Installing SUSE on laptops

I have over the years installed a couple of SUSE distributions (well, SuSE, SUSE, openSUSE, or maybe sUSe…) on my laptops: Compaq M300, Dell X200, and IBM X60s.

The latest iterations were SUSE 10.1 on the IBM and Dell, from the factory DVD. Both worked like a charm – I installed the Dell using a network-based install, slick), blue function keys worked, some initial hibernate features on the IBM between two kernel revisions soon resolved themselves, and I even managed to install the fingerprint reader on the IBM. Upgrading the mini-PCI card on the Dell from the original 802.11b-only one to a newer 802.11b/g one (Intel ipw2200) worked like a charm – the drivers and firmware were already present on the SUSE 10.1 install, reboot, and it found the new wireless card immediately – Windows XP did not, I had to first download the driver from the Intel site.

But what is still frustrating is that this kind of what I consider stellar performance on the SUSE 10.1 install … crapped out on me again when going to openSUSE 10.2 on the Dell. OK, maybe it is related to the fact that (i) I upgraded to 10.2 instead of the fresh install I did of 10.1 and (ii) I used the web repositories at instead of the bought DVD, but they are supposed to be equivalent procedures. But:

  • the function keys no longer work – a minor annoyance, but just hitting FN-Suspend to hibernate has become second nature, and if it works once, it should not stop working…
  • the wireless card no longer works. This is a MAJOR annoyance, because I actually did install the ipw-firmware package that is supposed to handle that. Except it doesn’t. The logs (which Linux newbie would go there…) show that it is looking for firmware that is not present in that package. Now I (probably) know how to solve that – a newbie user would not, but again, that is feature-regression that should not occur.

I’ll update here once I get it working, but this experience with the Dell (my fallback/reserve/throw-away laptop) prevents me from going the same route on my IBM (my work-and-must-have-working laptop). And that’s not how it should be.


  1. Lars Vilhuber - 14 January 2007 @ 13:45

    Well, the wireless card now works. It turns out that this must be related to the upgrade feature. Despite having as install sources the OSS and non-OSS repositories, the installer did not upgrade the (previously installed) ipw-firmware package, despite a newer version being available. The newer driver looked for a non-existent firmware, and failed. Upgrading the Intel firmware package solved that problem.

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