HP 6515b Laptop BT3B Workarounds (incl. ATi X1250 Graphics)
[edited to add details about its embedded WiFi and Bluetooth]
First, I'm a n00b with BackTrack, and a near n00b with Linux (especially Slackware). I've dual-boot installed and used OpenSUSE 10.3 /x64 on a desktop box, but only as an end-user for general computing. BackTrack looks to be an extremely powerful set of tools, all in one place, and having a bootable LiveCD (or DVD) is brilliant.
I have an HP 6515b which has the following:
- Turion dual-core micro
- ATi Xpress 1250 graphics with 1280x800 display
- PCIe Broadcom 4321AG a/b/g/n WiFi (4328 Rev3 chipset)
- Embedded Bluetooth (Broadcom BT 2.0)
- Fingerprint Scanner
- CD/DVD-RW combo optical drive
- Cardbus (PCIMCIA) slot
- Flash Memory Card Reader (SD-MS/Pro-MMC-XD)
I used the USB download, and after modifying the make_iso.bat file to correct the directory paths in it, I created an ISO image and burned it to a DVD. Even though it's intended for USB flash drive, it the make_iso.bat can be used to make a bootable DVD. Issues I found with BT3B:
- Ati Xpress 1250 graphics
- PCIe 4321AG a/b/g/draft-n WiFi with Broadcom 4328 Rev3 chipset
- Embedded Broadcom Bluetooth 2.0
- Keyboard Button Strip (turns WiFi on/off, adjusts audio volume/mute, etc.)
- Fingerprint Reader (alternative to typing in an O/S user name/password)
Had to make several bootable DVDs before working out exactly what was needed. After a few DVD+R coasters I started using a DVD+RW (which the laptop will boot from) until I got something that worked
First and most important issue before proceeding much further was getting the graphics working to get to the GUI. BT3B won't boot completely into the GUI shell, but dumps out at a local root command prompt (bash). Took me a while to solve the graphics problem. I found no less than three different "ATI.LZM" files cruising around trying to find one that would work. The one here doesn't load as a module (it's broken). The second and third didn't work with the X1250 graphics. Still got dumped out to the command prompt at the local root. None of are usable with ATi's Xpress 1250 graphics chipset Finally, after digging through FAQs and Release Notes on ATi's portion of the AMD web site, I concluded the X1250 (and likely many other newer ATi graphics) needs ATi's proprietary Linux drivers. Using their "Driver Finder" takes you to the newest release, version 7.11 proprietary ATi Catalyst Linux drivers, which is a unified driver package. However, in reading the release notes, there were two cautions that advised using version 8.40.4 proprietary ATi Display drivers (note the name difference), and from its release notes, it appears they cover more ATi graphics chipsets than the 7.11 Catalyst drivers. I downloaded both, which are ".run" files, and won't load like LZM modules. They must be put in the "copyroot" directory before creating the ISO file. From there, they can be executed from the command prompt (using a "../" in front of the file name. I found the 7.11 Catalyst drivers worked, but not very well. The 8.40.4 driver set works quite well. Renaming the file to something much shorter (e.g. "ati.run") makes it much easier to type at the command prompt. No need to do an "aticonfig" command at all either, just execute "startx" and the GUI shell comes up perfectly.
Now if I could only get the ATi driver install to auto-run during bootup, before X attempts to start and dumps out at the command prompt. That's where I'm a real n00b with Linux. Any suggestions that are very simple to implement would be appreciated. I don't want to try to build an LZM (unless that can be done within WinXP), create a dual-boot out of my laptop, or rebuilding major pieces of BT3B. I expect ATi graphics will continue to be a problem with the newer chipsets requiring the proprietary Linux drivers, and I suspect if the 8.40.4 unified driver set could be embedded, most (if not all) of the problems with newer ATi graphics would be solved.
Broadcom 4321AG PCIe WiFi:
I didn't expect BT3B to work with this card for a couple of reasons, and BT3B didn't even find the card (as if there's no WiFi at all). Even the Linux tools for WiFi managment acted as if I'd pulled the card completely. The Broadcom 4328 Rev 3 chipset isn't supported by anything I'm aware of (e.g. Kismet or Aircrack-ng), and don't know if it's capable of injection. Everything I've found for SUSE, RedHat and Ubuntu reference using NDISwrapper or attempting to use fw-cutter. Furthermore, HP (and Compaq) also use the notorious BIOS "whitelist" of VEN_ID, DEV_ID and SUBSYS_ID. In the case of this PCIe card:
If it isn't one of several HP/Compaq cards for that specific model laptop in the PCIe slot (that's on the BIOS "whitelist"), the machine won't even complete POST, halting with the famed message to remove whatever card is in the slot. Hacking the HP/Compaq Phoenix BIOS is also quite tricky with significant risk of "bricking" the laptop. The workaround for this is to use the Cardbus (aka PCMCIA) slot on the side with a Cardbus WiFi that is supported, preferably one with an antenna jack on it. A Proxim gold card with Atheros chipset is being shipped to me. Should have it in a couple days.
- SUBSYS_1366103C ("103C" = HP)
Embedded Broadcom 2.0 Bluetooth:
Like the internal WiFi PCIe card, this is also unrecognized by BackTrack. The WinXP PnP and drivers give no clue as to which chipset it is, just that it's a Broadcom Bluetooth 2.0 connected internally to a motherboard USB chipset:
I presume "2.0" refers to the new high speed Bluetooth. This isn't a Big Deal either, not for me, as I've no plans to use BackTrack's Bluetooth tools. May matter to someone else. The obvious workaround is getting a USB Bluetooth with a supported chipset and using that.
Keyboard Button Strip:
Didn't expect this to work either, and it doesn't. No big deal. The devices it controls can be controlled using other means within Slackware.
Nope, doesn't work, and care even less about this than the Keyboard Button Strip! It is kinda cool using a fingertip when logging on to WinXP versus typing in a password, but entirely unnecessary for BackTrack.
Last, but not least, the SoundMAX integrated audio does work as evidenced by the short GUI startup and shutdown music. Wanted to pass on what does/doesn't work with HP's 6515b, and the workarounds to get the essential hardware for BackTrack running. Most important was getting the ATi Xpress 1250 graphics working properly.