Averatec 2150-EH1 Notebook and Linux

Averatec 2150-EH1 Notebook and Linux by Jerry (with a little help from friends)

Company Links:

http://www.averatec.com/notebooks/2100series.htm

Specs:

AMD Mobile Turion 64 MT-28 processor
80 GB HD
512 MB RAM
M$ XP Home
Dual Layer DVD Burner
USB & Firewire ports
4-in-1 Portable Media Reader
12.1 inch WXGA Averabrite display

ATI Radeon Xpress 200M
wireless built in
1 cardbus slot
4.4 lbs
more tech info like lspci and dmidecode to follow. see the Files section below.

Lesser Publicized Specs:

(more specific to Linux)
Phoenix cME (Core Managed Environment) restore disk on a H P A with ATA 5 SETMAX
(near as I have determined as of yet, this means that the size of disk is set lower (SETMAX non volatile) for a hidden protected area (HPA) where the M$ XP disk image and restore points are saved. Only forensic tools and crackers were found (in a quick web search) that were aware of this little technique intended to make your life safer grin. for more info see below...)
North Bridge ATI RS482M
South Bridge ATI SB400
2 GB max memory DDR 333 SO-DIMM 
RaLink Mini PCI wireless built in IEEE 802.11b/g
realtek eth0
1 PCMCIA / Cardbus Type II slot
USB Flash Boot
shared memory
AC97 softmodem (read winmodem / linmodem fun with Aegere Systems)
1280x800 WXGA (though not heard of anyone getting beyond 1024x768 yet)
Mic / Headphones / Firewire ports
2 built in speaker
3x USB 2.0
Kensington Lock hole
high capacity lithium ion battery (in $70-$200 range for Averatec batteries)
optional extended battery mentioned
WHQL - PC2001 compliance
7 blue (& green and red on power) status LEDS visible from the front
4 extra hotkey buttons for email www wireless and search
no service manual seen yet
MSI (MicroStar International) based?
(ymmv as guessing your models may vary with large vendors to a M$ audience)


Summary:

Table of contents to go here...
roadmap.1.6.Xfig.fig is a Xfig diagram that started out as a diagram for organizing this document, went way further than that, and may turn into an imagemap. Shrinking it into this document as a roadmap.1.6.Xfig.png and better roadmap.1.6.Xfig.pdf,

Key to Status Below:

(like street traffic lights but maybe adjusted as the fear of lack of funds after purchase wears off, or just run the lights because the rules and advice of others don't apply to you grin)
  • RED (consider returning, or find a fix ASAP to be useful)
  • YELLOW (find a workaround and learn something new)
  • GREEN (as expected)
  • GREY (haven't decided yet)
  • And my apologies to those printing in B&W...

    Key to Research Below:

    (like increments)
  • + good JOY
  • - bad d'oh
  • = neither good nor bad, oh well
  • duplicates increase intensity
  • Research:

    + AMD Turion 64
    + Small form factor
    + Low Price
    + Off the shelf, stock hardware
    + Available in large chain stores (Microcenter.com, TechDepot.com at here, Costco.com similar AV4155, ubid.com and others)
    - Not a Linux vendor though heard to be cooperative?
    - Support (see below)
    - Not that popular here (you will hear "I've never heard of Averatec" over and over and over, but consider who is saying it...)

    + A large vendor in another county, Sotec is the old name of the company.
    -- I had found a yahoogroups.com poll (join Sotec_Averatec_Notebook@yahoogroups.com) that showed NO return authorizations amongst all the owners of the machine. DISTURBING.
    + Other people have it around here that use Linux and happy with it.
    = Likely to void the warrantee later anyway grin

    Requirements:

  • Small (can you say packrat?)
  • Light (can you say bike, etc?)
  • Low Cost (already attracted attention from a possible mugging! and see above)
  • Powerful (can you say spoiled? and room for growth if starting new anyway)
  • Learning Tool (can you say newbie who may be interviewing? what's a class cost?)
  • Useful (what can I say? where is that email? and you've never seen Linux?, here let me show you what I've been learning...)
  • LinuxLaptops.com and TuxMobil.org:

    Averatec is listed on LinuxLaptops.com here http://tuxmobil.org/averatec.html, though not this model, as it is only out since November 2005, so submitting this preliminary review. Hoping to not dissuade people from getting, but more information provided for their "informed consent"... I do want a project, but it has to work out for this kind of money with my resources...

