Toshiba Satellite L40-10Q and Ubuntu

So, I was a bit unfortunate to spill a cup of tea in my old laptop. Fortunately, I discovered the thing had full insurance, which means I’m now the happy owner of a brand-new Toshiba L40-10Q (at no charge!).

As the laptop was in for repairs (I wasn’t sure whether the thing was unfit for repair, or if they would repair it and ship it back to me), I was going over the range offered by the store to see what would suit me best (and at a similar price of the old one).

I found what seemed like a decent laptop, the Toshiba Satellite L40-10Q, which had a dual-core processor, an Intel chipset, on-board Intel graphics (GMA950) and a gig of RAM.

When I received note that the laptop would be too expensive to repair, I went directly into the store and spoke to the manager—great guy; even offered me a job. Full-time, unfortunately.

Anyway; he let me put in the LiveCD, which I played with for a bit. My initial impressions were mostly wow and sweet: the 1280×800 resolution worked out of the box, it was incredibly fast.

I noticed a loud high-pitched note when I started machine, but didn’t take further note of it. I couldn’t use my wireless, either—despite the Atheros HAL module being listed as installed and in use in the restricted modules dialogue.

I took the laptop home, installed Ubuntu, and after searching the internet for 2 hours, compiled the madwifi module properly and got it working (with a bit of help from #madwifi and the MadWifi bug tracker).

However, the loud-pitched noise was still present every time ALSA attempted to play sound; I figured it was a bad module and re-compiled it. No cigar.

I spent around 5 hours searching the internet, asking in #alsa and searching the ALSA website. I eventually concluded it must be a bug, and reported the issue on the ALSA bug tracker. Today, I got a reply from someone, and to my joy, it worked—I no longer have a high-pitched noise when attempting to play music. In fact, I’m listening to my music in Banshee right now with no issues whatsoever!

Minor issues

I’ve had a few minor issues with the install; most notable is the lack of ability to use the Fn+F6/F7 keys to adjust the brightness of the screen, making it slightly dark. This is not a major issue, and I could easily live without, despite being completely certain this’ll be fixed at some point.

Update: I’ve now installed Hardy (the development branch of Ubuntu) on the laptop, and on this, sound works out of the box (I haven’t rebooted. It may die when I do; I’ve seen this happening on Feisty…) and my brightness modifiers work! Amazing.

1 comment

Posted by Lasse Havelund on December 19th 2007 at 1:51 pm


Lots of Linux users already know about Wine. So do I, and I’ve known about it for a long time.

For the ones of you who don’t know, Wine is a compatibility layer for Unix-like operating systems (Wine is Not an Emulator), designed to run applications built for Windows in said Unix-like operating system.

As I said, I’ve known about Wine for a long time, but Wine is improving every day, and is really becoming a great piece of software.

I’ll take an example: I’m a gamer (well, was before I switched to Linux), and I like to play the latest and the greatest of games, especially Half-Life 2 and related games. Valve, the developers of Half-Life 2, recently launched The Orange Box, a bulk of games including Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Team Fortress 2 and Portal. I’ve been looking forward to especially the latter two—I own the two former already.

At first I thought “aw hell”—these games were for Windows. While I have run HL2 successfully with Wine before, it had a few mildly annoying bugs. Not that annoying, but just enough to make me refuse to go out and pay $60 for a set of games I couldn’t run perfectly.

The last couple of days, however, I’ve heard so much about the games I felt I had to try, at least. I downloaded the latest version of Wine, 0.9.47, and gave it a whirl. It didn’t work. After grumbling a bit, I today decided to try installing Windows on my box—after all, I had paid $62.30 for these games, so I just had to try them.

They didn’t work. I kept getting errors about the main file, hl2.exe, so I rebooted into Ubuntu, installed Wine 0.9.46 and Steam—the application required to run all these games. And lo and behold:

It works. Steam works. And it actually looks kinda native. Also:

See, that’s cool. And games run flawlessly:

For more pics, see my flickr.

OK, so the above story isn’t the whole truth. I’ve had tons of problems with these games here—I tried for hours yesterday, looked through the Wine AppDB and a bunch of other things without getting it to work. Now it works flawlessly, and it took very, very little effort.

