Asrock ALiveNF6G-VSTA sound issue with Ubuntu Precise

Ubuntu precise is sometime unsettling at best. Audio won’t work with my old ALiveNF6G-VSTA. It used to be the reverse on Linux: old hardware would work, new hardware not always. Ubuntu Precise changed that altogether: old hardware isn’t working, and new hardware isn’t working either.

ALiveNF6G-VSTA(m)
ALiveNF6G-VSTA motherboard. Photo courtesy of Asrock

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Linux Kernel 3.6 is here

I had to upgrade a Pangolin Precise to Linux 3.6 to issue a bug on Linux Vs my Logitech mouse.
So far I can say:

  • Nvidia_current 295.40 fails to build module in 3.6.0 amd64 (I suspect it would also on i386) Solution: install nvidia-current 304.51 from ubuntu xedgers. Works out of the Box.
  • Vmplayer VMware Player 4.0.2 build-591240 builds effortlessly (we no more breack havoc with Vmplayer on any major kernel issue…).

Installing mainline kernel is easy, and apart from disturbing Nvidia the new kernel just stays beside the stock kernel, having a different ABI namespace.

Nvidia proprietary legacy drivers and Ubuntu: go to 96.43.19

Upgrading to 10.10 broke the nvidia-96 drivers on my tc1100 tablet with the error:

dlopen: /usr/lib/xorg/extra-modules/nvidia_drv.so: undefined symbol:
miEmptyData.

during Xorg startup.  Unfortunately I have to stick to nvidia-96 (legacy drivers) as my tablet has an nVidia Corporation NV17
GeForce4 420 Go 32M in it.
If you experience this error, you’ll better switch briefly on the driver ‘nv’ (just copy the xorg.conf aside, and make a new one with the proper nv configuration) for the moment, waiting for the new package to come out. I can’t stick to the nv driver as it apparently doesn’t work with xrandr -o (left right and all…) so rotation does not longer work on my tablet.
Nvidia has already issued a fix in a new driver but it’s not already been packaged.

32 bit:ftp://download.nvidia.com/XFree86/Linux-x86/96.43.19/
64bit:ftp://download.nvidia.com/XFree86/Linux-x86_64/96.43.19/

You may fix your problem using the .run package without waiting for the binary ubuntu package.

I upgraded the Ubuntu package to 96.43.19 and sent it to the Ubuntu maintainer for consideration.
I’ve some doubts on some checks in the rules file so I’m not relasing the relevant .deb at the moment, after hearing from the mainteiner I expect to fix thing (if necessary) and then I’ll upload them to the ubuntu repository queue.
If you are willing to test the .deb anyway, please comment and ask.  Everything looks good at the moment, but I cannot assume they will not play some weird trick on your system.

Update: there’s the maintainer version on maverick-proposed updates.

New hardware, new problems

I recently got some new hardware, and as you can immagine, some issues.

Disclaimer: I describe some procedures and link to an external website. I will be not responsible for damages caused by the operations described. I will be not responsible for the external site content or damages caused by the operations described in the external website. I you don’t feel confident, seek expert advice. These operations may cause unrecoverable data loss. Please always do a backup.

For once, I got a larger hardisk and for 30E a cheap passsive cooled ASUS Nvidia EN8400S Silent.  Not such a good idea, with my crowded case.

After a lot of random  hard freezes (usually after 5 or 10 of minutes) , drivers attempts,  and when thinking about OS reinstallation, I thought about a little run on Linux. The thing freezed at the boot. Now you know, Linux is especially forgiving with failed hardware, so I started to think about a broken video card. At least I didn’t reinstall the thing.
Then I realized the problem was the passive cooling, and another card too close to the video card passive cooler. Took out the card, switched on the PCI fan (I used to have one), and now it runs flawlessy.
I cannot use my card anymore, no farther spare PCI slots, but who cares. I used it sparingly anyway. I would not say to buy a passive cooled vga card.  I had to put a pci fan anyway,  so why bother?
The disk swapping was easier, and I avoided reinstalling. First of all I made a good backup (who knows).
First, I used backtrack3 to boot the PC by USB Pen. It’s easy, just extract the .iso to the pen and click on the .bat in the boot/ directory. It will install an MBR on the USB stick, and if your mobo support it, it will boot from there. Or you can burn and use a cdrom, if you prefer. Any linux distro that provides the following tools will do fine, AFAIK.
I copied the partition table from the original disk (hda) to the new disk (sda) which is much larger (5 times larger).
sfdisk -d /dev/hda|sfdisk /dev/sda
I just needed the system partition, so actually used cfdisk /dev/sda to delete the other partitions. You probably don’t need this step, and moreover, you can always do it later.
For good measure, I rebooted, and back to Backtrack3, I used dd to copy JUST the mbr (not the partition table!) to the new disk.
I copied the MBR to the new disk:
dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/sda bs=446 count=1
and then the system partition content:
dd if=/dev/hda1 of=/dev/sda1
I can be a very slow operation, go and get a beer.
After this, I took out the old hard disk and it worked flawlessy on the first try.
Then I used XP to create the data partition and to move non-system data on the new disk.
Here you will find an interesting guide to hard disk swapping and MBR management.