Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

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Making progress on the laptop, one utility and one encrypted DVD at a time.

The Compaq Presario 711 is a nice upgrade from my 475MHz AMD desktop system. The configuration I recently bought from Costco.com includes too many features to list here, but it has more than two times the power that my desktop system has and includes a FireWire port and an 8x DVD drive. The pre-installed version of Windows XP wasn't a big selling point for me, though; I wanted to use Linux on my new laptop.

Linux has made great progress on desktop systems. Installing a modern operating system like RH 7.3 on a desktop is almost easy enough for Aunt Minnie, as Jerry Pournelle likes to call the everyday computer user. But laptop installs are a different matter. The hardware on laptops is less generic than what's on the desktop, but with the move to ATX-style motherboards with integrated peripherals, this has become less of a problem.

The Presario Laptop

The first step toward Linux freedom on my new Presario was a basic install of Red Hat 7.3. For me this consists of selecting a laptop install from the friendly GUI installation manager, and then going through the package list to remove everything but the bare essentials needed to get X and the development tools up and running. The only real issue with the installer is that it doesn't auto-detect the video chipset the Presario has, which is a variation of the Savage chipset called Savage Twister K. So you have to manually select “Savage” from the list of video drivers presented during the install.

Once I have the basic setup installed and running startx from a shell prompt, giving me a nice plain X screen, I copy over all the Red Hat CDs to a new directory named /RPMS/. I find this makes life much easier when I discover something missing from the system. I can install it in a few seconds, and I don't have a lot of the extra baggage that modern distributions bring to clutter up the hard drive. With a 20GB drive available, there is no reason not to install 2GBs of RPM packages so that you will always have them available.

I use Window Maker as my window manager, and I don't install GNOME or KDE and their associated load of cruft. This has become somewhat of a crusade for me lately; when I upgrade my hardware I actually like to see my applications run faster instead of running bigger applications at the same speed as before (or, in some cases, slower). I see a strong trend in the GNOME and KDE communities toward feature bloat, which ends up negating the increases in processor speed and available RAM.

But that doesn't mean you have to follow my heretical habits. One of the greatest benefits of using a liberating operating system such as Linux, and all of the associated programs, is you can mix and match the packages to suit your tastes. The changes I am going to describe will work equally well on a stock GNOME- or KDE-based Red Hat install, if that's what you use. So, on to the tweaks we need to make to get your Linux laptop up to snuff.

One of the first things I'll cover is the fact that the basic Red Hat 7.3 will install and run on the Presario, but the correct power management system isn't enabled. The Presario, as well as an increasing number of newer laptops, uses the ACPI power management interface instead of the older APM system. Because of this, you will notice the processor and fan run at full blast, trying to do their own version of the Chernobyl disaster while sitting on your lap.

As I write this on my Presario, it is running X, OpenOffice.org, the xine DVD player and a number of Window Maker docking apps. The CPU usage is hovering around 30%, the fan is on low and the laptop is a comfortable temperature. Without ACPI working it can get very hot, to the point where it's uncomfortable to hold it on your lap.

In addition to power management, the sound card has to be dealt with, as does one of those wonderful LinModems and the lack of RS-232 serial ports. As an added bonus, I'll tell you how to play your favorite DVD movies while still getting work done.

One subject that I won't cover is software suspend. Patches are available that are reported to work for some people. I didn't have any success when I tried applying them to my kernel, and there were too many differences for me to attempt to hand-patch. Because of the nature of software suspend, I am reluctant to try and shoe-horn it into my kernel myself; I'd rather wait until a well tested version makes its way into the kernel tree.

Power Management

The most important of the modifications outlined above is power management. Modern laptops depend on the operating system to correctly interface with the hardware power management system. Older laptops used a system called APM, while newer laptops are starting to use the ACPI system instead. As I mentioned before, the default Red Hat 7.3 install has APM power management enabled instead of the ACPI power management system that the Presario uses. There is an ACPI system included in the 2.4.18-4 kernel, but it is somewhat outdated and doesn't provide the /proc/acpi interface required by wmacpi. The latest ACPI patch as of this writing is acpi-20020726-2.4.18.diff. It provides a better /proc/ interface to the status of the machine and the state of the battery. This patch is available from acpi.sf.net, but read on before you run off and try to patch your kernel.

