Doesn't Not Compute

My log of experiences with GNU/Linux and computers in general.

Tag Archives: Ubuntu

Ubuntu 10.04 and Broadcom BCM4318

Work continues on the Dell Inspiron 2200 I mentioned a couple days ago. The main — only, actually — hitch continues to be the Broadcom BCM4318 wireless support.

Ubuntu, of course, automatically detects the Broadcom adapter and offers to install drivers for it. This requires an Internet connection to be present. No problem, right? Just hook an Ethernet cable up and connect to the Internet.

Not so simple, actually. Dell designed this laptop so the Ethernet controller is a separate, MiniPCI card — which goes in the same slot that the wireless card does. The only way to get the driverΒ  installed is to either download the


package AND the firmware on another computer — I don’t know where to get the firmware, I used the other method here — OR to plug in another wired/wireless card that doesn’t need firmware.

In my case, I have a MSI CB54G2 CardBus wireless adapter, which works perfectly with GNU/Linux and requires NO firmware, so I plugged that in, connected to my home network, ran

sudo apt-get install bcmwl-kernel-source

and waited for the process to finish. The new module was compiled, and the required firmware was downloaded — all automatically. One reboot, and (after an annoying wait for the hardware to be detected by the Network Manager, and then a while for the connection to be established) it worked. More or less.

The range is pathetic, though — my chair is a few meters from the router, and I have a weak signal. To be fair, this is NOT a driver issue, but rather a problem with the hardware itself. I’ve read that this might be because the antenna wire has come loose, so I will be attempting to use Dell’s instructions to disassemble the machine and investigate.

EDIT: Surprise, surprise — that was the exactly the problem. Whoever refurbished this computer did a good job, didn’t they? πŸ™„

Why didn’t IΒ  just use the “Hardware Drivers” program to install the required packages? Because IT DIDN’T WORK. πŸ‘Ώ It downloaded the b43-fwcutter package, which did nothing to make my paticular card work. This is the only time this Ubuntu-specific program has failed to do the job, so I’m suspecting a bug report might be in order here, after I do some further verification.

For others who are trying to get this Broadcom BCM4318 wireless card, or a similar device, working with Ubuntu:

EDIT: To automatically load the module controlling the wireless module, enter this in a terminal:

sudo sh -c "echo b43 >> /etc/modules"

and, if asked, enter your password.


Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04 Beta 1

UbuntuAfter yet another trial of attempting to install the obsolete PSB drivers for my Acer Aspire One 751h’s Pouslbo (aka US15W) chipset, and then failing several times attempting to build the current IEGD driver, I’ve given up. I’m replacing Arch Linux with another distro — I love Arch, but in this one case it’s just TOO cutting-edge, leaving me with painfully slow Flash video.

So what did I pull from the Interwebz? A distro that is still in beta, has the same Xorg 1.7 graphics server that the PSB drivers cannot work with, and is noticeably slower. πŸ™„

I downloaded the Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04 beta 1 CD image, used unetbootin to put it on an SD card (couldn’t find my flash drive :roll:), and rebooted the netbook. I pressed F12 to get a boot device menu, and chose the SD card. It booted without any problems, aside from the usual display mode change flickerings, booted into the netbook interface.

The final release of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is available. πŸ™‚

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Honk If You Love Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind

You can find an incredibly thorough walkthrough of how to enhance your Morrowind world here:

If you want to run Morrowind under Linux, btw, you need the latest release of Wine. You may also wish to consult the Unofficial Elder Scrolls wiki here. Personally, I had to install the FGLRX drivers for my ATI Radeon HD 2600 to get things working. So, if you despise closed-source drivers, you’re probably out of luck. Unless you take a look at OpenMW, perhaps, but I know nothing about that yet. 😐

The game can take a few moments to start, especially with many mods installed. Also, you cannot edit the controls — the game crashes. Other than these annoyances, the game works more or less perfectly for me. :mrgreen:

EDIT 1/22/2010: After comparing performance of more-or-less identically modded Morrowind installations under Wine on Linux w/FGLRX drivers versus running on Windows XP, I’ve found that I get nearly double the framerate and MUCH, MUCH faster startup on Windows. Not surprising — I’m just glad this game works in Linux at all, and will patiently wait on the slow completion of OpenMW. πŸ™‚

Acer Aspire One A0751h: Part Five

Acer Aspire One 751hFor various reasons which may or may not be related to wanting to try something new and shiny before the servers get overloaded in 8 days :mrgreen:, I have installed Ubuntu 9.10 beta on this computer via a netboot iso image, and gone through the painful process of getting the Poulsbo chipset drivers from Jaunty to work with it. (More on that in a later post.) Everything Linux-related I’ve mentioned previously still applies however, and I *will* be going back to Arch. I simply find that Ubuntu makes figuring out what I want to do much easier. πŸ™‚

Although we can configure the font sizes manually, this gets to be a pain. It is much easier to just specify a DPI setting for Xorg to use, and let the font sizes be configured from that. For 1366×768, a DPI setting of 100 is satisfactory for me, so in Ubuntu I create a file:


and add a line:

DPI="-dpi 100"

The biggest place I’ve seen this be helpful in is the Netsurf browser, where font size configuration is otherwise a royal, useless pain. It helps the overall appearance as well, however.

I wasn’t paying attention to screen real estate when I made this change, but I’m very certain that I gained some space from it. A happy accident. πŸ˜€

I pulled this from Mozilla’s article on configuring the font sizes in their browser software, and it stated that this tweak is for Debian-based distros. If anyone says that this works in Arch, I’ll add that here — otherwise, I’ll find out myself when I try it on my Arch desktop.

Which reminds me, it’s about time for me to update my Hardware page… 😐


Lock your screen, even if your panel/DE/WM doesn’t have a plugin or program to do it! It’s nothing new or fancy — in fact, according to the man page it’s copyrighted 1994 but it’s very lightweight. It’s xtrlock, which I have not been able to track down the homepage of. 😦  It’s in the Debian and Ubuntu repositories

It doesn’t hide what you have on the screen, though, and the default mouse icon is ugly imo. But it’s desgined to do one thing: lock the screen until you type your password correctly and hit Enter. Well, three things: it also sounds a bell if the password is entered incorrectly, and locks out all input for a peroid of time if too many failed attempts occur.