Acer T180

This is my office desktop system. It is a dual-core Athlon 4200+ 2.2GHz system with 560GB SATA disc (now 660GB, see below) and 2GB memory. This system was purchased in April 2007 to replace the "Time Machine".

Strangely, this system sometimes hangs when doing software installs with portage. This behaviour persisted after upgrading to KDE-4.3.3. It seems tha tKDe doesn't like emerge and the crash indicated problems with Knotify. It has also had a number of problems with SATA disks. It is also un-predictable whether a ps2 mouse or a usb mouse will work after reboot, but that might have been an error in the xorg.conf file.

Updating to KDE4

After the work on my Acer Ferrari 4000 laptop (see separate page) I bravely decided to update my office desktop machine.

So go ahead and do "emerge --sync" and see what you get. Its also preferable to do "emerge linux-sources" and compile the kernel which is offered.

Now "emerge -uDN system" but note that a lot of things have changed. You may well get remnants of KDE-3.5 floating around in there (such as kde-base/arts-3.5 which now no longer exists, so remove arts from the /etc/make.conf file). After a bit of hunting I found a Gentoo bug report which mentioned using dev-utils/lafilefixer. Run "lafilefixer --justfixit" to get rid of any ebuild errors which refer to the no longer used .la libtool files. At this point you're also supposed to do a "revdep-rebuild", but this failed for me (it worked later after some more updates had been done).

Now you should be ready to emerge the modular xorg-x11. Actually I did all this in the wrong order, so it took several iterations. To do this it is recommende to remove the earlier version, but this is not completely necessary. So do "emerge xorg-server". Now when you try to use it you will get into a huge problem with the old drivers. This is because the ABI (Application Binding Interface) has completely changed. You will have to re-emerge all the installed drivers and driver sets, but there is no simple package ebuild to do that. You'd also better remove any you don't actually need. Fortunately you can use a trick which also does a one-shot emerge so that the drivers are not added to portage world dependency tree:

emerge $(qlist -C -I x11-drivers/) -1av

Now you should be able to start a simple X windows session. However I ran into another problem. I had already done an emerge of kde-base/kdebase-startkde which pulled in kde-4.2.4 packages before I realised that the xorg-x11 was so different. This meant that I now had HAL installed (Linux Hardware Abstraction Layer for hotplug devices). You might not want it, but I now had it anyway. So when I started up X I had no mouse of keyboard available. Fortunately I had another PC with a working browser and found an obscure note about this issue. It can be circumvented either by using the new hal evdev drivers or by using the traditional generic mouse and kbd drivers but add the 'Option "AutoAddDevices" "false"' to the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file as follows. "man xorg.conf" explains the syntax.

Section "ServerLayout"
        Identifier      "X.Org Configured"
        Screen  0       "Screen0" 0 0
        InputDevice    "Mouse0" "CorePointer"
        InputDevice    "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"
Section "ServerFlags"
        Option "AutoAddDevices" "false"

Some useful commands

"eselect profile list" list which portage profiles are now available, then select the one you want, such as "default/linux/amd64/10.0/desktop".

"emerge $(qlist -C -I package/) --unmerge" will remove all installed packages from set "package".

"dispatch-conf" is a quick way to update all changed conf files after a big install.

"eselect python list" lists which pythons you've got installed. You can switch between them. Choose 2.5 or 2.6 (not 3.1 unless you're a python developer) and run "python-updater" to fix dependencies.

"gcc-config -l" is a bit like "eselect gcc" which doesn't exist. Pick the latest version and then bootstrap, I.e. re-compile libgcc, then re-compile gcc, then re-emerge and re-compile everything else by doing "emerge -eav system" and then "emerge -eav world". Good luck!

Output of lspci

Linux 2.6.20-gentoo-r7 #9 SMP Fri Dec 7 11:37:39 GMT 2007 x86_64 AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4200+ AuthenticAMD GNU/Linux

System hardware (using 'lspci') is:

00:00.0 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation MCP61 Memory Controller (rev a1)
00:01.0 ISA bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP61 LPC Bridge (rev a2)
00:01.1 SMBus: nVidia Corporation MCP61 SMBus (rev a2)
00:01.2 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation MCP61 Memory Controller (rev a2)
00:02.0 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation MCP61 USB Controller (rev a2)
00:02.1 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation MCP61 USB Controller (rev a2)
00:04.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation Unknown device 03f3 (rev a1)
00:05.0 Audio device: nVidia Corporation MCP61 High Definition Audio (rev a2)
00:06.0 IDE interface: nVidia Corporation MCP61 IDE (rev a2)
00:08.0 IDE interface: nVidia Corporation MCP61 SATA Controller (rev a2)
00:09.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation Unknown device 03e8 (rev a2)
00:0b.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation Unknown device 03e9 (rev a2)
00:0c.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation Unknown device 03e9 (rev a2)
00:0d.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation Unknown device 03d1 (rev a2)
00:18.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] HyperTransport Technology Configuration
00:18.1 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] Address Map
00:18.2 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] DRAM Controller
00:18.3 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] Miscellaneous Control
01:06.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8169 Gigabit Ethernet (rev 10)
01:09.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments TSB43AB23 IEEE-1394a-2000 Controller (PHY/Link)
03:00.0 Ethernet controller: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. Unknown device 4364 (rev 12)

Dual Booting with Vista

Firstly, ensure "un-born" Vista is correclty installed with no interruption. This took around 1 hour. Burning the backup CD took around 1 hour.

Secondly, you cannot re-partition a Vista disc using Linux tools. I was fortunate that on the original 160GB SATA disk Acer had created Vista boot and system partitions, but left 80GB as a data partition. Go into Vista, ensure this partition is empty and remove it. Linux can then be installed into this empty partition leaving Vista to its own devices (quite literally).

Memory Upgrade

This was a bit scary as the system refused to boot with memory from 2x different vendors, neither 3GB nor 4GB worked despite being balanced across the 4x slots. I believe other people have experienced this problem. It currently runs with 2GB memory.

Network Interface

The on-board ethernet inferface failed after a few months. This was replaced by a gbit/s card which now appears on eth2.


The first 400GB SATA disk from Western Digital never worked, the system would not boot. I tested it in another system and the same problem. A second one was purchased which worked fine, but failed after approx 1 year. The system now has a 500GB WD SATA disk and an external 800GB Maxtor fireware disc for backups, which seemed like a good idea.

CPU Frequency Scaling

Yes, you can do this on a desktop PC. The BIOS does support it, but the kernel configuration needs to be set to 'powersave' rather than 'performance'. Use 'ondemand' for the 'userspace' governor and k8-powernow driver.

A useful place to look for information is /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/ where you can see the available frequencies and what driver and governor are being used by ACPI.

In addition to the kernel setting, you also need to enable the ondemand governor as follows:

emerge cpufrequtils
/usr/bin/cpufreq-set -g ondemand 

The cpu frequency should now vary on demand. This system supports states of 1GHz, 1.8Gz, 2GHz and 2.2GHz.owev

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Topic revision: r9 - 22 Jan 2010 - RobAllan
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