Thursday, October 9, 2008

Changing One Person at a Time

Today, i have a mission to accomplished, related to Slackware. One of my student got frustrated because he couldn't get his Ethernet card and W-LAN devices recognized by the OS on his Toshiba laptop. With his skill, i'm sure that he won't have any problem installing Linux, so i know that the problem was not on his skills. He already tried Fedora 9, Ubuntu 8.04, OpenSuSE 11.0 and everything failed.

So my journey today started by installing Slackware 12.1 on his laptop. Installation phase was no big deal, as i can finish it up in less than 20 minutes (he got quite a good spec of laptop). Next, i started to check the main system. Everything works just fine, except for those two he mentioned above (Ethernet card and W-LAN device). I checked dmesg and found nothing on it.

My first attempt is by recompiling the kernel. I compiled, the latest kernel available currently with some hope that newer kernel will be able to detect that devices. No problem on the kernel installation, but it ended with kernel panic at the end worried. I hacked the fstab and lilo.conf but still no luck. So i reverted it back to the original configuration and i had to find another way.

Finally, i decided to use Slackware's huge configuration kernel and use it as a base for the's configuration. There were lots of questions i had to answer since those kernel were quite different in number of features. I recompiled it and voila.... it boots nicely big grin. But still the Ethernet card and W-LAN devices were not yet detected.

I checked lspci results and found that his card was Marvel's, so i find the driver from the Internet and found one of them which worked and in just few minutes later, the Ethernet card was detected. One problem solved. Next challenge was the W-LAN device. At the beginning, i didn't know the chipset, since it's not on the dmesg list. I checked on lsusb and i found Realtek. I googled and i found a site which contain a modified Realtek source code with some patches for Kernel 2.6.24 and above. I tried the file and it worked. Finally, he can enjoyed his W-LAN device on Slackware.

Beside that, i also installed Slackware on my other student's laptop. This time, it's ACER and everything works out-of-the-box. Sound, USB, W-LAN, everything works. He's very happy to replace his Mandriva installation with Slackware big grin