As luck would have it the new ACPI patch doesn't apply cleanly against the Red Hat kernel-source-2.4.18-4 RPM packaged source tree. A considerable amount of hand-tweaking is needed to get the kernel to compile correctly after applying the patch. You also need the kacpi patch, which fixes a problem the Presario has with losing track of ACPI interrupts. This patch is available from Juliusz Chroboczek's excellent web page (see Resources). If this patch isn't included, the kernel will miss interrupts and ACPI power management will be disabled. I modified the kapcid patch a bit so that it wouldn't report the missed interrupts—there were so many of them that it was filling up my logs.

Instead of talking you through all the tweaks I made to get the new version of ACPI working, I have provided a complete patch that handles all of the issues I cover in this article, which can be downloaded from my web site at www.brianlane.com. This patch will apply cleanly against a standard Red Hat 2.4.18-4 kernel tree, so here is how to patch your kernel (it isn't as hard as you may have been led to believe).

Let's get started by installing a clean RH 7.3 kernel with the following commands:

rpm -Uhv kernel-source-2.4.18-4.rpm
cd /usr/src/linux-2.4/
cp configs/kernel-2.4.18-athlon.config .config

Then apply my patch to the kernel tree:

patch -p1 < /tmp/2.4.18-4presario.patch

And configure the kernel for ACPI support with make xconfig.

Go to general setup, deselect APM support and select ACPI support and type y for all the ACPI options except “CPU Enumeration Only”. Save and exit the kernel configuration, and then build and install the kernel:

make dep; make clean; make bzImage
make modules
make modules_install
make install

This will create the new kernel, called 2.4.18-4acpi, install it into /boot, create an initrd and update the bootloader (Grub in my case).

If you are feeling adventurous, you can edit /etc/grub.conf (or LILO, if that's what you're using) and select the new kernel as the default. But always keep a spare around, just in case. Reboot your machine, and make sure that there is now a /proc/acpi directory tree. Look at /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/state to see the current state of your battery. Mine, for example, looks like this when running from the battery:

present:                 yes
capacity state:          ok
charging state:          discharging
present rate:            12565 mW
remaining capacity:      47463 mWh
present voltage:         16145 mV
______________________

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Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

I've found that on newer kernels I need to do a make mrproper before copying the .config file over.

Also, better ACPI suport is in newer kernels (2.4.22 as of this writing).

Brian

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

thanks Brian, now I'm finish the isntalation of red hat 8.0 on my presario 711cl. The Xfree86server is OK, I select the SAVAGE4 driver. I recently install my Modem but i dont have time to make a test... I post any Comentary about my experency.

ThanKs

::PJ::Gonzalez::

A thank you to Brian Lane

Anonymous's picture

Brian,

Thank you for your article, patch, courtesy and patience.

Your patch worked great! I now am up and running with RedHat on my Presario 710US.

A BIG thank you for taking the time to reply to my questions. It is appreciated.

Jason

Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

cool job

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Hi Brian,

Thanks for the great help for the linux laptop users. I have a Presario 1510 and just installed RH7.3. I am in the process of following the steps you described and try to get acpi to work. After download kernel-source-2.4.18-4, apply your patch, build the kernel and modules, and reboot, I still didn't see the BAT0 state as you suggested. Is there anything special should do to apply your patch for Pentium4 CPU?

thanks

yigong

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Just cry because Red Hat 8.0 is coming out Monday, I guess.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Yip RedHat 8.0 is out & I'm busy trying to get all the stuff, as described above, working. I got everything working with 7.3 but updated my kernel to 2.4.19. I did not use the patch mentioned above but rather used the seperate acpi patch and the kacpi patch and it worked fine with the 2.4.19 kernel. Will let you know how I got on with RedHat 8.0. The modem also worked fine.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Excellent Article. RedHat 7.3 now works perfectly on my new 738EA (Athlon 4 1600+). No heat, perfect sound, dvd, cd-writer,...

