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2009 December 5 [Saturday]

LAN on Ubuntu

Thanks to Broadcom not supporting libre software, wifi with bcm43xx drivers used to be an issue ...see http://bcm43xx.berlios.de/ and http://linuxwireless.org/en/users/Drivers/b43. Earlier, ubuntu 8.10 brought out networking issues on my laptop which worked flawlessly in one city (Bangalore) but suddenly even a wired connection failed. Kinda odd to have no Lan but no  jumping loops for wi-fi drivers because in recent versions of Ubuntu (8.10 onwards) the device driver hardware was detected automagically. After loading Ubuntu (a clean install once in 2 years is better than an upgrade), the user has the option to activate a non-free drivers for Broadcom wi-fi cards so device drivers dont have to be manually loaded now. I cant recall if its from the ugly set of plug-ins and hence less supported.   Anyway, the The ethernet cable would detect a direct connection in Vista but not in my Debian and Ubuntu installations. Time to wade through a list of "lan not working in Ubuntu" bugs for every other laptop model and there was another kernel bug filed but that was an issue I faced in ver 8.10 and before. A few minutes of experimenting and wading through help forums didnt help the LAN detection problem. Then I checked /etc/NetworkManager/nm-system-settings.conf

[main]
plugins=ifupdown,keyfile

[ifupdown]
managed=false

and changed the above value to "true" and then "sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart" solved the lan problem.

2008 April 20 [Sunday]

HP-Compaq hardware quality takes a hike

The HP saga of woes continues ....... After insisting that an international warranty means it is one, the service centre amid chants of "best effort basis", "we dont support out-of-country purchase you know" , etc... replaced the faulty motherboard with another faulty one and when this was pointed out to be a display (bios?) problem, they insisted in giving the typical brush-off :- "It is a linux problem" ... hmpf !! According to the HP-enginners, "Linux" was the cause of all my hardware issues. Yeah, right! What that actually means is, "We know zilch about Linux AND dont want to solve the real hardware problem (read replace faulty parts within the warranty) so here is the modus operandi we employ:

1] Delay till the warranty period is close to the end period.

2] If not, delay and grumpily replace the MotherBoard with another faulty one (i discovered that no quality checks were done before replacing it.)

3] Somewhere down the line it will go kaput and voila... there is your business opportunity to take half the cost of the laptop from your customer. This is the best way to be in perpetual business.

IMHO, mumbai's dabbawallah's know what Quality is all about and deliver it with almost zero margin errors.

Well, by now I'd been arguing till I was blue in the face and was inside the secret cave (Its a restricted area where no outsiders are allowed, and only select HP employees have special cards to go in) and was not leaving unless they took a good look at the motherboard problem. Finally the technical head came down and his face brightened up on seeing Linux and i showed him the display problem. He accepted that it may be an incompatible chipset and sent it for observation. It was surprising to note that HP service centres dont even have a testing mount for this model - I was told the standard excuse - your laptop was an out-of-India purchase. So what? Why cant HP provide them with basic infrastructure like testing mounts for each MoBo and chipset model. Before replacing parts no quality testing is done. The bubble-wrapping around the MoBo is removed and hardware is screwed onto the machine. No quality testing or quality checks to see if the replaced hardware could be faulty or not.... that sucks bigtime ! Meanwhile another engineer told me the centre manager fired him for accepting (telling me) that there is a hardware problem with the Motherboard.
The typical reply one keeps hearing is "will only support Windows". Heck i didnt ask you to support Linux but dont blame a hardware issue on Linux. Just because the HP customer service centre is outsourced (...for almost all hardware sellers actually) and you need to generate revenue (understandable) dont be _only_ concerned about making money at the expense of the customer.

2008 April 1 [Tuesday]

libre laptop

Hmm... I've been lazy about bragging about this : The OS free laptop that I had helped load Ubuntu was sold within that week. How cool is that !!

I cant take any credit for the sale as it was the efforts of the sales person there, but knowing  that i contributed indirectly to the sale makes me feel warm inside. Breaking down pre-conceived mindsets was not easy and the sales guy did a good job of selling it. His manager informed me that they were pleased enough to pre-load all the machines with it. Now I need to mail him the Ubuntu-AMD cd's :)

I wish more machines would be sold with _linux-inside_ (tm?) in India. Go experiment, Be different!

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