More about the little laptop that could

I took a little time this afternoon to dig around with this laptop, and see what’s inside. Of course, I didn’t do that from Windows. I downloaded the Xubuntu Feisty ISO and ran it live to get a real look at the guts.

Which runs wonderfully, I might add. The graphics card in this machine is an SM712 LynxEM+, made by Silicon Motion, Inc. — or at least that’s what lspci says. I don’t believe it can handle 1024×768 at 24-bit color depth, because on boot GDM kicks into a weird 800×600 screen with no visible elements, save the cursor, with a black frame.

To fix it I just have to knock down the default depth in xorg.conf to 16, then restart GDM. That takes a while, since I’m working off the live CD, but the restart comes back at full size and with desktop elements.

Which has been very nice, since I picked up a digital camera (different post for that) and I want to be able to sort my photos on a USB flash drive without suffering the slings and arrows of Windows XP. It also gives me access to Thunar’s bulk renamer, which in my book is one of the best GUI renamers out there.

The only problem is how to tactfully broach the issue of the password and userID for the in-house wireless network. I don’t know how suspicious it would be if the new guy wanted the password to get online with the old, old laptop. I know the network essid (I think), since Windows is such a blabbermouth and shows you the name of the network (or is it the userID?) when you hover the cursor over the network activity icon. Anyways. …

For now it’s working all right, although the G key is particularly sticky, and the K key is likewise recalcitrant. It might just need a good cleaning, but I have a feeling it’s a deeper problem than that.

Just for the record, here are some more quasi-interesting stats, if anyone ever finds a Sotec K6-2 at a yard sale somewhere, replete with the Japanese keyboard.

  • As mentioned, a Silicon Motion Inc. SM712 LynxEM+ graphics card;
  • An ESS Tech ES1969 Solo-1 AudioDrive audio card;
  • A Rockwell International HSF 56K modem, which I probably won’t mess with; and
  • A Buffalo PCMCIA 802.11b wireless card, which I believe uses the Hermes chipset. And while it starts nicely and is identified by Linux, it’s fairly useless until I get the network key.

It’s a good starting point.