Gentoo on a Phillips Freevents X52

May 28th, 2007 5 comments

My old laptop was very nice and powerful but had one problem when using it for work. It weighted close to 4kg in its bag with the power adapter. I never did any 3d graphics work on it anyway so I decided I needed a new lighter laptop.

After looking around for ages I finally found one that was perfect… at PC World… I know! I normally don’t touch PC World machines but this machine was perfect. There’s a page here on the X53 which as far as I can tell is exactly the same. The specs of the machine are…

  • Intel Core Duo T2050 Processor 1.66GHz
  • 667 MHz FSB
  • 1024 MB RAM
  • 80 GB Hard Drive
  • DVD ReWriter MultiDrive
  • 12.1″ Widescreen Display (1280×800)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home
  • 224MB Intel GMA950 Integrated Graphics
  • 1.85kg
  • 802.11 a/b/g Wireless
  • About 4 hours battery life

…and all for the price of £799.99. I haven’t been able to find a small laptop this light and powerful for anywhere near that price. One of the first things I did was try and get gentoo running on it. Here’s some notes on how to do it.

Note: This is still a work in progress.

Initial Install

I installed the system following the Gentoo Handbook using the gentoo 2006.0 install CD. I used an i686 stage 3 release. Gentoo seems to have an issue with the network card in this laptop (see below) so to boot up the system from the install CD I had to press Ctrl-C when the PCI Coldplugging text appeared. This stops it from loading the network driver and it continues booting. I then had to use a USB network device to complete the install.

My CHOST and CFLAGS are…

CFLAGS="-march=prescott -O2 -pipe -fomit-frame-pointer"


I currently have almost everything working under gentoo. I’m currently running gentoo-source-2.6.21-r2 and am only having trouble with the MMC reader.

To build the kernel I just used genkernel with the –menuconfig option so I could change kernel options. I also disabled creation of bootsplash images but that’s just a personal preference. There were a number of options I changed in the kernel to get things working. They were…

# Set Processor Information
Processor type and features
	Processor family = Pentium M
	Preemption Model = Preemptible Kernel

#set SATA controller (I believe it's Intel ESB,
#ICH, PIIX3, PIIX4 PATA/SATA Support that is needed
#but I enabled all of them to make sure
Device Drivers
	Serial ATA and Parallel ATA drivers
		ATA device Support = M
		All SubOptions set to M

#Linux currently has issues with the network card and
#the MMC Reader, here we disable the MMC Reader.
Device Drivers
	MMC/SD Card Support
		Secure Digital Host Controller Interface support = N

Gentoo seems to have an issue with the network card in the laptop. lspci gives…

01:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Unknown device 4222 (rev 02)
03:04.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+ (rev 10)

So for the ethernet controller it should require either 8139cp or 8139too. However when the 8139too module is loaded the whole laptop freezes up. After a lot of playing I finally figured out how to get it working. You need to enable the following sections in the kernel configuration

#To fix it enable PIO and RX-reset options, not sure which it is
#but it works with both enabled
Device Drivers
	Network Device support
		Ethernet 10 or 100Mbit
			Realtek RTl-8129/8130/8139 PCI Fast Ethernet = M
			Use PIO instead of MMIO = Y
			Support for uncommon RTL-8139 rev. K = Y
			Support for older RTL-8129/8130 boards
			Use older RX-reset method

I have managed to get wireless working on this laptop. Previously I managed to get NetworkManager working fully with the wireless but recently it has stopped working. However I can still get it to connect to un-encrypted WAPs from the command line so it is probably just NetworkManager.

Gentoo comes with drivers for the wireless card. All you need to do is…

emerge -a net-wireless/ipw3945

and that will handle all dependencies. You may need to disable or enable some sections in the kernel but they are easy to find. Obviously when you upgrade you kernel you will need to reinstall this package.

