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HP Omnibook XE3 GF and Debian GNU/Linux

Document History
Partitioning the Harddrive
Installing Debian Woody with Linux 2.4.18, 2.4.2[01], 2.6.0-test[45]
Ubuntu Linux
The Bootloader
Framebuffer and LILO
Omnibook Kernel Module
Serial Port USB dongle
Multiple streams with "esd"
Software Suspend
Hardware Upgrades
HP's support


Omnibook XE3 GF

This page describes my experiences with the HP Omnibook XE3 GF (F3888H) notebook, from a Debian Woody / Linux user's point of view.
Update: I meanwhile updated to Debian Sarge, as the XFree86-version 4.2.1 available there has native accelerated support for the I830M graphics chipset.

Document History


CPU: Mobile P3 1GHz
RAM: 256 MB RAM (see Hardware Upgrades)
Disk: 20 GB IBM Travelstar IC25N020ATDA04-0 (see Hardware Upgrades)
Display: 15" XGA TFT
Video: Intel i830M
Sound: ESS Technology ES1988 Allegro-1
Modem: ESS Technology ES2838/2839 SuperLink Modem
DVD/CD-RW: Toshiba DVD-ROM SD-R2102



Partitioning the harddrive

Installing Debian Woody with Linux 2.4.18, 2.4.20, 2.6.0-test[45]

Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu Linux is a really great Debian-based Linux distribution. I've decided to give it a try as soon I had heard about it -- and have been working with it since!

The installation on the HP Omnibook XE3 GF was as easy as can be, and as far as I remember, everything has worked out of the box -- even querying the ACPI system for the battery status ;) ...
(The only thing I haven't tried yet is the omnibook kernel module (which should enable the hot-keys). And I'm currently using the default boot manager GRUB, which I haven't tried to get to work with the Hibernation-partition yet...)

The only notebook-related thing that should really be enhanced is that, as soon as the notebook runs on battery power, the harddrive is spun down too early, which results in constant power-down & power-up sequences ... (This most probably has to do with the "powernowd" that is run by default under Ubuntu ...)
And of course there's always the suspend-to-disk-issue ...

Here's my Ubuntu related page....

The Bootloader

Framebuffer and LILO



First of all: Here is my current XF86Config-4. <03-12-04>

Omnibook Kernel Module

Serial Port USB Dongle

I received the following mail from Sasa Stevanovic (here's the website of Sasa Stevanovic) explaining how to use the serial port USB dongle:

[...] I noticed you didn't mention serial port USB dongle;
it does work and works great.  The one that shipped with my laptop had a
HP label, (model number?) MT608-2, (serial number?) 214287.  It had
Windows driver but the diskette had "FTDI" on it; this donlge is supported
with ftdi_sio driver.  The kernel may not include this module so
compilation may be necesarry (USB Support/USB Serial Converter Support/USB
FTDI Single Port Serial Driver (EXPERIMENTAL)), with first selecting
"Prompt for development and/or incomplete code/drivers" in "Code maturity
level options".  After loading the module ftdi_sio, the serial port is
/dev/ttyUSB0.  Verified it works with 2.4.18 kernel.

Many thanks again for this information! :)


If you want to use the four additional "Onetouch" keys (except the sleep-key which doesn't work for me as I can't determine a keycode for it), you can install linEAK:

1. Omnibook Kernel Module:
Get it working and check that the onetouch keys are enabled ("cat /proc/omnibook/onetouch").

2. Install lineakd:
apt-get install lineakd

3. Edit /etc/lineakkb.def by adding the following section:

#### HP Omnibook XE3 (4 keys) ####
  brandname = "Hewlett-Packard"
  modelname = "Omnibook XE3-GF (4 keys)
   mail           = 236
   www            = 178
   arrow          = 244
   help           = 243
# end HP Omnibook XE3-GF

4. Create ~/.lineak/lineakd.conf:

# LinEAK - Linux support for Easy Access and Internet Keyboards
#  Copyright (c) 2001,2002 Mark Smulders < Mark@PIRnet.nl >
#  http://lineak.sourceforge.net
# lineakd configuration file
# example key configuration:
#       play    = "xmms --play-pause"
#       eject   = EAK_EJECT
# available special actions:
#       EAK_EJECT
#       EAK_VOLUP
#       EAK_MUTE
#       EAK_SLEEP

# LinEAK Configuration for Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro USB
# (generated by lineakconfig)

# Global settings
KeyboardType            = HPXE3
CdromDevice             = /dev/cdrom
MixerDevice             = /dev/mixer

# Specific keys of your keyboard
mail                    = "/opt/sylpheed/bin/sylpheed"
www                     = "/opt/mozilla_start-this_max"
arrow                   = "multi-gnome-terminal --use-factory --start-factory-server"
help                    = "EAK_MUTE"

# end lineakd.conf

5. Start lineakd:
Open an xterm and start "lineakd". Your keys should work now and do what you configured them for in your lineakd.conf.
Finally, add "lineakd" to your Gnome-startup-sequence to have it being loaded each time you enter your desktop-environment.

99. Add-Ons:
In order to detect the onetouch-keys' keycodes, run xev, move your mouse-cursor into the new window and press the keys one by one.
If the onetouch keys were disabled, you can enable them by executing "echo 1 > /proc/omnibook/onetouch".
A description for your normal stand-alone PC can be found here.
Be careful: Whatever commands you configure your add-on keys to run will be executed even if you locked your screen! So mind to not use these buttons with any kind of security or privacy related stuff!

Multiple streams with "esd"

The sound chip ("ESS Technology ES1988 Allegro-1" according to lspci) or the Linux driver or both only support one source of sound at a given time.

If you want to be able to play several things at once (e.g. play music and hear your instant messanger's notification sound), you can e.g. use "esd - The Enlightened Sound Daemon". This seems to be GNOME2's preferred sound daemon and is quite well integrated into the GNOME2-configuration, so use the config-tools to activate ESD at startup.

To get your applications use esd, set it as the output device:

Software Suspend

I haven't tried it yet, sorry, but I'm placing a link here so I don't forget and will try in the (near) future. :)

Update - 06-08-18: While "Hibernation" for some reason does not work, Ubuntu 6.06 LTS's "Suspend to Disk" works perfectly fine now... :)

Hardware Upgrades

Replacing the Harddrive

I've successfully replaced the original harddrive IBM Travelstar IC25N020ATDA04-0 (20 GB, 4200 rpm, 2 MB cache) with a Toshiba MK-6022GAX (60 GB, 5400 rpm, 16 MB cache).
The reason for doing this was that the old HDD simply became too small and too slow - and I can tell, the new drive is really fast compared to the old one. :-)

If you wanna do something like this on your own too: Here's HP's description on how to install/upgrade the harddrive. If the link is broken, mail me and I'll send you a copy of it.
But mind: While - besides this 60 GB installation - I also know of a successfull installation of a 40 GB HDD in another HP Omnibook XE3-GF, this notebook officially only supports up to 30 GB harddrives!
(Mind furthermore: The howto is for the XE3-GC actually, but I couldn't find anything that wouldn't match the GF.)


Upgrading the RAM

I used a 256 MB RAM SO-DIMM PC133 144pin Kingston CL3 memory, placed it into the free slot at the bottom of the notebook - and there it was: 512 MB RAM, with an installation as easy as can be.

HP Support


This Heise-article lists some HP notebooks that the company offers full Linux support for. HP therefore uses a specifically adapted Ubuntu Linux version.

Intel Announces the PowerTOP Utility for Linux: "What's eating the battery life of my Linux laptop? ..."

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last modified: Tuesday, 23-Feb-2010 15:42:12 UTC