h)mm.
Weight: 3.3kg (including battery).
Power: 120W mains adapter (100-240V).
Other Neat Things: 1394 Firewire port, built-in microphone, 3 USB 2.0 ports, S-Video Out, IrDA.
There are additional extras available, such as onboard wireless, built in camera, bluetooth, etc. While I wanted wireless support, I decided I was more likely to be able to get it working through a PCMCIA card.
The Clevo 410E seems to have problems with almost all 2.4 kernel based distributions, the exceptions being Mandrake (http://www.mandrakesoft.com) and MEPIS (http://www.mepis.org) a Debian based distribution (and happily, my distribution of choice).
I tried booting with a beta of Knoppix 3.4, under the 2.4 kernel it refused to boot as expected, but using the 2.6 kernel (knoppix26) it booted fine.
However, I'll be sticking with MEPIS.
MEPIS has some fairly neat autodetection (meauto), which managed to get the system to a working state without any problems. Unfortunately the 8139too built-in ethernet card didn't work. However I had this same problem with my desktop machine which also has an 8139too based card, there I simply upgraded to the 2.6 kernel and all was well.
However, at the time of writing a beta of the 2004.05 MEPIS release was available, which included the 2.6 kernel. I booted back in to Knoppix using the 2.6 kernel (where my network card worked fine) and downloaded the MEPIS beta to my current MEPIS (2003.10) partition. I then booted back in to MEPIS and used the laptop's DVD/CD-RW drive to write the CD. It worked flawlessly.
My CD/DVD drive, sound chip and Radeon M9 were all detected fine, though I had to do some tweaking to get 3D acceleration with the M9 (more detail later).
Now running the 2004.05 beta under the 2.6 kernel it detected my 8139too ethernet card perfectly.
To begin with MEPIS boots entirely from the LiveCD, so you can use it as an entire system without even installing it (ala Knoppix). A quick click on the "MEPIS Installation Center" and a few clicks on "Next" and it was installing. The actual installation took barely any time (less than 2 minutes), however when it came to installing GRUB it paused for a considerable amount of time then produced an error, informing me that the GRUB installation had not been successful and that the new root filesystem may be faulty. A quick dash to the console showed that everything appeared to have been installed correctly, besides GRUB, so I deselected the "Install GRUB in:" option, planning to handle it myself later. Upon setting my root password I got an error saying that it was unable to set it. I had no means to continue further, so I decided to try again, this time allowing MEPIS to specify its own partitions. Unfortunately now none of the desktop links worked correctly, so I restarted. Bear in mind this is only the very first beta of this release, and the first release with the 2.6 kernel, so problems are to be expected. Hopefully by the time anyone has need of this document a release version will be ready.
This time the install took longer, perhaps 10-20 minutes, so I believe the previous install's speed was an abnormality which may have lead to (or have been caused by) the problems I experienced. This time everything went perfectly smoothly, I rebooted and lo, the wandering hamster did wake!
I used my favourite apt-get front end, synaptic, to install Xchat, and was soon mumbling away as normal in the #mepis channel (irc.freenode.net).
I couldn't get 3D acceleration working correctly with the radeon drivers and to compile the MadWifi drivers and fireglx module I'd need the kernel source, so I decided I may as well go all out and recompile the kernel myself. A copy of my kernel config file can be found here: .config
These steps should cover how to compile the kernel:
apt-get install kernel-source-2.6.4
tar -jxf kernel-source-2.6.4.tar.bz2
mv .config .config-old
cp arch/i386/boot/bzImage /boot/bzImage-clevo
Next you'll need to edit your GRUB configuration to make this a boot option. Open /boot/grub/menu.lst in your favourite editor and add the lines:
title Clevo Kernel 2.6.4
kernel (hd0,0)/boot/bzImage-clevo - Where (hd0,0) is your boot partition. You should be able to work this out from the other entries.
After having little success with the open source radeon drivers included with MEPIS (recompiling the kernel removed most errors, but it still complained about not being able to initialize agp and so not starting DRI), I headed over to the ATI site and downloaded the fglrx_4.3.0-3.7.6.i386.rpm package.
I used alien to convert the rpm to a deb package, alien fglrx_4.3.0-3.7.6.i386.rpm. Then used dpkg to install it, dpkg -i --force-overwrite fglrx_4.3.0-3.7.6.i386.deb (the --force-overwrite switch was needed to overwrite libGL.so from the xlibmesa-gl package).
To compile the fglrx module I did the following:
chmod +x make.sh
chmod +x make_install.sh
I then edited my /etc/X11/Xfree86Config-4 so that it used Driver "fglrx" instead of Driver "radeon". You'll also want to ensure that the default bit depth is 24, since the fglrx drivers don't provide 3D acceleration at any other depth.
After doing this (and restarting X) I now get on average around 1900 frames per second with glxgears.
MEPIS 2003.10 provided wireless support for the Atheros chipset, which is used in my WG511T, unfortunately the modules failed to load correctly. With the 2.6.4 version of the 2004.05 beta no wireless modules are included at all.
To compile the modules myself I did the following:
cvs -z3 -d:pserver:firstname.lastname@example.org:/cvsroot/madwifi co madwifi
This worked perfectly and I was able to configure my wireless from within the MEPIS System Center without problems.
Unfortunately the MadWifi drivers don't yet support SuperG, which would offer 108Mbps with this card.
I haven't tried using the modem myself, but have been informed that it's a Smart-Link compatible device, and should work fine with this driver: ftp://ftp.smlink.com/linux/unsupported/slmodem-2.9.6.tar.gz. I've also noticed that MEPIS seems to detect the modem on startup, but I have not tried to make use of it.
Worked fine from the word go.
The system can be put to sleep without any problems, unfortunately when waking up the display is corrupted and unusable. I'll have more of a fiddle with power management in the future.
Burning CDs worked flawlessly, neither do I have any problems reading CDs or DVDs. When it came to playing a DVD I first had to install the libdvdcss package (included with MEPIS but not installed.). Look under the "Converted from RPM by alien" section in synaptic. I then started up xine, changed the input device from /dev/dvd to /dev/cdrom (Setup -> Input) and set the region to 2 (UK).
I wasn't able to get this to work, though I didn't make a major effort. I tried using the atitvout tool included with MEPIS but just got the error "VBE call failed." I'm not amazingly fussed about this feature myself as the laptop has a very nice display of its own, which is perfectly adequate for watching DVDs and video files on.
The function keys which appear to be controlled by the BIOS such as screen brightness work straight away. However to make use of the sound function keys (volume up, volume down and mute) it's necessary to install acme (available via apt-get). When you run acme an icon of a key will appear in the system tray right click this and select preferences to be able to assign tasks to your function keys. (Note: GNOME 2.6 has the functionality of acme built in.)
http://cpbotha.net/clevo5600/clevo5600_linux/ - Nice site about a previous Clevo model, with many similarities to the 410E.
http://www.mepis.org/ - General MEPIS information.
http://www.lindengrove.net/ - The company I purchased my laptop from.
http://sourceforge.com/projects/madwifi/ - MadWifi project.
http://www.tuxmobil.org/ - Linux on laptops, PDAs and mobile phones
http://www.linux-laptop.net/ - Another large linux laptop resource.