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Fedora Core 2, Averatec 3220 notebook



Hello everyone,
I recently bought an Averatec 3220 notebook computer and have spent some time getting Fedora Core 2 installed and running with all of the functionality that I need, including wireless and modem connectivity. I wrote the whole procedure down, and thought it might be helpful to others. I have posted the text below, but I have another version on my Web site with useful links to drivers, kernel config files, scripts, and other resources.
See: http://www.lightlink.com/mc2/averatec3220.html





Installing Linux on an Averatec 3220 notebook computer


Following is a detailed "howto" guide for installing Linux (Fedora Core 2 to be specific) on an Averatec 3220 notebook computer.
Contents


   * Acknowledgements
   * Purpose
   * Requirements
   * Procedure
         o Resize the Windows XP partition
         o Install Fedora Core
         o General System Configuration
         o Custom Kernel
         o Wireless drivers
         o Modem
         o Quieting the VERY LOUD CPU cooling fan

Acknowledgements

This guide would not have been possible without the following resources:

* A shiny, little (and inexpensive) notebook computer manufacturer called Averatec
* Dan Morrill's extremely helpful page: Linux on Averatec Laptops
* The many developers and users of Fedora Core Linux for a superb Linux distro, which is easy to install and use, and for lots of answers to questions.
* Ralink Technology Corp. who went to the trouble of releasing the source code (not GPL though) for the wireless gadget in the Averatec 3220 notebook computer, and for creating user forums on their Web site, which were instrumental in answering some of my questions.
* The folks at Smart Link for their modem drivers which work very well with the Averatec 3220's modem.



Purpose


I wrote this guide primarily for myself. I have an awful memory, and writing these sorts of things down is my only option if I don't want to lose the information. You will find this guide very similar to Dan Morill's "Linux on Averatec Laptops" guide, except much more specific to my situation, often with step-by-step instructions. I'm releasing it into the wild hoping that it might aid others who find themselves in a similar situation. If you find areas that could use improvement, please contact me.
Functionality (what works and doesn't with this procedure)


   * X: running with vesa driver @ 1024x768 (no acceleration)
   * Built-in ethernet, USB, sound: all working
   * 802.11g Wireless: works after kernel and driver compile & install
   * Built-in modem: works with the slmodem driver.
   * ACPI: hibernate and suspend don't seem to work.


Requirements


* A functional Averatec 3220 notebook computer
* A Knoppix live CD version 3.3 or higher. (needed only if you want to keep the Windows XP install working)
Everyone should have one of these. They're just so darned useful. We need one because the default Fedora Core kernel doesn't grok NTFS (we'll fix this later on in our custom kernel), so we can't resize our Windows XP partition without Knoppix (which does grok NTFS).
* A set of Fedora Core 2 CDs (for this install, only discs 1 and 2 are needed, but you may need the others depending on what packages you choose to install from them)
* Some time (a few hours should do it)



Procedure


1. Resize the Windows XP partition

When you buy the Averatec notebook, it has a single ~38MB NTFS formatted partition with Windows XP installed. We'll need to make this partition smaller (or delete it entirely) so that we can install Linux. Note: If you have important data on your computer and you are following this procedure, I'm assuming you have made backups. Although I have gone through this process a few times with no problems or data loss, your experience may be different. If you hose your system, it's your own fault. You have been warned.

If you do want to simply dump Windows altogether, skip to the Fedora Core install. You can easily delete your Windows partition from there.
1. Boot the Knoppix Live CD
2. Resizing the NTFS partition with "qtparted"


Once Knoppix is up and running, be sure that the /dev/hda1 partition isn't mounted! qtparted will fail if it is.
1. Open a "Konsole"
2. At the prompt enter su
3. At the prompt enter qtparted
4. Use the qtparted GUI to resize the NTFS partition to your desired size. I usually go for about 13GB for Windows, leaving 2/3 of the disk for Fedora, and other distros I fancy.


Note: The next time you start Windows XP, it'll want to do a disk integrity check. This is normal. It will reboot when it's finished, and all should be well with Windows in its smaller partition.

2. Install Fedora Core

It's my current distro of choice. Mostly because it's easy to install and use. Since it is so easy to install, I won't go into the details of that process here.

