Linux on a Compaq Evo N410c laptop

May 2007

So its a bit late in the day to be buying a Compaq Evo N410c, but I wanted a very portable and cheap laptop. These are available 2nd hand at good prices..

Config: 1Ghz P-III, 256Mb RAM, 20Gb hdd, Docking base with CDRW/DVD and floppy.
BootNo issues. I set mine up to boot to level 3 because I don't believe in XDM.
ScreenWorks fine. I'm running fvwm because its small and fast and much neater than gnome/kde on a low spec machine. Anyway, gnome and kde look and feel far too much like bloated M$-windows stuff to me.
The only issue I have seen is that X can get into a mode where when it flips back to the VT's, they dont work and just slowly fade to white like the display controller is toasted.. Switch back to X and all is OK.
ACPISeems to work. The cpuspeed stuff seems to slow the CPU.
Suspend/HibernateWorks fine. The gnome power manager and hal stuff all works really well. Sadly you can't run it under other window managers (Grrrrr..). The direct /sys suspend also works so I use that. If anyone knows of a WM independent (or command line) hal frontend, I'd really appreciate it.
External video portsUntested
TouchpadWorks out of the box. I added the extra magic to the /etc/X11/Xorg.conf file to disable "taps". See below for detail. I still find it hard to believe anyone would invent such a daft idea..
EthernetWorks out of the box
SoundDoes work (at least a bit)
ButtonsCan't see most of the Fn functions, though the Fn-NumLock does work.
There are 4 extra buttons (probably meant to be info/home/zoom/mail) that can be mapped to something useful if needed, see below
Docking basePlugged into the docking base it all works. I have a floppy in one bay and a CDRW/DVD in the other. As yet I have not tried plugging and unplugging, but I don't expect it to work.

Windows partition

It came loaded with M$-Win 2k on NTFS. Can't imagine what I might want it for, but I thought it might be worth leaving it lying around. Web searches were surprisingly unhelpful. However its easy. All you need is Qtparted with ntfsresize and as you would expect, its all on the Knoppix disc. Boot Knoppix and select QtParted off the system menu. Squeeze it as far as you want. [I used a Knoppix 5.1 disk]

Fedora Core 6 install

Having squeezed my M$-Win bits to 3500M, I partitiond with "/"=6400M, swap=1024M and "/home"=8000M
I split the root and home space because for the usage I have in mind, I don't want to worry about it getting lost/stolen so I'll encrypt the whole data partiton.

Installed FC6, did a few general install customisations to loose some of the junk (eg evolution) thats normally installed and add a few things I use. Initial reboot came up Ok, went through the final configs and then got stuck. Cursor arrow in middle of screen just flashes ever few seconds.. I *hate* xdm. No way out. Ctrl-Alt-Del, Ctrl-Alt-BS, Ctrl-Alt-Fn all didn't work.. Hit the power switch on the right side of the unit.. Wierdly it shutdown cleanly and powered off! Hit it again and we re-booted This time it booted to a login screen that worked.

DIY suspend

Its as easy as...
echo mem > /sys/power/state
You can also do suspend to disk with
echo shutdown > /sys/power/disk ; echo disk > /sys/power/state
Its pretty klunky, but did work.

Synaptics touchpad and Taps

You need something like this in your /etc/X11/Xorg.conf file to disable all the extra functionality of the touchpad..
Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier  "Synaptics"
        Driver      "synaptics"
        Option      "Device" "/dev/input/mice"
        Option      "Protocol" "auto-dev"  
        Option      "Emulate3Buttons" "yes"
        Option      "TouchpadOff" "2"   
        Option      "RTCornerButton" "0"
        Option      "RBCornerButton" "0"
        Option      "LTCornerButton" "0"
        Option      "LBCornerButton" "0"
        Option      "MaxTapTime" "0"


I needed to do
amixer set 'PC Speaker' on
to get the speaker to work.

Button mapping

I need to play more, but here is a quick hack to get the info button to do something. Map the keycode (It looks like the code needs to be below 128 unless you rework the keysym table too) using setkeycodes. The code you need to map you should see logged in your /var/log/messages file and dmesg.
setkeycodes e023 126
Then I loaded xbindkeys
yum install xbindkeys
Then use xev to work out what keycode X sees when you press the button. In my case it came out to 116.. So I created a .xbindkeysrc with
and the ran xbindkeys. Now if I press the button, I get an xterm.


A point in passing the standard xlock/xlockmore seems to be broken and fails to cope properly with shadow passwords. Once you lock the screen, you can't unlock it.. As an alternative, use xscreeensaver which does work properly.

Latest Notes

I've recently heard from Sebastian Spieszko that the TV-Out works ok on Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Hedron) using Fn+F4. You need to connect the TV before powering the TV on. I've not verified it because I'm not on Ubuntu but it may be useful to know.