Archive for June, 2007

Debian Etch on Samsung R40 Aura

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

Yesterday I got weak for a moment and purchased a Samsung R40 Aura C430 Corin notebook. It is the lowest performer in a low-budget series of consumer notebooks from Samsung with a Celeron M430 processor at 1.73 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, a 120 GB harddisk and a DVD dual-layer burner for 600,- €. But still it offers all the power and features that I need to run my Debian Linux desktop. Inevitably the box also includes a copy of Vista Home Premium which I do not plan to use.

After finishing the Debian installation, there were some steps left to get the X server and WLAN connection running. Initially the X server failed to start in vesa mode with a no screens found error message. The graphics adapter is an ATI Radeon Express X1250 which uses either 128 or 256 MB of shared memory (depending on your BIOS setting) and the appropriate drivers are available in Flavio Stanchinas ATI Linux driver packages. See his website for detailed instructions.

$vi /etc/apt/sources.list
[...]
deb ftp://[...]/debian/ stable main contrib non-free
deb-src ftp://[...]/debian/ stable main contrib non-free
[...]
deb http://security.debian.org/ stable/updates main contrib non-free
$aptitude update
$aptitude install fglrx-control fglrx-driver fglrx-kernel-src
$module-assistant prepare
$module-assistant a-i fglrx
$modprobe -v fglrx
$vi /etc/X11/xorg.conf
[...]
Section "Module"
        [...]
        Load    "dri"
        Load    "GLcore"
        Load    "glx"
        [...]
EndSection

Section "Device"
        Identifier      "ATI Technologies Inc ATI Default Card"
        Driver          "fglrx"
        BusID           "PCI:1:5:0"
        Option          "VideoOverlay"  "on"
        Option          "OpenGLOverlay" "off"
        Option          "UseInternalAGPGART"    "no"
EndSection

Section "Monitor"
        Identifier      "Generic Monitor"
        Option          "DPMS"
        HorizSync       28-49
        VertRefresh     43-60
EndSection

Section "Screen"
        Identifier      "Default Screen"
        Device          "ATI Technologies Inc ATI Default Card"
        Monitor         "Generic Monitor"
        DefaultDepth    24
        SubSection "Display"
                Depth           24
                Modes           "1280x800" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
        EndSubSection
EndSection

[...]

Section "DRI"
        Mode    0666
EndSection

Restart, and that should be it for the X server. You can find the ATI Control Panel on Desktop -> Administration.

Concerning the WLAN with Atheros chipset you should read C. Pilka’s howto on slashconcept.com. After installing the appropiate packages, creating the modules with the module assistant and doing a reboot, I just configured the wireless connection with the NetworkManager Applet in Gnome.

$aptitude install madwifi-source madwifi-tools \
madwifi-doc wireless-tools wpasupplicant
$module-assistant a-i madwifi

Btw: I’m not yet sure, but maybe I’ll return the notebook next week. Actually the R40 works good and as expected for the price, but the display has such a narrow vertical viewing angle that you may soon get tired of permanently either moving your head up and down or tilting the screen back and forth for the best view. See also this PC Pro review.