Generally, I choose a custom install, do my partitioning manually, allowing another 12GB + 256MB swap for Fedora, and leave the last third of the drive unpartitioned for any other distributions I might want to install later.

I choose the following packages during the install, things I don't mention are unchecked.
* X Windows System
* KDE
* Development Tools (not including any of the optional packages)
* Printing Support


The install size is reportedly about 1450MB, which takes about 15 minutes, and I only need Fedora Core 2 discs 1 and 2.

After you reboot and log in, your soundcard, ethernet, and X/KDE should be working with not problems. If the sound is not working, or has static mixed in, use the "kmix" applet to adjust all of the volume sliders to their maximums, and then experiment to see which are actually controlling the volume. If the sound has static, add the following line to your /etc/modprobe.conf file: snd-via82xx index=0 dxs_support=4

3. General System Configuration

Following are notes for my own edification. You'll probably just want to skip to the Custom Kernel section below.

After the Fedora install, I do the following:
* Configure my users and groups
* Run my services_config script (as root) to shutdown unwanted boot-up services
* connect to my backup server via nfs mounts
* delete all of the default files in my home directory
* restore my data
* configure yum (/etc/yum.conf, note that we exclude kernel* packages from the mix) and run yum -y update
* un-comment the DRIVER="powernow-k7" line in /etc/cpuspeed.conf and restart the cpuspeed daemon.


4. Custom Kernel

This sections covers getting, building and installing a custom kernel for the Averatec 3220. It's not terribly difficult really, and I've done the worst of it (picking the correct kernel options for the hardware).
* Go to kernel.org and download a tarball of your favorite kernel's source. As of this writing, I'm using "linux-2.6.8.1.tar.gz"
* I save my kernel package in ~/system/packages/kernel directory and unpack it there with the following command: tar zxvf linux-2.6.8.1.tar.gz
* cd into your newly unpacked kernel source directory.
* Read the README file.
* I have a kernel config file which outlines all of the parameters that we'll want in our new kernel. This config file indicates that modules for all hardware specific to the Averatec 3220 should be built and installed when we install our kernel. If you download this file, you must save it at the top level of your kernel source directory as ".config". Notice that that filename has a dot followed by the word "config". :)
* Feel free to run make menuconfig to browse the kernel configuration and to see which options I've chosen. Never let anyone tell you what should or shouldn't be in your kernel!
* When you're satisfied with your kernel configuration, make a backup of your .config file so you don't have to go through all of those menus again. Unless you want to, of course.
* Important note: If you're planning on using the 802.11g wireless capability of your Averatec 3200, you'll need to modify one of the kernel source files, namely [kernel source top level]/kernel/softirq.c. You'll want to modify a line that reads: #define MAX_SOFTIRQ_RESTART 10 to #define MAX_SOFTIRQ_RESTART 2, and comment-out or delete a line that reads: WARN_ON(irqs_disabled());. Details about this hack are given on the Ralink discussion forum. Remember that this is a hack for the present. It may be fixed or changed in future versions of the Kernel or the Ralink drivers.
* Next, build the kernel with this command: make. The process takes about ten minutes on my Averatec 3220 which has 512MB of RAM.
* Use the su command to gain root privileges, and from the same directory, do: make modules_install. This will copy all appropriate modules to /lib/modules/2.6.8.1 -- which is where the new kernel will look for them.
* Next, (still as root) do: make install. This will copy the newly built kernel into the /boot area, and set up some other necessary things like adding an entry to your /boot/grub/grub.conf bootloader configuration file so that you can select which kernel you want to boot.
* Important note: The default Fedora kernel somehow allows drives to be referred to as something like "LABEL=/". Most prominently in the /etc/fstab file and the /boot/grub/grub.conf file. We need to replace the string "LABEL=/" in these files with the string representing your Linux root partition. This is "/dev/hda2" in my case. If you don't make the chages to these two files, you'll get a kernel panic when you try to boot your new kernel.
* Reboot and select your new kernel from the Grub boot menu.


