Tuesday, 18 May 2010

PC-BSD 7.1.1 on Samsung NC10 & Acer Aspire 1

PC-BSD 7.1.1 on Samsung NC10 Netbook


Processor: Intel Atom N270 1.6 GHz, 533 MHz CPU front side bus
Graphics card: Intel GMA 950
LCD screen geometry: 1024X600 10.2 Inches
Hard Disc Drive: 160GB
Wireless: Atheros 5000 series 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
LAN Net 10/100 base-T (Marvel)
Chipset: Intel 945
Webcam: 1.3 MP

What works out of the box.

The correct screen geometry (1024X600) is settable post-install and in a graphical interface (KDE4), sound card, wireless card and USB ports.


SD card inferface
Headphone and microphone ports.
LAN inferface. This reported in hardware and named in detail, and possibly works.

What does not work out of the box.

Brightness buttons
Volume buttons
F9 (Wlan on/off)
F6 mute
F3 euro key

USB Huawei E150 broadband dongle, which works well in Ubuntu 8.04 and 8.10 and their respective kernels 2.6.24-16 and higher, did not work.
My Ralink 26xx series USB WiFi dongle was detected but as yet does not work either.

Installation Method.

I am currently running PC-BSD from a Lacie portable Rikiki 250GB external USB drive. I choose this meethod due to difficulties experience on an Acer Aspire One Netbook containing a very well-behaved Ubuntu 8.10 installation. The PC-BSD bootloader would not boot the Linux partition. This appears to be a well-known issue. The default file system in PC-BSD, actually the choice of file system, is UFS. The Linux parition which is ext4, did not recognize UFS. The PC-BSD did, however, recognise the Linux partition, but would not boot it. FreeBSD does not see drives as /dev/sda etc but in terms of "slices" /dev/ad0sl1 etc.

Not wantiWhat does not workng to repeat this with my Samsung NC10, I installed PC-BSD on an external USB drive. It has proven to be quite stable. The wireless card was up and operational in seconds.

Multimedia codecs namely; mp3/4 and AVI, Ogg run out box. Extra software can be downloaded from pbidir.com.

PC-BSD is a good choice for any one wishing increase their FreeBSD know-how or for UNIX newcomers who want to learn how UNIX/Unix-like systems work and also do regular desktop tasks.

PC-BSD 7.1.1 on the Acer Aspire One 150 1GB


Processor: Intel Atom N270
RAM Memory: 1GB DDR2
Hard Disc Drive: 120GB
Graphics card: Intel GMA 950
LCD Glossy Screen 1024x600 8.9 Inches
WLan: Atheros 5000 series
LAN: 10/100 base-T
Webcam: Crystal Eye

What works out of the box:

Sound, correct screen geometry, WLan and USB ports.


Webcam, audio ports, LAN 10/100 base-T

What does not work out the box:

Multimedia card interface, Function buttons for brightness and sound adjustment.

The Acer Aspire One Netbook works in very much the same way as the Samsung NC10 Netbook and run from external store. Please note that BOTH Netbooks can run PC-BSD from the internal HDD. I have chosen to run both from external store due to dual boot issues. It's a personal choice since PC-BSD's boot loader I believe needs refining.

In the case of the my Samsung NC10, when booting with PC-BSD on an external HDD it does detect and launch my Ubuntu 8.10. The issue I experienced with the Acer Aspire One could be due to compatibility issues with ext4 filesystem in use at time of installation.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Samsung NC 10 Running Ubuntu Linux 8.10 or Intrepid Ibex

This little marvel runs Ubuntu 8.10 in very much the same way as the Aspire One runs on Hardy Heron. A couple of things need tweaking however.
They are namely;

1. The brightness buttons
2. WiFi
3. The Euro key
4. F5, F8 and F9
5. the headpone port works but fails to silence the internal speakers when headphones are inserted into the 3.5mm jack socket.

What does work:

1. Sound
2. the screen is at its correct resolution of 1024x600
3.internal webcam which the terminal command identifies as made by "Namuga" with the command 'dmidecode' or 'dmesg'
4. the SDHC card reader
5. CPU scaling. The Intel Atom 1.6 GHz supports this under Intrepid Ibex.
6. All three USB 2.0 ports.
7. The Fn buttons F6,F10,F11,F12 and the sleep feature subsumed under the Esc button. The volume buttons also work properly.

Virtual all of my peripherals function perfectly under Intrepid. The compiz 3D desktop works brillianty when extra features are enabled. The graphics card is an Intel 945 GSE with 128MB integrated. The upgradability of the NC10 as opposed to the Acer Aspire One is very, very easy. No need to dismantle the entire encasement to access the SODIMM slot.

The battery power is what everyone seems to be talking about and it is genuinely impressive when compared to the competition at this time.

