Last updated: 25 October 2006
|This is the UBUNTU VERSION||Go to the SUSE Version|
This document describes my experience with getting Ubuntu Linux 6.06 running on an HP Compaq nc8430. I hope this will be useful.
This machine is certified as Linux-compatible by Novell, against Novell Linux Desktop 9 for x86, Powered by SUSE LINUX, and with some caveats. This laptop is operating under kernel version 2.6.15. I have also got SUSE Linux running on the same machine, and with some different results; see my report on that.
Note that this is my first time ever running Ubuntu; I decided to give it a whirl after getting it on a magazine cover disk. (I've been a SUSE user for years.) So I'm not exactly an Ubuntu power user, and I haven't figured out the system config stuff in much detail yet. Since I'm not using Ubuntu any more, you should check the SUSE report for the latest news.
I haven't had this machine long either, and I haven't put too much effort into some of the features listed below; I'm not interested in smart cards, for example. I'm too busy to do major investigations, but reasonable requests for info or simple tests will be heeded. See Contact Info at end.
This report is listed at TuxMobil - Linux on laptops, notebooks, PDAs, mobile phones. Check the site out for lots more information about mobile Linux.
Note that there are several versions of the nc8430, which differ in things such as clock speed, type of optical drive, etc. My configuration is Core Duo T2500, 1024MB, 80GB, DVD+-RW.
Status under Ubuntu
|Intel Core Duo T2500 Processor, 2.0 GHz||Works||Ubuntu didn't auto-install the SMP kernel|
|15.4" 1680 x 1050 TFT active matrix display||Works||See next item|
|ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 Video (256MB)||Works||With driver from ATI. OpenGL doesn't seem to work (although it works under SUSE); maybe the ATI GL setup is incompatible with Ubuntu? See my xorg.conf file.|
|1GB DDRII SDRAM||Works||(Full memory reported by System Monitor)|
|80GB Serial ATA-150 Hard Drive||Not tried||Swapped out before Linux installation for...|
|Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB 7200RPM Serial ATA-150 Hard Drive||Works||No issues|
|Broadcom BCM5753 Gigabit Ethernet||Works||No issues|
|Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG WiFi||Works||No issues|
|Internal 56k Modem||Not detected||No surprise!|
|FireWire||Not detected?||I have nothing to try this with|
|Bluetooth||Unknown||No apps to try it with? (Worked under SUSE -- one time.)|
|DVDRW (+R double layer) Drive||Works||CD ripping OK; DVD-R written and read OK|
|4800 mAh Lithium-Ion Battery||Works||No issues|
|AD1981HD Sound Card (SB-compatible)||Works||No issues (in SUSE, the speakers don't work, just the headphone output, but it's fine in Ubuntu)|
|Integrated microphone||Works||Enable "capture" in the sound mixer (not the mic inputs); the mixer settings seem a bit mixed up.|
|Integrated speakers||Works||No issues|
|Headphone out||Works||No issues|
|SD Card reader||Doesn't work with my SD card||More info
According to an independent report: "the SD card reader works ok with a patch or kernel >2.6.17 but requires a command in order to pass the control to the driver (setpci -s 02:06.2 4c.b=02)". Thanks Ramon.
|Smart Card reader||Not recognised|
|Touchpad||Works||All 3 buttons OK|
|Pointing stick||Works||All 3 buttons OK|
|UK keyboard||Works||Pound, dollar, Euro, all OK|
|ACPI Power Management||Largely works||
|USB||Works||Flash stick recognised and opened on insert; USB disks and mouse OK.|
0000:00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile Memory Controller Hub (rev 03) 0000:00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile PCI Express Graphics Port (rev 03) 0000:00:1b.0 0403: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) High Definition Audio Controller (rev 01) 0000:00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) PCI Express Port 1 (rev 01) 0000:00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) PCI Express Port 2 (rev 01) 0000:00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) PCI Express Port 4 (rev 01) 0000:00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI #1 (rev 01) 0000:00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI #2 (rev 01) 0000:00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI #3 (rev 01) 0000:00:1d.3 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB UHCI #4 (rev 01) 0000:00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller (rev 01) 0000:00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev e1) 0000:00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801GBM (ICH7-M) LPC Interface Bridge (rev 01) 0000:00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) IDE Controller (rev 01) 0000:00:1f.2 0106: Intel Corporation 82801GBM/GHM (ICH7 Family) Serial ATA Storage Controllers cc=AHCI (rev 01) 0000:01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 71c5 0000:02:06.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments: Unknown device 8039 0000:02:06.1 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments: Unknown device 803a 0000:02:06.2 Mass storage controller: Texas Instruments: Unknown device 803b 0000:02:06.3 0805: Texas Instruments: Unknown device 803c 0000:02:06.4 Communication controller: Texas Instruments: Unknown device 803d 0000:08:00.0 Ethernet controller: Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5753M Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express (rev 21) 0000:10:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation: Unknown device 4222 (rev 02)
It's nice! This is my first HP, and so far I'm impressed. It's nicely slim and light (compared to my "old" 15.4" Toshiba A75), and the 1680x1050 display is fantastic!
