Linux on a Compaq Presario 1830
Summary of what works
Note: I no longer have this machine. I'm leaving
this information here in case it is useful to someone.
A friend just bought a refurbished Compaq Presario 1830,
and wanted help installing linux. Since I'm partial to Slackware, we
installed Slackware 7.0.
However, most of this applies to more common distributions like Red
Hat and Debian.
We began by blowing away the existing partitions and starting from
scratch. This was partially a mistake: there are a couple things worth
- Driver info for video and (especially) sound. The chipset, IRQ
settings, I/O, etc. are all worth writing down.
- The Windows DVD player software (if you can figure out how).
This machine's 6G drive is configured with a 1.5G D: partition that is
for rescue purposes. All drivers and backup software are there, not
on the "rescue" CD. I gave an earful to the Compaq tech about that,
and they sent 2 CDs by Fedex that include the info, but....
We made a 2G partition for Win98 and a 4G partition for Linux. The
Windows install went ok, but we're missing video and network drivers.
The video drivers should be easy, but sound was/is nearly impossible.
The linux install itself was straightforward. (If this is where
you're stuck, you need a basic install guide. Perhaps this one will do.)
Setting up device drivers, however, was more complex. Read on.
X / Video
The video board is an ATI Rage LT Pro, on a the PCI bus. It works
with the XFree86 3.3.5 SVGA server. However, at 16bpp, there is no
hardware acceleration. The driver notes say the
hardware accel isn't supported beyond 8bpp. :(
The screen is 1024x768 pixels (one of which is broken!!).
The sound card is a "JBL Pro Audio with Bass Reflex", whatever that
means. A Compaq tech guy called it a "JBL Performance Audio PCI".
JBL's website (if that's the right
JBL) doesn't mention anything about its existence.
But, I was able to determine that it uses the "ESS Solo 1" chipset,
and got default (in Windows) specs of IRQ 5, DMA 1, I/O 0x220-0x22f
and 0x330-0x331. Currently,
modprobe esssolo1 claims to
succeed, but catting a test sound file to /dev/audio just yields
Still working on it...
PCMCIA Network Card
The machine didn't come with a card, but I have two of my own. I
tried both, and both yielded (in /var/log/messages) the error
In desperation, I tried recompiling the kernel (I had been using
the Slackware 7.0 net.i boot disk kernel), and it worked! I don't
know which option was off in net.i, but it defaulted to on in the
new kernel. Just plug in the card and that becomes 'eth0'.
You can configure network stuff like IP address in
/etc/pcmcia/network.opts. After changing it, just remove and
then re-insert the card for the changes to take effect.
Advanced Power Management (APM)
During the aforementioned kernel recompile, I enabled APM support.
Do this, it's a good thing. (At very least, it lets the 'apm'
program report battery status.)
The modem is a Lucent 56k v.90 winmodem.
I haven't tried it
For some reason, Linux isn't able to change the hardware date chip's idea
of what time it is. So for several boots in a row, it would think it was 1999
on boot, I'd change it with 'date', and next time it'd be back to 1999. The
workaround for now is to change the date with BIOS (F10 when it's showing the
big Compaq logo).
Update: You can use hwclock to sync system and hardware clocks.