Debian on a Presario 2800

Mostly working...

TODO List:

Maybe test irda
Keep CPU heatsink clear, was seeing temperatures over 85°C under load

The said laptop is a Taiwanese model Compaq Presario 2800, with the nifty Mandrin glyphs written alongside the qwerty keys. For months, it had been mostly unusable 1/3rd of the time, where the power would spin up the drives and activate the led, but get nowhere. The key step of booting which never happened, was the brief illumination of the caps & num lock leds, which happens before the screen kicks on and the bios posts. The removal of the piece of plastic which covers the rear device ports seems to have mostly solved this, but it will still appear to occur randomly. Currently, the backlight trouble appears to be when the right side power adaptors get disconnected and thus, will leave the screen without a backlight until a reboot. My paper-clip/lego rigging seems to have stopped the backlight problems.

Basic install goes as well as any typical debian testing snapshot iso. The kernel was a debian-configged 2.6.15 variant, which I keep upgraded to a roughly latest version. Xorg 7 was brand new, and just about everything worked out of the box per se. A couple of dev packages and a cvs to and I'm up and running Enlightenment DR17.


The olde Kernel has pretty much everything you need for this laptop.

Rough Specs:
1.6Ghz Pentium 4 M
Radeon 7500 Mobility GPU
14" LCD 1024x768
Intel ICH3 AC97 Audio
Intel Pro/100 VE Ethernet
Conexant HSF 56k HSFi Modem


On board usb2.0, requires EHCI and OHCI in the kernel. Works great, but used to have the problem below, but it might have been a hardware issue.
For some reason my left usb port only gives the +5v and no signal. Maybe not, I just tested it with a usb 1.1 mouse and webcam, then a usb2.0 camera and it works as advertised. Suspect the custom DSDT fixed this, see the ACPI section. Other suspicion is that problem was related to a physical problem with the motherboard with the plastic port cover installed.

ATI Technologies, Inc. Radeon Mobility M7 LW [Radeon Mobility 7500]

The 2.6 kernel and Xorg handle this chip pretty well. Add the usual ATI and DRI kernel options and it's set. Don't bother with the official ATI drivers, because this chipset isn't supported.

Xorg and S-Video and performance

I've done a number of tests/tweaks, and have generally decided this is the best setup for the xorg.conf. You will need to install a copy of driconf and enable the HyperZ, which gives me about a 1.6x increase in framerates. xorg.conf device section.
        Driver          "radeon"
        Option          "AGPFastWrite"  "1"
        Option          "EnablePageFlip"        "1"
        Option          "ColorTiling"   "1"
        Option          "RenderAccel"   "enable"
        Option          "AGPMode"       "4"
        Option          "BIOSHotkeys"   "true"
        Option          "TVOutput"      "NTSC"
I've tested the XAA and EXA xrender extensions, and though EXA claims to be more modern and up to date, it runs considerably slower with gl for which the increased xrender performance is negated.


All of these kernel options are handled pretty well, and I also suggest the implementation of a custom DSDT. Make sure you get the packages acpid, acpi, acpi-support, acpitool, and powersaved for the most utility.

Custom DSDT

The reasoning here is simple, the default DSDT file has a number of bugs, and thus, some things such as the brightness modifiers and that left usb port don't work. You'll need the iasl package to decompile and recompile the dsdt file. This really wasn't as complicated as I thought as first, mostly because everyone had to patch their 2.4 kernel and ACPI junk when they were referencing this. A simple set of commands and you've got the dsdt as supple as jello.
	cat /proc/acpi/dsdt > dsdt-orig
	iasl -d dsdt-orig
Now, you can edit the dsdt-orig.dsl with your favorite text editor, keeping a look out for the following:
Once satisfied here, you're ready to recompile.
	iasl -tc dsdt-orig.dsl
Now, you're ready to point your kernel to the custom dsdt and recompile. You have to deselect "CONFIG_STANDALONE", then you will have the "CONFIG_ACPI_CUSTOM_DSDT" enabled in the ACPI section.