Thanks a lot.

O.D.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Well..... I have a COMPAQ Presario 712EA (UK Model.. Think its the same as the 715US???) and I'm going to try this. Yes I agree M$ Win XP is easier to install cause they optimised the laptop for it BUT if I had time to write about the difficulty I had to install Windows 2000 on it it would take up 2 times more space than this article. I want to install Linux... even if it is only to prove a point and start doing something about the M$ monopoly rather than complaining about it and writing about it on web sites USING M$ PRODUCTS!!!! Change the wolrd one step at a time..... This is going to be myfirst experience installing Linux so lets hope it isgoing to be a good one and not one that is going to put me off Linux for another 2-3 years...

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Bravo, and my hat's (Yes, it's a Red Hat) off to you.

Now......stop complaining on your website and advocate with the rest of us....maybe even write a few HOW-TOs and upload 'em to your space.

Micro$oft's market share is detectably dropping, and I'm doing my share to convert their hapless customers--especially the corporate accounts. That's the best use for an MCSE certification, BTW, it's a calling card for freeing the slaves.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Report back here New Linux User,

When you can finally get online without your OTHER OS.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

I look forward to the day when installing GNU/Linux is not an adventure, but rather, a mundane affair not worth writing about.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

yea so do i, linux on laptops have always been particularly painful as well... given the amount of bull***** he had to go through (hand applying kernel patches over and over and over again) it seems as though it hasn't gone far either.. i've been using linux on and off since '95 and the simple fact that one still has to recompile the kernel and apply hacked together patches from random websites all over the net is extremely disheartening, why don't the major linux companies focus on this area of user headache rather than reworking their installers multiple times (yes i am looking at you mandrake) i've used every major distribution and it's saddening to continue to read articles like this one.. I'm even typing this from XP on my laptop why you ask? because my g/f demanded that I put windows back on (used to be mandrake) because even basic things don't work by default (sound anyone?) and i didn't feel like going through the excruiating process of configuring it, it's just easier to install windows than it is to dick around with configs for days when i can i have a workable desktop in less than an hour with XP, until this situation is reversed or they can at least be called equal I don't think Linux will have a shot in hell at making it onto the desktop or anywhere else real people (not nerds geeks and malcontents like you and i ;)) have to work with it... personally i grew tired of the seemingly completely random nature of linux (which isn't far from teh truth considering all it's pieces are developed all over the world without collaboration with ti's other parts, yes the LSB Is a step in the right direction but they can hardly be called adequate even now) as a result i've been running openbsd on my servers for it's simple elegance in design and functionality rock solid stability anhd legendary security.. as it stands XP owns all my desktop machines because Linux hasn't been able to prove itself worthy as of yet, especially in the arena of gaming, in which I spend a lot of my time =) does that mean I support M$? no i loathe them, and they haven't seen a penny of revenue from me ever (well since a 486 dx/2 66 was my primary desktop and there were no alternatives in those days either) but as M$ gets worse and worse more corporations will put more and more effort into developing linux and hopefully it will be able to catch up quickly, remember M$ is better but M$ has a 10+ year head start which is more like 100 years in computer time.. look how far we've come so far, and imagine what linux will be like in another 10 years, personally I can't wait.. in the meantime the stickers on my car evanglize for me ;P

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

I am typing this on a fully-functioning Dell Inspiron 4100 notebook, Red Hat 7.3 installed without a problem, everything works. I did not need to apply any patches, recompile the kernel, or jump though a single hoop. Two USB CD-RW were detected and installed during boot, and never once was I asked to insert a driver disk, reboot the machine, or sign away my soul, first-born and entire net-worth. Selfish as it may be, Linux is ready for my desktop and my desktop is the only one I am concerned with.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Good point, if it works for you, do it up.