It is a netbook, and most netbooks use the Atheros 5000 type WiFi card which still does not work out of the box with many Linux distros. To get it to work you open a terminal sudo or log on as root and add the following commands to the /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist file and add to the end it the following code:

blacklist ath-hal
blacklist ath-pci

Having done that, you'll need to connect to a wired network via your ethernet interface or 3G USB dongle if you have one and enter the following in your terminal as root:

sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-intrepid

Reboot and you're sorted. WiFi is alive and operational. These instructions are to be run at your own risk and I disclaim all responsibility for what follows. It worked for me and I only quote what I have learned from the following site; http://netbook-forums.com

Failing that there's always the Edimax WiFi USB dongle I have mentioned on my earlier blogs which works out of the box and requires no configuration at all with latest Linux kernels i.e. 2.6.24 xxx and beyond.

The Samsung NC 10 is quite frankly the best netbook I have used to date. The battery power is remarkable, the keyboard superb and the design simple but complete.
My only worry is this: the superb keyboard is also coated with Silver Nano (Ag), that is de-ionised water and silver known for its anti-bacterial action. Some specialists ,however, say there are health risks associated with it. See www.nanoaction.org. This is worth bearing in mind.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Getting a Huawei USB broadband dongle to work in Hardy Heron

..And finally the web with Ubuntu! Ignore the statements below concerning lack of internet access with a T-Mobile USB Web 'n' Walk dongle. Massive thanks to the Ubuntu Forum for the instructions, work and insights of Sleep-ZZ-John, IanB, Callum and many, many others. I'm able to surf and download from repositories anywhere. Here's how it all goes and the steps I took:

In order to find the modem log on in a terminal as root and type 'dmesg'. The scroll down until you find Huawei E220, which shoulf be listed a GSM modem and as /dev/tty/USB0. This same dongle may also appear as a CD-ROM ( Windows exec files for setting up the device in Windows). You need to disable that by typing 'modprobe -r'.

Having gone through the above while still logged on as root type wvdialconf. This creates a file in /etc/wvdial.config. With gedit you need to edit this file and have ready you APN ie the name of your carrier in my case 'general.t-mobile.uk. You'll also need the dial number and your user name and password in that order. The wvdial.config file should look like this for example:

[Dialer Defaults]

Init1 = ATZ

Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0

Modem Type = Analog Modem

Baud = 9600

New PPPD = yes

Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0

APN = general.t-mobile.uk

Phone = *88#

username = username
password = username

The above is only an example. Fill in the entries as appropriate and note when the wvdial.config is opened there are semi-colons before the entries Phone, Username and Password. DELETE THEM. I could not get a connection with them present.

You also need to enter the above details in Administration>Networking and enable the connection.
You should also delete the last line of the file chap-secrets found under /etc/ppp.chap-secrets.
At this juncture close the terminal and reboot. On rebooting open the terminal and log on as root.Type su, followed by your password and then type wvdial. It should dial and if successful display this dialogue:

somebody@somewhere:~$ su


root@somewhere:/home/user# wvdial

--> WvDial: Internet dialer version 1.60

--> Cannot get information for serial port.

--> Initializing modem.

--> Sending: ATZ



--> Sending: ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0

ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0


--> Modem initialized.

--> Sending: ATDT*99#

--> Waiting for carrier.


--> Carrier detected. Waiting for prompt

If you are successfully authenticated you'll get:


--> Don't know what to do! Starting pppd and hoping for the best.

--> Starting pppd at Wed Sep 10 13:23:22 2008

--> Pid of pppd: 6407

--> Using interface ppp0

--> pppd: ا[06][08]��[06][08]

--> pppd: ا[06][08]��[06][08]

--> pppd: ا[06][08]��[06][08]

--> pppd: ا[06][08]��[06][08]

--> pppd: ا[06][08]��[06][08]

--> pppd: ا[06][08]��[06][08]

--> local IP address

--> pppd: ا[06][08]��[06][08]

--> remote IP address

--> pppd: ا[06][08]��[06][08]

--> primary DNS address

--> pppd: ا[06][08]��[06][08]

--> secondary DNS address

--> pppd: ا[06][08]��[06][08]

Now click on your favourite web browser (ie Firefox, Galeon or Konqueror). REMEMBER to click on file and untick "work offline". Click on any hyperlinked object and you ready to surf.

If feel my EEEPC and Acer AA0 are now complete. Why wait for the new model to feature 3G when you can have it now. Perhaps Intrepid Ibex when it becomes available will better application support for 3G devices.