Power Management
To get power management to work correctly I followed the instructions in the Gentoo Power Management Guide. The modules I had to add to /etc/modules.autoload.d/kernel-2.6 were…

  • speedstep-centrino
  • ac
  • battery
  • button
  • container
  • fan
  • processor
  • thermal
  • video
  • cpufreq_conservative
  • cpufreq_ondemand
  • cpufreq_powersave
  • cpufreq_stats
  • cpufreq_userspace

Taking Apart the Intellimouse Explorer

September 16th, 2006 3 comments

For ages I’ve been using a Microsoft Intellmouse Explorer. It fits my hand perfectly is smooth to use and has two button on the side just where my thumb is. These are perfect for driving bikes and aircraft in GTA, switching to different weapons in FPS’s or just going back and forward through the history of my browser. I know other mice have these buttons but I’ve never found one that fits my hand so perfectly.

About a month ago the middle mouse button started getting a bit didgy… sometimes it wouldn’t work at all othertimes it would register a couple of click resulting in tons of tabs opening under firefox. I started trying to find a replacement but cannot find any mouse that works as well. I decided to have a look at taking it apart and giving the mouse a good clean, I ended up having to resort to looking on the internet for instructions to taking it apart and all I found were postings for people trying to find a post by “johnny5dm” that explained how to take it apart. I finally managed to find the post in the reviews of the mouse on The post can be found here but I’m going to repeat the instructions here just in case it gets deleted.

  1. Pry the pads off the bottom of the mouse using a knife
  2. Under each pad you’ll find a small screw, undo all of these and the top will come off easily

So simple yet I never thought of taking the pads off. I’ve now cleaned the insides of my mouse out and all is good in the world. All buttons are responsive and I don’t have to worry about finding a new mouse.


Knights of Cydonia

July 20th, 2006 2 comments

Not only is Knights of Cydonia the best song on Muse’s Blackholes and Revelations but it has the pleasure of being the best-video-ever-devised-ever-thats-what-I-call-really-good-music-video!!!!

For your entertainment and general rocking outness I youtube… Knights of Cydonia US Video!!!!

Hat tip to The Triforce.


New Host

July 6th, 2006 Comments off

After having numerous issues with csoft I’ve now moved my hosting to a different hosting company. If you can see this the website is now on the new host and everything should be groovy! If you come across any issues just either use the comments box or use the submit news link.


Eurovision Song Contest

May 22nd, 2006 Comments off

I don’t normally watch the Eurovision Song Contest and when I do it’s usually for Terry Wogans sarcastic comments (and he was on fire this year), however this year I watched a bit of it, not a huge amount just the last 4-5 songs however I did see the run-down of all the entries… now normally Germany have the crazy entry but this year they were out shone by the Finnish entry, imagine Metallica being fronted by Klingons (film klingons not the men with moustaches from TOS) and your pretty much there. Caroline and I both agreed that it would be great if they won but started watching Deserate Housewives and thought no more about it…

Well guess what? They went and won… and not by a small amount… they won by 44 points!

So I’m gonna link another YouTube video just because they rocked!


SuperMassive Black Hole

May 22nd, 2006 2 comments

Muse are one of my favorite bands, I’ve seen them live tons of times and bought virtually everything they’ve put out so when I heard that people had heard the first single of their upcoming album needless to say I was quite excited about having a listen myself.

People had warned me it was quite a bit different to their usual stuff, more pop-ie, more funky and with Matt singing in a high-pitched voice for most of it… they weren’t wrong! After my first listen I wasn’t sure about it… It still had Muse elements but was significantly different from their other stuff. Matt had said before Absolution that their music was becoming more like ABBA but luckily Absolution was pretty dark and apocolyptic (the Iraq war had some plus points). This song might be what he was talking about.

I’ve now listened to it a couple of times and its got better and better with each listen… I’ve had the main chorus stuck in my head for hours, and whilst I hope the new album is more rocky than this song I think it will make a great first single. It’s certainly more radio friendly.

The video is below… have a listen… and then another and then make up your mind… just beware… the video is quite creepy!


I feel my luck could change….

March 28th, 2006 Comments off

I saw this last week on BBC News but have been so busy with my international jetsetter life I just haven’t had a chance to blog it (yes I am now a blogger, but only because someone else has called me so).

