Archive for May, 2008

Mandriva 2008.1 on Acer Aspire 3680-2622 Laptop

To This blog documents my experience with running Mandriva 2008.1 on Acer Aspire 3680-2622. Note that I started out with Mandriva 2008.0 Powerpack and then upgraded via the standard repository to 2008.1. Since powerpack is essentially Mandriva plus some proprietary software, I assume that most of the blog applies to the standard Mandriva and probably other versions of Linux.

According to uname -a, my machine is running kernel

Hardware Component Status under OS Notes
Intel Celeron M520 1.6 Ghz CPU Working  
Intel 943 GML Video Working Conpiz 3D works perfectly but has compatibility problems with video playback if turned on.
14 inch LCD Working Brightness control works. Brightness control did not work in Mandriva 2008.0.
Intel 82801G HDA Audio Working Correctly detected headphone and disable speaker. Make sure you configure the volume control to Master and adjust the volume in the mixer.
2 Gb RAM, DDR2 Working  
Western Digital WD800BEVS 80 Gb SATA Hard Drive Working  
Optiarc CD-RW CRX880A Working  
Keyboard Working Many of the Hot keys works.
Synaptics Touchpad Working Require manual editing of Xorg to change Touch pad configuration like tapping.
Marvel 88E8038 PCI-E Ethernet Working  
Atheros AR2413 802.11bg Wireless Working WPA works.
Battery Working  
Modem Not working Does not even appear in hardware detection list.
USB Working  
TI 5-in-one Card Reader Working Tested only with SD card
TI Cardbus Untested Probably works
Sitecom Bluetooth (third party install) Working This is a USB module that plugs into the Acer 3680’s internal bluetooth connector. It did not come with the laptop.
Laptop Power Management Working Note that Celeron do not have frequency scaling.
Suspend to RAM Working with Modification Laptop often failed to resume because it crashes while loading ALSA. You need to turn off Pulse audio.The module ath_pci needs to be unloaded during suspend or the wireless will be lost when we resume.
Suspend to Disk Working with Modification The module ath_pci needs to be unloaded during suspend or the wireless may be lost when we resume.

Possible strange interaction with the Wireless Switch

When I first boot up, the wireless did not work. Rebooting it did not work either. Finally, I reboot while holding down the network switch. Since then, the wireless has worked for most of the time but fail to be detected some of the time. Whenever Linux failed to detect the device, I have shut off the machine and repeat the procedure to restore the wireless.

Unload the wireless module during suspend

One problem encountered is when you suspend, sometimes the wireless goes dead and cannot be restarted. To get around this problem, you can tell the power management utility to unload the Atheros module during suspend and reloaded it during resume.

  1. Open a command line window.
  2. Type cd /etc/pm/config.d
  3. Type su root and enter the root password to become root.
  4. Create a file defaults with the following line:
  5. Close the command window.

Even with this fix, suspend to RAM does not work reliabily. It appears to hang 50% of the time during resume and appears to crash during resuming ALSA. Suspend to Disk appears to be working.

Turn off Pulse Audio to fix Resume from suspend to RAM

By default, Pulse Audio is turned on. When it is turned on, resume often failed when reloading ALSA. You can see this when you check the logs in /var/log/pm-suspend.log and /var/log/messages. To correct the problem, do the following

  1. Select menu Tools->System Tools->Configure Your Computer. Enter the root password.
  2. Click on Hardware.
  3. Click on Browse and Configure Hardware.
  4. Click on 82801G (ICH7 Family) High Definition Audio Controller under sound card.
  5. Click on Run Config Tool.
  6. Uncheck “Enable PulseAudio” and “Automatic routing from ALSA to PulseAudio” and press OK.

Synaptics Touchpad

The synaptic drivers appears to be detected and installed properly. However, unlike Ubuntu, I was unable to find a GUI interface for configuring the touchpad. In the end, I ended up configuring it manually in xorg.conf.

Setting the clock to local time instead of UTC

Normally, I like UTC better than local time. Unfortunately, if you plan to run windows as a guest under Virtualbox, you have to use local time or the clock under windows guest will be way off (apparently, even Vista still runs in local time). To set UTC, right-click on the clock and adjust the time. At some point, you will be ask if you want to use local or UTC.

Volume Control

When I first install the machine, it had no sound. I right click the volume control and selected Master Channel and select Master as the master volume. I then right-click again and select Show Mixer window and adjust the volume. This seemed to have corrected the problem with sound.