Anthony Johnson


Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Acer Aspire One under Hardy Heron

The Acer Aspire One

Running Ubuntu

Anthony Johnson


CPU: Atom, specifically a Diamondville-SC mobile processor N270 (1.60 GHz, 533 MHz FSB, 512 KB L2 cache)
Display: 8.9” WSVGA TFT LCD, 1024 x 600
Hard Drive 120GB SATA (Earlier Models have 8GB SSD)
Chipset: Intel 954GSE + ICH7M
Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g (Atheros )
Webcam: 0.3Mp Integrated CrystalEye
Battery life: 3 cell, up to 3 hours (usage level not specified)
Warranty: 1 year
Weight: 985g
I installed the lastest revision of Ubuntu 8.0.4, which is This necessary for anyone seeking to install Ubuntu on any Atom based device. Earlier distros go into a kernel panic otherwise.Linpus Linux Lite was sent into oblivion as it was totally useless to me.
The installation went very quickly and without incident. The resolution is correct, the sound card works, the F keys also worked too, an being able to press F7 to disable the mouse is welcome . The Atheros wireless card was not detected, neither is the mic or nor the web cam. The web cam can be put into service by downloading “Cheese” by entering into the terminal sudo apt-get install cheese. Getting onto the web is not trouble with the Edimax USB WiFi dongle (Ralink T2571) (@ around £20 see www.linuxemporium.co.uk) and it works out of the box.

The battery power is not the best but will yield a passable two hours with a bright screen and WiFi enabled.
One peculiar report by the utility sysinfo which is downloadable from the Ubuntu repositories is the CPU consisting of two processing cores running at 800MHZ, ie 1.6 GHz. To the best of my knowledge the Intel Atom N270 is not based on twin core architecture-, that is to come at the end of the year.

Upgrading the RAM on the device IS A MAJOR OPERATION!!..though possible with patience, preparation and some experience of basic electronics. This is the one feature of the machine I hate. It is as if Acer really want you to void the warranty.
In the Acer Aspire One is great mini-computer. The keyboard is more sensibly designed that the counterpart found on the ASUS EEEPC 900-, another great device but marred by the non-functional F keys and absence of CPU scaling under Ubuntu.

Another choice of Linux OS may be Mandriva 2009. I tried earlier versions but they refuse to install. This may be related to the presence of the Intel atom chip though Mandriva should treat it as an X86. The reason I nominate Mandriva 2009 is that firstly, the WiFi issues may be resolved, and two HSDPA usb dongles such as the Huawei E170/E220 work! -, it works on an ancient reconditioned IBM Thinkpad. Actually, it works a treat.

London, UK

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Ubuntu 8.04 on an ASUS EEEPC 900

Ubuntu 8.04



A worthy successor to the 701 series, the ASUS EEEPC 900 runs well under Ubuntu 8.04 or Hardy Heron. Though the following do not function as they did not also function in 7.04 and 7.10:

internal atheros wireless 802.11 b/g
integrated web cam
pinching/two finger touchpad for increasing and decreasing size of text etc. Supported only in the factory installed OS and applicable only in selected applications.

The sound card was automatically configured. No tweaking was required. The display resolution is correct at 1024x600, unlike its predecessor. Battery power is slighty less than the 701 possibly due to the larger screen.

The first installation of Hardy Heron went quite wrong, and here's why!
By default, the factory installed OS (custom Xandros) designates the 16GB SSD as '/home'. I attempted to install Ubuntu 8.04 on a removable SD card which I have done successfully in the past. One major snag ensues. After the installation is complete, GDM fails to log on a user because there exist TWO “/home” directories -, Ubuntu mounts the 16GB SSD automatically as /home. An aggressive security measure perhaps?
I resolved this by using the 16GB SSD entirely for an Ubuntu installation and it was full steam ahead. The installation takes about 2.5 GB and leaves plenty of space on the 16GB SSD. Incidentally, the 16GB SSD will not be accessible through the Xandros installation. System Information and Diagnostics will not report it! If you confine all serious work to Ubuntu and surfing and other applications to the factory installation as I do then this should not be a problem.As to the Atheros WiFi adapter,an immediate remedy to this (if you do not fancy compiling) is the Edimax WiFi USB RT2571 dongle with a chipset provided by Railink (very important,the model is RT2571) which 'works out of the box' since access to the internet is essential to take full advantage of Ubuntu's vast software repositories and also to make media packages fully functional.The driver for the Edimax dongle is part of the 2.6.24-19 kernel and above.See the website www.linuxemporium.co.uk.

I love working on my ASUS EEEPC 900 under Ubuntu 8.04, it is far more customisable and mature -, but I have not totally banished the factory-installed Xandros OS since I need it for internet access via an HSDPA T-Mobile USB dongle which works again 'out of the box' and very well (Huawei E220). GRUB allows for for dual booting and should be best installed last.

A. Johnson

London UK

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Dual Booting: ASUS Customised Xandros OS & Ubuntu 7.04/ Feisty Fawn on The ASUS EEE PC 701

Dual Booting:

ASUS Customised Xandros OS


Ubuntu 7.04/ Feisty Fawn



by Anthony Johnson

Within a week of acquiring the ASUS EEE PC 701, I loaded Ubuntu 7.04 on a removable 6GB SD card from an external USB DVD drive.

