Gentoo Linux on new HP dv8000z

November 27, 2005 at 07:16 PM | categories: linux | View Comments

My employer was kind enough to buy me a new laptop last week. It's a brand new HP dv8000z. I struggled over the Thanksgiving holiday to install Linux on it. This laptop is VERY new. It wasn't even on HP's website a couple of days prior to when it was ordered. Now, if you've ever installed Linux on brand new hardware (and a laptop at that), you'll know that it can be quite challenging. So, as I wasn't able to find anyone else that detailed how to install Linux on this new laptop, I thought I would chronicle my successes (and failures) thus far.

My first attempt to install anything on it was Kubuntu 5.10 'Breezy.' It got all the way through the installation and it came up to a KDM login screen at the full monitor resolution. You can't beat that! However as soon as I entered my username and password the system was locked hard. I rebooted into console mode and did a 'startx' .. resulting in a very similar lockup. I messed around with the Xorg.conf file for a while but I finally gave up.

Ubuntu is one of my favorite distros. Everytime I have installed it, it Just Works. This is the first time I've seen it malfunction so horribly. On my desktop machine I run Gentoo (athlon XP). I promised myself that I would only run Gentoo on one machine (hey my time is money and Gentoo requires a lot of it compared to Ubuntu). However I started to think 'Okay.. this laptop is brand new.. bleeding edge... what else is bleeding edge? Well that's Gentoo..' So I started with a stage 3 tarball for amd64 (2005.1-r1) and got a minimal console-only installation before I left for my parents house for Thanksgiving.


I am running gentoo-sources-2.6.14-r3. Many people have emailed me who are having problems with 2.6.15 versioned kernels. I have not done any testing of it myself. However, judging by the number of emails I've been receiving on this topic, there does seem to be an issue. I would suggest using gentoo-sources-2.6.14-r5 (as r3 isn't in portage any longer). One user has reported success with hardened-sources-2.6.14-r3 as well. My .config file for 2.6.14-r3 is below in the Miscellenious section.


After installing Xorg 6.8.2-r4 I tried running 'xorg -configure' ... this was pretty bad: it configured everything but it only detected the graphics as a VGA card at 640x480 and 8bit color. I had compiled my kernel (2.6.12) with all the radeon support I could find, so I thought I would try to force the 'radeon' module. X just exited saying 'no device found.' So it seemed to me that the Xorg driver knows nothing about my Radeon 200M. I found that I hadn't installed the latest Xorg (6.8.2-r6).. so I upgraded. Same deal. I also found I hadn't installed the latest kernel (2.6.14). So I did that. I installed the official (closed source) ati drivers fglrx and played around with that for a while. This seemed to do something. The screen went black but didn't do anything after that. The hard drive LED was blinking though so it seemed as if X was actually starting up GNOME. Disabling direct rendering fixed that problem. So, now I have Xorg running with full 2d acceleration at 1680x1050 resolution but no 3d acceleration (glx is still enabled, but it runs with Mesa. glxgears runs at about 400fps). So it's probably an issue that will get resolved as ATI releases new drivers, or Xorg or the kernel gets upgraded. I'm moderately pleased for the time being.

Here is my Xorg.conf (No 3D, Look below for one with 3d acceleration)

UPDATE 01/11/05: I just got DRI working! In the BIOS set "UMA+Sideport" and 128M of shared video memory in the video preferences, and then uncomment the "Load 'dri'" in xorg.conf (line 74 in mine) (Thanks Levent!). glxgears now runs at 1264.600 FPS, which is a good improvement!

Here is my Xorg.conf with 3d acceleration

Graphics part2: External VGA

This laptop has an external VGA port on it. This allows you to do several things utilizing two displays. I don't really have a use for Xinerama as I normally use two computers connected with Synergy instead, although this laptop will do Xinerama just fine.

What I did want to be able do though was to take my laptop into my living room and hook it up to my television (which has VGA input) and watch some movies that are on the laptop's hard drive. The problem is this: In order to display movies at decent frame rates, video players use a feature of the video card called an overlay. On the ATI Radeon Xpress 200M, they do not support overlay on the secondary display. So although I was able to get the laptop to display on my TV fairly easily, if you try to play a video, all you'll see is a big blue screen. If you turn off the overlay feature completely, then video plays, but is very choppy.

The solution is to make the external VGA port the primary display instead of the secondary one. This can be accomplished by editing your xorg.conf file. This is the relevant change:

Change from this:
Option "DesktopSetup"               "(null)"
Option "DesktopSetup"             "0x00000001"

What that will do is when you start X it will turn off the laptop's LCD and initialize the external monitor as the primary display, this time with the overlay feature enabled.

I connect my laptop to a Viewsonic N3250w HDTV. It has a native resolution of 1360x768 which the Radeon 200M will happily display.

Here is my Xorg.conf optimized for the N3250w

I then have two files in /etc/X11. 1) my xorg.conf which is my normal setup just using the laptop's LCD. 2) my xorg.TV.conf which I use to display on my television.

I don't use a display manager so I normally use 'startx' to start X-windows. To display on the TV, I instead type 'startx -- -config xorg.TV.conf'


The wireless card in this laptop is the Broadcom BCM4318. This works with ndiswrapper. You need to download the 64 bit windows driver for this to work. I lost the link where I downloaded this, but here is a local copy

Just do the following:
tar xfvj Broadcom-BCM4318-64bit-windows-driver.tar.bz2 
cd Broadcom-BCM4318-64bit-windows-driver
emerge ndiswrapper
ndiswrapper -i BCMWL5.INF
modprobe ndiswrapper

Synaptics Touchpad

Although, the touchpad kinda works, it really freaks out occasionally. The movement is always fine, but clicking on things sometimes takes multiple times to get right or quits working completely. I'm using an external mouse now exclusively which works fine. I really should attempt to get this working properly as it's a pain when I don't have a mouse handy.

This appears to be working just fine. However it's configured right now as a generic PS2 mouse. This means that the scroll area of the mouse is still not working, which might be nice to have work. There is a Synaptics driver that I should look into at some point. I'm not terribly motivated to do so because I almost always plug in an external mouse anyway.


This Just Worked. The laptop has an ATI IXP AC'97 sound card. I enabled the ATI IXP chipset in the ALSA section of the kernel configuration. That was about all there was to it.


It took a while but this laptop is starting to really shape up. Here are some of the best things about this laptop:

  • 17" screen (1680x1050 resolution). I can bring up 4 non-overlapping terminals on the screen and still have room left over. Bliss!
  • Room for TWO 120 GB hard drives. I have 80GB in there right now with a 100GB on the way.
  • a full keyboard including a number pad!
  • AMD Turion64 2.2Ghz processor. This was pretty powerful.. In hindsight I could have easily done a stage1 tarball on this thing in not too much more time.

If anyone out there is configuring Linux on this laptop and is either having problems or has found a solution to one of my problems, go ahead and make a comment on this article (or email me if you prefer). I'll do the best I can to assist (or be gracious)!


My 2.6.14 Kernel configuation

The output of lspci and my /proc/cpuinfo

My make.conf

Here's some screenshots (click the image for the gallery):

dv8000z GNOME 1 dv8000z GNOME 2
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