Since my eeePC is now minty fresh, it deserves a little piece of mind, doesn’t it? Mint is so far the fastest OS I’ve installed on the eee (and trust me I’ve tried quite a few), so I decided to stop messing with it for a while and let it rest. But the gods of Technology decided that although the eee earned some time off, I hadn’t, so they sent another toy my way, one more wicked and more difficult to handle than the eee: The infamous Intel Classmate!
The above image is not of my own Classmate. I “borrowed” it from Netbook Laptop Reviews. So do me a favor and click on it to go there and read their review.
Now, the Intel Classmate has an interesting story. Just like the One Laptop Per Child initiative, it was an effort to equip students with a computer, that would be cheap, durable and able to become a valuable companion to the school’s curriculum. If you are interested in the story, click on the above link to read the OLPC entry in Wikipedia, and you might also be interested in the Classmate PC entry too.
History aside, a third generation Intel Classmate was given to me and of course I had to tinker with it, right? Right? In this post, you will find out what I did to get the wireless to working properly (which is actually no big deal but it could save you a lot of time looking around). In the following part(s) I will address a more interesting but less serious problem: How to make the touch screen work properly.
For a list of features, just go to the wiki entry above and read about the third generation Classmates. The only difference between what you’re going to read there and mine, was that mine came with Windows 7 starter, instead of Windows XP.
Since it has an Atom 1.6GHz cpu, I decided to leave Windows because although it is terribly slow, you can take some pills and work for a while if needed (nothing like the eeePC with Windows 7). I wanted to install Linux on it and dual boot and because it functions as a tablet, I thought Ubuntu Netbook Edition would be a good choice. The installation was a breeze. I don’t think there will be any kind of problem there. After the installation was finished however…
…I found out that I had no wireless! To be exact, network manager would see the wireless module, but it would not pick up any networks. This proves to be a known bug (see Bug #460323) and can be easily fixed. Open a terminal and type:
sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
I know there are people already laughing at me, but you know what? I don’t care… I like gedit and I am not going to pretend I like VI just to be one of the cool guys! Piss off!
You need to open the blacklist.conf file as root, hence the sudo in the beginning. Once you open it, add this line:
The reason why we’re doing this, is because by default Ubuntu tries to load two wireless modules at the same time. So we blacklist one of the two and the other loads properly and yes, you have wireless up and running. Supposedly, if you upgrade your kernel the problem will be fixed without the need of this workaround. The one I downloaded, came with kernel version 2.6.32 and I should have tried to upgrade to version 2.6.34 or later before blacklisting the module, but I tried this solution first and since it worked I did not look into it any further.
A word of caution though: Since we are the kinds of lame people who use graphical text editors in comparison to the manlier vi, we need to be careful because not all editors work. I tried the same thing with kwrite (the equivalent of gedit for KDE) and it fucked up my file. So always keep a backup of what you’re messing with, okay?
An example of how you can keep a copy of blacklist.conf:
sudo cp /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf.old
There are some people that mentioned the above solution did not work for them. The Classmate I have features a wireless card by Ralink Technology Corp. I have pretty good reasons to suspect that all the third generation models have the same wireless card. Unfortunately, Ralink does not offer drivers for another OS than Windows, so there’s not much you can do there. My suggestion is to upgrade to the latest kernel, in the hope that this problem is fixed. Right now, the latest available kernel is 2.6.36. Another thing you could try, is what Kay suggests in this excellent article. I cannot verify if it works, since the blacklisting solution worked for me just fine, but since I followed the rest of that article (see part 2) I can tell you that he knows his business.
If you have trouble upgrading, be patient for the second part, where I will cover this procedure, as it was needed for another problem I had. Till then, Google is your friend.
UPDATE: Earlier today, I tried to connect to a wireless network and it would disconnect a couple of seconds later. At some point the network was lost from the network manager. I know there can be nothing wrong with the wireless network because other devices were connected and had absolutely no problems. Being a Windows user, I did what I am used to doing in such cases (reboot) and it worked fine. I’ve been working flawlessly for some days now and this is the first time I had such problems. I will keep an eye on it and report back if anything happens.