Posts Tagged ‘Intel Classmate

21
Jul
11

Google Chrome won this round.

Google Chrome Icon

Image via Wikipedia

I seem to be a creature of habit. At least to some extent, especially with the tools I am used to working with, and I happen to consider a web browser a tool. The Chrome vs Firefox thing has been on my mind for quite a long time and so far I’ve written two posts about it. The first one being almost three years ago, followed by another one last year. Now, a year later, I come back to the subject. The time between these three posts, proves my initial sentence. I don’t really like to switch tools unless I have to, or unless a new tool is much better than the old one.

The story: My Intel Classmate, after many OS installations, now runs on Mint 11. I know that those of you who follow me regularly do not believe that Mint will be staying for long, but I intend to keep it, really! Mint 11 comes with Firefox 5, a really nice version in my opinion. It has all the improvements 4 did plus the app tabs feature (among others) that I found really really useful. One thing however the guys and gals at Mozilla have not been able to control, is memory usage. At work, I use a 4 core machine with 4 GB RAM, so spending a couple of GB on Firefox, is no big deal. My dual core with 4 GB RAM at home, also running Mint 11, does not seem to mind much either. But the poor little Classmate was having a pretty rough time. At any time, I have Gmail, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter open, while browsing other sites and that proved to be too much for little Chiby. But I want my No Script, remember? I don’t think I can use the web without it…

And then came NotScripts. It does basically what No Script for Firefox does. Blocks java script, plug ins and i-frames. It has white and black lists and allows you to temporarily allow scripts too.

My Classmate is happier than ever. And for the record, I also installed Chrome on the eeePC (that runs Mint 10) with NotScripts and the results there were amazing. I am starting to feel I am owned by Google, but hey, that’s not that bad 😛

PS: I’ve said it before and I will say it again here, I know that there are other browsers as well. I had been a Firefox fan for many years and I would not switch now if it weren’t for memory usage and speed.

01
Sep
10

Installing Linux on an Intel Classmate pt.3

So far, if you’ve been following this series of posts, you’ve managed (hopefully) to setup your wireless card and make the touch screen work on your Intel Classmate. What else could I possibly have to say that would justify a third post?

The Aftermath.

In the last few days, I’ve been severely mistreated my Classmate, format upon format, installation upon installation, with half a dozen of different linux distros, to be able to put together the last two posts. In fact as you are reading these lines, Classmate’s HDD contains a fucked up installation of Windows 7, an equally fucked up installation of Mint and it’s waiting in the corner for yet another test. The question I expect from you at this point, is: “Was it worth it?

Success wise, not that much. I mean I made it work, yes, but not work good enough. While it works as a tablet, more than often the pointer gets lost and you end up tapping where you shouldn’t. At first I thought that this happened due to the fact that we’re talking about a low cost netbook. But when I installed on a whim, Windows 7 and (almost) everything was working as it should, I was left with a bittersweet taste in my mouth.

Sure I learned a lot,  during all this, sure I was more than happy that I managed to do all of what I did, but I would very much like to have an adequately rewarding result as well.

For the record, while Windows 7 starter was terribly slow as I already said, Windows 7 Ultimate was lightning fast and no, I have no explanation about this.

What I intend to do now, is set up a proper Windows 7 installation, and then start testing more Linux distros. Maybe I will give Debian a try, or Archlinux. You are probably going to hear about this again…

01
Sep
10

Installing Linux on an Intel Classmate pt.2

Image via wikipedia

In the first part of this post, we managed to get the wireless up and running (at least I hope we did). I wanted to get that out of the way, so we can deal with the real challenge: Getting the touchscreen to work properly.

Let me explain that a bit better. The touch screen did work right out of the box. What did not work however, was the tablet function. As most such devices, the Classmate features two accelerometers that detect the screen orientation and rotate the image accordingly. Not only that, the input controls have to be reversed also, or you would end up tapping on the left side of the screen and the cursor would stay on the right side.

My first priority was to get the screen to rotate properly. I thought that even if I could not get the accelerometers to work, I could rotate the screen manually, which would be extra work for sure, but at least I could operate it as a tablet.

At the end of the previous post, I gave a link to Kay’s site, where he proposed an alternative way to fix the wireless. My solution is based on Kay’s instructions with some minor modifications. I had been searching for a solution all over the internets, and Kay’s was the only thing I found that helped me. For some of you, Kay’s instructions should be sufficient and you shouldn’t need me for anything, provided you have installed Debian with the FVWM window manager. At some point, I would like to try out Debian, but as it is, I think I am better off with something more “out of the box”.

Disclaimer: Always keep in mind that I was trying things as they came, on a machine I did not mind formatting over and over. That means I had no problem following whatever I stumbled upon on the internet and I did not complain when something went bad (and trust me, many things went bad). Furthermore, ignorant as I am, I cannot exclude the possibility that many of the things I did were not necessary, that there weren’t other more sufficient approaches etc etc. I am just going to describe the steps I followed that had a result.

