News from the Poulsbo front

So, two interesting pieces of news from the Poulsbo front.

First, hopeful indications on the driver development front. Phoronix presents it fairly negatively, but the key thing here is that Intel guys are actively working on providing the driver in a form that's generally usable: that's clear from the discussion. Reading between the lines, they seem to be planning to provide the existing messy and partly closed source driver in a form that will be usable on something beyond just Ubuntu 8.04 in the short term, and in the long term, rewrite the driver so that it's fully open source.

Secondly, thanks to a hot tip in the comments to my original post, I've actually got native resolution display on my Vaio P now. That's the good news. The bad news is that it's still slow, and somewhat tricky to configure.


Forget about uvesafb and all that crap. Adam Jackson has the goods, as usual. He poked me on IRC and asked me why I hadn't just figured out why the plain vesa driver wasn't given native resolution, which was a good question that I didn't have a good answer for - should've been the first thing I did when I booted it. It turns out to be a classic issue: DDC/EDID probe of the monitor fails, so it falls back on default vertical/horizontal refresh range values which are too low for the native resolution (1600x768) to be considered valid. Probably you could fix this just by the good old-skool method of hand-coding the appropriate values into the xorg.conf file. However, for Fedora users, it's even easier: there's an updated package (xorg-x11-drv-vesa-2.2.0-3.fc10) coming to Fedora 10 updates soon. That has a fix which gets the panel size by a different method when DDC probe fails, and that solves the problem on the P. So with that package installed, the P will give native resolution with the vesa driver, no messing about.

Thanks to Adam!


mattdm wrote on 2009-03-20 15:45:
Awesome! How is performance at that resolution with this driver?
adamw wrote on 2009-03-20 15:55:
It's not noticeably different from running at 1024x600 (or whatever you get without the patch, I forget). i.e., it's slow, but not unworkably so, it's fine for doing normal stuff like email and web. You wouldn't want to try and watch a video or use the webcam, though.
pabr wrote on 2009-03-25 08:35:
xorg-x11-drv-vesa-2.2.0-3.fc10 is now in F10 updates. Thank you (and Adam) for the tip ! However I am still stuck with a dark LCD backlight after resuming from suspend, both in X and in text consoles. This is on a stripped-down Fedora 10 + yum update. Apparently other users with the same setup do not have this problem. Can anyone help figure out what is needed to get the LCD backlight to work ? ACPI kernel parameters ? Laptop-specific RPMS ?
pabr wrote on 2009-03-26 00:35:
OK, backlight works when I use /usr/sbin/pm-suspend... I hadn't realized that ACPI had become so quirky over the years and that "echo mem > /sys/power/state" didn't cut it anymore :-) Neither /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/bl_power nor /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness nor /proc/acpi/video/GFX0/DD04/brightness have any effect. Backlight power is apparently restored by "vbe post". The next challenge will be to adjust brightness from Linux.
adamw wrote on 2009-03-26 03:16:
Oh, right, yeah. I tend to do things the 'proper' happy-clappy clicky way - I suspend via gnome-power-manager (usually just by closing the lid, which I have set to suspend the system automatically). I think some patches just went into the Rawhide kernel that might do something for the brightness.
kevinbrighton wrote on 2009-04-12 19:16:
I was moments away from ordering a Mini 12 before reading this blog on the chipset issues. Do you think it's work getting one and staying with Ubuntu 8.04 until the drivers are sorted out, or holding off in case it never is? I used to use Linux all the time about 10 years ago, so I'm not so much new to it all, just out of touch.
adamw wrote on 2009-04-13 14:53:
If you can find a system you'd like equally which doesn't use the Poulsbo chipset, I'd really really recommend going with that. There are other cheap 12" net/notebooks around. If you really really want to go with the Mini 12, then using 8.04 (with the tips from that forum thread to get the NBR driver installed and working) is workable, but a bit of a pain, and will become increasingly painful as 8.04 becomes less cutting edge. Intel developers *are* working to get a usable general-purpose driver made available, but I don't yet know what the likely timeframe is on that. Last I was able to divine from the discussions on various mailing lists, they're currently attempting to come up with a fairly simple, entirely 2D driver to circumvent the problem with more advanced features relying on closed source code.
mangoo wrote on 2009-04-20 09:29:
What other 12 inch laptops/netbooks are there? Dell's mini 12 aside, I only found Samsung nc20, which is only sold with Windows. And certainly, I'm not going to pay this tax.
adamw wrote on 2009-04-20 15:03:
ah. sold without windows is tougher. No others spring to mind in the same price range, I'm afraid. You could get one off eBay, then the tax has been paid already anyway...
mangoo wrote on 2009-04-21 20:38:
Oh well. I ordered Mini 12. Let's see if it's as bad as they write ;)
mangoo wrote on 2009-05-16 21:49:
I just received my Dell Mini 12 lately. However, I'm not able to get resolutions bigger than 1024x768 (native is 1280x800), when I tried to install the latest pre-release of Fedora 11 (which contains vesa 2.2.0 driver). xrandr for Ubuntu that comes with mini 12 shows resolutions: 1280x800, 1280x768, 1024x768, 800x600, 640x480. Fedora only shows 1024x768, 800x600, 640x480. Any special trick I'm not aware of?