    Buying:

    At the warehouse store, the following Live CDs ran
    [to the concern of the M$ oriented sales guy ;-) ] and in a very noisy warehouse type environment with florescent lights, kids crawling around, other customers, and an impatient buyer (me!) who traveled across town, etc...

  • Knoppix 4.0 stopped on eth1 backgrounding [assuming wireless ndiswrapper would fix this]
  • Knoppix 3.6 knoppix26 (2.6 kernel just in case) graphical worked as expected vesa 1024x768
  • Movix 0.8.3 booted but NO sound [or choppy, iirc? assuming a setting fixes this and Geexbox DID sound, so guessing workaround possible, and Movix is not release 1.0 yet, so will diagnose and report.]
  • Geexbox booted and ran video WITH sound [so likely sound will be configurable to work somehow].
  • Win XP SP2 [keep for learning, but mainly use a Linux distro like FC4 or wait to FC5 due in March? Paid the M$ tax, need to get the disservice..]
  • [so a GO [for this cheap bastard] to BUY and take home...]


    Take Home

    In The Box: YELLOW

    Machine is WHITE like Macs. Film over the screen and outside cover to protect it. Power brick with separate cable, phone line cord, Quickstart brochure. Thick paper size of a CD, saying no install CD, ON THE HARD DRIVE! :-(

    No paper manual besides a Quickstart brochure [Windows] saying that they are an environmentally friendly company.

    Hardware Impressions: GREY

    Qualify First

    While I don't have a lot of previous notebook experience (1993-4 Notebook evaluations for a Fortune 500 [pre Win95 and yet unaware of Linus], garage sale Powerbook 180 [68k], learning on an emaciated [though grateful] grey box, recent Acer, Live CDs on friend's machines [read got a few minutes to boot up a Dell to see if it ran]) I have learned over the years and found the hard way what tends to break on electronics.

    Several people have noticed how bright the screen is... Averabrite®?

    Power plug on the upper right seems like it might break, as others who have bought Averatecs have had problems with it.

    Touchpad buttons are stamped out of the case in a figure 8 shape with prongs being the buttons. Likely to break eventually :-(

    AMD64 processor was the feature I was waiting for. Desktop box uses one, and lived through the AMD64/ x86_64 bit releases coming out. Can always drop back into 32 bit if too bleeding edge...

    Heat: Yellow

    A fair amount of heat is coming out of the right side fan. Good for keeping my fingers warm when the monitor under the thermastat messes up the apt temp... Not sure yet in the summer how much fun that will be...DO NOT BLOCK THE VENTS UNLESS YOU LIKE TOAST haven't experienced, but don't want to...

    Booting Multiple Times: YELLOW

    Machine has a reproducable habit of needing to force power off (5 seconds with the power switch down) twice when rebooting between Linux and M$. Not sure if this is a hardware thing (heat? likely ruled out as done it cold), settings (Linux changing stuff that M$ doesn't expect? likely plus next), or Phoenix cME HPA backup and restore related (best guesses as of yet)... M$ Quickboot "feature?"

    Knoppix key repeats: now GREEN

    Knoppix graphical worked as expected, but rushed and didn't do command line or keyboard editing, got keys repeating too quickly making typing extremely difficult. Thinking it is keyboard setting, or worse different speed processor and a timing loop. Hoping to resolve this issue or future releases will improve the situation with reporting bugs/enhancements.