Alright then, now that we got the unpleasant part where I warned you about loss of equipment and sanity, we are good to go.

The first thing I did, was to install the driver (link to a zip file) for the touch screen. Although it might not be necessary, if you upgrade your kernel, at that point I was still with the old kernel, so I cannot verify that you can omit this step. However, you are free to perform an upgrade first (see below) and see what happens. In any case I was forced to upgrade my kernel, so I guess it could come first. If you are lucky, this will leave you with a working wireless, so go ahead and try it.

Once you download and unzip the driver, you will find a readme file with installation instructions. You will notice right away that you have to modify a file called xorg.conf and you are most likely to find out that you do not have such a file. The version of X server that you got with Ubuntu, no longer uses an xorg.conf. However if you create one you will force X to use it. Reboot into recovery mode and from the available options choose “Root console”. You are now logged in as root, joy! Type:

sudo Xorg -configure

Now, if you look in the root directory, you will find a file called xorg.conf.new which is what you are looking for. In the rare case it is not created in the root directory, you can try to locate it by typing:

find / -name xorg.conf.new

All you need to do, is put this file in its’ place and you’re set:

cp /root/xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf
cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etx/X11/xorg.conf.bak

Yeah, you got that right. The last one is a backup we keep in case something goes wrong and you are also right, we still have the .new file we created but one can never be too cautious. What I haven’t tried is what happens if you erase the xorg.conf file. I guess it will revert back to auto configuring X but haven’t tried it. You can follow now the driver installation instructions, just fine. I believe it should be easy enough. I you have any problem, drop me a comment and I will try to help with that. Below I have included the parts of the file that you need to add. At the “ServerLayout” section you have to add a line:

Section “ServerLayout”
Identifier     “X.org Configured”
Screen      0  “Screen0” 0 0
InputDevice    “Mouse0” “CorePointer”
InputDevice    “Keyboard0” “CoreKeyboard”
InputDevice    “HID TOUCH” “SendCoreEvents”
EndSection

And then you have to create a Device section:

Section “InputDevice”
Identifier  “HID TOUCH”
Driver      “xfhiddrv”
Option      “Device” “/dev/usb/hiddev0”
Option      “ScreenNo” “0”
Option      “Rotation” “0”
Option      “swapY” “0”
Option      “UpSound” “0”
Option      “DownSound” “0”
Option      “Parameters” “/var/touch.conf”
EndSection

Do you see the “Parameters” line? You are probably wondering why is that line there, when the instructions do not mention something. At the point of modifying my xorg.conf file, I was following this guy’s instructions and he had created a touch.conf file that he put  in the /var directory with the following contents:

#Touch Screen Settings file rotation, DbClick_Delay, DbClick_Area
0
460 30

Don’t forget to chmod to 666 to the file. I will be completely honest with you, I have no idea what this file does and if there should be another way to configure the touch screen. However, without this, I couldn’t get it to work. Remember, that if you upgrade your kernel, you might not need this.

The next thing we have to fix, is the rotation of the touch screen. Kay, does that using two scripts. One for the rotation and one that handles the accelerometers. The rotation script works, but it also restarts the window manager Kay uses, which is not needed in our case. Either download his script and  change it, or get mine. (Worpress would not let me upload a .sh file so I changed the extension to .doc).

If you try to execute accel.py it might generate errors and refuse to run. This happens because it tries to find a joystick device (bear with me please) and cannot find one. The system treats accelerometer inputs  like joystick inputs for some reason that eludes me. Now, it does not mean that you don’t have a joystick driver installed, just that where the script is looking for one there isn’t. Go to /dev/input and search for a js0 device. In my case there wasn’t one. This is where I needed to upgrade the kernel.

Go here and download the following files:

linux-headers-2.6.35-02063503-generic_2.6.35-02063503.201008211321_i386.deb

linux-headers-2.6.35-02063503_2.6.35-02063503.201008211321_all.deb

linux-image-2.6.35-02063503-generic_2.6.35-02063503.201008211321_i386.deb

Note that these files are for version 2.6.35 and that is the version I upgraded to. You can go one version further and get the files for 2.6.36, it’s up to you. You install these packages normally and on the next reboot you will see at Grub the new kernel version. You will also have a /dev/input/js0 device, which means Kay’s script now works perfectly.

That’s about it. You should now have a proper working touch screen on your Classmate. If you need any further explanation on any of the steps, drop me a line and I will do my best to help out. I really need to say one more time that the procedure I described above, was merely what I did to get my touch screen to work. By no means do I claim expertise on anything. In fact, if it weren’t for Kay, I don’t think I would have made it. So, I and you who are reading this, should thank Kay and if any of you follows these instructions and makes something of them, don’t forget to credit Kay too.

I decided I will put a third part up, with the conclusion I reached through out this whole process. Stay tuned.

31
Aug
10

Installing Linux on an Intel Classmate pt.1

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!

Image Source: Netbook Laptop Reviews

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:

blacklist rt2800usb

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.




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