Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

In part 3 of his series on Linux and the laptop, Jay explains how to get GNOME configured, sound modules working and its appearance changed.
Scroll Mouse Fun

Although trackpoints and touchpads are useful, there can be times when the accuracy and swift abilities of a traditional mouse can't be matched. If you plan on doing any graphics editing or game playing on your laptop, you will be much better off if you have an external mouse in your laptop bag. Typically your trackpoint/touchpad is detected as a PS2 device, leaving USB ports as the most convenient interface for an external mouse. The hardest part of getting a USB mouse to work involves the kernel compile. In my experience, USB modules can be finicky to make function properly. I should add that before you start configuring a mouse, you should get an idea if all of its features are supported by Linux. For example, I know some of HP's and Compaq's rebranded Logitech mice are not fully supported. With that said, here are the USB options I had to set on my IBM Thinkpad R32:

Input core support

  • Keyboard support

  • Mouse support

  • (1024) Horizontal screen resolution

  • (768) Vertical screen resolution

Support for USB

  • Preliminary USB device filesystem

  • UHCI Alternate Driver (JE) support

  • USB HIDBP Mouse (basic) support

On a Dell Inspiron 8200, I set these options:

Input core support

  • Keyboard support

  • Mouse support

  • (1600) Horizontal screen resolution

  • (1200) Vertical screen resolution

Support for USB

  • Preliminary USB device filesystem

  • UHCI Alternate Driver (JE) support

  • USB Human Interface Device (full HID) support

If everything is in check with your kernel support, you then plug in the device. You should see a message similar to the following in the console or through dmesg:

hub.c: new USB device 00:1d.1-1, assigned address 3
input0:  USB Mouse on usb2:3.0

Upon unplugging the device you should see:

usb.c: USB disconnect on device 00:1d.1-1 address 3

These messages can be misleading, though. For example, on my Thinkpad I originally compiled the kernel using full HID support. When I plugged in a device, all the appropriate messages were displayed, but for some reason no input ever made it to my apps. When I switched my HID support driver to USB HIDBP, everything worked properly. So keep that in mind when reviewing the console messages. They are your first line of attack when troubleshooting a problem, but they are not the be all and end all of accurate USB reporting.

If all went well, then your mouse should be detected properly by the kernel. Which leads us to configuring X to see your external mouse. If you have been following this tutorial from part 1, you should be using X version 4.2.x, so my config snippets are from the file /etc/X11/XF86Config-4. In this example I was able to get my Razor Boomslang functioning perfectly. In your XF86Config-4 file, you should see an entry for your existing PS2 interface. The entry looks something like this:

Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier      "Configured Mouse"
        Driver            "mouse"
        Option          "Device"                "/dev/psaux"
        Option          "Protocol"              "PS/2"
        Option          "Emulate3Buttons"       "true"
        Option          "ZAxisMapping"          "4 5"
EndSection

For my Boomslang I added the following entry below that for my Configured Mouse:

Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier      "Boomslang"
        Driver            "mouse"
        Option          "Device"                "/dev/input/mice"
        Option          "Protocol"              "IMPS/2"
        Option          "ZAxisMapping"          "4 5"
EndSection

Some entries in the SeverLayout section also need to manipulated; you need to edit one line and add another line. The line to edit is:

InputDevice     "Configured Mouse"

You need to add CorePointer to the end of the line, so it looks like:

InputDevice     "Configured Mouse"      "CorePointer"

This line sets your primary device to that of your Configured Mouse, which should be the trackpoint/touchpad. So, no matter what other interfaces are plugged in or not plugged in, the system accepts input from that device.

Secondly, you need to add this line to the bottom of the “ServerLayout” section:

InputDevice     "Boomslang"             "SendCoreEvents"

This tells X to expect input from the Boomslang but not to use it as the primary device. With this configuration you can use your USB mouse and not have to worry about rebooting or changing config files when switching back to the trackpoint/touchpad. The transition between the two interfaces will be seamless.

