Debian Linux on HP DV6-6023TX

It was time to update my creaking old laptop.  I ordered HP6-6023TX online and after a few days it arrived just before a long weekend.

I first backed up Windows 7 onto a set of DVDs and found that either my blank DVDs are old or this new DVD drive is far more fussy. There were quite a few coasters made until I gave up and bought some new ones.

DVDs seemed to be trouble for me that day.  I downloaded the Debian 6.0.4 DVD image but couldn’t burn it. Brasero would just keep saying calculating checksum and go no further.  So after waiting too long, the CD iso was downloaded and installed.

Installation of Debian onto the laptop was straightforward. That is if you used a wired connection. Wireless needs the non-free firmware and I gave up trying to work out how to install it at debian-installer time as it didn’t see the tar.gz full of firmware on the USB stick.  Wireless worked perfectly once I loaded everything on. So at this point with not much trouble I had an almost fully working setup. Even the webcam and sound was working.

Video Fun

The laptop is one of these strange modern ones that has two video cards.  The low-spec one is an Intel Sandybridge while the higher one is an AMD/ATI Radeon HD 6700M. The idea being you use the ATI when plugged in and the Intel on batteries.

Xorg worked first go, but only on the Intel chip.  Trying to force X to use the ATI driver with an Xorg configuration resulted in the Xserver crashing.

Next attempt was the fglrx packages within Debian. aticonfig said it didn’t know about the card. The reason for this is that the Debian packages use fglrx version11.4 and I needed for my card 11.5 So close but so far away.

OK, so building the ATI software can’t be that hard can it?  A nice set of instructions on the Debian wiki and we had… errors. The first problem is that the packaging used is ancient. The second problem is much more serious; it won’t compile.

I was stuck about here until I hopped onto the Debian irc channel and asked about it and someone found a very useful webpage about compiling the ATI drivers on Debian which importantly had information about the patches you need, especially the blk patch.

Success! the program compiled and installed. A small xorg.conf specifying the fglrx driver and the BusID and we were up and running.  I now have accelerated graphics on the laptop.

Ouch, my eyes!

I do actually get outside (one of my hobbies is gardening and that is an outdoor activity) so I don’t need a monitor screen trying to give me a suntan.  The default screen brightness on the laptop could be described as “sub-nova”. I’m sure there is some alien astronomers several light-years away who will in many years time wonder what that flash from the unimpressive end of the milky-way was about. To protect your eyes and keep the neighborhood complaints down you can reduce the brightness to something sane. You do this in the power management settings which for me is System -> Preferences ->  Power Management. I can see again!

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Gjay 0.3.2 released

After getting past a series of silly errors gjay version 0.3.2 is now available.  The source code was uploaded to SourceForge and the Debian package has been uploaded to the FTP master site.

This version fixes the linking bug that have been extensively reported in a lot of Debian packages.  This is where you are using symbols of a library from another but not explicitly linking to it.  It means some versions of GCC will fail to link.

gjay will now create playlists for Music Player Daemon or mpd and get mpd to run them too.  It does need for mpd and gjay to be on the same computer, or at least the same directory structure, so both programs know what file is.  While gjay has a full view of the filesystem, mpd uses a relative one off its own concept of a root directory.

As a result of the two music players, both the audacious and mpd client libraries are not linked to gjay but are linked at runtime using dlsym(). It means you don’t need the audacious libraries if you like mpd or vice versa.  I’m not that experienced in using dlsym so hopefully I’ve not stuffed it up; it works for me!

In theory, gjay could pass its playlists onto other music players.  The problem is knowing how to get the list into the player.  After it does its sorting and randomising, gjay ends up with a linked list of file-names. Now for audacious or (with some caveats) mpd it is pretty simple because they use file-names but others don’t do this.  If you know how it is done with your favourite player then let me know.


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JFFNMS at RC2, ncurses at 5.8

After some reports back about [JFFNMS]( 0.9.0rc1 I have now updated it to rc2. Thanks for all who gave me information about how it worked in YOUR setup.  I cannot be sure but I’d say the second RC will be the last until the release itself.

Sven has also given me the nod and ncurses 5.8 migrated into unstable.  We’ve had one report that the new version of ncurses might not play well with stfl (see #616711 ) but generally speaking it should work ok.

Finally, congratulations to the Debian project on [winning two categories at the Linux New Media Awards]( It was especially good to hear the presentation by Karsten Gerloff who is president of the Free Software Foundation Europe.

## ncurses bug update
It seems that the ncurses bug is more serious and is to do with newwin() function in the library. If you get crashes when a program starts and its linked to ncurses 5.8 (even if it is not a Debian system) you may have this problem.

It doesn’t happen to all ncurses programs, as the stfl example code and mutt work ok.