    KDE Control Center Peripheral Keyboard setting on delay increased fixed the issue..

    Partitioning: now YELLOW was RED

    Upon purchase [to the unresearched], it was discovered that the machine uses a Phoenix cME (Core Management Environment or similar) in a 3-4GB hidden partition. It is said to give added security to the system, but seems to be locking me out of installing anything else [the usual way] so far. The feature allows setting restore points all the way back to factory installation. I had resized the partition with Knoppix qtparted down to around 40 GB and restored with cME when FC4 install CD FAILED TO BOOT with a PANIC. As mentioned elsewhere with Averatec's and resizing the partition, Windows did a chkdisk after the change on the next boot but it also found a new device, which might have been the extra disk space. The monsters be here, and more learning needed here...

    Partitioning Issue Impressions: YELLOW

    More partitioning to learn. NO INSTALL CDROM makes recovering from a hard drive problem impossible, or expensive. Thought might be able to burn the CD from hard drive giving an off hard drive backup, but nothing found as of yet...

    Thinking it is different partitioning than I'm used to and will work around eventually. Hoping to resolve this issue, but not happy on this project part.

    Suggested Options:
    (thanks friends!)

    1. call (Averatec, Phoenix, etc) for support on the ATA 5 SETMAX HPA protected area
    2. uninstall Phoenix cME and hope it takes away the HPA, but maybe also restore disk on HD, etc...
    3. Use the M$ Product Key and get a real CDROM for installing, reinstalling everything from scratch...
    4. blow away M$ and live happily ever after
    5. return it for a loss and tell them to use a better OS
    6. uninstall Phoenix cME and hope it removes the HPA, (doubting it... oh, yeah, already said that... must be two votes for that? grin)
    7. complain about it on the net and use political pressure for a better world

    Partitioning Tools: GREY

    TRY AT YOUR OWN RISK!
    1. Partition Magic: M$ and costs $$$ so NO
    2. Knoppix QTPartEd make sure your partitions are not mounted when writing
    3. fdisk linux version, but DOS version? might work?
    4. cfdisk curses based Linux fdisk
    5. sfdisk scriptable fdisk for experts (not yet me but the man page was more informative...). Want to run it on a fleet of similar notebooks?
    6. parted partition editor
    7. ntfsresize at http://mlf.linux.rulez.org/mlf/ezaz/ntfsresize.html
    Likely to factory restore and start all over again, throwing away the first attempts... Always can go back factory restore right? grin

    Install Linux: now GREEN was YELLOW and RED

    As of Jan 24, 2006, installed Live CDs and broke the little brat from Redmond that doesn't playing well with others (i.e. M$ world domination and not booting here).

    Geexbox INSTALL: GREEN

    Installed to the hard drive and it prompted for grub install among other things.
    This gives a little quick booting media player (which I do a lot anyway, as Xmas gifts were picture cds and pictures are worth a thousand words...) and quick test of installing. Phoenix cME Guardian Complained about this problem and could not fix, disabling itself...M$ didn't boot after that or partitioning in late night attempts...

    Knoppix 4.0 CD INSTALL: GREEN

    Running from CD so much worried about wearing out the DL DVD Burner, so installed to HD partition. At your own risk:
    knoppix tohd=/dev/hdan
    where n=your partition number
    It took about 20+ minutes to copy 700 MB to the partition.
    then
    knoppix fromhd=/dev/hdan
    RUNS MUCH FASTER but takes a Knoppix 4.0 CD to boot as have not learned grub to try to make that work. 

    Better Options: GREY

    Want a real distro installation where cloop and other things like
    mount -w /dev/hdan /mnt/hdan
    where n=your partition number
     and 
    umount /mnt/hdan
    where n=your partition number
    
    for writing between boots are not an issue.

    Gentoo Installer: RED

    Friends tried it after a meeting and iirc it bombed also, or I would have had to switch distributions and would be going nuts switching from Desktop to Notebok and vice versa. An offer of copying a created FC4 file system tar.gz over and untarring it but not doing that yet, will pound my head against the wall a bit more in private...

