Robotic Tendencies
The personal blog of Robert McQueen

March 18, 2005

Beer, Ubuntu love, project stress

Although I was still feeling pretty ill yesterday, I went out last night for a few pints with mjg59 and robsterat the Free Press in Cambridge, a nice non-smoking pub with a few Greene King ales and some interesting trinkets on the wall. Despite having been there several times with Debian folks, and it being just over half a mile from where I currently live, I always have to walk round the wrong way and find the other three pubs in the vicinity before I manag to find it again. Thankfully, on the way back from there to my place to sample some gin and horrible cheap vodka, mjg59 showed me the correct unmarked lane to get directly between the pub and the main road, betraying the fact he’s been in Cambridge for far too long (although in his defence he has lived in the area)…

Later on, as an acid test for Matthew’s ACPI work, we tried installing the Ubuntu Hoary Preview on my really appallingly crappy FIC Celeron 366 old laptop, which previously under Linux did things like never enabling the CPU fan, so hard locking intermittently, and suspending to disk (with APM) when the battery was low, even though the AC was plugged in. It’s also got a really dodgy LCD (not TFT) screen with burnt patches, and weighs a ton. It took quite a while for Ubuntu to install, but booted in pretty decent time after that thanks to magic readahead and hotplug tweaks, and to my absolute amazement actually hibernated and resumed correctly, and suspend to RAM worked too when we enabled it. The CPU fan came on at 55C after making it do some work too, although the GNOME battery applet didn’t seem to notice when it was taken off AC, and lifting the lid doesn’t send a wake-up event like it claims to. Even so, I’m still glad I bought an X40, which is about half the weight and a hell of a lot quicker, and I’ve upgraded the acpi-support packages on it to Hoary’s latest versions to sort out some niggles with stuff not working after resuming from sleep – need to fiddle with my kernel and get hibernation working too. As a side point, I was also really impressed with the Update Manager & notification applet now included in Hoary – it’s exactly what the people I’ve given Ubuntu to in my building need to remember to install security updates.

Today I caught up quite a bit of sleep and felt a lot better, until I realised I had to go and see my project (I know, it’s fairly crackful…) supervisor and report on my progress this term. Unfortunately, I’m mind-bendingly behind schedule due to essentially having achieved nothing at all for several of the weeks in this term – I was hacking on it beforehand and my last darcs patches were from early February. He really wasn’t happy with me, and it was an awkward half hour or so while I explained how much more needed doing. The frustrating thing is even after I’ve done the coding, I have to write a dissertation, and I get marked for that only, and not the code… Now that lectures have finished, and supervisions are winding down, I’m staying in Cambridge over some of the easter break to try and nail it before next term and exam stress kicks in. Had a few pints in the college bar (lots of St. Patrick’s day drunkards around) and a game of Mao with my friends, and now I’m off to bed…

posted by ramcq @ 3:41 am
Comments (5) .:. Trackback .:. Permalink

5 responses to “Beer, Ubuntu love, project stress”

  1. Og Maciel says:


    Just out of curiosity, are you running Linux on your X40? The reason I ask is because I have just bought one (it should arrive by the end of next week) and wanted to know if there are any gotchas involved. I’m currently running Ubuntu Hoary on a HP laptop and was considering doing the same (or just Debian). Would you be able to give me some feedback when you get a chance? I’d really appreciate it.



  2. robot101 says:

    IBM’s X40 is as far as I know one Linux’s of the best supported modern laptops, everything works really well on it. I have one, as does mjg59 who hacks ACPI-fu, and DanielS and thom, who both work at Ubuntu, so it *definitely* works. Even on Debian you can grab Ubuntu’s acpi-support package and dependencies, and it all works wonderfully. The sound, graphics (3D with Xorg), network, etc all work brilliantly, as does ACPI sleep & hibernate, speedstep, bluetooth, etc, all work fine too. Install the ‘tpb’ package to read the nvram that stuff like thinklight status, brightness, volume, mute, etc are stored in get a cool on-screen display when you change them.

  3. Og Maciel says:

    Wow! Sounds like I should be up and running in no time. Thanks for taking the time for the feedback.

    Very sincerely,


  4. Og Maciel says:


    I have finally received my X40 and immediately installed Ubuntu Hoary on it. Everything went just fine except that I cannot get the wifi card to get an IP. iwconfig does show the proper information (i.e. key, essid, mode, etc) for my Linksys router at home (setup to use > WEP and MAC filtering.) but dhclient doesn’t provide me with an IP. I brought the laptop to work and got all the information for our AP but it didn’t work here either… I was wondering if you could tell me how you got yours to work as well as the tpb / nvram setup?



  5. robot101 says:

    Mine worked right off with the ipw2100 driver and matching firmware – I have version 0.60 of the driver on kernel 2.6.10 at the moment, but that’s just through laziness. It works without any WEP/etc at home, and with WEP and an un-announced essid in my university department. Try disabling WEP at home and see if that’s it? The signal strengh readings have always been complete lies, but it’s always worked fine for me.

    I just run tpb manually each time I log in (which is rarely, because I sleep the laptop most of the time), but you could easily add it to GNOME’s session I think. When you have nvram support in the kernel, you have a /dev/nvram. It’s owned by group nvram which I made myself a member of… can’t remember if I had to change the ownership/perms or if it was like that already.

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