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Red Hat Linux on an HP Pavilion ze4100 Notebook - Graphics Configuration Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Wednesday, 07 January 2004 22:12
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ATI Radeon XFree86 Graphics

The HP ze4000/ze5000 notebook series uses an integrated ATI Radeon graphics system (Radeon IGP 340M for the Intel processors or Radeon IGP 320M for Athlon processors). These systems (collectively called radeonIGP) have Radeon mobility video adapter characteristics. However, the AGP for all these notebooks is provided by an ATI Northbridge that is part of the main system chipset (also ATI). Until recently the AGP has been unavailable because Linux kernels didn't recognize the agpgart provided through the ATI Northbridge.

Versions of XFree86 prior to 4.3.0 have difficulty recognizing the Radeon graphics chips on the ze4000/ze5000 series notebooks. XWindows will however run at 1024x768 resolution with 24-bit color on the ze4100 using the VESA framebuffer driver. (See XF86Config-vesa file.) This gives acceptable graphics performance for routine work, but nowhere near the performance available from the ATI driver under Windows XP, and nowhere near the performance I would want for serious molecular visualization. It is also possible to force any of the XFree86 4.x versions to use the radeon driver by setting the ChipID to a standard Radeon Mobility M6 chip in the /etc/X11/XF86Config file:
    Section "Device"
    Identifier "ATI Radeon Mobility M6"
    Driver "radeon"
    VendorName "ATI Radeon Mobility M6"
    BoardName "Radeon Mobility M6 LY"
    ChipID 0x4c59
    VideoRam 32768
    BusID "PCI:1:5:0"
    Option "AGPMode" "4"
    Option "noaccel"

A better solution is to patch XFree86 4.3.0 with the experimental radeonIGP driver patch and then rebuild XFree86. This gives significantly improved performance (see 4.3.0 XF86Config file).

Recently patches have become available to allow working hardware 3D acceleration on Radeon IGP 320/330/340M systems. The procedure for doing this is somewhat complicated, but the results are very satisfactory. For a 2.4.23 kernel, the necessary steps are as follows: Configure and build the kernel with radeonIGP agpgart support. Then patch and build a recent branch of the XFree86 cvs tree ( or later). Next transfer the radeon.o module from the XFree86 build to the kernel modules tree. Finally alter the /etc/X11/XF86Config file to use the radeon driver with acceleration (see current XF86Config file). A slightly more detailed description of this procedure can be found in comment 260 at the patch site above. This is the X setup I now use.

Gnome 2 Menus

In general I have found both Red Hat 8 and 9 to be productive working environments. However, the absence of a menu editor for Gnome 2 combined with quirky locations for menu files in Red Hat 8 and 9 make for a big headache! For those of you still in the dark about how to edit Gnome 2 menus under Red Hat 8 or 9, the *.menu (menu architecture) files are located in the /etc/X11/desktop-menus directory; the *.directory (individual menu) files are located in the /usr/share/desktop-menu-files directory; and the *.desktop (menu item) entries can be found in several different directories that are listed as includes in the *.menu files. You can edit these files or create new ones using any text editor. The Gnome 2.0 Desktop System Administration Guide also helps.
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