Qualcomm, Inc. Sony Gobi 2000 Wireless Modem – OpenSuSE 12.1 – Vaio VPCSB

sony-vaio-vpcsb16fg-2

Hello,

Recently I’ve updated my openSuSE 11.4 to the latest openSuSE 12.1, it was a hassle free upgrade and my system is running smoothly, nevertheless I didn’t use one of my favorite features on this laptop, the built-in GSM card.
Today I needed it and, bummer,  it didn’t work, even if I could see it in network manager, I remembered I didn’t install the firmware (this card needs a firmware to be inserted every time the device boots). So I put the files in /lib/firmware/gobi and run gobi_loader it ran just perfect.
Next i reboot the laptop, but it didn’t load the firmware automatically, I’ve checked udev and the entry was missing.

So in order to use the Qualcomm, Inc. Sony Gobi 2000 Wireless Modem with the Vaio VPCSB you’ll need:

Install gobi_loader

sudo zypper in gobi_loader

Copy the firmware files to /lib/firmware/gobi (you can find these files on the net (i won’t put them here because of license issues) the names;

amss.mbn apps.mbn UQCN.mbn

With the latest gobi_loader from SuSE it’s all. But it still doesn’t work do the following:

Create a new udev rule file (with joe, vi, kwrite, gedit, etc), just don’t forget you must be root or use sudo:

vi /etc/udev/rules.d/61-gobi.rules

Content:

# udev rules for firmware loading on qualcomm gobi devices

ACTION==”add”, SUBSYSTEM==”tty” KERNEL==”ttyUSB*” GOTO=”gobi_rules”

GOTO=”gobi_rules_end”

LABEL=”gobi_rules”
ATTRS{idVendor}==”05c6″, ATTRS{idProduct}==”9225″, RUN+=”gobi_loader -2000 $env{DEVNAME} /lib/firmware/gobi”
LABEL=”gobi_rules_end”

Cheers,
Pedro Oliveira

OpenSuSE Linux on Sony Vaio VPCSB – User Review

Hi today I was using my new laptop (well it has about 1 month now) and I thought in sharing my usage experience with it. My Vaio is a VPCSB and I run it with OpenSuSE 11.4 X86_64.
I have a thing for Sony Vaios, this one is my 4th. I like Vaios for their build quality, looks, performance and size as I also travel quite a bit.
I’m not a gamer at all so what I value for my computer usage is:

1 – Size (13 inches or smaller)
2 – Weight (2Kg or lower)
3 – Looks
4 – Display quality
5 – Battery endurance
6 – Performance (CPU, Memory, IO)
7 – Number of IO ports (USB, VGA, DVI, Network cards, DVD or Blue-ray in this case, GSM card)
8 – Extras (Illuminated keyboard, hybrid video systems, etc)
9 – And the most important item… Linux compatibility as it will be my choice OS

So after breaking my old Vaio display, I researched a lot (and not only Vaios), I bought this VPCSB, my expectations were very high as my last laptop, a Vaio SZXN was (and still is because it was fixed) an excellent laptop. It worked flawlessly for 4 years with about 12 hours run everyday, lots of traveling, lots of airplane usage and with minor upgrades on memory (2GB ram to 4GB) and a major upgrade this year on the hard drive where I bought a Samsung high performance SSD.
Well, back to the new computer let’s start on the hardware listing (including lscpi and lsusb output):

CPU:  Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2410M CPU @ 2.30GHz
RAM: 6GB
HD:SAMSUNG MMDOE56G5MXP-0VB

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family DRAM Controller (rev 09)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family PCI Express Root Port (rev 09)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 09)
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family MEI Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #2 (rev 04)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 1 (rev b4)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 2 (rev b4)
00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 3 (rev b4)
00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 4 (rev b4)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation HM65 Express Chipset Family LPC Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family 6 port SATA AHCI Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 6 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller (rev 04)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc NI Seymour [AMD Radeon HD 6470M] (rev ff)
02:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Centrino Wireless-N 1000
03:00.0 Unassigned class [ff00]: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. Device 5209 (rev 01)
04:00.0 USB Controller: NEC Corporation uPD720200 USB 3.0 Hayt Controller (rev 04)
05:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller (rev 06)

Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 08ff:168f AuthenTec, Inc.
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 0c45:64b5 Microdia
Bus 001 Device 007: ID 05c6:9225 Qualcomm, Inc. Sony Gobi 2000 Wireless Modem
Bus 001 Device 006: ID 0489:e00f Foxconn / Hon Hai Foxconn T77H114 BCM2070 [Single-Chip Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR Adapter]
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub

So running with Linux (OpenSuSE) what works and what doesn’t work?
Easy there are only 2 things that aren’t running on Linux:
1 – Finger print reader (Bus 001 Device 003: ID 08ff:168f AuthenTec, Inc. )
2 – Touch-pad with multi-touch although it works fine with single-touch
Maybe the multi-touch function can be activated but to be sincere I didn’t pay much attention to it.
The fingerprint is not working due to Sony (they are failing on us here), the multi touch has a signed firmware that doesn’t allow any application to use it, so it needs a Sony interface application to communicate with the system.

What runs and should have trouble running?
The webcams are known to be prone to have trouble and this one works like a charm.
The internal GSM card also works perfectly in Linux (ID 05c6:9225 Qualcomm, Inc. Sony Gobi 2000 Wireless Modem), just a note, I disabled the PIN request on the ISP chip, I did this because from time to time I lost communication with the GSM device after suspending to ram or disk.
The Ati Radeon card works really well with the fglrx driver (even the hybrid features).

What didn’t I tested / used till now:
I never tried to use the blue-ray functions, I’ve recorded and CDs and DVDs but never used blue-ray disks (I just have some Playstation 3 games on blue-ray)

User experience and usability:
Let me say it this way… I LOVE MY NEW VAIO!
It’s small yet powerful, it has a nice amount of ram, fast SSD, good battery life. The display is great, altought the view angles aren’t that good.
In what concerns to mobility I can’t find anything better, I really like the Intel wireless device (supporting 801.11B,G,N), the GSM card it a major feature and it’s a really nice feature to have if you move a lot, and the usual ethernet port also deliveries good performance.
What I don’t like at all are the mouse buttons, they are hard to press and noisy. The same happens to the fan if you’re running at full speed (like compiling a kernel), it will get noisy, but you’re just working on Libreoffice, using FireFox it will be just fine.
On the other hand the lightened keyboard is great for working late at home or in the plane, you’ll not be searching for keys anymore.

Conclusion
Do I tell you to buy this one?
YES, it’s small, fast, pretty and it will deliver, you’ll be able to work full days on this one without miss your desk computer 🙂

PS – What do I like more than my new Vaio?
My new tablet, I’ve also bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 but I’ll write about it sometime.
Cheers,
Pedro Oliveira

 

What’s the best linux distribution?

Lots of people ask me what’s the best Linux distro, some say what’s the best for a newbie others want to setup a home server and some others want to build a gatekeeper. So what’s the best distro to accomplish all this?

To be sincere I like OpenSuSE a lot and I use it for all my personal things and my work laptops, but I wouldn’t recommend  it for server usage, I don’t recommend any of the desktops distros (aka distribution) for that matter due to a simple issue. The  desktop distros like OpenSuSE, Fedora, Ubuntu , etc have a small support cycle. This means that if you want to have security upgrades you’ll need to be constantly updating your server install.

For usage in a server environment I like to use SLES, RedHat and CentOS. The support cycle is great (at least 5 years), the stability and endurance of the OS is great in any of them.

Once again I prefer SLES, this is due to the great tools and support they provide.However I don’t say the same about RedHat support, whenever I need them I  had to find the solution on my own.

These are the two main scopes of Linux distros out there, the desktop and server, but they aren’t the only scopes where you have Linux. For instance if you want to have a firewall, proxy, content filter, qos, and traffic shaping I would recomend the excellent Endian FW (www.endian.it).