    FC4 x86_64 install CD: RED

    Kernel Panic on install CD boot where it accesses the hard drive VFS. Same with 32 bit install CD.

    Thinking it is a VFS related to the partitioning. Might be able to wipe the hard drive and start over if I can get an XP disk out of the system cME or a vendor. Hoping to resolve this issue, otherwise would have to return it if I can't install to the hard drive, as Live CDs are good temporarily, but not enough long term... MENTION TO RED HAT FEDORA TEAM FOR IMPROVEMENTS

    Mandriva Live CD boot: GREEN

    Boots OK. Kat and other tools nice when not seen or running in the usual distros. See Mandriva.Live.CD.Menu.Structure.txt as a cheat sheet for learning new menus. Not in the habit of Mandriva.

    Knoppix 3.9 Live CD boot: GREEN

    Required as existing documents are in the new Open Office 2.0 .ods .odw etc format

    Knoppix 4.0 Live CD boot: GREEN

    WORKS TOO, maybe wireless in last state is the difference...


    Connectivity:

    No man/woman/unic is an island...

    KPPP: YELLOW

    dial-in modem device /dev/ttySL0 not working yet, unable to open modem...

    Thinking it is user learning somehow. Hoping to resolve this issue but finding it is a AC'97 softmodem (read winmodem but will be trying linmodem after scanModem learning).

    eth0: GREEN

    able to configure eth0 networking on home network.


    Battery Life: GREY

    Knoppix calculates it as estimating about 1.5 hours. Screen brightness, DVD Burner / CD reader, disk usage, and other peripherals, etc all likely factors... Manual mentioned running battery to almost empty once a month for health of the battery, and taking out when not used for extended period...

    UNTESTED i.e. TO DO:

    A work in progress... And learning is one of the goals with this...
    1. a little cloth to avoid keyboard to screen and case abrasions while carrying (seen with another machine)
    2. regular distro from hard drive
    3. real world battery life (1.5 hours or can I do better?)
    4. Wireless (built in or otherwise, plus access point/ad hoc to somewhere)
    5. Video Out for presentations.
    6. more bragging rights grin
    7. keep from getting it stolen (kensington std lock option), broken (padded sleeve or hard case?), etc.. (i.e. no bragging rights)
    8. report bugs for improvements over time
    9. learn much more and track down info (like MSI, linmodem, miniPCI, etc)
    10. adding summary, status, links, files, pictures, decision tree graph, etc here
    11. deal with the new machine [read car] smell and how it is in real life commuting
    12. all my other hats as this is taking more time than expected, but like any hobby or project, it fills the available and unavailable time...

    Puzzling:

    Clock runs fast and video speeds up over time noticed with Live CDs??? Any kernel hackers interested in this puzzle?


    Annoyances:

    1. Running a live cd from hard drive instead of a regular installed distro.
    2. Clock on Knoppix changing time zones. To explore boot command similar to below
      knoppix tz=America/Eastern
      

    More tech info:

    4-in-1 Media slot is labeled SD MMC MS [and 4th later found somewhere as MSPro]


    Files:

    lsmods
    dmidecode
    cat.proc.modules
    lspci -vvv
    

    Vendor Blurb:

    The 2100 Series' AMD Turion 64 mobile technology delivers leading-edge
    CPU performance today, and can run tomorrow's more advanced 64-bit
    applications. 
    
    The professional or student looking for a notebook optimized with the
    most advanced technology available at an unbelievably low price will
    simply have to get their hands on one of these! 
    
    The ATI RadeonĀ® Xpress 200M graphics chipset delivers advanced
    functionality for graphics-intensive business, communications, and 3-D
    gaming applications and high-quality digital entertainment. 
    