Minor negatives: the keys are a little more stiff than I'm used to, but I guess I'll get used to it. (Update: I totally got used to it.) The USB slots are on the sides, and closer to the front than I'd like; for example, with a wireless mouse, the tranceiver will be slightly in the way, whereas plugged into the back it would be less obtrusive. Likewise the headphone jack is right at the front on the right; you need a right-angle plug to avoid getting in the way of the mouse, and then the wire trails in front of the DVD drive drawer. Slightly annoying.
Overall, it's great, though. I like the hardware WiFi switch; the screen is great; it's very quiet (check your BIOS if not); and performance is excellent. (See below for more on performance.) One nice feature is that all the key components (RAM slot, WiFi, BIOS battery, etc.) are under the keyboard; you can get to them by removing two screws and popping down 4 latches on the keyboard. It looks like you could blow air through the heatsink from there too. The same operation took over an hour on my old machine! BTW, the BIOS battery is in a clip-holder, not soldered. Way to go HP!
I've been a SUSE user for a long time; but I decided it was time to give other distros a whirl, so when I set my system up, I left a 5.5 GB partition aside for testing. Having got Ubuntu on a magazine cover disk, I decided to set it up.
My partition setup:
Installation was pretty easy, except that Ubuntu didn't recognise the existing SUSE install, so the boot loader was set up without an option to boot it. I managed to salvage this using the SUSE boot DVD.
The graphics card worked stright away, but in 800x600 resolution. After the installation, I installed the driver from ATI, and got the full resolution working. There's a page by Toni with a link to the driver and some more info.
I can't seem to get OpenGL to work; it looks like the ATI GL setup may be incompatible with Ubuntu. This could probably be fixed (it works under SUSE), but I haven't put the effort in yet.
Update: Pierre reports: "On Ubuntu dapper, the Ati drivers fgrlx proposed in the package of Ubuntu are working really well too. If you not want to re-instal it after any modification of the kernel, I think it's a good solution. But to have these driver working fine, you have first to get the linux 686-smp before to install the ati driver." Thanks Pierre!
If you have ACPI issues, or your fans are noisy all the time, make sure your BIOS is up to date. (This is normally a pretty quiet machine.) See the HP driver page. Thanks to Pierre for this tip!
I get the impression that the HP is faster than my old Toshiba, despite having a 2GHz CPU vs. 3.2GHz. (Sorry, no scientific benchmarks here, the Tosh is totally fried.) This is not down to the dual CPUs; in single-threaded tasks like fractal generation and mp3 encoding it seems to fly. I guess the Tosh had a good CPU but lousy support hardware - certainly lousy graphics hardware, the HP is way faster for Windoze games. Speaking of which, I'm seeing 20-25 FPS in Oblivion, playing in 1280x800 (ambitious, the setup recommented 1024x768) with grass off. This isn't like an ultra gaming machine, but the result is pretty smooth to my eye, and the picture quality is superb.
To be more scientific, here are the results of a benchmarking run. This data was produced under Linux using UnixBench 4.1.0, downloaded from the Linux Benchmarking Project. The index group of tests was used (the command was "./Run index").
The following results were obtained using the 2.6.15-23-386 #1 PREEMPT non-SMP kernel:
Dhrystone 2 using register variables 116700.0 5213045.0 446.7 Double-Precision Whetstone 55.0 1453.1 264.2 Execl Throughput 43.0 3606.6 838.7 File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks 3960.0 402561.0 1016.6 File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks 1655.0 143030.0 864.2 File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks 5800.0 769640.0 1327.0 Pipe Throughput 12440.0 782894.9 629.3 Process Creation 126.0 12890.4 1023.0 Shell Scripts (8 concurrent) 6.0 147.0 245.0 System Call Overhead 15000.0 1279188.1 852.8 ========= FINAL SCORE 659.3
The following results were obtained using the 2.6.15-26-686 #1 SMP PREEMPT kernel:
Dhrystone 2 using register variables 116700.0 5180277.0 443.9 Double-Precision Whetstone 55.0 1437.5 261.4 Execl Throughput 43.0 2054.0 477.7 File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks 3960.0 308714.0 779.6 File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks 1655.0 98592.0 595.7 File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks 5800.0 665665.0 1147.7 Pipe Throughput 12440.0 545324.9 438.4 Process Creation 126.0 6347.2 503.7 Shell Scripts (8 concurrent) 6.0 265.6 442.7 System Call Overhead 15000.0 1072800.3 715.2 ========= FINAL SCORE 538.9
Note that the benchmark isn't multi-CPU aware, and was run as a single copy, so these results don't accurately reflect the machine's capabilities. It's interesting that the SMP kernel is apparently slower than the non-SMP kernel, particularly in execl, file and pipe IO, and process creation. It's also interesting to compare this with the same test under SUSE, which shows slower performance.