HP 2133 and Linux - Strange Happenings

Well, this is about as strange as anything I have ever seen on a computer. I have mentioned in a couple of my write-ups on the HP 2133 Mini-Note that the display sometimes worked initially after Linux installation, but then stopped working when the Broadcom WiFi driver was installed.

Well, this is about as strange as anything I have ever seen on a computer. I have mentioned in a couple of my write-ups on the HP 2133 Mini-Note that the display sometimes worked initially after Linux installation, but then stopped working when the Broadcom WiFi driver was installed.

The problem seems to be more common than I thought. I had seen it only with Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha, and only when installing the Broadcom STA drivers. At the beginning of this week I heard from someone else who had a similar problem, but with PCLinuxOS 2009.1 and the Broadcom B43 drivers. Then today I ran into the same problem with Fedora 10 and the Broadcom B43 drivers. Grrr. Time to dig a little deeper.

After a lot of scratching around, it looks to me like this is a BIOS problem of some sort. Examining the Xorg.0.log file, I found that when the wireless driver wasn't installed, the X server was able to determine the LCD panel resolution from DDCv1, but when the Broadcom driver was installed, it doesn't get the resolution that way, and it then goes on to get an incorrect value (1366x768) from the scratch pad. Now, exactly what the wireless driver has to do with this I don't know...

Fortunately, the problem can be avoided by adding a line to the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file:

Section "Device" ... Option "PanelSize" "1024x600" ... EndSection

This is certainly not an "ideal" solution, because basically what it is doing is telling the X server not to try to determine the LCD panel size, just take our word for it. But since the LCD panel is attached to the computer, there's not much risk that it is going to change.

jw

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