Radiohead Singer snubs Mr Blair!! Now the basic story is that Thom was preparing to go talk to Tony but got “freaked out” when he started talking to the spin doctors… basically he was worried the whole thing would be engineered by the Spin Doctors so Blair would hear what he wanted to hear. I’m not saying Thom is lying, we know he’s not exactly renowned for his un-paranoid-ness (new word alert), however I’m wondering if Thom had planned this all along… a form of Self Fulfilling Prephecy! Proof??? You want Proof??? OK… how about…

I’m on a roll,
I’m on a roll this time
I feel my luck could change.
Kill me Sarah,
kill me again with love,
it’s gonna be a glorious day.
Pull me out of the aircrash,
Pull me out of the lake,
’cause i’m your superhero,
we are standing on the edge.
The head of state has called for me by name
but I don’t have time for him.

It’s gonna be a glorious day!
I feel my luck could change.
Pull me out of the aircrash,
Pull me out of the lake,
’cause i’m your superhero,
we are standing on the edge.
We are standing on the edge.

– Lucky, OK Computer


Trapped In The Closet

January 20th, 2006 Comments off

I mentioned earlier the South Park episode Trapped In The Closet, the basic story is that Stan goes to a Scientologist Personality test center and the Scientologists believe that Stan is the re-incarnation of their founder L Ron Hubbard. At one point in the episode Tom Cruise turns up at Stan’s house (coz he’s a big Scientologist freak… errr follower) and asks him what he thinks of his acting, Stan tells him he’s “OK” but doesn’t think he’s as good as Leonardo DiCaprio or Gene Hackman, so Tom decides to lock himself in Stans closet (cupboard for UK readers). What follows is basically 20 minutes of Stan, Nicole Kidman, R Kelly and John Travolta asking Tom Cruise to come out of the closet and Tom refusing to admit that he’s in the closet…. clever? No. Funny? Hell Yeah!

However it seems Tom Crusie doesn’t find it quite as funny as I did. He’s threatened Paramount with a law suit if it ever gets shown again, which unfortunately means that it will never be shown in the UK. This isn’t a huge surprise since Tom has repeatedly sued people for claiming he’s gay.

Unfortunately the episode is incredibly easy to find on any file sharing system so I implore people not to go looking for it, and not to download it and not to find it incredibly funny. Because that would just be wrong!


Foxcasts and 24…

January 19th, 2006 1 comment

So the new series of 24 has started… I’ve watched the first 4 episodes and its pretty good… the show has never been as good as Season 1 and probably never will, I’ve accepted that and just enjoying watching Jack go on his rampages.

However if you can’t watch the show for some reason… not shown in your country… don’t have the fox channel…. don’t own a TV… you can still catch up on 24 with foxcasts. These are podcasts of the episodes (and other shows) however rather than actually getting to see the show you have to listen to an annoying guy describe the scenes… its quite amusing to listen though I’m not sure how many people will be following 24 this way…

Update: Just had another look and noticed they have a lot more than 24 on there… you can listen to annoying guy describing… American Dad, Arrested Development, Family Guy, Bones, House, King of the Hill, Malcolm in the middle, The OC and The Simpsons.


Feeling Stressed???

December 15th, 2005 1 comment

You know how when you’re queuing at a cashpoint you try to make it obvious you are not looking at the person currently getting money out? Well today I was doing just that, having a good look at all the property above shops and noticed a sign saying “Free Stress Test” in one of the windows. Could this really be what I think it is??? On the way back I had a closer look and lo and behold in one of the other windows was a sign saying “Free Personality Test” and behind that some books piled up with “Dianetics” written on their side. Yes ladies and gentlemen we have Scientologists!!! w00t!!!

So above Packards Leather shop, just opposite Woolworths, we have the Church of Scientology! To fully understand Scientology you could read all of the wikipeida entry on it… or you could just watch the South Park Episode Trapped in the Closet… the latter is much more entertaining and the former is just there to clarify that (regarding Scientology) the South Park Episode is pretty darn accurate…

Could it be that I have been stressed and depressed this whole time and never knew??? I might just have to go have a free Personality test…