I have been working with Ubuntu 7.04 “Feisty Fawn” for a while now and love it. I ran into a bit of a snag upgrading the Averatec 3700 notebook, though. You could probably do a distribution upgrade of a properly working Ubuntu 6.10 by popping the Ubuntu 7.04 Live CD into the CDROM drive while running the old version and following the prompts. I like a nice clean new install.
When I tried to install Feisty by booting from the Ubuntu 7.04 Live CD, I discovered the Live CD now runs the network manager applet by default. As I have mentioned in the past, the rt2500 wireless network adapter and the network manager applet don’t seem to play nice unless you have the option “DisableIRQ” in the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. As a result the system starts up very slowly. So slowly that it appears to be locked up.
To solve my problem I downloaded the “Alternate” Ubuntu 7.04 install CD and selected the first option “text install”. It isn’t as pretty as the graphical install but since it doesn’t use the network manager applet there is no freeze up during the initial startup of the “Live CD”.
At the end of the install it prompts you to remove the install CD and restart. This is the important part. I needed to somehow edit the /etc/X11/xorg.conf and /etc/network/interfaces before the newly installed feisty starts up for the first time. I could have used the old Ubuntu 6.10 LiveCD to start the machine up and edit the needed files. Instead I used DSL (Damn Small Linux) (which boots up nice and quick) and I always keep a copy nearby.
After starting up DSL, I mounted the drive I just installed Feisty on (using the mount tool on the lower right corner) and used my favourite text editor to add option “DisableIRQ” to /mnt/hda1/etc/X11/xorg.conf:
(hda1 depends upon which drive and partition Feisty is installed on)
Identifier “VIA Technologies, Inc. S3 Unichrome Pro VGA Adapter”
After saving the changes I then had to add the magic to /mnt/hda1/etc/network/interfaces to get the rt2500 to talk to my wireless access point:
iface eth0 inet dhcp
iface ra0 inet dhcp
pre-up iwconfig ra0 essid yourssid
pre-up iwconfig ra0 mode managed
pre-up iwpriv ra0 set Channel=11
pre-up iwpriv ra0 set AuthMode=WPAPSK
pre-up iwpriv ra0 set EncrypType=TKIP
pre-up iwpriv ra0 set WPAPSK=”your wireless key”
pre-up iwpriv ra0 set TxRate=0
I commented out the auto eth0 by putting a # in front of it and added auto ra0 because most of the time I use the wireless network with my notebook. I put my real ssid, the channel my wireless access point uses and my real wireless key in the appropriate places and saved the file.
Remember it is wise to use the full 63 character WPA key since it is the best way to reasonably ensure the integrity of your wireless network (WEP is not secure). A good place to get a nice random key is from the Gibson Research Corporation (GRC) “Perfect Passwords” generator. Once you have a nice key copy it to a USB flash drive and transfer it to those machines that need it. It is really hard to write and type it with accuracy and I don’t even try anymore.
So now after shutting down properly and restarting without the DSL CD in my drive I have a fully Feisty Averatec 3700 notebook talking to my wireless network and protected by WPA encryption. There is some bad news. The network manager applet doesn’t seem to be working as I would like it to. I really like network manager and will see if I can get it to operate normally. Probably just need to futz with my /etc/network/interfaces file a bit.
I also apologize to newer linux users out there since I have glossed over some concepts that will lose them. This is harder than it should be, there is a bit of a learning curve.
** Update – I noticed a walk through several months ago on the unofficial averatec support forum (broken at the moment) and thought it too daunting to replace the memory or hard drive. Too many ways to mess up when opening the case of a laptop. http://www.larwe.com/technical/av3715-open.html