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8. hpaq: HP 2000 2b53CA

After the death of t43, an IBM Thinkpad T43, I acquired this notebook computer.

In the store, it was $399 raw price, with $60 discount.

I started the install at about 9:30pm, had to twiddle a bit to get BIOS into legacy mode so I could do the install; it was avidly UEFI, initially. Apparently it comes with Windows 8, 64 bit, as the default, which won't work unless it's tightly integrated into UEFI, so that there's the full chain of vendor controls over video and sound. They wouldn't want anyone to be able to use Windows 8 to "pirate" movies; priority #1!.

Got it to the point of thinking about loading packages across the network at about 10:30-11. It then spent into the wee hours loading Debian Squeeze packages (some 1300 of them).

In the morning, I rebooted, threw in a couple packages to start bootstrapping configuration (I want git, zsh, cfengine for such), and got it to the point of having *some* of what I want on it.

Wireless wasn't up yet, needs a blob that looks like it's in Debian, likely some of firmware-linux-nonfree, firmware-ralink, firmware-realtek. TBD.

It then ran an "apt-upgrade" from 6.0.5 (what I had a net install disk handy for) to "testing", which, operating on 1300-ish packages, takes a good portion of time. Next steps were:

It has 4GB of memory, expandable to 8GB, which cost ~$60. It was very slightly tricky figuring out how to get at the memory slot; it hides behind the panel immediately "below" the battery. Removing the panel required:

The one thing I'm noticing as a hardware-ish irritation is that the touchpad is more sensitive than I'd like. Just a matter of taste.

8.1. The sorrows of wireless

Sadly, the built-in wireless network adapter declines to function, and for a particularly sad reason.

Between having modern enough kernel and the Ralink firmware package installed, it is all properly recognized.

    root@hpaq:~# lspci -v | grep -10 01:00.0 | tail -11
    01:00.0 Network controller: Ralink corp. Device 539b
            Subsystem: Hewlett-Packard Company Device 18ed
            Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 16
            Memory at c2500000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=64K]
            Capabilities: [40] Power Management version 3
            Capabilities: [50] MSI: Enable- Count=1/32 Maskable- 64bit+
            Capabilities: [70] Express Endpoint, MSI 00
            Capabilities: [100] Advanced Error Reporting
            Capabilities: [140] Device Serial Number 00-00-7b-66-63-31-17-a4
            Kernel driver in use: rt2800pci

(By the way, see this OpenSuSE link on Ralink wireless driver help ; it indicates someone else surmounted related problems on the very same hardware.)

Unfortunately, the drivers are not enough. There is a "soft key" control (that calls itself a "hardware switch" control, which is a bit of a lie) for activating/deactivating the network adaptor. On many systems, such controls come in the form of a physical hardware switch which you would turn on or off in order to activate/deactivate the network adaptor.

On this system, that control comes in the form of a Windows 8 driver which is activated upon pressing a key combination Fn-F12.

One may see the consequences, on Linux, via an application called rfkill:

    oot@hpaq:~# rfkill list 1
    1: hp-wifi: Wireless LAN
            Soft blocked: no
            Hard blocked: yes
    root@hpaq:~# rfkill unblock 1 
    root@hpaq:~# rfkill list 1
    1: hp-wifi: Wireless LAN
            Soft blocked: no
            Hard blocked: yes

Indications are that this "hard blocked" button is controlled by a Wireless Button Driver that would be in the ACPI tree, and that it might not be too desperately difficult to disassemble the driver to figure out how to activate the button. Note that it's fairly visible; there is a little orange light on the "F12" key that indicates that it is blocked; it is expected that this light would turn green (or possibly blue) if the block were shut off.

Instead of fighting with that further at this time, I acquired a USB wireless network adaptor, specifically a TP-Link TL-WN727N, which happens to use the very same driver, and which worked with little further ado, just via adding the basic relevant additions to /etc/network/interfaces

8.1.1. Possible Solution

Suggested possible solution: Fixing Wireless on the HP Folio 13 when using Linux .

The idea: Deactivate ACPI briefly during bootup in order to allow rfkill to work.

  • Unblock wifi and bluetooth and remove hp-wmi (the ACPI module?) early after boot

  • Reload then unload hp-wmi as part of thaw/resume processes

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Contact me at cbbrowne@acm.org