If you want to have your linksys/asus and other router working with linux, you may use dd-wrt, would you like to have an older computer as a

media center look at Geex-Box. A hacker distribution so you can test your systems security just download BackTrack. The list can continue and you will be able to find a distribution suited to your needs. Some may need just a live cd or dvd system, other a complete server suite like SME server (that will give you the same offer as Windows small business).

To conclude I don’t think there’s a better distro, there are differences and those differences make some people like one distro over the other.

Personally I like OpenSuSE and SLES.

Cheers,

Pedro Oliveira



Using a recover CD to restore a backup made with BackupPC – BackupPC as disaster recovery

Sometimes things go wrong. We simply can’t avoid it, a simple power failure can harm your data and corrupt your system.

One of these day in a normal work day one small server I maintain add an hard disk failure (yes it’s true, it happened again for the 3rd time this month). In this system I don’t have a RAID setup so the data was lost, well no prob I thought in the end all day is on my backuppc server.

BackupPC is one of my favorite tools, it’s great to manage, easy and very flexible, I’m not going the write about using backuppc to backup data as there are plenty of docs and mailing lists out there that can give you excellent how to(s) on the subject.

Booted with OpenSuSE 11.1 DVD and selected rescue mode.

On the command prompt and using fdisk /dev/sda I partitioned the drive like the old one (both drives were sata II), but Linux is so flexible that you don’t even need to do that.

Usually I like to use a volume manager (lvm) but I was short on time and will so just created 3 partitions /sda1 (150MBfor /boot), sda2 (4GB for swap ) and sda3(100GB for /), leaving unpartitioned  the rest (400GB), I’ll be using the free space to create volumes afterwards and then move the data there.

Then formated the partitions:

mkswap /dev/sda2

mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda1

mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda3

After this I mounted the filesystems like this:

mount /dev/sda3 /mnt

created boot in /mnt – mkdir /mnt/boot

mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/boot

so now we need to get all the data in the file system… and this is the tricky part we need a ssh server to do this (we can use nfs or http download and then untar, but I still like sshd method better, it uses rsync so the transfer is really fast.)

To do this you need to set up a ssh server from a minimalistic boot system. This isn’t hard just follow the steps:

First give this machine your old ip address ex.: ifconfig eth0 192.186.1.1

Create sshd certificate, remember this certificate is just temporary so you can restore your backup.  You may delete it afterwards. To create it just type:

ssh-keygen -t rsa -f /mnt/ssh_host_rsa_key -N “”

start sshd by typing:

/usr/sbin/sshd -h /mnt/ssh_host_rsa_key

This will start up sshd with all the default options.

Now just give a password to your user root or you won’t be able to login:

passwd root

Add the backuppc public ssh key from the backup server to /root/.ssh/authorized_keys on the restore machine.

Finally accept host key on the backuppc key (you may do this by entering on the backuppc server and access the restore machine, it will ask you to had the machine key. Just accept it.) Then copy it to the backuppc user know hosts file ex.:

tail -n ~/.ssh/known_hosts >> ~backuppc/.ssh/known_hosts

Finally your done. If you find this large and complicated don’t think it’s like that, by now you may have configured and entire ssh daemon by hand.

Go to the BackupPC console, choose your host, select the backup you want and just press restore.

On the method choose rsync but on the destination dir choose /mnt. Go out and take a coffe the restore can take a while. After it’s done all you need is to reconfigure grub and maybe /etc/fstab.

Now that the restore is done just check if /mnt/etc/fstab reflects the partition scheme, change accordantly if it doesn’t.

Finally we need to setup grub edit /mnt/boot/grub/menu.lst and check if your root partition is on the right place.

Before you can run grub-install you need to mount 2 special partitions /dev and /proc, how do you do this on a mounted and running system? The answer:

mkdir /mnt/proc; mkdir /mnt/dev; mkdir /dev/sys

mount -o bind /proc /mnt/proc

mount -o bind /dev /mnt/dev

chroot /mnt

and finally the last command:

grub-install /dev/sda

if you got and ok just reboot your system, don’t forget to eject the dvd before system boots again.

I think this was my largest post, hope you find it useful

Cheers,

Pedro Oliveira