That's pretty much it for building our custom kernel. Easy right? Note that if you want to rebuild your kernel with different options at some point in the future, you should boot into your stock Fedora Core kernel first. If you try to run the make install for the 2.6.8.1 kernel while you are running the 2.6.8.1 kernel, you get a message about all of your loopback devices being in use. Also, sometimes I've found it necessary to run make mrproper (in the top level kernel source directory) before rebuilding the kernel. Be sure you have a backup of your .config file first, because make mrproper deletes it (amongst lots of other things).

5. Wireless drivers

This sections covers getting, building and installing the Ralink drivers for the Averatec 3220.
* Go to Ralink Support Page and download the latest version of the "11g-RT2500" source code for Linux. Right now, the latest is "RT2500-Linux-STA-1.4.3.0.tar.gz".
* I save the source package in ~/system/packages/wireless directory and unpack it there with the following command: tar zxvf RT2500-Linux-STA-1.4.3.0.tar.gz
* cd into the "Module" source directory, about two levels down.
* Read the README file.
* Note: I usually have to alter the file permissions on the source before continuing. Do chmod -R 755 *
* Copy the appropriate Makefile for our kernel to the top level of the "Module" directory. Do cp 2.6.x/Makefile . -- This will copy the Makefile from the 2.6.x directory to the top level directory.
* Do: make -C /lib/modules/2.6.8.1/source SUBDIRS=$PWD modules and wait a moment. When you're done, you should have a file called rt2500.ko -- that's our kernel module.
* Copy or symlink this module into the kernel modules area (/lib/modules/2.6.8.1/kernel/drivers/net). Note, if you re-install the kernel at a later date, you may have to repeat this step.
* Update the /etc/modprobe.conf file: add the following line: alias ra0 rt2500
* Create or update the /etc/modules.conf file: add the same line: alias ra0 rt2500
* Modify the provided ifcfg-ra0 file thusly: add this line: TYPE=Wireless
* Copy the ifcfg-ra0 file to its proper place: cp ifcfg-ra0 /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/
* Be sure that the wireless gadget is enabled by pushing its button, the one near the power button. The little blue wireless light should come on.
* load the rt2500 module into the kernel: /sbin/insmod /lib/modules/2.6.8.1/kernel/drivers/net/rt2500.ko. You can create a script to do this on boot-up, or boot into your previous kernel and run the 2.6.8.1 kernel's make install again to get the Ralink module (which is now in the /lib/modules/2.6.8.1/ area, included in the boot-time module mix. Apparently the kernel makes a list of all of the modules in /lib/modules, and uses it at boot time. I'm kind of fuzzy on this. Read man depmod or read about the System.map if you want to understand it.
* You should now be able to use the "Network" applet in KDE to configure and activate the ra0 wireless device.


Note: The utility program that is included with the Ralink source code is useful and worth building and using. Read the included documentation on how to do this.

6. Modem

This sections covers getting, building and installing the drivers which will allow you to use the Averatec 3220's internal modem.
* Go to Smart Link Web site and download the latest version of the drivers for Linux. Right now, the latest is "slmodem-2.9.10".
* I save the source package in ~/system/packages/modem directory and unpack it there with the following command: tar zxvf slmodem-2.9.10.tar.gz
* cd into the slmodem-2.9.10 source directory.
* Read the README file.
* Do: make KERNEL_DIR=/lib/modules/2.6.8.1/source
* Do as root: make install
* To use the modem, issue these commands (as root): (I have a script that I run to do this)


            /sbin/modprobe slamr
            /usr/sbin/slmodemd --country=USA /dev/slamr0

* You should now be able to configure the "kppp" applet to use "/dev/ttySL0" as a modem device.


7. Quieting the VERY LOUD CPU cooling fan


Straight out of the box, the Averatec 3220 has an extremely loud CPU cooling fan! I almost returned the computer to the store because of it. Then I found the solution, and am now as happy as a clam. Here it is: In the BIOS setup, you will find an entry under the "Advanced Power Management" menu called "Fan Auto Learning". Use it. It takes about 10 - 20 minutes, and afterward, your fan will run as needed, but very quietly (after the initial power-on-self-test). I wonder why Averatec doesn't run this utility before packaging the computer for sale...


-- Mitch Wiedemann mc^2 Computer Consulting mc2 lightlink com http://www.lightlink.com/mc2


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