failing like never before


HP dv2910us (dv2700) – Installing Linux

I've decided to shorten this section down significantly, as it is probably the least significant part of this review (for most people), and for me to do it due justice would require quite a lot of time. I'm planning on writing an article later, more specifically aimed at installing Arch Linux on the dv2910us.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the Ubuntu Hardy Heron Live CD ran great on my dv2910us. I'm not much of an Ubuntu Fan these days, (although I don't hate it) but I couldn't help but be impressed by Hardy Heron. Everything worked great right from the Live CD, including wireless and suspend to RAM, without any tweaking required.

Last week, I finally decided to go ahead and install Arch Linux on my dv2910us. I started by just trying to use gParted to partition the drive, running from a Live CD, but after using gParted, Vista crashed and refused to boot and so I was forced to do a system restore and use Vista's tool for resizing partitions, which turned out to be pretty useless. Vista does this lovely thing where it makes a bunch of huge system restore points and pagefiles, scatters them across the disk, and doesn't bother to inform you at all about them. The only way I could even see pagefile.sys was to run the command prompt as root and then "dir /a" to list the system files. All these special system files prevent the Vista partition tool from shrinking a drive more then 10 or 20 gigs. Eventually, I was so fed up with Vista and its craptastic goodness, I was forced to retry gParted and happily enough it worked the second time!

Part of the reason that I bought the dv2910us, was because of the abundance of Intel hardware that it has. Intel tends to be a little more Linux friendly then many other companies, they open up the specifications on their hardware and write drivers for most of their equipment. Unlike my old desktop's ATI x800 xl graphics card which nearly drove me mad, the dv2910us's hardware was pretty simple to set up and use. The only thing that I haven't configured yet is the webcam, but judging by Arch Linux's wiki, it appears doable. [EDIT: August 19, 2008. I was able to get the webcam working easily enough with Skype by using the r5u870 (Ricoh) driver, and Arch Linux was able to detect the HP Webcam as a usbcam.]

The HP dv2910us probably isn't the most Linux friendly laptop around but its still quite useable; from my experience, all the hardware can be configured with relatively little fussing around. While HP doesn't have quite the reputation Lenovo does with the Linux crowd, I think HP has done a pretty good job, even if they weren't trying to.

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  1. Hi, I’m curious about how you got ubuntu to work so well with the 2910. I have the very same system and have been having nothing but problems trying to get ‘buntu 8.04 to talk to the wireless card (intel wireless being the only reason I chose this computer from the multitudes at best buy). Does your wireless on/off switch work? Does the LED change color like it does in windows when you flip it? Did you run into any lockup problems when the live cd was loading?

    Thanks in advance for your help, I’m off to try Arch linux per your reccomendation.

  2. Hi M@,

    I never actually installed Ubuntu 8.04, I only just ran it from the Live CD. When the Live CD started, there was a little network icon in the left hand side of the top toolbar, I clicked on it and it allowed me to connect to a wireless network, no problems at all. But I don’t know what Ubuntu will try to do when it actually installs itself.

    The Ubuntu 8.04 live CD was no trouble at all. I stuck it in and I was listening to internet radio through RhythmBox and checking my e-mail in a few minutes.

    The Intel 4965AGN wirelss card uses the iwlwifi driver which was merged into the linux kernel 2.6.24 and higher, so you shouldn’t have any troubles with that. Have you tried any command line tools to configure the network?

    For some reason, the little LED on my laptop always stays orange, regardless of the position its in, and whether or not I’m actually connected to a network. I have no idea how to make it turn blue when active. {EDIT: It’s official, I’m stupid. I’ve been running on wired the past few weeks, and I just used wireless right now, and realized that the little blue light does work! Apparently this issue of the Intel 4965 wireless status LED is resolved in 2.6.26 kernels and newer.}

    However, to get the network working you MUST have the switch pushed to the RIGHT. This is because the wi-fi switch will actually cut power to the card (for power saving measures), so if you have the switch in the left position your computer can try all day to connect to a wireless network and nothing will happen. This seems to me, to be the most likely reason why your wireless isn’t working. You may want to try putting the switch in the right position, and then booting the Ubuntu live CD to see what happens.

    You may want to read a little more into Arch before you try it out. Arch requires much more user configuration then Ubuntu, you’ll have to pretty much build your entire system up from a shell.

    Best of luck to you! Please let me know if you figure out what was wrong.

  3. Mmm, I’m not an ubuntu fan myself, but I have to tell you that even with an AMD-based notebook pretty much everything worked straight out. My sister has a dv2419us laptop, which has a Turion and Nvidia Go chipset, and broadcom wireless. I just needed to get ndiswrapper for it, and she’s been VERY happy with ubuntu on it. I’m hesitating between the 2910 and the 2810 (AMD base). I think I’ll go with the AMD version though, I think the Nvidia Go packs a little more for the punch in terms of 3D acceleration… Have you tried running Compiz at all? (not that it’s necessary, just curious as to what the 3D performance of the X3100 is).

  4. I haven’t tried Compiz on my laptop, and probably won’t be any time soon, since I use Enlightenment 17 as my windows manager, and it doesn’t support Compiz.

    I know ndiswrapper works pretty well these days, but I didn’t want to risk it, so I made sure to go with the safe choice (Intel wireless). Doesn’t hurt to be too careful.

    For me, graphics power was never a big issue since I’m not a big gamer. The x3100 can do all the basic stuff and some light gaming without a problem. I’m not sure what the state of the Nvidia Linux drivers is right now, although I know Nvidia does tend to be pretty good with their Linux stuff, but I still kind of prefer Intel graphics just because all their stuff is open-source. Although the Linux x3100 driver isn’t that amazing right now.

  5. Неплохой блог, вполне достойный из того что есть по этой тематике.

  6. Сдесь комменты можно почитать и в цирк не ходить!! бред какойто.

  7. I own the exact same model and I agree with every observation of yours. I have run Vista, Windows 7, Ubuntu 8 and Backtrack on this, and among them Ubuntu had some issues with audio driver.

    Doesn’t it get too hot?

  8. @Benny,

    lately I’ve been having some heat issues with the HP, but I was able to ameliorate it by just opening up the laptop (which is surprisingly difficult) and blowing out the accumulated dust with some canned air.

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