Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope on Acer Aspire One

If you use Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala, please read this first (thanks Pjotr!):
In 9.10 Karmic Koala, there's the same problem with acer_wmi as in 9.04.

However, your 9.04 fix causes instability in the kernel, in 9.10. That's because the blacklisting should be done by editing the existing /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf. And not by creating a new file named blacklist.

Blacklist.conf by default already contains a list of blacklisted kernel modules. You can simply add the following lines for acer_wmi:

# switch the wireless chipset on
blacklist acer_wmi
Original Post:
The new kernel in the beta release of Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope provides better support for netbook hardware including that of my Acer Aspire One, but it still has a few wrinkles that are fairly simple to iron out.

The first thing you're likely to notice is that the wireless connection doesn't work correctly out of the box. It should automatically load the open source ath5k driver and give you the option of using the proprietary madwifi driver (unnecessary in my experience), but you will get no signal and network-manager will have all of the options grayed-out/disabled.

To fix this, hop onto a terminal and type:
sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist
and add the line
blacklist acer_wmi
This should fix your wifi access (and possibly fix your wireless indicator LEDs[!]) in one fell swoop, once you restart.

Next, there is a known issue with the SD card readers stemming from Jaunty's version of the Linux kernel that causes the left reader to fail with this error:
mmc0: error -84 whilst initialising SD card
The left-side SD reader is otherwise not acknowledged, i.e. it doesn't create a /dev/ entry when cards are inserted and hotplug doesn't mount the disk (this problem also exists on the Dell Mini 9, so you guys can benefit from this too). To correct the situation, type into a terminal:
sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/options
and add (be wary of line breaks; I recommend copy/pasting instead of manually typing):
options sdhci debug_quirks=1

ProblemType: Bug
Architecture: i386
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 9.04
Package: linux-image-2.6.28-6-generic 2.6.28-6.17
ProcCmdLine: User Name=UUID=e309fb14-05db-4e9a-b137-c6bf63eeb6a4 ro quiet splash elevator=noop
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 2.6.28-6.17-generic
SourcePackage: linux

Reboot and most everything should work properly, hotplugging and all. Also to be aware of, the right-side reader does not work properly if there is not a card in it at boot. In this case, it won't show any trace anywhere that you even have a right-side reader.

For both of these fixes, all we've done is created a text file that the system loads as it boots. If you wish to undo these fixes, you can just delete the text files and it'll go back to normal.

Finally, ctrl+alt+backspace doesn't kill the xserver anymore in Jaunty because people were apparently pressing it accidentally...? You can supposedly re-enable it (if you like) by installing a program called dontzap:

sudo aptitude install dontzap
and then typing into a terminal:

sudo dontzap --disable
Unfortunately, this did absolutely nothing on my system. Maybe you'll have better luck. In the meantime, you can either restart your entire system, or hit ctrl+alt+F1 to drop down to a console and type:
sudo /etc/inti.d/gdm restart
A scary blue and red error screen will pop up notifying you that there's already an xserver running, to which you can just hit OK and it will restart with the new one.

I've been using the netbook remix, which is really attractive and easy to use. Its launcher menu is incompatible with Compiz-fusion, but it looks nice enough that I don't even miss compositing.

Also of note, suspend actually seems to work now instead of totally borking my system, and the integrated mic/webcam seem to work much more reliably now.

Let me know if you have any issues and I'll try to help resolve them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Directions for Building HandBrake SVN

Update (5/15/09): I have working binaries available in my PPA repository. Directions for adding it to your package manager are available here.

A couple of months ago, the HandBrake devs implemented some major changes to the build procedure for HandBrake from the project's SVN repository. I'm not really sure why they did this, but it seems to have cut a couple of dependencies, which is nice*. Here's the new method that worked for me on Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex and 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope (adapted from their build instructions in the readme).

Step 1: download the dependencies
In a terminal, type:
sudo aptitude install subversion build-essential m4 wget autotools-dev yasm autoconf intltool libtool libbz2-dev zlib1g-dev libglib2.0-dev libdbus-glib-1-dev libgtk2.0-dev libhal-dev libhal-storage-dev libgstreamer0.10-dev libgstreamer-plugins-base0.10-dev automake1.9 libnotify-dev libwebkit-dev
Update (6/18/09): as of svn 2550, libgtkhtml-3.14-dev was replaced by libwebkit-dev.
Users of OpenSuSE may need to download the additional dependencies zypper and in to build the CLI, as well as gtkhml2 and gtkhtml2-devel to build the GUI. Users of Red Hat/Fedora or derivatives may need to install the package groups "Development Tools," "Development Libraries," "X Software Development," and "GNOME Software Development," as well as zlib-devel, bzip2-devel, dbus-glib-devel, hal-devel, gtkhtml3-devel, gstreamer-devel, and gstreamer-plugins-base-devel.

Step 2: download the source from HandBrake's SVN repository
in a terminal, type:
svn checkout svn:// hb-trunk
This will download a bunch of stuff and finish by telling you which revision you have checked out.

Step 3: switch to your newly created directory
in a terminal, type:
cd hb-trunk
Step 4: prepare the source for building
in a terminal, type:
./configure --launch
This command should take care of most of the remaining steps, i.e. making a scratch directory and compiling the source for both the CLI and GUI interfaces.

Step 5: install the GTK GUI
in a terminal, type:
cd build/gtk ; sudo make install
In you experienced any errors during Steps 4 or 5, you can attempt to run through the build functions manually:
In a terminal, type:
rm -rf build ; mkdir build ; cd build
../configure ; make
and finally:
cd gtk ; make ; sudo make install

*Interestingly, the build process no longer invokes/requires jam, which had always been a vestigial requirement left over from HandBrake's roots in the venerable BeOS.

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