Laptop hosed

The other day, I was looking for some QuarkXpress-like publishing software for Linux after working with much frustration in Open Office to come up with a template for a publication I’m thinking about doing some work on. Open Office is great software, but it’s just not ideal for this kind of layout as far as I can tell. I found something called Scribus that seems a little rough around the edges but that I think’ll do the trick. Unfortunately, I had a lot of trouble getting it installed. It needed Qt, and that had some prerequisites that I had problems with. When I had trouble doing a manual install of this stuff, I decided to use yum to try to install qt, and at some point in the process, I used yum to uninstall it. And yum decided to uninstall a bunch of other stuff at the same time. Which didn’t really cause a problem until I had to reboot yesterday and gnome wouldn’t start. (Incidentally, I wound up finding an rpm for Scribus that installed with no problem and rendered all this pain really superfluous and thus doubly painful.)

So I decided to just reinstall my system. Since getting the widescreen and wireless working on this laptop was a pain originally, I made an effort to save all the info I recalled having needed to do so, figuring it’d be a pretty quick matter as a result. But I forgot to save my xorg.conf, and the wireless stuff didn’t work as seamlessly as one might have hoped. And though I thought I had blogged the steps when I originally set up this system just in case I needed to do it again, I hadn’t. Luckily, it didn’t take as long this time, though it still wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. So here’s a quick walkthrough for future reference.

For the widescreen, I need a tool called 915resolution. Once you get that installed, for this particular laptop, I add the following lines to /etc/rc.local:

/usr/sbin/915resolution 66 1280 800
/usr/sbin/915resolution 34 1280 800
/usr/sbin/915resolution 45 1280 800
/usr/sbin/915resolution 54 1280 800

Then, I edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf so that the screen, monitor, and video sections look like this:

Section "Monitor"
  Identifier   "Monitor0"
  VendorName   "--> LCD"
  ModelName    "1280X800@75HZ"
  Option       "CalcAlgorithm" "CheckDesktopGeometry"
  Option            "dpms"
  HorizSync    30.0 - 82.0
  VertRefresh  58.0 - 75.0
  UseModes     "Modes0"

Section "Screen"
        Identifier "Screen0"
        Device     "Videocard0"
        Monitor    "Monitor0"
        DefaultDepth     24
        SubSection "Display"
                Viewport   0 0
                Depth     24
                Modes    "1280x800" "1920x1200" "1680x1050" "1440x900"

Section "Modes"
  Identifier   "Modes0"
  # 1280x800 @ 75.00 Hz (GTF) hsync: 62.62 kHz; pclk: 107.21 MHz
  Modeline "1280x800_75.00"  107.21  1280 1360 1496 1712  800 801 804 835  -HSync +Vsync

Some tutorials suggest that I need to get the ATI driver, but I’ve found that it’s not necessary. So, that takes care of the widescreen setup for this model (Sony VAIO VGN-FS550).

Next up, networking. I initially tried to cobble this together more or less piecemeal as I had done previously (thanks to the process of trial and error). But what ultimately worked was the directions that start here, which links to this site, which is the real jumping-off point. Essentially, here are the steps:

  1. Download and install the ieee80211 subsystem.
  2. Download a recent ipw2200 driver (which requires the ieee80211 subsystem).
  3. Download and install recent firmware.
  4. Copy the load, unload, and other similar scripts from the ipw2200 directory to, say, /usr/local/wireless
  5. Add the following to your /etc/rc.local:
    modprobe ipw2200
    cd /usr/local/wireless
    /usr/local/wireless/load #ipw2200 driver loader
  6. Reboot or execute those commands by hand.
  7. Then just bring your wireless interface up as you normally would.

The installs listed in the first two steps are pretty routine. Just do the standard make and make install. I don’t think I had to do any other steps to make those work. The firmware files have to be copied into the hotplug directory on your system, which you can find the location for by looking for the FIRMWARE_DIR line in /etc/hotplug/firmware.agent.

After getting the wireless working, I ran into a couple more problems. For both wired and wireless interfaces (though I initially thought it was just the wireless), I started getting random disconnects. When I looked at the output from dmesg, I kept getting the error “no IPv6 routers present.” After googling around, I checked /etc/modprobe.conf and made sure the line for eth1 specified ipw2200 as the module rather than eepro100, which was what was listed when I checked. So far, this has kept my link up for a few minutes. If this is the sort of thing that degrades over time, it might not appear just yet and I might not be out of the woods, but in the short term, that change (and a subsequent reboot) appears to have done the trick.

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