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Month: April 2012

Linux on my HP dv6t Quad… At Long Last

HP dv6t QuadReaders of my blog may be aware that I’ve been searching for a Linux distro for my laptop for some time. I’ve tried Linux Mint 12 (“Lisa”), openSUSE 12.1, Fedora 16, and others. All of them had their quirks:

  • Linux Mint 12 – ran too damn hot. Even disabling the ATI card wouldn’t keep it from burning down.
  • Fedora 16 – couldn’t get all everything working with Xfce and hate Gnome 3 too much to use it. I could have tried a KDE spin, but figured I’d move on. I’m more of an apt-get kind of guy anyway.
  • openSUSE 12 – like Linus said, has some design flaws. Plus, I can’t find anything in the SUSE file structure.

So, you might ask, what did I end up with? Ubuntu. That’s right. The “beginner’s” distro. Why? Because it works. I might hop to Kubuntu or Xubuntu, but right now, I’m just running Ubuntu 11.10 amd64.


Resolving Issues

Post-install, it still runs hot/battery life is crap and you can’t adjust the backlight. Easy fixes.

To reduce heat/increase battery life, I’ve decided to disable the AMD graphics card. As my use for the Linux side is mostly coding, browser-based things, and network configuration, the 3D features of the AMD card are not needed. The Intel graphics built into the i7 are more than adequate for watching 1080p content.

The first thing we’ll do is blacklist the radeon module. To do this, create (via sudo) /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-radeon.conf. Inside this file, insert:

blacklist radeon

Next, (again via sudo) edit /etc/rc.local and add the following line before “exit 0”:

echo OFF > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

After a reboot, the AMD card will be disabled and powered off.

In order to enable the backlight adjustment (also important for battery life), we’ll have to edit the GRUB boot parameters. They are located in /etc/default/grub, so (via sudo) edit that file as follows:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”splash acpi_backlight=vendor”

Once you’ve saved your changes, run sudo update-grub and restart. Voila! Your laptop is now actually usable on your lap (not too hot) when you’re not plugged in (has more than 2 hours of battery life).

EDIT: Fixed typo. Thanks, EU.

Still Distro Hoping

I’m still Distro hoping. I tried Debian Testing (“Wheezy”), which was okay, but not great. Mostly due to multiple monitor support issues.

About to try Fedora 16 again. I know it supports multiple monitors right off the bat and, assuming I can get everything else I want installed, might have a keeper. We’ll see.

I found these guides on post-installation tasks for F16 and will leave links to them here:

No openSUSE on My Laptop

As I said before, I was trying openSUSE 12.1 on my laptop. I was liking it, but there was a problem. About the time I noticed it, Linus Torvalds posted about the same thing: root password required to add a wireless network and change the timezone. Not a “hey, let’s run sudo here real quick; type in your password to confirm,” but a “I NEED ROOT!!!”

Pretty crappy.

There were some other things, too:

  • Didn’t care much for zypper. It’s alright, but kinda meh.
  • I can’t find anything. I’m used to Debian file locations, but I can go look in the Red Hat spots, too. openSUSE doesn’t conform to either. And really? /srv? It makes sense for server software, I guess, but is just an odd choice.

Installing NRPE on CentOS

When it comes to Linux, I’m a Debian guy. I’m quite at home using apt-get and the Debian file structure. However, I’ve been trying to hone my CentOS chops, as CentOS and RHEL are big in the enterprise environment. So, I added a CentOS 6 server to my network.

Now, every “always on” device on my network is monitored by Nagios. My Nagios server is currently running on openSUSE 12, which makes some of the configurations interesting, but seems to be the most functional post-install.

Using this guide in the Ubuntu Server documentation, I was able to quickly get my Debian servers fully monitored (at least, as monitored as I want them). However, CentOS isn’t as easy.

The guide over at Server World gets you part of the way there, but won’t actually let you check anything. It turns out that you’ll also need to run a yum -y --enablerepo=epel install nagios-plugins-all in order to really monitor any status. Of course, if you just need a check or two, you can always install just the individual plugins.