Computer: Trouble with new hardware

Computer: Trouble with new hardware

So I got this new laptop on Monday evening, here’s what I like about it:

  • CPU: i7-3610, 6MB Cache
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3 1600MHz
  • Display: 17″ Full HD, 16:9, 1920 x 1080
  • Disk: 750GB 5400rpm plus a free slot for SSD :-D
  • Graphic: Nvidia GT 630M – i7 has integrated graphics, I might never need that

But so far it gave me some headache – it’s Friday eve and finally I have a booted kernel with visible output.

At the moment, I start my kernel by:

  1. Open BIOS
  2. Open EFI-BIOS shell (installed myself)
  3. Manually start grub with: “fs0:\grub2\grub.efi”
  4. Select kernel in grub, …

These things stink:

  • Win7 License: I already own a licences for Win7 Enterprise, why do I have to buy OEM?
  • Win7 Installation: The pre-installed Win7 takes 50GB … fifty gigabyte! *no comment*
  • Drivers/Backup: Win7 wants to back up the pre-installation or the driver partition: 4-5 DVDs, taking hours. I haven’t even bothered yet.
  • Ethernet: No Linux driver for that one. Rumors say Atheros got taken over without the developer in charge and thus the code did not make it into kernel 3.2.12 … I’m probably making this up, it’s been days since I got wlan to work, so it’ll wait.
  • WLAN: Intel Centrino 2030: Needs kernel module iwlwifi plus the 2030 ucode. iwlwifi is common, but the ucode is not available for Gentoo yet. Luckily it was on SystemRescueCD!
  • USB vs. Linux distros: I’m used to booting various Linux distributions from USB. Here the standard approach mostly failed. I tried:

    SystemRescueCD: my winner, see below.
    Gentoo: Doesn’t boot from USB, only from CD. Then doesn’t recognize USB, which means no wlan, no internet.
    Knoppix: Boots from USB, startx fails about every 2nd time. Used it for gparted.
    ArchLinux: Boots form USB, but I’m not familiar with it.
    Ubuntu: Installed ubuntu server to HD in an early desperate attempt. It failed to boot afterwards …
    Others: Tried some other rescue-CD Linuxes, none booted from USB.

  • UEFI-BIOS: UEFI is a descendant of BIOS. I’ve seen development screenshot of pretty ASUS EFI GUIs, but this one here sucks. Win7 also requires GPT. – Each might be nice alone, but not with all other new stuff.
    It requires Grub2-beta, tutorials differ, etc.

    I’ll write next article about what somehow works.

Note: Fix for USB-installation, see: Linux: Notes on SystemRescueCd
SystemRescueCD was my rescue! Runs from USB, no problem, wlan-ucode is included, the bleeding edge HW is nicely recognized. “startx” quickly opens a lightweight desktop environment. And it’s Gentoo based, so it’s like home.
It froze frequently, so that only a hard reboot would help and the light browser also tends to crash.
But other distros were far worse – it did the job and I’ll keep this one ready from now on.


One comment

  1. I bet your PC is an HP laptop because I have a remarkably similar system and boy oh boy I am having problems. I am a Sabayon user. Most pressingly, have you figured ANYTHING out for the wifi? In windows, it works more or less perfectly. Under linux, my range drops straight to hell! Do you have any ideas? I can’t believe I paid more for the Intel chipset but would have been better off with a Broadcom. Please contact me if you have ANY idea what to do about my wifi range– it is, frankly, just pathetic….

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