Anyway, the point I wanted forth here, is that the Wine team is doing an insanely good job, and getting far too little attention. If you ever run into a Wine dev, buy them a beer. They deserve it.


Posted by Lasse Havelund on October 21st 2007 at 11:42 pm


Priceless (to you UbuntuWeblogs readers: sorry, but I felt I had to share this with everyone.)

1 comment

Posted by Lasse Havelund on October 17th 2007 at 8:51 pm

What Phone?

While I do have a very nice phone already, the Sony Ericsson K800i, I’ve decided to look for a new one, with a certain array of features:

  • 802.11b/g/n support (n isn’t important, but definitely appreciated),
  • Large touch screen (preferable with multi touch)
  • Ability to install a PDF reader if not available by default—I want it to work as my eBook reader
  • Ability to play ogg vorbis files, or to install an application that will
  • Preferably one running Linux (fat chance)
  • Ability to sync with Evolution somehow.

Has anyone got any idea where to find this? I’ve had a look at the Nokia N800 tablet, which runs a variant of Debian… only to discover it hasn’t got a phone.

I’ve also looked at the OpenMoko phone, Neo1973, but it doesn’t seem like it’s living up to its hype, and there isn’t even a proper version of it out yet (though there is one due in December).

What are your suggestions?


Posted by Lasse Havelund on October 16th 2007 at 8:52 am

A Cry for Help

After having struggled with a problem for a long time, I’m going to direct my cry for help here. Maybe one of you generous people will be able to help me.

The problem is, that no matter how hard I try, I haven’t been able to get my SiS SI7012 audio chipset working, but for most things, this isn’t an issue—I just use a USB sound card, which is plug and play.

But still, I’m having some issues with how ALSA manages my devices. My /proc/asound/cards reports:

0 [SI7012 ]: ICH - SiS SI7012
SiS SI7012 with AD1888 at 0xe800, irq 17
1 [default ]: USB-Audio - C-Media USB Headphone Set
C-Media USB Headphone Set at usb-0000:00:03.1-2, full speed

It says the USB audio card is set as my default card. But still, the SI7012 is card number 0, and it appears that tons of applications (Flash, mpd, mplayer…) seem to choose whichever is card 0, not what is set as default.

This means:

  • I cannot watch Flash films. On YouTube or anywhere else—provided sound is necessary.
  • I can’t use mplayer, my preferred movie player, to play my movies.
  • I cannot use mpd, and absolutely awesome music player to play my music.

I should note that:

  • I have tried adding options snd-intel8x0m index=0 to /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base, (as the ALSA wiki suggests)
  • I am absolutely certain the card works. I can output to it with Banshee, Exaile, VLC and many more
  • The device /is/ set as default.

PLEASE. If you know anything about this issue, have seen it before, or just know how to work your Googlemagic, please leave a note in the comments.


Posted by Lasse Havelund on September 16th 2007 at 12:12 am

Valve to Port Steam Games to Linux?

Yesterday, I received a link from Pici in #ubuntu-offtopic on IRC. Initially, it just looked like a job offering stating Valve (you know, the creators of Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Portal, Team Fortress and all that jazz?) wanted a senior software engineer (whatever that is), but after skimming it, my eyes rested on a single sentence under “Responsibilities”:

  • Port Windows-based games to the Linux platform.

WOW! I see great things coming to the Linux platform in gaming; I’ve had great success installing and running Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source and Day of Defeat: Source in Wine, despite having rather low FPS.

If I were able to run these games natively, it would be a dream come true. Do you think you have what it takes to port these games to Windows, plus the rest of the responsibilities in the linked job offering? Come on, punk. Make my day.


Posted by Lasse Havelund on September 15th 2007 at 2:24 pm

Why a Seperate /home Rocks

The ability to have a seperate /home partition on Linux to keep all your settings, personalised stuff and so on is an incredible feature.

I’ve run the development branch of Ubuntu 7.10, Gutsy Gibbon, for a while now (since Tribe III), and when I installed that, I created a seperate partition for my /home.

I just re-installed my system from scratch, and instead of the boring brown (tangerine is the official term) Human desktop, this greeted me:

All my settings, all my themes, everything in /home/menza was exactly as I’d left it before installing.

So deviously simple, yet so unimaginably awesome.