    A Dual Layer DVD Burner allows burning of music, photos and videos to
    your regular CD or the newest DVD with 8.5 GB or 240 minutes video -
    nearly double the storage capacity! Your favorite DVD is all the more
    enjoyable on the vivid 12.1" wide XGA screen with AveraBrite*
    technology. The Firewire and USB ports also allow digital video
    recording right onto your notebook. 
    
    Includes built in high-speed wireless LAN with dual-antenna for super
    fast Internet multimedia streaming and downloading with added
    Antivirus, Windows XP & AMD enhanced security protection. 
    
    Model #2150-EH12155-EH1
    CPUAMD Turion 64 MT-28AMD Turion 64 MT-30
    OSMicrosoft Windows XP Home EditionMicrosoft ® Windows ® XP Home Edition
    LCD Size12.1" WXGA12.1" WXGA
    Optical DriveDual DVD BurnerDual DVD Burner
    Hard Drive80 GB80 GB
    Memory512MB DDR512MB DDR
    Wireless LAN802.11g802.11g
    USB(3x) 2.0(3x) 2.0
    DimensionsWxDxH)11.9" x 8.86" x 1.24"11.9" x 8.86" x 1.24"
    Weight (lbs.)4.4lbs.4.4 lbs.
    Part #AV2150-EH1AV2155-EH1
    Limited Time Only - $50 Price Drop!

    Web Blurb:

    Product Description:
    
    Features and Benefits
    The 2100 Series' AMD Turion 64 mobile technology delivers leading-edge
    CPU performance today, and can run tomorrow's more advanced 64-bit
    applications. 
    The professional or student looking for a notebook optimized with the
    most advanced technology available at an unbelievably low price will
    simply have to get their hands on one of these! 
    
    The ATI RadeonĀ® Xpress 200M graphics chipset delivers advanced
    functionality for graphics-intensive business, communications, and 3-D
    gaming applications and high-quality digital entertainment. 
    
    A Dual Layer DVD Burner allows burning of music, photos and videos to
    your regular CD or the newest DVD with 8.5 GB or 240 minutes video -
    nearly double the storage capacity! Your favorite DVD is all the more
    enjoyable on the vivid 12.1" wide XGA screen with AveraBrite*
    technology. The Firewire and USB ports also allow digital video
    recording right onto your notebook. 
    
    Includes built in high-speed wireless LAN with dual-antenna for super
    fast Internet multimedia streaming and downloading with added
    Antivirus, Windows XP & AMD enhanced security protection. 
    
    PROCESSOR
    AMD Turion 64 MT-28
    128KB - L2 cache
    
    MEMORY
    512 MB DDR SDRAM 333 MHz PC2700
    
    HARD DRIVE
    80GB S.M.A.R.T. Ultra ATA/100 (ATA-6)
    
    DISPLAY
    12.1" WXGA Active Matrix TFT 1024 x 768
    
    MULTIMEDIA DRIVE
    Dual DVD Burner
    
    VIDEO GRAPHICS
    Integrated Video Card
    
    COMMUNICATION
    Integrated V.92 56Kbps Fax Modem
    
    NETWORK CARD
    Integrated Fast Ethernet
    
    WIRELESS
    Integrated Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11g 54Mbps Mini PCI
    
    SOUND
    Stereo speakers
    
    KEYBOARD
    Full Size
    
    POINTING DEVICE
    Touchpad
    
    PC CARD SLOTS
    1 x CardBus Type II
    
    EXTERNAL PORTS
    3 x USB 2.0
    1 x i.Link IEEE 1394 - FireWire
    1 x Headphone(s)
    1 x Microphone
    1 x 15-pin D-Sub (HD-15) VGA
    1 x RJ-11 Modem
    1 x RJ-45 Network
    1 x DC Power Input
    

    $Id: av2150.htm,v 1.36 2006/01/26 03:12:19 jerry Exp $Date: 2005/04/19 17:14:53 $
    Last modified: Wed Jan 25 22:12:12 EST 2006