Mercury: the hottest laptop!

Due to a fortunate accident at the tax office, I got some more money in return than I anticipated. So it was time to burn some of it: a new laptop computer. One of the last to be equipped with Windows XP (Vista is being announced) just to be on the safe side. With children entering highschool, life without XP can be tedious. It looks like the schools are being funded by MicroSchoft. But now I have a legal version of it, just like all my Linuxes are legal versions.

At first I was looking at a Dell Inspiron 1540, but Dell charge money for the guarantuee! Apparently, their products are not good enough to give 2 years of warranty, so you have to pay off their low Cpk values. So I found a better choice: the MSI Megabook M662-019NL. You see it here on the right. My reasons for buying this one:

Due to using the machine it got broken to such a degree that it needed a part that had to be rowed in From Taiwan.... So Komplett.nl offered me another computer. A Toshiba A 210 this time... Perhaps a Dell Latitude wouldn't have been a bad choice after all.

Property Value Unit
Brand MSI  
Processor Intel Celeron M420  
Frequency 1600 Megahertz
Linux Slackware 11  
RAM 512 Megabytes
Drives /dev/hda = 60 GB HDD
/dev/hdd = DVD writer
 
Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps
IP address 192.168.56.80  
Dead since March 2008  

Below, you will find the contents of the most important files for the old Gallium. These files are important for all computers and the settings are extremely hardware dependent. Read the files and use the things you want to try out on your machine.

Why not a Dell?

That's a good question! Gallium is a Dell CPi A366XT computer, from the latitude series and this computer is very robust. I am very fond of this computer. It's reliable and has lots of potential. Still, I had my reasons to choose for the MSI, instead of a new Dell Inspiron:

Not all reasons are very sound, but they all add up. Now that we have the MSI, it's one of the most used 'flap top's' in the house. The kid uses the Windows XP mostly since it runs all the games. I still prefer the Slackware system, especially now the ACPI kernel is running. Windows is for children and salary men. How else can you fill a whole week in the office?

I should have chosen a Dell. A new one to be precise! Pennywise and poundfoolish.

Install Linux in Dual Boot mode.

Half of the charm of this computer is the Windows XP which is pre-installed by the manufacturer. Not that I like Windows XP, but there are some over enthusiast coders who just seem to adore every bit of code produced by the Redmond Operation Works (ROW). So, for some applications you simply cannot go round a ROW application. And with a kid at school, you just cannot take the risk these days.

So, when XP is sometimes inevitable, a dual boot system with XP as one of the operating systems, isn't a bad idea after all. And I didn't steal this XP. MSI paid top-dollar for it and hence so did I.

Here is what happened....

Getting the RealTek 8169 to run

I started with downloading the 'r1000' network driver from the RealTek site. At first I used the 1.05 driver but that didn't work for Slackware 11. So then I went back to the RTL site and got me a copy of version 1.04 which compiled like an angel. You can download the software in the 'Download' section (see navigator).

All the actions require you to be root or have super user privileges. Here's what was needed to be done:

First go to the /root directory:

   cd
   
Then unpack the driver sources, change into that directory and start the compiler:
   tar zxf r1000_v1.04.tgz
   cd r1000_v1.04
   make
   
There now will be two drivers: r1000.o and r1000_n.o but I only used the former. Slackware expects the loadable modules to be gzipped object files, so we will please it:
      cd src
      gzip r1000.o
      gzip r1000_n.o
   
Slackware expects all loadable modues to reside in /lib/modules/2.4.33.3/kernel/drivers/net/. This is not fully correct, but it is correct enough. So we copy the modules to the required directory:
      cp *.o.gz /lib/modules/2.4.33.3/kernel/drivers/net/
   
Since Linux cannot know which module is where, there is a file called 'modules.dep' which is consulted when 'modprobe' is run. So we need to add two lines so the new modules will be found automatically. The full pathname of the file is "/lib/modules/2.4.33.3/modules.dep". Open it with an editor and add the lines:
      /lib/modules/2.4.33.3/kernel/drivers/net/r1000.o.gz:
      
      /lib/modules/2.4.33.3/kernel/drivers/net/r1000_n.o.gz:
   
Now we only need the system to automatically load the new module. We do so in the Linux-way: we use rc.local to load custom modules. The full path name is: "/etc/rc.d/rc.local". You can see the contents of rc.local in the next paragraph.

Now run modprobe r1000 and you are online. Check it with 'ping'.

/etc/rc.d/rc.local

#!/bin/sh
#
# /etc/rc.d/rc.local:  Local system initialization script.
#
# Put any local startup commands in here.  Also, if you have
# anything that needs to be run at shutdown time you can
# make an /etc/rc.d/rc.local_shutdown script and put those
# commands in there.

modprobe r1000
   

Adding a beteter kernel

When installing, I noticed that the MSI has SATA disks. Therefore I settled for the sata.i kernel image. This was not a handy choice since ACPI is not supported by this kernel. And this is rather troublesome with a laptop. With ACPI, you have better control over the battery.
Therefore I decided to change the kernel without recompiling. I hate kernel compilations. In most cases, after a kernel recompilation, the sound doesn't work anymore. So I chose the simple method: try to boot from the bareacpi.i kernel image.
What I did was following:

I chose to do the safety install: add an entry in the bootmenu, so, if something would go wrong, I would be able to reboot with the old, working, kernel. So I added these lines to '/etc/lilo.conf':
# Linux bootable partition config begins
image = /boot/vmlinuz-acpi
  root = /dev/hda4
  label = Slackware-ACPI
  read-only
# Linux bootable partition config ends
   
When done, run the lilo command and reboot. You now can choice between tow operating sstems, plus Windows.

