Friday, July 17, 2009

Things With The Family and Laptop Troubles

My family is still here (they depart on Monday). We took them around the island over the weekend. I took Wednesday off and went snorkeling with them. Karen spent Thursday with them. We took them to a luau last night. I think they are having a good time. I wish that Karen and I could have the time off while they are here, but it just doesn't work that way. Maybe if we lived in Europe where you get the legally mandated 50 weeks of vacation per year we could do that. But we live in the US where we get the legally mandated 50 seconds of vacation.

Today they are headed to the Polynesian Cultural Center. I plan on meeting them tonight and will either see Horizons (the big show they do at night at the PCC) with them or not. Either way, I'm providing transporation back to the other side of the island.

Work is going well. I do not feel like I am drowning in bug reports like I normally am. I am working on finishing up script mode support for dhcp6c, the DHCPv6 client software I own. That will allow NetworkManager to expand its IPv6 support. I released a new pyparted this week which requires the parted-1.9.0 snapshot that is in Fedora rawhide at the moment. We gain a really important feature with this release, which is the ability to disable aligning partitions to cylinder boundaries.

My non-work laptop has recently stopped charging its battery. Works fine off AC, but it juts won't charge the battery. Apparently this is a known problem in the Dell Mini 9. So known, in fact, that Ubuntu has a pile of Python called aircraft-manager that fiddles the right ports with outb() in order to enable AC charging again. Aircraft-manager seems to be GPL licensed code, but I cannot find ANY UPSTREAM SOURCE for it. I found a deb file of it, ran it through 'ar x', and then unpacked data.tar.gz to find the code. Ubuntu, where's the upstream for this? I suppose it doesn't really matter, because the ioperm(), inb(), outb() magic didn't fix it on my system.

Searching around a bit more, I find that there is a BIOS update to fix the problem. I download the update only to discover it's a DOS executable. The only external media I can boot on this system without buying more hardware is a USB jumpdrive. I asked a friend to make me a 2GB USB bootable DOS image that I could use. He did and I downloaded it, put the BIOS update on it, and booted it on the Mini 9. It worked great. I ran the BIOS update program and it alerted me that my battery was not charged and exited. I removed the battery and ran the program again and it told me the battery was missing and could I please reinsert it, then exited. Argh!

So now I need to figure out how to fix the battery charging issue in order to update the BIOS in order to fix the battery charging issue. I looked for anything useful on the Dell recovery DVD that came with the system. It was a bunch of random files and no README or anything useful. There is a 1.3GB file called belmont-travel-stable-install-usb-20090108-1.img, which I am going to attempt to write to a jumpdrive and boot. Maybe I can restore it to factory settings and run aircraft-manager on Ubuntu and fix this problem. Ugh, what nonsense.

Some comments for Ubuntu and Dell:

Ubuntu: Where is the upstream for aircraft-manager? Could you please release that somewhere other than in .deb format if it's GPL software?

Dell: Providing a recovery DVD for a laptop that lacks a DVD drive is annoying, but I would be ok with that if you provided a README file describing the files on the DVD. Also, providing a Windows executable to create bootable USB media for a system that shipped with Linux only is pretty stupid. I don't need a Linux utility, I have dd. I just need a README file describing the contents of the disc.

2 comments:

Camille said...

2 paragraphs about family.

6 paragraphs about computer.

Just saying.

tsuehpsyde said...

For what it's worth, I suggest booting up the latest Ubuntu LiveCD and seeing if it will charge within the live environment from within Ubuntu.

Then, if it charges, you can then load up the DOS image and flash it with a charged battery to (hopefully) fix the issue.

Worth a shot anyway.