Installation tips for HP DV4T laptop on Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex)

November 2, 2008

Note: this post is a bit of a work in progress – I hope to add a section on external monitor support soon.

This is a brief guide to installing Intrepid on an HP Pavillion DV4T laptop. It is NOT a step-by-step guide, I will just list the steps specific to this laptop. I assume that you already know how to install Ubuntu and configure disk partitions. If you need a more in-depth way to install and configure Ubuntu, please read Getting Started With Ubuntu.

Specification of my laptop

Laptops bought directly from HP can be tailored to your specific requirements. My customizations were as follows:

– Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo Processor P8600 (2.4 GHz)
– 14.1″ diagonal WXGA High-Definition HP LED Widescreen Display (1280 x 800)
– FREE Upgrade to 3GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm) from 2GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm)
– 50% OFF 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 9200M GS
– FREE Upgrade to 250GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection
– [For LED Display] Webcam Only
– Wireless-G Card with Bluetooth
– No Integrated WWAN
– No Modem
– LightScribe SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-RW with Double Layer Support
– No TV Tuner w/remote control
– High Capacity 6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery

Why Ubuntu rather than Kubuntu?

I started off by installing Kubuntu, but I had a multitude of reliability problems with it. I’ve decided that KDE 4.1 (at least the Kubuntu packaged version) is not really ready for use in production yet. Which is a shame, because I found it really pretty!

Initial installation

I chose to install the 64bit version (amd64). I booted from the desktop install CD, and the install ran fairly smoothly. The only problem I encountered was that the first time I booted from the CD, I had an external monitor attached to the DVI/HDMI output, and the standard X drivers couldn’t handle it. I rebooted without the external monitor attached and it worked perfectly.

Partitioning

I always prefer to choose manual partitioning, and mount windows as /windows. Here’s what I ended up with:

GParted screenshot

GParted screenshot

Be sure to leave /dev/sda2 unchanged, and unmounted – this is the recovery partition installed by HP, which is used if you want to restore the laptop to its factory settings and data. Resize /dev/sda1, leaving enough space for your required Windows usage, and add new partitions for Linux in the newly empty space.

First boot – initial tweaks

Sound

The first thing you’ll notice is that the startup sound doesn’t work properly – the first second of the sound just repeats endlessly. This can be fixed by appending the following line to /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base:

options snd-hda-intel model=3stack-dig enable_msi=1

(Thanks to Jonathan for posting this solution as a comment!)

The volume controls worked out of the box.

Update packages

There are already kernel updates available, so the next thing to do is get all the latest packages:

sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude safe-upgrade

Restricted Drivers

You should see a “hardware drivers” icon in the system tray (top right of the screen). This icon looks a bit like a PCI card. Click on this icon, or go to System->Administration->Hardware Drivers if the icon doesn’t appear. There should be three drivers listed:

Restricted Drivers dialog box

Restricted Drivers dialog box

I recommend that you activate version 177 of the NVidia driver, and the Broadcom wireless driver. These choices will of course vary depending on the specification of your laptop.

CPU Frequency monitoring

I added the “CPU Frequency Scaling Monitor” applet to my panel. Right click on the panel, select “Add to panel…” and choose it from the list. This lets you choose between difference CPU frequency settings depending on your performance needs.

Function key support

The following function keys work out of the box:

Fn-F2 – Print

Fn-F3 – go to homepage in currently opened browser

Fn-F7 – decrease brightness

Fn-F8 – increase brightness

Fn-F9, Fn-F10, Fn-F11, Fn-F12 – play/pause, stop, back, forward (in Rhythmbox)

I changed one of the key combinations as follows, by using System->Preferences->Keyboard Shortcuts:

Fn-F3 – “Launch web browser”

Adding new ones is less intuitive. This blog post has some tips: http://ubuntu.wordpress.com/2006/01/30/defining-keyboard-shortcuts-for-commands/ but I haven’t had time to look at them in detail yet.

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7 Responses to “Installation tips for HP DV4T laptop on Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex)”

  1. Mike Casillas said

    Hi, I just saw your blog. I am considering moving to Linux on my dv4t. Two questions I have for you:

    1. Did the webcam work w/Ubuntu?
    2. Did the “touch” buttons at the top of the keyboard (Volume, Mute, Wireless, Stop, Pause/Play, Rew, Ffwd, and the “QuickStart”) work w/Ubuntu?

    Thx.

  2. Linda said

    Hi Mike, thanks for your questions.

    1. Yes, the webcam works out of the box – I haven’t used it to actually talk to anyone, but I just loaded up Ekiga (installed by default) to check and it looks fine to me!

    2. The touch buttons work perfectly, with the exception of the QuickStart (it’s labelled QuickPlay on my laptop) button. I suspect it’s more that Gnome doesn’t have any use for it. It’s possible that there’s a way to map it to something useful, but I haven’t tried.

    The sound is unfortunately a bit flaky – it works fine most of the time, but occasionally it will get stuck in a loop. I suppose there might be a better ALSA driver available somewhere, and it’s on my “list” to look for one, but I haven’t had time to do anything about it yet.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Jonathan said

    Thanks for the tips, Linda.

    I just loaded 8.10 through wubi on my similarly configured dv4t (only differences are a T5800 cpu and wireless N). All went smoothly and I had enabled the nvidia driver and found your site while trying to find a fix for the sound issue on boot.

    Appending irqpoll to the kernel line in the grub list works to stop the sound, but I now have frequent pauses all the time. Did you have any issues after adding irqpoll?

  4. Jonathan said

    I spoke too soon! I found a solution to the sound issue without the need for a kernel option.

    1.) Remove the irqpoll option from grub.lst
    2.) Append the following three lines to /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base:

    options snd-hda-intel model=3stack-dig
    options snd-hda-intel enable_msi=1
    options snd-hda-intel single_cmd=1

    3.) Save, and reboot.

    the problem should be gone! Hope this helps.

    Credit goes to http://art.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=940689

  5. Linda said

    Hi Jonathan, thanks very much for discovering that Alsa setting! It works great for me too, so I’ve added it to the post šŸ™‚

  6. Linda said

    Seems I spoke too soon as well! Adding those options makes the sound work through the speakers, but not the headphones. Omitting the “single_cmd” line does the trick though.

  7. Amit said

    thanks a lot, it worked for me as well, although i have one question, when I try to reduce the sound through the sound control it does not decrease gradually, my sound is completely muted even when i reduce the volume by 50%.

    Does anybody knows about this?

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