But for most people who don't have days to browse the net, or even enjoy working with computers, installing Linux is unacceptable. I do believe I seen a couple replies up there about installing without rebooting, tweaking, or patching.

Better thank the gods, cause that is really rare and just might not happen again with future hardware.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Exactly. So do I. And I look forward to the day when someone writes that XP is easier, when it is, that they don't get ragged on by children.

Linux is cool. It has a long way to go. This article is just way to prove that.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

BULL*****...

Tell you what - wipe out your hard drive on your Presario Laptop and install MS-WindowsXP (the correct designation - you are truly an obstinate fool in your continual use of 'XP' as MS doesn't own the copyright to the letters 'XP') - and then write up an article on the exact steps to get it installed back to the way it was when you bought it.

You'll find out the hard way .. just like my co-worker did when he bought a second harddisk for his Comcrap laptop.

Why the Compaq Presario 711CL

Thyrsus's picture

I thought the article was excellent.

I'm very curious on one point however: how did you choose the Presario 711CL? Laptops are notorious for having oddbal components that you can't replace. Did the retailer let you try out Linux first, to give you some confidence in the feasibility? Or, was the machine sufficiently well documented that you were confident you had support for all the components? If the latter, could you post your component checklist? If it was a blind gamble (yes, the ATX motherboard is a help -- where did you find out it had one?), let us know that as well.

As for the person who pointed out how easy XP would be to install: you didn't read, much less understand, the EULA.

Re: Why the Compaq Presario 711CL

brianlane's picture

First to clear up a bit of confusion -- Now that I reread that part on ATX motherboards I realize that when it edited it down I screwed it up. I meant that ATX motherboards on desktops have made them easier to support, and that laptops, with their propriatary hardware, are still hard to set things up for.

I chose the 711 because of its price, amount of memory, and the fact that there are several 700 series webpages that showed that it isn't impossible to get Linux running on it.

As for the EULA, from my understanding it allows Microsoft to upload changes to your system without your permission. Not something that I'm likely to agree to any time soon!

XP runs on this system, but only because it has been customized for it. There are 4 recovery CDs, all from Compaq not Microsoft, that you can use to restore your system. I would expect that a plain copy of XP Home from the store would install but not take advantage of the laptop's features.

Brian

Re: Why the Compaq Presario 711CL

Anonymous's picture

how can i get compaq presario 711CL XP recovery
CDs CAN I GET A PHONE # TO ORDER THEM

Re: Why the Compaq Presario 711CL

Anonymous's picture

The EULA? Does the EULA make it hard to install XP?

Re: Why the Compaq Presario 711CL

Anonymous's picture

ROFLMAO!

No. Just a stupid thing to do.

Keeping XP running without paying ransom to M$--after you paid for the install CDs, BTW--is the really tough part.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Wow. It's all so easy.

You know what you would have had to do to get all this working in XP? Nothing. Of course, that doesn't make for much of an article, I guess.

Instead of cheering the author on, this should be held up as an example of how far Linux has to go on the desktop (or laptop, in this case). It's silly how far behind it is.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

But then again, when I wanted to have a powerful workstation with great development tools and a Web server, all I did was buy a used PC for $115, slap Linux on there, and suddently I had a system that under Micro$oft would cost, what, three thousand bucks?

I'll muck around for a Saturday getting the system going if it saves me that kind of money.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

You know what kind of intelligence you need to run XP? (As well as fire off idiot cracks like yours)

You got it.....none!

I'll stick with Linux....the user-base has far more intelligence than you could imagine--even in your wildest nightmares.

Desktop vs. Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Let's not over-generalize here! Desktop Linux works!

http://www.mandrakesoft.com/company/press/pr?n=/pr/products/2315

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

You're an idiot. Since MS-WindowsXP (the XP designation is technically incorrect) is pre-installed, you're comparing Apples and oranges.

