Nokia Booklet 3G: linux considerations

November 12, 2009 at 1:05 pm 16 comments

This post will be more technical (not really much) and probably appeals only for Linux users.

So enough of disclaimers and let’s get to the details. The booklet runs an Atom z530@1.6Ghz (L2 512KB cache), has 1GB of RAM (more than enough for linux), 120GB HD (8MB cache), Atheros AR928X wireless (yes, it sucks), Intel GMA 500 (a.k.a. Poulsbo) graphics (bad, I will get into it later), bluetooth 2.0, 1.3Mp webcam, a 1280 x 720 display (10.1″), HDMI output, an accelerometer and a 3G internal modem.

I installed Karmic on it and everything (even the internal modem) worked out of the box with the exception of the graphics. The GMA 500 has a sad story of bad drivers for Linux and the sin of requiring to install a binary blob with the firmware. Fortunately, after following this and this, I got it to work with the native resolution (1280×720), pretty good 2D performance and somewhat half-good OpenGL (special thanks to my friend Thiago Santos who have already faced the same problems with an Acer netbook and provided good suggestions)

The modem was a really pleasant surprise, NetworkManager was able to correctly configure it with a Claro (local brazilian provider) simcard and work in no time (but I heard some reports that it might freeze if you insert and remove the simcard in hot-plug way, I’ve not tested really). It also may depend on you firmware version, so if you are bitten by this it may be worthwhile to use ‘cu’ and execute the AT command (at+cgmr) to inspect the firmware version (mine is 2.9.4.11Hd)

The wifi card is still problematic, whenever I try to transfer any bigger amount of data through (e.g. copying a 1GB file from my media server) in a short time period, it will drop the connection and make the whole system unstable. Maybe someone reading this may have suggestions to workaround the ath9k driver and make it work happy?

The battery life is impressive, I got around 6 hours while playing XviD movies (720×480@30fps, mp3 audio) with both bluetooth and wifi turned on at same time (cpu usage around 40% reported by top). The keyboard is also pretty good, even the keys being smaller than other netbooks, the fact that they are well spaced helps a lot in touch typing without looking in the keyboard. I still have to test the HDMI output as also the GPS (I planning to do this in the upcoming weeks).

The next post: running KDE 4.3.7 (a.k.a trunk) and plasma-netbook on the booklet.

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Nokia Booklet 3G: unboxing Nokia Booklet 3G: KDE and plasma

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Björn Ruberg  |  November 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Have my problems with the ath9k driver in my eeePC 1005HA, too. Since kernel 2.6.31 it delivers acceptable connection quality, but it disconnects too. Only solution: Load and reload the ath9k module. I need this to do after every suspend too.

    Reply
  • 2. jbernardo  |  November 12, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    For the wifi you need to install linux-backports-modules-wireless-karmic-generic. Or use wicd instead of knetworkmanager. Check bug

    I’m glad to know the wiki entry helped. Did you add the grub entry?

    Reply
  • 3. Johannes Burgel  |  November 13, 2009 at 8:12 am

    The Atheros drivers (especially ath9k) are getting an immense amount of patches in the latest wireless-testing tree. wireless-testing is pulled into Linus’ tree regularly, so expect improvements in one of the next stable kernel releases.

    And install the linux-backport-modules on Ubuntu as jbernardo says, the package contains updated wireless drivers.

    Reply
  • 4. Antti Kaijanmäki  |  November 13, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    There’s a patch to fix the freeze when SIM card is inserted while the system is running: http://lkml.org/lkml/2009/10/27/188

    The patch is currently in -mm tree, but I don’t know when it’s going to move towards the mainline kernel.

    Reply
  • 5. Omar  |  November 30, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Thanks for all the information you are sharing here. I just installed Ubuntu 9.10 on my Nokia booklet 3G following your suggestions, however I’m hearing a noise coming put from the disk, is this affecting my disk? is happening to you too?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • 6. savago  |  December 1, 2009 at 8:03 pm

      Mine has no noise and seems pretty resistant. 🙂

      Regards

      Adenilson

      Reply
  • 7. Peta  |  December 1, 2009 at 4:12 am

    I have tried to install Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 on the Nokia Booklet and the Poulsbo drivers work (after doing the same upgrades), however S3 suspend does not. Can I ask if you have the same problems, or if it is Netbook-Remix specific?

    Also, are you able to enable and disable wifi, bluetooth and GPS from ubuntu?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • 8. savago  |  December 1, 2009 at 8:07 pm

      Suspend is working, I haven’t tried yet to turn off bluetooth (but wifi works fine after I installed the backported wifi drivers, as a suggested in the comments).

      I still have to play more with the GPS…

      Regards

      Adenilson

      Reply
  • 9. Toby  |  December 11, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Hi, How is the performance on the notebook running Ubuntu compared to Windows 7 that was really sluggish and slow?
    Would you say that the booklet and Ubuntu together is a good option? Thanks Toby

    Reply
    • 10. savago  |  December 11, 2009 at 11:25 am

      Toby

      I only booted the win7 and browsed the web, didn’t any serious work. My impression concerning ubuntu (and linux) in netbooks is that it multitasks faster (i.e. you can run several applications at same time without delay).

      Regards

      Adenilson

      Reply
  • 11. Toby  |  December 11, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Sorry forgot to ask – has anyone tried the official nokia AD-73 USB ethernet dongle with Ubuntu? does it work?

    Reply
  • 12. Twain  |  December 26, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Is there a way to get the hotkeys working within Ubuntu? As for now I can’t separately switch ON/OFF the network cards and also not change the brightness.

    Reply
  • 13. Open attitude  |  January 26, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    How exactly are you clever people getting Linux on this notebook? I’m not having any luck at all:

    http://openattitude.com/2010/01/26/breaking-the-nokia-booklet-part-1/

    Reply
    • 14. savago  |  January 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm

      Try another distro.

      Adenilson

      Reply
  • 15. G  |  July 19, 2010 at 5:03 am

    I am running ubuntu 10.04 on a the nokia booklet 3g… My hard drive is making a ticking sound quite often when I am running ubuntu but it is fiine when I run windows 7… I did some research and found out that ubuntu has issues with hard disc spin down to save battery power…

    Can you tell me a way to fix this problem… ubuntu is a lot better that windows 7 starter on this booklet

    Reply
  • 16. tusiaa  |  August 14, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    just installed ubuntu on my nokia booklet 3g. It also has this ticking sound and the graphics driver does not work. I am completely new with Linux. Can anyone help?

    Reply

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