What’s nice about the implementation is when I plug in the headphone, the speakers are automatically muted. This is something that is common to Windows, but was rarely the case under Linux.

The hot key for muting the volume does not appear to work.

Video playback issue with Compiz

When you switch on Compiz, video playback always failed. When Totem, Kaffine, or VLC is use to playback a video, the program would crash immediately. The problem appears to be an incompatibility between Compiz and X Video extensions (XV). To correct the problem on players that rely on Gstreamer like Totem, you can do the following:

  1. Select “Run Command” from the menu and type “gstreamer-properties” without the quotes.
  2. Click on the Video tab.
  3. Select for the default output “X Window System (No Xv)” and press OK.

Now you can play back videos on Totem. The only problem is that with Xv acceleration off, video playback will require more cpu. However, the Celeron M520 should easily handled most movies. For Kaffeine, you can set the playback to not use XV by:

  1. Launch Kaffeine.
  2. Select menu Settings->Xine Engine Parameters,
  3. Click on Video.
  4. Set the video option to “xshm”.
  5. Press OK.

Remote Desktop

Most Linux distro these days come with a GUI RDesktop in their menu, which I use mainly to access windows machines on my network. Mandriva for some reason does not include a GUI version of RDesktop in their menu item, but it exists. It is call rfbdrake. To run it, execute rfbdrake from the run menu item or from the command line.

Setting up RAR

I often get files in the RAR format, but rar is apparently not in the regular repository. You can find rar in PLF repository. To setup this repository, open up a browser and go to go to Follow the instructions to add the PLF repository. Once it is added, you can find rar and install it.

Battery Life

A quick test indicated that battery life under Mandriva (with 3D turned off) is about 10-15 mins better than under Vista Basic. In my experience, this is often not the case. Windows typically have better battery life (probably due to better power management in their drivers). This is an unexpected bonus.

Update Dependency Problems

Mandriva automatically check for updates. During one of the updates, I got the following error:

Sorry, the following packages can't be selected:

- kdebase-common-3.5.9-37.2mdv2008.1.i586 (due to unsatisfied libkdebase4[*][== 1:3.5.9-37.2mdv2008.1])
- kdebase-kdeprintfax-3.5.9-37.2mdv2008.1.i586
- kdebase-kdm-3.5.9-37.2mdv2008.1.i586 (due to unsatisfied
- kdebase-nsplugins-3.5.9-37.2mdv2008.1.i586 (due to unsatisfied kdebase-progs[== 1:3.5.9-37.2mdv2008.1])
- kdebase-progs-3.5.9-37.2mdv2008.1.i586 (due to unsatisfied libkdebase4[== 1:3.5.9-37.2mdv2008.1])
- libkdebase4-3.5.9-37.2mdv2008.1.i586 (due to unsatisfied

I was unable to make the problem go away. However, I find the problem only affects the graphical update. If I go to the command line and do the following:

urpmi -- auto-update

The update managed to figure out the dependencies.

Accessing Windows Share

Mandriva Linux Control Center has an icon to access Window SMB shared drives, but it does not work. There are two problems:

  1. Firewall block windows access.
  2. Access SMB in Mandriva Linux Control Center does not work.

To open up the firewall, do the following:

  1. Select Configure Your Computer. Enter the password for root.
  2. Click on Security.
  3. Click on Setup your firewall.
  4. Check Windows File Sharing (SMB). Press OK.
  5. Uncheck “Windows File Sharing (SMB)l” from the watch list, or you’ll be constantly pestered about port 137 and 138 being used. Press OK.
  6. Check both wireless and wire to be protected by firewall. Press OK.

Since Mandriva Linux Control Center did not work, we should use a different SMB client to access your Windows Shared directory. The best SMB client is smb4k.

  1. Select Configure Your Computer. Enter the password for root.
  2. Click on Software Management.
  3. Click on Install and Remove Software.
  4. Search for smb4k
  5. Check smb4k and press Apply.

Once smb4k is installed, you can select it from Menu->Internet->smb4k. Just remember the set your permission at the window server side correctly.

However, I notice that I am still unable to access Vista shared volumes.

NTFS access

Surprisingly, Mandriva does not come with NTFS support installed. If you plug in an USB external drive formatted in NTFS, it’s going to complaint that your volume is corrupted. To install NTFS support, do the following:

  1. Select Configure Your Computer. Enter the password for root.
  2. Click on Software Management.
  3. Click on Install and Remove Software.
  4. Search for NTFS-3g
  5. Check NTFS-3g and press Apply.


May 14, 2008 at 9:27 pm 9 comments


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