Recompile, reboot, and cheer if it works. That's all there is to it.

Conexant HSF 56k HSFi Modem

Installed the drivers from linuxant and it works at a blazing 14.4 kbps... You can buy a license for the fully functional driver, but who uses modems much nowadays anyhow. I don't particularly like the way this thing will try to recompile itself during booting if the module isn't detected by a new kernel. That's another reason not to taint your kernel if you don't need a modem. Another reason is this thing cycles an unacceptable number of times for a laptop device mentioned in the next section.

Latest - It's dead! Lightning strike, *pop* *pop* noise, and now it doesn't find a dial tone! It was a pleasure to remove this and it's junky hsfmodem software. Thanks Thor!

Power Usage

Using the new dynticks feature with 2.6.21 allows for some rather interesting inspection of processes and their interrupts through the PowerTop program. The biggest offender observed from this was the linuxant driver, which has 2 or three different things waking the cpu about 200 times a second. The second biggest is the radeon driver, which adds a wake for each time the screen finishes refreshing at 61hz.

Working through some bleeding edge patches, ala 2.6.22-rc4 and the hrt10 patches, I was able to unlock the hidden HPET timer from within the supposedly unsupported ICH3 chipset. Now, I can get the power usage while idle on battery to around 16-13W, giving me an extra hour of laptop idle in the car time. Once HPET was enabled, I can regularly reach C3 states in Xorg, and if idle, can hit 99% in C3, with the 61hz radeon driver still ticking! - hrtimers patches.

HPET + radeon vblank hack = ~8 wakes/second in X + e17, good stuff. Power Consumption is just under 15W with a normal screen half bright idle and with short-term screen off situation, hit 12.7W before powering the screen back on. Power consumption is less than 14W with the screen brightness at the minimum. With an extended screen off period, 12.2W has been observed.

Older power stats tend to be about 22 watts when in use and on battery. The battery seems to be rated for 4000 mAh, and currently identifies as 3152 mAh.

Reference Links

TuxMobil - Filled me with plenty of ideas and references.
Compaq Laptops @ TuxMobil
Debian - probably not a necessary link.



2 dead hard drives later, it's working again. Haven't had time to customize the dsdt or anything. The onboard e100 chip is toast, strangely enough. I thought it would never work with another hdd, but maybe just both of mine were dead, and the dma errors weren't related. Tried an ubuntu livecd, that worked, but takes forever on this hardware. Debian's etch was smart enough to detect there was a prism54 pcmcia card, but lacked the fullmac firmware required to run it. Might not be free enough for the deb camp, but without eth0, it was rather important to get it. Notes here proved helpful for the rebuild.


Finally sat down with the laptop and an s-video tv. Got atitvout working with the VESA driver, that was gross, movie playback was even grosser. My information about the EnableBIOSHotkeys was misleading, and it actually was all I needed to add to get the Fn-F4 key to switch while in Xorg. Not sure about getting a widescreen picture displayed on the 16:9 tv since that's not what NTSC is about, but the scale to fullscreen and force 4:3 aspect in mplayer works.


Reinstalled with a new Etch netinstall image. The installer seemed somewhat truncated but the main feature of the install was to try out the encryption. The GUI installer I tried at first doesn't have the ability to do the crypto loop which was disappointing and forced me to try again without that. After the install, I do the reboot, boot to the new system, and blammo, out and in the open without dselect or tasksel or some sort of replacement. Left to my own devices, I get through the packages with aptitude and cvs the enlightenment 17, and it's as good as new. Irks, something is weird with the fonts, but I haven't been able to put my finger on it. Disabling XCore Fonts doesn't hide the non-hinted fonts in Opera like it did before, which is the real manifestation of this problem.


Quick changes in the xorg.conf lead me to have functional brightness keys after starting x, but had nothing to do with the "EnableBiosHotKeys" as the name would suggest. Unfortunately, the atitvout program no longer functions, and I had to use mplayer on the console.


Decided to write down all of this junk while I still remember it.
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Last Modified: Sunday, 01-Jun-2008 17:04:40 CDT