HP Compaq 615 with Kubuntu 9.04

Sunday, October 18. 2009

My mother wanted a simple laptop, which is sufficient for browsing the web, writing some emails and some letters. So I haven chosen a HP Compaq 615 since it has a very low price but does it's job. As I don't want to bother my mother with viruses and I wanted the flexibility to setup a system that just fits her needs, I installed Kubuntu. Therefore the next advantage of the HP Compaq 615 is that it has no Microsoft Tax - it's delivered with DR-DOS only.

Ubuntu is supported very well on this laptop. After some tweaks, I managed to get everything working but some function keys that are not really required.


Device Status Comments
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 3200
Works Had to install latest ATI drivers (see below)
Audio Works
Updated Alsa drivers required and some configuration changes (see below)
LAN Works out of the box

WLAN Works out of the box
Suspend to Disk
Works out of the box
Suspend to RAM
Works out of the box
fn Functionkeys
Partially not working: Working are print, WWW, mute and volume up-down.
Some are not working like the brightness adjustment. But this can be done with the KDE power settings.
SD Card Reader
Works out of the box

Here is the output of lspci:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 Host Bridge
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 PCI to PCI bridge (int gfx)
00:04.0 PCI bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 PCI to PCI bridge (PCIE port 0)
00:07.0 PCI bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 PCI to PCI bridge (PCIE port 3)
00:09.0 PCI bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 PCI to PCI bridge (PCIE port 4)
00:11.0 SATA controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 SATA Controller [AHCI mode]
00:12.0 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB OHCI0 Controller
00:12.1 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700 USB OHCI1 Controller
00:12.2 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB EHCI Controller
00:13.0 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB OHCI0 Controller
00:13.1 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700 USB OHCI1 Controller
00:13.2 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB EHCI Controller
00:14.0 SMBus: ATI Technologies Inc SBx00 SMBus Controller (rev 3a)
00:14.2 Audio device: ATI Technologies Inc SBx00 Azalia (Intel HDA)
00:14.3 ISA bridge: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 LPC host controller
00:14.4 PCI bridge: ATI Technologies Inc SBx00 PCI to PCI Bridge
00:14.5 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB OHCI2 Controller
00:18.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 11h HyperTransport Configuration (rev 40)
00:18.1 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 11h Address Map
00:18.2 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 11h DRAM Controller
00:18.3 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 11h Miscellaneous Control
00:18.4 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 11h Link Control
01:05.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc RS780M/RS780MN [Radeon HD 3200 Graphics]
02:00.0 Ethernet controller: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. Device 4357 (rev 10)
06:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4312 802.11b/g (rev 01)

Graphics

Right after installation the system was running with the OpenSource radeon driver. While this is OK for 2D operations, it does not allow all these nice desktop effects, for which you need to enable the compositing extension of the X11 server. Ubuntu Jaunty also provides the commercial driver in its repository, but this driver did not work for me. The X server was not able to startup properly and showed random artifacts.

So I tried the latest driver provided by ATI and that one worked instantly.

  1. Download the latest driver for the ATI Radeon HD3200 graphics adapter from AMD (I have downloaded version 8.650).
  2. Create the driver installation package:
    sh ati-driver-installer-9-9-x86.x86_64.run --buildpkg Ubuntu/Jaunty
  3. Install the driver packages:
    sudo dpkg -i *.deb
  4. Create an intial X11 configuration:
    aticonfig --initial
  5. Reboot the system.
After these steps KDE was able to run with compositing enabled and all the nice effects run smoothley.

Sound

Getting sound running was the trickiest part. After quite some googling and trying out different alternatives, I finally found the answer on launchpad. However it does not work with the driver version that is mentioned there. You will have to use the newer driver, which is mentioned some postings below that answer. Here are the steps I followed to get a running sound system:

  1. Before you continue, I recommend to run a full system update to make sure that you have the latest kernel version already installed. In case there is a new kernel available, reboot your system before continuing.
  2. Run uname -p and note the machine type. It will either return i686 or amd64.
  3. Run uname -r and note the kernel version.
  4. Download the latest Alsa driver for the sound system from linuxant.com:
    1. Choose the appropriate platform for your machine type: i686, amd64
    2. Download the package that matches the kernel version.
  5. Unzip the package and the install the contained deb package:
    sudo dpkg -i alsa-driver-linuxant_*.deb
  6. Edit the file /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base as root user and add the line
    options snd-hda-intel model=laptop
    to the end of this file
  7. Then edit the file /etc/modprobe.d/options as root user and add the same line
    options snd-hda-intel model=laptop
    to the end of this file.
  8. Reboot

Most probably you won't hear any sound unless you are using headphones. To enable the internal speaker you have to run kmix and adjust the volume of the speaker channel.

Summary

The laptop does its job. You shouldn't expect too much from it (well, I am working with an HP EliteBook 8530w and it's really unfair to compare the both with each other), but given its very low price I was pleasantly surprised. The only thing that's really disturbing in my opinion is the glaring display, but well - it's the current hype and if the room's lighting fits the display is OK.


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Comments


    #1 Jonathan on 11/09/09 at 09:21 AM
    *Thanks for a great article, I am about to install 9.10 on the same laptop, so this will help a lot. ;-)
    #2 ?ukasz Derkacz on 03/16/10 at 11:20 AM
    *Hi, can you answer one question.
    If the computer is in idle or not using processor extensively, does the fan starts up, or does it start only when you do some extensive operations?
    #2.1 Carsten Schlipf on 03/16/10 at 04:01 PM
    *Sorry, can't check it, since I do not own this laptop and do not have it around.
    #3 winning on 03/16/10 at 07:59 PM
    *please my bluetooth is not working without external hardware
    #4 Mack Trucks on 08/01/11 at 10:16 AM
    *I am considering to buy this laptop and I wonder if you guys still have any issues with it on Karmic/Lucid.It is so tiresome and difficult to buy a laptop to use with Linux because of compatibility issues.great article and this will help me a lot.

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