Try blanking out the hard-disk and installing MS-WindowsXP from scratch. Then tell us how much easier it is to install - you'll find out that you are incorrect in your assessment and my assessment that you are an illiterate moron is more accurate.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

You're obviously joking. Windows XP is still much easier when you install it yourself. And you are never once left to provide bizarre command lines like:

- hdparm -d 1 /dev/dvd

- pilot-xfer /dev/ttyUSB1 -b ./backupdir

- rpm -Uhv hsflinmodem-5.03.03.L3mbsibeta02072100-1.i386.rpm

- event=battery.BAT0.* action=/sbin/shutdown -h +2 "%e"

And so on. In XP, the hardware is all correctly detected, and everything works.

Moron? Please. I just need to get work done, not debate idiological nonsense with someone who obviously has way too much free time on his hands.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Linux is user-friendly it's just picky about who his friends are

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Yeah, he prefers those who have an IQ higher than room-temperature.

His buddies have an IQ at least double that.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Anonymous is the one and only flatfish+++ that is constantly

displaying stupidity all over comp.os.linux.advocacy.

flatfish+++ is a linux user wanna-be, uses a pirated version

of Windows XP, and has never installed Windows XP on a laptop.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

gee, I've never once had to use any of those commands you're referring to .. and I only use the command line on my laptop occasionally ..

And you most certainly are a moron if you think installing MS-WindowsXP (again, you need to learn to use the *correct* designation) is easier. Of course, maybe you don't mind the incorrect default drivers that get chosen for you.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Ass.

Those examples are all from the article. you know, the article you bufoons were trumpting as "excellent" because it shows how easy Linux is.

Spare me. Windows XP works. (And it's not MS-WindowsXP, whatever the heck that means).

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

The software is called "Microsoft Windows XP" and is covered by the infamous microsoft EULA.

By the way, how many times did you have to ask from microsoft for a new activation code? Or perhaps you don't mind...

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Make no mistake, Linux is NOT ready for the general public.

DO you know how many articles I've read that tell you to boot into Windows and get a setting, or driver name, etc ?

And I've just spent AT LEAST 10 hours reading articles, and rebooting, crashing, rebooting my Presario 990z to get it to at least give me a Linux prompt. Did I mention I installed Win XP Pro in 55 minutes, secured it in 2 hours ?

Hate the way MS does business, but you have to admit, they are LIGHT years beyond any of the *nixes.

Good thing I have a couple spare computers around the house, or I'd be really pissed at a 800 dollar paperweight without MS.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Right you are.

It's M$-WindowsXP. The 'XP' stands for eXPensive.

Linux IS an absolute breeze to install, in case you might be so open-minded as to honestly wonder about that.

I've rolled it out in no less than 15 corporate sites, since release, and the 19 minute install has gone flawlessly on a wide range of hardware types--EVERY SINGLE TIME.

My domestic customers are wild over the product as well.

I charge less, because I don't have to pay extortion to M$, and I get the jobs over those installing Gates' curse upon thinking people.

If you can't see that the article actually illustrates the exception rather than the rule, you've got a terminal case of 'ring-around-the-collar', if you get my drift.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Very informative article.

I found myself grinning madly as the read the article because it reminded me of Jerry Pournelle's articles for Byte Magazine. Except that the author did not have a team of Navy SEALS parachute in to apply the patches and tweak the settings.

;)

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

brianlane's picture

Thanks! Jerry is a bit of an inspiration to me. You can read his daily comments at www.jerrypournelle.com. Thanks for the comparision.

Brian

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

Thanks LJ & Brian, I've a similar model (701) and didn't know about the "2.4.18-4presario.patch" patch; for sure I'll apply it.

J. Carminati.

Re: Installing Red Hat 7.3 on a Compaq Presario 711CL Laptop

Anonymous's picture

I'm wondering: Is there a patch like described for the kernel2.4.18-10 athlon red hat 7.3?

ruud.koendering@planet.nl

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