/etc/fstab

/dev/hda3        swap             swap        defaults         0   0
/dev/hda4        /                reiserfs    defaults         1   1
/dev/hda2        /winXP           ntfs        ro               1   0
/dev/cdrom       /mnt/cdrom       auto        noauto,owner,ro  0   0
/dev/fd0         /mnt/floppy      auto        noauto,owner     0   0
devpts           /dev/pts         devpts      gid=5,mode=620   0   0
proc             /proc            proc        defaults         0   0
   

/etc/hosts

#
# hosts		This file describes a number of hostname-to-address
#		mappings for the TCP/IP subsystem.  It is mostly
#		used at boot time, when no name servers are running.
#		On small systems, this file can be used instead of a
#		"named" name server.  Just add the names, addresses
#		and any aliases to this file...
#
# By the way, Arnt Gulbrandsen (agulbra@nvg.unit.no) says that 127.0.0.1
# should NEVER be named with the name of the machine.  It causes problems
# for some (stupid) programs, irc and reputedly talk. :^)
#

# For loopbacking.
127.0.0.1		localhost

192.168.56.1		hydrogen.fruttenboel	H2 
192.168.56.2		helium.fruttenboel	He
192.168.56.3		lithium.fruttenboel	Li
192.168.56.4		berylliu.fruttenboel	Be
192.168.56.5		boron.fruttenboel	Borium		
192.168.56.6		carbon.fruttenboel      carbon		
192.168.56.7		nitrogen.fruttenboel	N2
192.168.56.9		fluorine.fruttenboel	F2
192.168.56.10		neon.fruttenboel	Ne
192.168.56.21		scandium.fruttenboel	Sc
192.168.56.31		gallium.fruttenboel	Ga

192.168.56.148		oxygen.fruttenboel	O2

192.168.56.99		proton.fruttenboel proton


192.168.56.80		mercury.fruttenboel mercury

# End of hosts.
   

/etc/hosts.allow

#
# hosts.allow	This file describes the names of the hosts which are
#		allowed to use the local INET services, as decided by
#		the '/usr/sbin/tcpd' server.
#
# Version:	@(#)/etc/hosts.allow	1.00	05/28/93
#
# Author:	Fred N. van Kempen, waltje@uwalt.nl.mugnet.org
#
#

# End of hosts.allow.
   

/etc/hosts.deny

#
# hosts.deny	This file describes the names of the hosts which are
#		*not* allowed to use the local INET services, as decided
#		by the '/usr/sbin/tcpd' server.
#
# Version:	@(#)/etc/hosts.deny	1.00	05/28/93
#
# Author:	Fred N. van Kempen, waltje@uwalt.nl.mugnet.org
#
#

# End of hosts.deny.
   

/etc/lilo.conf

# LILO configuration file
# generated by 'liloconfig'
#
# Start LILO global section
boot = /dev/hda
message = /boot/boot_message.txt
prompt
timeout = 55
# Override dangerous defaults that rewrite the partition table:
change-rules
  reset
# VESA framebuffer console @ 1024x768x256
vga = 773
# Normal VGA console
# vga = normal
# VESA framebuffer console @ 1024x768x64k
# vga=791
# VESA framebuffer console @ 1024x768x32k
# vga=790
# VESA framebuffer console @ 1024x768x256
# vga=773
# VESA framebuffer console @ 800x600x64k
# vga=788
# VESA framebuffer console @ 800x600x32k
# vga=787
# VESA framebuffer console @ 800x600x256
# vga=771
# VESA framebuffer console @ 640x480x64k
# vga=785
# VESA framebuffer console @ 640x480x32k
# vga=784
# VESA framebuffer console @ 640x480x256
# vga=769
# End LILO global section

# Windows bootable partition config begins
other = /dev/hda2
  label = Windows_XP
  table = /dev/hda
# Windows bootable partition config ends

# Linux bootable partition config begins
image = /boot/vmlinuz-acpi
  root = /dev/hda4
  label = Slackware
  read-only
# Linux bootable partition config ends

# Linux bootable partition config begins
image = /boot/vmlinuz
  root = /dev/hda4
  label = SATA-Slackware
  read-only
# Linux bootable partition config ends
   

/etc/resolv.conf

search fruttenboel
nameserver 192.168.56.99
   

/etc/rc.d/rc.local

#!/bin/sh
#
# /etc/rc.d/rc.local:  Local system initialization script.
#
# Put any local startup commands in here.  Also, if you have
# anything that needs to be run at shutdown time you can
# make an /etc/rc.d/rc.local_shutdown script and put those
# commands in there.

modprobe r1000
   

Synopsis

OK, now I told just about anything that is specific and that can be hairy when your machine will not boot upto an inlog prompt. If your system uses a comparable Linux, these settings might help.
System settings are so machine specific that I cannot help you, unless you happen to live around the corner. If that is the case, this magic number '5012' should ring a bell. If the number is just a number to you, please find someone near your place to help you out.

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