The installation went quite well. A few things to note are as follows:

The screen resolution is 640 x 480. I await a fix for 800 x 480.
neither the ethernet nor the Atheros WiFi functionalities work.

Aside from the above, the sound card screamed, and the buttons enabling brightness adjustment function also. Grub is installed on the removable 6GB Sandisk SD. The choice of OS is given in the menu and the native customised Xandros OS is address as 'Normal Boot on /dev/sda1'.
My only fear is failure of the the SD card, since its removal will mean that the EEE PC will not boot up. However, this can be circumvented by placing the MBR on the sda1. ( The 6GB SD shows up as sdb1)
This is again should not be too much of a catastrophe in that the factory OS can be reinstalled via my external USB DVD drive in the event of real difficulty.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

ASUS EEE PC, Overiew and running other Linux distros on it.

The ASUS EEE PC 701 'laptopsicle' running Linux: an overview


Anthony Johnson

Released in the UK on 12 November 2007, I purchased an ASUS Pc 701 on the 14th . I bought it purely on the strength that it came with a Linux OS (Operating System) pre-installed and was so small it weighed a kilogram, WiFi ready and all for £219. Its specifications are as follows:

Intel 900MHz Celeron M CPU
512 MB DDR2 RAM, expandable to 2GB
Intel GM915 graphics shared
Intel High Definition Audio
Atheros 802.11g wireless LAN
4GB flash drive, half of this is occupied by the OS and a recovery partition. Very useful. Higher sizes also available
built-in web camera , 0.3 mega pixels. Records in ogg theora format
x3 USB 2.0 ports
audio and microphone jacks
ethernet port
modem port* (blocked with rubber object. Presumably redundant though featured.
VGA out port
x1 flash card reader slot (MMC, SD)
4 cell battery with 3 hours of life
a custom tabbed Xandros Linux OS
DVD resource disc with installation instructions for deploying Windows XP plus drivers. On same disc original EEE PC OS recovery. Utility for enabling booting from a USB flash drive, which the BIOS supports. Very thoughtful!
software pre-installed and packages such as OpenOffice, games ; such as penguin racer, frozen bubble, crack attack, communications packages such as Skype, Firefox, Thunderbird, media software such as Amarok for playing mp3 and Totem for movies. Lots of formats are supported such as MP3, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG 4 SP, Xvid, avi, Ogg Theora, Ogg Vorbis, wav, PCM, AAC, WMV, WMA and DVD from an external USB DVD drive or copy on a USB flash.
most photo formats supported except PSD.
available in five colours

For its size and price, the Eee PC 701 is phenomenally great value for money. ASUS even assumed some users would want to install Windows XP on the EEE PC 701. The pre-installed customised Linux OS ( a kind of Xandros with tabbed access to packages works very well and OpenOffice 2.0 is highly serviceable and reads and enables you to create Word, PowerPoint and Excel files.

This 'sub-sub' notebook, for it is a notebook, will appeal to a broad cross-section of users. ASUS' advertising compaign features children prominently and it will certainly appeal to the 'little people' and above to their parents' budgets. The idea of one laptop per child is now a reality. It will also appeal to another group-, the senior or elderly user. The layout is sheer simplicity. ASUS in its advertiseing campaign claim that this computer can be used without reference to the manual. It is that intuitive.

And what of experienced users? Apparently other Linux distributions can be installed, notably Ubuntu 7.04 and 7.10, Mepis and Mandriva. It should be noted that some devices such as wireless and wired ethernet, the graphics and audio cards will not work or at least not properly. Even in the simplicity of the pre-installed OS a geeky user can still press CTRL +ALT+T and access the command line interface of shell.
I did manage to to load Ubuntu 7.04 on an 6GB Sandisk SD card. It worked and the GRUB boot-loader allowed for dual booting with the original factory installed OS. The ethernet and wireless facilities did not work, however, and the screen is not as clear as it is the proprietary software. Mepis was very clear and but again the same regarding the communications facilities. These anomalies can probably be fixed in the course of time. Also, a word of warning: the fan works a lot, lot harder under the above named Oses. Further, if you write the boot-loader to the removable SD disc, it will have remain there permanently for booting purposes. An extra drive can be placed in some EEE PC models such as the 701. The only problem is availability. Its appears to take a PCI SD device. I've not been able to determine quite what it is.

In all, I award the EEEPC 701 8/10. Easy, Elegant and Eminently user-friendly. A simple quirky Linux for everyday use. Linux is finally ready to take its place in OS the world and do what Windows Vista has failed to do -, put the fun back into computing.

Anthony Johnson
20th Nov 2007, London UK