Installing Fedora Core 12 on Chembook 2370VA

After a good experience with Fedora Core 8, and a reasonable experience with Fedora Core 11, I decided to install Fedora Core 12 on my Chembook laptop.

In summary, while FC8 and FC11 worked out of the box, FC12 failed to provide me with sound. I discovered later that the KDE mixer had set the center volume to mute. Once I unset that, I had sound.

Other than that, it worked pretty well.

Summary

Why Fedora?

RedHat Linux was the first distro I ever worked with, and I got very used to KDE. After that I moved onto Fedora, always using KDE, and have not felt any need to change. However, KDE 4 seems over-designed.

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Basic installation

I ran a final backup of my data to an external USB drive, and then performed a full installation from the FC12 i386 DVD (but without installing the gnome desktop manager). I completely formatted the drive during the process. Once the installation completed, the first thing I did was to restore my data to the laptop.

Issues

There were some specific issues I needed to fix before I was happy with FC12.

Monitor resolution and xrandr

I normally have an LCD monitor connected to my laptop, and when it is connected I don’t use the laptop screen i.e. I don’t use it in a dual-head mode. So I wanted FC12 to automatically disable the LVDS display — but only when the monitor was connected. I tried selecting this option System Settings -> Display, but the settings never stuck.

I had come across something similar with FC11, so I resorted to manually invoking xrandr at the startup of X:

[philip@localhost xdm]$ tail -n 14 /etc/X11/xdm/Xsetup_0
# Force the screen to a resolution my Compaq Q2159 supports -- but only if it
# is connected.
INTERNAL_OUTPUT="LVDS"
EXTERNAL_OUTPUT="VGA-0"
MODE="1920x1080"
RATE=60
/usr/bin/xrandr | grep "$EXTERNAL_OUTPUT connected"
if [ $? -eq 0 ]; then
/usr/bin/xrandr --output $INTERNAL_OUTPUT --same-as $EXTERNAL_OUTPUT
/usr/bin/xrandr --output $INTERNAL_OUTPUT --off
# Fedora 12 sets the right resolution
#/usr/bin/xrandr --output $EXTERNAL_OUTPUT --mode $MODE --rate $RATE
fi
[philip@localhost xdm]$

Keyboard shortcuts and xbindkeys

khotkeys allows you to override the default key bindings in KDE (e.g. F5 to refresh) and set your own custom actions. For example I always use F5 to launch a shell. Well, khotkeys is completely broken in FC12 — it simply doesn’t work and the keys always retain their default binding.

I needed a replacement so I came across xbindeys. This is a great tool which works exactly as promised. FC12 didn’t install it by default, but you can install it like so:

yum install xbindkeys

Once installed, a particularly useful option is

xbindkeys -k

This pops up a window, allowing you to press a key. xbindkeys will then spit out the code for that key, which you can then add to its configuration file, along with the desired command.

To autostart it, I simply added it to System Settings -> Advanced -> Autostart.

The system tray

This was, by far, the most annoying problem.

When FC12 first ran, the System Tray was OK. It showed the Volume control, as well as the NetworkManager applet. But somehow I removed the NetworkManager applet from the tray, and could not get it back. Furthermore, I could not add any other icons to the tray. Even setting the Visibility preferences for all icons to “Always Visible” made no difference.

This seems to be a bug — I came across other reports on the web about this. After about an hour I gave up, dropped to run level 3, and moved my KDE configuration directory out of the way:

mv ~/.kde/shared/config ~/.kde/shared/config.orig

I then restarted KDE by going back to run level 5. KDE then regenerated this directory. I had to redo my KDE settings, but the tray was back to normal.

Configuration Files

The kernel configuration file is here.

System Information

[philip@localhost ~]$ uname -a
Linux localhost 2.6.32.10-90.fc12.i686.PAE #1 SMP Tue Mar 23 10:04:28 UTC 2010 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

[philip@localhost ~]$ df
Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/mapper/vg_localhost-lv_root
74687664 41967780 28925964 60% /
tmpfs 513320 1832 511488 1% /dev/shm
/dev/sda1 198337 31483 156614 17% /boot

[philip@localhost ~]$ lspci
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile 915GM/PM/GMS/910GML Express Processor to DRAM Controller (rev 04)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile 915GM/PM Express PCI Express Root Port (rev 04)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #1 (rev 04)
00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #2 (rev 04)
00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #3 (rev 04)
00:1d.3 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #4 (rev 04)
00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller (rev 04)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev d4)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801FBM (ICH6M) LPC Interface Bridge (rev 04)
00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) IDE Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) SMBus Controller (rev 04)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc M26 [Radeon Mobility X700]
02:00.0 Ethernet controller: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88E8001 Gigabit Ethernet Controller (rev 13)
02:01.0 CardBus bridge: Ricoh Co Ltd RL5c476 II (rev b3)
02:01.1 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Ricoh Co Ltd R5C552 IEEE 1394 Controller (rev 08)
02:01.2 SD Host controller: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Host Adapter (rev 17)
02:01.3 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C592 Memory Stick Bus Host Adapter (rev 08)
02:01.4 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd xD-Picture Card Controller (rev 03)
02:02.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless 2915ABG [Calexico2] Network Connection (rev 05)

[philip@localhost ~]$ cat /proc/cpuinfo
processor : 0
vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 6
model : 13
model name : Intel(R) Pentium(R) M processor 1.73GHz
stepping : 8
cpu MHz : 798.000
cache size : 2048 KB
fdiv_bug : no
hlt_bug : no
f00f_bug : no
coma_bug : no
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 2
wp : yes
flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic mtrr pge mca cmov clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss tm pbe up bts est tm2
bogomips : 1595.74
clflush size : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes : 32 bits physical, 32 bits virtual
power management:

[philip@localhost ~]$ lsusb
Bus 005 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 004 Device 002: ID 044e:3001 Alps Electric Co., Ltd UGTZ4 Bluetooth
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 046d:c517 Logitech, Inc. LX710 Cordless Desktop Laser
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0930:a001 Toshiba Corp.
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub