Debian GNU Linux (Sarge) on HP Omnibook XE3 Laptop

Featured link of the year: TuxMobil - Linux on laptops, PDAs and mobile phones


This document contains some hints about the Hewlett Packard Omnibook XE3-GC laptop (product number F2116W). There are also other pages about XE3 laptops, just go to TuxMobil. I will not cover all details about this laptop and things like kernel compiling, see the other pages for this.


I used Knoppix 3.2 to install Debian GNU/Linux via knx-hdinstall. After that there has to be finetuning for converting Knoppix to Debian. Starting from Knoppix 3.3 you can also use knoppix-installer and before that you can alter your partition table with qtparted. But, if you try to resize partitions, make sure to backup all your important data such as mail-folders, address books, MP3s etc.. before you start.
Here is my harddisk layout, there is no hibernation partition anymore, you should keep it though. I added another 500MB after some time, to have one big partition of 4GB should be better.

/dev/hda1   *           1         737     5919921    b  W95 FAT32
/dev/hda2             738         801      514080   83  Linux
/dev/hda4             802        1222     3381682+   f  W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/hda5             802        1201     3212968+  83  Linux
/dev/hda6            1202        1222      168651   82  Linux Swap


lspci says:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corp. 440BX/ZX/DX - 82443BX/ZX/DX Host bridge (rev 03)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corp. 440BX/ZX/DX - 82443BX/ZX/DX AGP bridge (rev 03) (prog-if 00 [Normal decode])
00:04.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI1420
00:04.1 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI1420
00:07.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corp. 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 ISA (rev 02)
00:07.1 IDE interface: Intel Corp. 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 IDE (rev 01) (prog-if 80 [Master])
00:07.2 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 USB (rev 01) (prog-if 00 [UHCI])
00:07.3 Bridge: Intel Corp. 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 ACPI (rev 03)
00:08.0 Multimedia audio controller: ESS Technology ES1988 Allegro-1 (rev 12)
00:08.1 Communication controller: ESS Technology ESS Modem (rev 12)
01:01.0 VGA compatible controller: S3 Inc. 86C270-294 Savage/IX-MV (rev 11) (prog-if 00 [VGA])

02:00.0 Ethernet controller: 3Com Corporation 3c575 [Megahertz] 10/100 LAN CardBus
is a PCMCIA card.


For networking I use a 2nd handed PCMCIA card from 3com since this laptop only includes a winmodem (ESS Technology ESS Modem) which is really difficult to get working and can crash your machine often. So you are better off buying a cheap external modem if you want to use a modem.


In order to get the soundcard (ESS Technology ES1988 Allegro-1) working, you should choose maestro3 in ALSA or OSS.

Using Touchpad and USB mouse at the same time

For this you should edit /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 and modify it like that:

Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier     "XFree86 Configured"
    Screen      0  "Screen0" 0 0
    InputDevice    "Keyboard0"  "CoreKeyboard"
    InputDevice    "PS/2 Mouse" "SendCoreEvents"
    InputDevice    "USB Mouse"  "CorePointer"

Section "InputDevice"
    Identifier  "PS/2 Mouse"
    Driver      "mouse"
    Option      "Protocol" "auto"
    Option      "ZAxisMapping"          "4 5"
    Option      "Device" "/dev/psaux"
    Option      "Emulate3Buttons" "true"
    Option      "Emulate3Timeout" "70"
    Option      "SendCoreEvents"  "true"

Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier      "USB Mouse"
        Driver          "mouse"
        Option          "Device"          "/dev/input/mice"
        Option          "SendCoreEvents"  "true"
        Option          "Protocol"        "IMPS/2"
        Option          "ZAxisMapping"    "4 5"
        Option          "Buttons"         "5"
        Option          "Resolution"      "255"
        Option          "SampleRate"      "500"

You can middle click with the touchpad by pressing both buttons at once.

Using FAT-formatted Floppy Disks

For this I use the mtools package so you don't have to worry about unmounting.
In /etc/mtools.conf should be a line saying:

drive a: file="/dev/fd0" exclusive

Then you can access the floppy disk by typing floppy:/ in Konqueror's address bar. Of course you can also use mdir a: etc. on the command line.

Using an USB stick

mkdir /usbstick

Add the following line to /etc/fstab:

/dev/sda1  /usbstick   auto    noauto,user 0   0

The first two entries may be different for you. Now you can mount the stick by typing:
mount /usbstick.
I prefer using an automounter.

Using LIRC to control MPlayer

If you want to control MPlayer with an infrared control you can follow these instructions:
Enter the BIOS before booting by hitting F2. Then you go to System Devices and enable the Infrared Port in SIR mode and 2F8 IRQ3 (or any other and adjust modprobe parameters accordingly) address.
In Linux you better create the following devices and give write access to the group. Maybe you want to change the group to something like lirc and put certain users in it.

mknod /dev/lirc c 61 0
mknod /dev/lircd c 61 0
chmod g+rw /dev/lirc*
chgrp lirc /dev/lirc*

Then you should install the LIRC package. In order to use it, first you propably have to prevent the serial kernel module from claiming the infrared port. Then you can load the module and start the lirc daemon:

setserial /dev/ttyS1 uart none
modprobe lirc_sir io=0x02f8 irq=3
lircd -d /dev/lirc -H default

In /etc/lircd.conf is the conf file of your remote control. Get one (before starting lircd) at or create your own one with irrecord. Also you must have the file ~/.lircrc. You should change the values for button= according to your /etc/lircd.conf. If MPlayer is compiled with lirc support: ./configure --enable-lirc then you should be able to control MPlayer with your remote control.

For better MPlayer performance you should also do this as root at boot time:
echo 1024 > /proc/sys/dev/rtc/max-user-freq

Future releases of emovix will have support for this laptop and an old hauppauge remote control. You can easily add support for your own remote control. The boot argument will be REMOTE=haupsir.

Author: Jochen Puchalla 2004-09-13
(check the email address!)