Re: Laptop problems. Would another distro help?

From: General Schvantzkoph (
Date: 09/15/05

Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2005 18:08:39 -0400

On Wed, 14 Sep 2005 15:37:42 -0400, wrote:

> I just bought a Compaq Presario V2321 (V2000 series) laptop. It's got 512
> RAM, an (as I recall) AMD 1.2 gig chip, and an 80 gig hard drive. I totally
> obliterated the Windows XP that came on it and installed SuSE 9.1, which is
> what I've been using on my desktop.
> Although I tested the machine in the store with a Knoppix 3.1 disk (over two
> years old) and it worked fine, with 9.1 it's a slug. Worse, it freezes
> periodically. Since when that happens I'm generally only running Emacs on
> KDE with nothing else the machine can't be overloaded.
> At best when typing it has a lurching, hesitating, quality. Works smoother
> under battery power, oddly. Doesn't work any better using Vim.
> My Samsung 1740 USB printer works fine and I've been using a USB stick to
> transfer files between machines. But it won't operate my Epson 1650 USB
> scanner and while it will dial out and hold the connection on my external
> modem with a serial-to-USB adaptor, it basically doesn't do anything.
> They all work fine on my desktop with the same SuSE 9.1 disks.
> Also when using the touchpad, double-thumping it doesn't work. I have to use
> the actual left-hand button.
> I haven't tried burning a DVD yet. It will read DVDs.
> The mode line on Emacs, which shows load, never shows less than a 10 percent
> load, even when nothing's happening. I've never seen it go into the
> double-digits on my desktop. Usually it says less than 1.0.
> SuSE also had problems with the display. The default was smeared and
> unusable. It seems to be able to set it on 800 by 600 but on nothing else.
> I've noticed that Konquerer seems to think I have billions of files in my
> directory.
> Wondering if I'd gotten a lemon, I tried the Knoppix disk again. Worked
> fine, except it wouldn't find the USB modem. Didn't check any other USB
> devices.
> I have Ubuntu, Mandriva and Debian as well as a bunch of mini-distros on
> disks that came with Linux Format Magazine. My question is whether anyone
> knows if I'd have better luck with them. It's the first time I've ever run
> into a problem with SuSE and that's all I've ever used. Something is
> fooling the installer.
> Or if someone knows a quick easy non-geek fix on the configuration, I'd be
> grateful. This machine is for work and it's causing more work than it's
> saving.
> Thanks.
> Rod

Give FC3 or Fedora Core 4 a try, I'm using FC3 on a Compaq R3000Z A64
laptop and it works very well. I have FC4 on an A64 desktop and it feels
noticeably quicker. One thing you want to do is check and see what clock
speed you are running it, A64s are controllable from the OS. Do an ls on

To see if the speed governors are there. The speed governor is controlled


The current frequency is in,


If you don't see anything in that directory then the drivers were either
not loaded or aren't there. The easiest way to get them is to compile a
custom kernel and make sure that you build in all of the A64 speed
governors. FC4 comes with a nice little Gnome widget called CPU Frequency
Monitor which allows you to select the CPU speed. There is also a speed
governor called ondemand which will dynamically alter the clock speed
depending on demand, that's what I use on my laptop.

However I doubt that it's the clock speed that's causing you a problem,
I'm currently running my desktop A64 at 1GHz (vs 2.4GHz which is the max
speed) and it's more then quick enough for Xemacs and Firefox. I'd
guess that your problem is the graphics. I think the new HP/Compaqs are
using ATI instead of Nvidia. I don't have any experience with recent ATI
chips but others have reported that the drivers for the current chips
aren't very good. You might try the ATI binary drivers and see if that
helps. Trying FC4 might help also. The thing that struck me when I
switched from FC3 to FC4 is that the graphics performance with the open
source Nvidia driver was nearly as good as with the binary driver. I don't
know what they improved, it could be Gnome 10 vs Gnome 8, it could be the
latest Xorg or it could be the driver itself. If it's Gnome 10 or Xorg
then that should help you to.

Finally it could be RAM. 512M isn't very much these days. I just checked
gnome-system monitor and it says I have 716M in use. You might want to
throw a 1G stick of RAM in there.

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