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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mandriva on Vostro

Mandriva on Vostro

Hi all,
       Last month I bought Dell vostro laptop loaded with Windows XP home. Honestly I didn't want to buy the laptop preloaded with Windows OS. But when I compared the prices of free dos laptop and windows xp laptop in the, the cost of Windows laptop is equal to free dos even when the configuration remains same. Actually the laptop loaded with free dos should be cheaper than Windows since it cuts the cost of Operating System. And laptops loaded with free dos or ubuntu has very limited hardware options to choose. Hence I bought Dell Vostro 1400 loaded with Windows XP with following configurations.
  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor 1.6Ghz
  • 2 GB ram
  • 160 GB Hard disk

      Being a big fan of Linux I wanted to try Linux in my laptop. Before that, the biggest part in installing linux is choosing the best distribution for you. I have used ubuntu, openSuse, Mandriva and fedora in the past. Among them I would say Mandriva linux is the best because of the following reasons.

  1. Supports all media types out of box
  2. Recognized video driver in Vostro laptop (which is very important)
  3. Very easy to use
  4. Configures hard disk mount points and mounts it automatically.
  5. Sound drivers are recognized well.

     I didn't use fedora because it not as flexible as mandriva and we have to do painful configuration to make mp3 and DVD formats work. I tried ubuntu but I don't like the gnome interface of ubuntu and it had same mp3 problem as fedora and the ubuntu crashed my windows partition which I recovered later. I gone through the openSuse website it is amazing. They provided options to build and download packages for various versions of their distribution. But unfortunately It couldn't recognize my video card.

     Mandriva linux 2008 worked well with my laptop. Nowadays mandriva linux offers only live CD as free download and there is no option to download whole package in DVD which was previously available in their website. If anybody knows how to download the whole collection please update the blog with your information.

     However, Mandriva Linux 2008 did gave some problems which I fixed by searching solutions in the internet. Later I found the problems that I faced are not just with mandriva but it may apply to almost all distributions. Ubuntu forums helped me a lot since ubuntu has got lot of users and ubuntu forums are very active. These solutions would be helpful for you if you're planning to try linux on your Dell Vostro Laptop.

The problems that I have faced are
  • Sound did not work after installation
  • Unable to see video when 3D desktop is enable
  • Speed of USB device was very low 80KBps instead of 7Mbps
  • Problem with evilwm desktop

How to make the sound work

After installing mandriva linux on my laptop, the sound driver did not work. I made the sound driver work through following settings

1. Goto /etc/ in konsole
2. login as root "su root" and give password
3. vi modprobe.conf
4.  You can find the line "options snd-ac97-codec power_save=1". Comment the line and a new line ("options snd-hda-intel model=5stack") as follows.

# options snd-ac97-codec power_save=1
options snd-hda-intel model=5stack

3. Save the file ":wq" and restart the system.

Now the sound driver should work. Don't disable the kmix from startup items otherwise sound will not work. Even after doing all this I am still facing a problem with sound. Initially after I boot the system sound is not working. Only when I adjust the master sound mixer in kmix I could here the sound again. If some one finds solution for this problem please post it here.

How to make Video work with 3D desktop

When I installed linux I choosed no desktop effects, so the videos were played in kaffeine player. But after enabling 3D desktop I could not see the picture, I could only here the sound. Form Ubuntu forums I read that "it can be fixed by changing video driver in the kaffeine player". Hence I did following setting in the kaffeine player.

  1. Open kaffeine player
  2. Goto Settings->xine engine parameters
  3. Select the video tab
  4. Select Beginner Options tab
  5. Change the default video driver to xshm.
  6. Apply and Ok
  7. Restart the kaffeine player

I don't know what is xshm video driver is, but it worked very well for me. If it didn't work for you try different drivers available in the combo box.

How to increase speed of USB

I found this issue when I tried to copy a file from my linux machine to USB device. The transfer happened at the rate of 8 Kbps which supposed to be 7 Mbps. But the reading speed was around 7Mbps which is pretty normal. After I gone through different forums I found the fix in Ubuntu forums. Later I found that its the most common problem with all linux machines.

And the solution to increase the writing speed is very simple

1. Goto /etc/ in konsole
2. login as root "su root" and give password
3. vi fstab
4. you can find entry for usb as (sdb1 or sdb2 ). If you could not find it, plugin the USB device and open the USB folder. The konqueror window would display the USB device name.
5. remove the "sync" option in the line as follows.

/dev/sdb1 /media/hd3 vfat umask=0022,users,iocharset=utf8,sync,noauto,exec 0 0
/dev/sdb1 /media/hd3 vfat umask=0022,users,iocharset=utf8,noauto,exec 0 0

6. Save the file ":wq" and restart the system

Now your USB will read and write at 7Mbps.

Problem with evilwm

One fine day when I tried using different desktops provided with mandriva linux, I came across evilwm desktop. When I selected evilwm and logged in, I could not see any thing in the desktop and I was not able to logout as well. Unfortunately autologin is enabled in mandriva linux by default and that made the problem even worse. Because when restarted the machine, the linux automatically started login into the evilwm desktop and I was not able to do any thing with my system. I gone through different forums and queried different sites in google, but nothing helped me.

I listed different processes running in the system. And fortunately I found the process "evilwm". I took the process number and killed it using kill -9 command. And it killed the hanging desktop and restored the login screen. (Note: To access the konsole press Ctr + Alt + F1 and login as root)

#> ps -ax

1837 0 ---    evilwm

#> kill -9 18370
1 process killed

Hence it is always advisable to disable autologin options in linux(only if you want to try different desktops).

Some useful free softwares for mandriva linux

Since mandriva one doesn't include all the software with it. You need to download and install some of the software by yourself.

Please visit the following site for installing other useful applications.

Article By:
Prasanna Jayaraman

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