Category Archives: Devices

Configuring network devices on sony vaio VPCEB24FX (and Debian device driver check & report)

Sony Vaio VPCEB24FX laptops come with Marvell ethernet card and Inter wireless cards. lspci says:

04:00.0 Ethernet controller: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. Device 4381 (rev 11)

02:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Device 422c (rev 35)

In order to see which kernel drivers are required to run these devices, one can paste the output of “lspci -n” into http://kmuto.jp/debian/hcl/ . I did this and found out that the intel wireless  device is “Centrino Advanced-N 6200” which requires the iwlagn driver which is there in kernel 2.6.30- . The ethernet card is “80E8059 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller” which requires the sky2 driver which is present in kernel 2.6.33- . I installed Debian lenny which comes with kernel 2.6.26. For the intel wireless card, one can follow the instructions at http://wiki.debian.org/iwlagn . Its bit of a work in order to make the marvell ethernet card work since kernel 2.6.33 or above is not in lenny-backports or not even in sid. But we have 2.6.35-rc6 in debian experimental. In order to install it, add “deb ftp.debian.org/debian experimental main contrib non-free” into /etc/sources.list and then do a “aptitude install linux-image-2.6.35-rc6-686” which installs the 2.6.35 kernel. This worked for me. Some sony vaio laptops come with atheros wireless chipsets. You can have a look at http://wiki.debian.org/ath9k to see how to configure it.

Thanks for people on irc for their help. and thanks also to the dpkg bot on #debian. (we can ask the bot with : “/msg dpkg which driver” for example) 🙂

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Free Softwares for Symbian Series 60 Version 3

I recently bought a Nokia E63 which runs Symbian Series 60 Version 3. To add more functionality I searched for Free and Open Source softwares to run on it. Following is a list softwares I found on the internet. The list will be updated as and when I find new stuffs.

  1. Alternatedjvu – To read djvu ebooks (http://sourceforge.net/projects/alternatedjvu/)
  2. Oggplay – To play ogg files (http://symbianoggplay.sourceforge.net/)
    (Update: oggplay 2.0 beta can now play theora videos; http://sourceforge.net/projects/symbianoggplay/forums/forum/294908/topic/3728176)
  3. s2putty – putty ssh client for series 60 (http://s2putty.sourceforge.net/)
  4. Office Reader – Read OpenDocument files on series 60 (http://code.google.com/p/officereader/)
  5. Python for series 60 (http://sourceforge.net/projects/pys60/)

Broadcom Wifi Card – Making it work with Free Software

Till now I have been cursing myself for not being informed enough to buy a laptop which has a wifi card that can run entirely on Free Software. The Acer Aspire 4710z has a Broadcom Corporation BCM4311 802.11b/g WLAN (rev 01) card. I have been using the wifi card with the Free b43 driver together with non-free firmware. All of this changed when i decided to rant about my misfortunes with the wifi card on #gnewsense on freenode. gnufs on #gnewsense pointed me to http://leorockway.wordpress.com/2009/07/04/0c00-0-network-controller-broadcom-corporation-bcm4311-802-11bg-wlan-rev-01-take-two/ .  There, I came to know about OpenFWWF , a project “that provides an open source firmware for Broadcom/AirForce chipset based devices”.

The first link above lists steps on how to make the Broadcom wifi card work with the Free firmware under gNewSense. I tried to follow the steps to configure the card under Debian squeeze (presently testing) and it finally worked after I read some debian bug reports as well. The steps I followed are as follows:

Install kernel 2.6.30 from Debian Backports (Currently Squeeze has 2.6.26)

  • Add “deb http://www.backports.org/debian/ lenny-backports main contrib non-free” to /etc/apt/sources.list
  • aptitude install linux-image-2.6.30-bpo.1-686 (specific pkg name and version may change with time)

Build and install b43-asm (Tool to compile/assemble the firmware from their source code (b43-asm is not in the Debian repo at the time of writing this article)

  • svn co svn://svn.berlios.de/fullstory/b43-asm/trunk b43-asm-debian
  • cd b43-asm
  • debuild -i -us -uc -b –lintian-opts -i  (this builds the .deb package from the source tree. Just running debuild without any options gives some gpg key error)
  • dpkg -i <name of the deb package built in the above step>

Build and install the openfwwf firmware from its source

  • svn co svn://svn.berlios.de/fullstory/openfwwf/trunk openfwwf-debian
  • cd openfwwf-debian
  • debuild -i -us -uc -b –lintian-opts -i
  • dpkg -i <name of the deb package built in the above step>. This installs the Free Software firmwares under /lib/firmware/b43-open/ .

OpenFWWF currently does not support hardware encryption and QOS yet. To force these module options automatically, it is recommended to install a module-init-tools override /etc/modprobe.d/openfwwf.conf containing the following line:

  • options b43 nohwcrypt=1 qos=0

Or, just copy the corresponding example /usr/share/doc/openfwwf/examples/openfwwf.conf
to /etc/modprobe.d/openfwwf.conf

Once the Free Firmware is installed, you can remove the previous non-free firmware from /lib/firmware/ directory. Now reboot the machine to see if everything has gone OK or not. On my machine, after rebooting, when i do:

dmesg | grep firmware , I get the following output:

[   34.301153] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: requesting b43/ucode5.fw
[   34.484276] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: requesting b43-open/ucode5.fw
[   34.602878] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: requesting b43-open/pcm5.fw
[   34.609582] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: requesting b43-open/b0g0initvals5.fw
[   34.627897] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: requesting b43-open/b0g0bsinitvals5.fw
[   34.717116] b43-phy0: Loading OpenSource firmware version 410.31754 (Hardware crypto not supported)

Which shows that everything went ok and that I am now using the Free firmware.

One more non-free component removed!! Yay!!! /

My thanks goes to people on #gnewsense (gnufs, graziano and all the others), the OpenFWWF developers and everyone in the Free Software Community.

Important links:

Note: lspci says my wifi card is: 03:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4311 802.11b/g WLAN (rev 01)

My OLPC XO Experience

I got an OLPC XO today. Its not actually for me. Its from someone in America to a nunnery in Bumthang. They wanted me to install Dzongkha computing capabilities on the XO. Having never worked on this device, I do not know whether this would be possible or not. Anyways, I am happy to get this opportunity to use and work on an XO. Over the following days, I would be blogging my daily experience in using the device.
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