Posted by Lasse Havelund on September 1st 2007 at 3:49 pm

Free != Bad

It seems to me that a lot of people are of the perception that if something’s either free or cheap, it’s nothing worth wasting your time on. On the contrary, I’ve found that some of the best things in life are free.

We’ve already established that I’m an Ubuntu user, and that I’m a strong advocate of free software.

I recently discovered (Nick led the way) an artist called Josh Woodward, who, according to his self-written wiki page, “Taking the musical road less traveled, he’s chosen to freely offer his entire collection of over 100 songs on his website.”, which is exactly what he has.

I’m not someone who likes to sort music by genre, but his music can be described as happy folk/rock/pop rock music, and I’m loving it.

Other than releasing his music as mp3s, Josh also releases the guitar tabs and lyrics to his songs, making it easy for anyone to play his music and share it. You can also buy 3 of his albums at a mere $10 each—every penny goes to him. How awesome is that?

I definitely plan on shelling out $30 when I come back from the UK and get those babies in the mail; Josh’s music is inspiring, happy and plain awesome if you ask me.

I suggest you check out his website, download his music and check out the songs I like the best.


Posted by Lasse Havelund on July 7th 2007 at 11:35 am

Simplifying Searching in Amarok

When playing around with Amarok, I discovered a handy search feature with functions similar to the of Google.

Here’s your average Amarok player playing:

So… say I want to listen to Whiskey in the Jar (any of the bajillion versions I have)? I obviously type in “whisk jar” in my search bar, narrowing my search down to this:

My only problem is, that The Dubliners‘ album Whiskey in the Jar (which features the track), also has a bunch of other tracks which get in front, so I have to either grab my mouse, or press my down-arrow. Or so I thought. Instead, I can type in title:whisk and it weeds out the ones where whisk jar match on track titles:

Let’s say I wanted to listen to Metallica’s version instead. So what do I do? I append an artist:me to it, weeding out all the matches where ‘Artist’ doesn’t match me:

After consulting the Amarok handbook, I found that there were so many more things you could search for:

  • Encasing terms in quotation marks. Searching for whisk jar finds “Whiskey in the Jar”, whereas “whisk jar” does not.
  • Ability to weed out terms. E.g. whisk -lizzy would show all of my The Dubliners-related Whiskey in the Jar content, but avoid my Thin Lizzy version of it.
  • Search by author, genre, score, rating, title, comment and type (with the syntax author:*. Most likely most of the fields are available, e.g. year and so on).
  • Combine all the above at your wish; e.g. title:whis -comment:enc type:ogg will only find files with the text whis in their title, without the text enc in their comment and only of the file type .ogg.

Of course, to reset your search query, you can just hit escape and start over.


Posted by Lasse Havelund on June 26th 2007 at 1:41 pm

Is Linux Ready to Go Mainstream?

Oh, this issue has been raised hundreds of times, and up until now pretty much everyone has decided it hasn’t been yet, and I must say I’ve agreed up until now. But Linux is constantly evolving, and development is currently faster than it’s ever been. In my oh-so-humble opinion, it’s only a matter of time until Linux is a viable alternative to Windows, which your current Windows user will be able to switch to in a matter of days. Alas, it isn’t so (yet), but we’re definitely getting close.

When I first tried Linux ~2 years ago, I decided to go for the easiest distro at the time (Ubuntu—it remains the easiest), and even that had a lot of accessibility issues; it was difficult to install kernel modules (if you’re a new user, like I was), a lot of things felt clumsy, wireless support was pretty much non-existant and so on and so forth.

Now, since then, I’ve swapped back and forth a lot between Windows and Ubuntu, and I recently made the final switch to Ubuntu, and I haven’t regretted it once. I can also feel that a lot of things have been worked on heavily for the past two years; proprietary drivers are available directly from the Ubuntu repositories (you’re even asked if you want to install them if you try to enable Compiz—which Ubuntu 7.04 [Feisty] ships with), there’s tons and tons of documentation for it, there’s the endless number of IRC channels and community forums available—and even commercial support if you want to ensure that important corporate database server stays running. So WHY isn’t Linux more wide-spread?

After browsing digg, I read this—something that really warmed my heart for some reason. Our baby is growing up. It’s ready for its venture into the great world; beyond the realms of geekery.

I see big things coming.


Posted by Lasse Havelund on June 25th 2007 at 3:57 pm