______________________

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Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

jones_chap@yahoo.com

for 2.4.X kernels the CS4232 in config-2.4.X is not needed and incompatible as I checked it when inserting it as a module which failed during the initial module selection for bf24.

recompiled without it, worked

now trying alsa with 2.6.4 currently, need help, got sound but choppy
need to change sampling? rate?

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

I have not been able to get GNOME working on my Debian laptop at all. I had GNOME 1.4 working fine, but when I tried to upgrade to 2.2, I got a series of errors about broken dependencies and locked files. I'd love to remove the GNOME 2.2 files and start over, but I have no idea how to do that.

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

Hi there!! I'm just gettin' nuts with the sound stuff!!! I did not have any trouble with the r6 when it came to sound (I'm a recording engineer),so I'll apreciate any help on this matter either with alsa configuring or OSS (it just don't "see" my sound card and don't have the /dev/dsp)

System Settings folder is empty?

Anonymous's picture

Followed the article instructions for installing gnome 2.2, but I'm disappointed to find the StartHere::SystemSettings folder empty. I expected to see some of the nifty controls described in April 2003 LJ article, "The Gnome2 desktop environment" by Russell Dyer.

Do I apt-get some pkgs to change network IPs, or reconfig Xwin, etc?

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

I appreciate this series of articles as I've had some trouble getting some distros to work on my Dell Inspiron 2650. May I suggest, especially for newbies, Xandros Linux 1.0? It's a Debian Woody-based system, very stable, and does an excellent job of configuring even many laptops without having to edit config files. I love Debian, too, but not everyone will want to delve so deeply into their OS until they are more experienced.

Patrick

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

I've also found debian libranet to be great with hardware

recognition

Xfree on IBM Thinkpad

Anonymous's picture

You know if you have a Thinkpad and you want that third button to work like it does on windows, where when you hold it down you can control scrolling of applications I suggest you use this in your XFree config file as the TrackPoint input device.

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "TrackPoint"
Driver "mouse"
Option "Protocol" "PS/2"
Option "Device" "/dev/mouse"
Option "Emulate3Buttons" "true"
Option "EmulateWheel" "true"
Option "EmulateWheelButton" "2"
EndSection

With that added I can hold down that blue button and move the trackpoint up and down to get scroll action, it's pretty sweet I suggest you try it.

http://cosi.clarkson.edu/

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

>> Now, if you restart your GNOME session, you should see an option for the new theme element in the Themes panel.

I've never tried to install a theme using that install button, but shouldn't it automatically get installed _without_ restarting the session?

Sounds a bit strange to me to restart a session just for getting to see a new theme in the theme panel.

(I don't see any reason why that should have to be done)

(perhaps the author of this article wasn't running FAM correctly?)

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

Hi
I am facing problem while playing the sound files on my laptop.
I could see my sound card getting detected but when I attampt to play any type of sound file say mp3 I am not able to listen any sound. Even I could not able to listen the test files like info.wav which are present on system by default.
I have gone through the article and like to seek the opinion of experts to get something positive to be able to listen sound on my laptop. I am not that much expert to alter kernal to get it working for me.
Following are the system configuration on my laptop.
kernal - Linux version 2.6.8.1-10mdksmp (nplanel@n3.mandrakesoft.com) (gcc version 3.4.1 (Mandrakelinux (Alpha 3.4.1-3mdk)) #1 SMP Wed Sep 8 16:41:52 CEST 2004
Arch - Intel x86
Sound card detected - intel8x0 82801DB ICH4
Module - snd-intel8x0
file /etc/modules.conf is empty
No file /etc/modules/aliases present.
audio group is present.
All files in /dev/sound are owned by prasad user and audio group.
I am using user - prasad.
ESD version is 0.2.35

Do I need to add the lines specified in /etc/modules.conf

-Prasad.

Re: Configuring Your Laptop for GNOME and Sound

Anonymous's picture

I usually install a theme by clicking on the install button, and it works flawlessly (assuming the theme itself is correct) *without* having to logout and in again.

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