Aario's blog about life and technology

Archive for February, 2011

What if Linux won’t support your main chipset?

My previous post was about Ubuntu support on ACER 5536 laptop. I asked a question about this on linuxquestions.org . By assuming you may have the same problem and want to see if anyone understands your feeling or you may have had a solution for this problem, and If you don’t want to make your feet wet by visiting the link, I brought my question here:

Hi everyone,
I have an ACER 5536 laptop with an AMD Radeon HD3200 graphic and mainboard M780G chipset.
I have drivers for GPU and main chipset (Sata bridge SB700, USB filter, etc.) for windows. But only have GPU driver for Linux.
On windows 7 and Linux if I don’t install provided driver by ACER site or AMD site, mainboard chipset and GPU gets hot. But by installing drivers not.
Also USB port won’t provide current more than 100mA (It won’t enumerate high power consumption USB devices like external hard-drives) without installing chipset driver for USB filter chip. So I realized that although I get my laptop working under Ubuntu or Windows, it won’t work good without installing all drivers. The problem is that there’s no chipset driver anywhere for working under linux. Proprietary drivers are all for windows except little graphic, audio, wireless drivers for Linux.
I also have the same problem with my desktop. The MSI K9n Neo V2 main board with NVIDIA nForce 520 chipset won’t enumerate High power USB devices under linux.
Are there any solutions for this problem?

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ACER 5536 Ubuntu support

I’ve got bad days with my laptop. Last year I bought an ACER 5536 with a fancy dancy Windows Vista installed on it. Erased all data, Installed Ubuntu 9.10 and Windows 7 Ultimate on it in dual boot mode.
Windows 7 supported hardware good. without any driver required.
Ubuntu supported hardware good. without any driver required. Except the fact that it didn’t support the built-in dial-up modem.
But after months, I realized that good is not enough!
CPU and GPU temperatures were high on both Ubuntu and Windows. Also Hard-drive temperature was too high. It doesn’t matter what is the hardware specification of my laptop. All I want to write here, is the quality of support from hardware vendors in this situation. I first cleaned all heat-sinks and the whole main-board using compressed wind. Cleaned all old silicon paste and replaced them with some fresh. No changes at all!
After months of working hard to find a solution, I opened the case of my laptop again, and find out, on Acer 5536, the South Bridge Chip-set is installed above hard-drive. This is a chip-set needed to access hard-drive from operating system. I don’t know if it has other applications, but it had no fan on it, and no connection to the laptops main fan. All it had was a piece of metal plate beneath keyboard ruling as a heat-sing to it. Designing laptop this way caused south bridge and Hard-drive to heat each other! It’s ridiculous.
Although that droved me to a more ridiculous situation, that wasn’t the solution. I tried to completely change design of my laptop. Completely detached hard-drive. Inserted a 16GB flash-memory into card-reader slot. And installed a new fresh Ubuntu 10.10 on it. Installed my hard-drive in a Samsung external hard-drive box and thus, converted it to a USB external hard-drive.
This way, I lost access to my Windows 7 Ultimate, and I needed to plug in my External hard-drive box into my laptop whenever I needed to read some of my documents. Which caused a huge pain in my as*! But that was not all!
I noticed that the Samsung External HDD box sometimes worked and sometimes not! Went to hardware store I bought the box from, and said to him angrily that I need a new box. This isn’t work! He just tried the box with his own computer and we both seen that HDD box is working on his computer under Windows 7 and it’s not working on mine! He suggested me to try this under windows 7. He also suggested me to Install all propriety drivers provided by ACER on Windows 7. I did. I brought back my HDD into my laptop, and installed all drivers for Windows 7 Ultimate.
Now my windows was cool and quiet. All temperatures went down to 38-39 degrees.
I tried to find drivers for my Ubuntu. ACER do not provide any drivers for Linux at all! AMD on the other hand, provides only a driver for the VGA. It installs the GPU driver which causes the CPU and GPU temperatures reduce from 60 and 70 to 40 and 50. And reduces power consumption from 30 to 40 down to 15 to 25! It increased duration of my laptop battery under Linux up to 3 hours which is equal to that on Windows 7 with all drivers installed. But:
The south bridge AHCI and IDE controller drivers are still not provided by AMD. ACER uses AMD M780G chip-set on it’s main-board, and neither ACER nor AMD provides any driver for this. Thus my Hard-Drive temperature is still hot under Linux up to 62 degrees, in spite of the fact that it is 38 to 50 degrees on Windows 7 depending on HDD usage.
Also there is a USB driver for Windows 7 provided by ACER which enables operating system to allocate more than 100mA current to external USB drives like my Samsung HDD BOX enables power hungry devices to work flawlessly which is in fact unavailable for Linux.
Conclusion:
Install all provided drivers for your operating system. And forget about running Linux on your laptop unless you can find a laptop producer which pays attention to the right of software freedom.
I will find another laptop maybe with a Linux preinstalled on it. Anyone knows one?


How I corrected page size in Altium Designer Smart PDF?

Yes, I’m using Altium Designer 2008 to create PCB files. And hell yes! I’m using that damned Windows Xp as a virtual machine just to bring this software up ‘n running;)
Whenever I try to create a PDF file of PCB project using Altium Designer’s Smart PDF option, It creates an ugly pdf file with stretched/skewed pages not in real actual size. Fonts are nasty and characters are hard to read. So I decided to solve this problem. Here’s the HOW-TO:
First of all I searched all over Internet and found nothing.
Then created a smart PDF using Altium Designer and let it to create a .OutputJob file and open it.
In the opened OutputJob file on right column right clicked on PDF and selected PDF Setup from drop down menu.
In “Schematic Page size and orientation” selected “Page Setup Dialog”. Selected same option for “Schematic Page size and orientation”.
Clicked OK and the horrible stretch and skew ended here! hiewhhhhhh!

Change page size for schematic and PCB