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Dual-Booting Windows XP and Red Hat Fedora Core 6 (FC6) on an HP Pavilion dv2125nr Notebook Computer

My low-cost HP Pavilion dv2125nr notebook (bought September 2006) came with Windows XP installed. While it was initially purchased only for presentations, I decided to try shrinking the Windows partition to 50 GB and install Red Hat Fedora Core 6 (FC6) in the freed-up 50 GB.

To repartition the 120 GB hard drive, I did the following:

  1. Downloaded and ran the HP Drive Key Boot Utility to make a bootable USB key drive. One can also make a bootable CD-ROM instead (see the GParted LiveCD website).
  2. Loaded the key drive with GParted LiveUSB files, booted the key drive, and resized the Windows partition to 50 GB. It seemed to work perfectly, although I wound up with an extra small 1 GB ntfs partition that I didn't expect.
  3. Rebooted Windows and let it do a filesystem check.
  4. In the Windows disk storage manager (``Control Panel / Administrative Tools / Computer Management / Storage'') I deleted the small 1 GB ntfs partition. (Windows would not let me assign a drive letter to it using the right-click menu, so I couldn't verify that it was unused, but it seems not to be missed.) Deleting this spurious partition seemed to be important to do because there are only 4 primary partitions, Windows uses two, and Linux wants at least two (one for /boot, and another which can be ``extended'' for everything else). Windows uses one for the C: drive and one for the HP backup partition.
  5. Booted the FC6 install disk (which the DVD-burner created from a DVD iso image), and selected to remove all Linux partitions and take the default layout. (Careful! The default selection is to erase all partitions and take the default layout. To be extra safe, select the checkbox saying you want to review the layout before committing to it.)
  6. Elected to install the grub loader at the beginning of the /boot partition. I think this is required to keep Windows and its virus-checkers happy. The bootable windows partition is listed as ``other'' below ``Linux'' when choosing which OS to boot by default.
  7. Rebooted (Linux) and followed installation directions as usual.

The main thing that didn't work right away was wireless networking. [Update: Sometime around mid-March 2007, the standard wireless support in the FC6 kernel ``just worked'', rendering the remainder of this paragraph obsolete, unless you find that wireless isn't working for you.] [Update 2: On August 23, support for version 4 firmware (for the Broadcom wireless chipset) appeared in FC6. It was necessary to run bcm43xx-fwcutter again to install the version 4 firmware in /lib/firmware.] I had to connect a physical ethernet cable and reboot in order to update all of the installed FC6 packages, etc. Progress on the wireless front can be tracked at the Mozilla bug page for this issue. (I found this by searching for ``hp pavilion wireless'' in the fedora mailing-list.) On Jan. 15, 2007, I finally got wireless working thanks to Comment #51 (a new test kernel) in conjunction with Comment #41 (re. overall setup) on the Mozilla bug page. In my posts to that page, I describe exactly what I did. Basically, you download a ``test kernel'' with the fixes installed, and you use fwcutter on the Windows driver to cut out the needed wireless firmware and place it where it can be found under Linux (see comment numbers above).

After basic Fedora installation, I pretty much followed the ``post-FC5'' procedure described in the next section. Everything went smoothly until I agreed to apply all pending security updates (over 100). This was after installing gv, octave-forge, and saying yum update to update all the FC6 packages to latest versions. After that, the system would boot up only to a login prompt instead of the X login panel (i.e., no X windows). I logged in the ``old fashioned way'', su'd to root, and typed yum update once again, and the problem went away. I next had a dependency failure during yum update related to Python package confusion. I did a yum remove on the packages wanting the unavailable dependency, made a list of packages erased via cat /var/log/yum.log | grep Erased > erasedpkgs, and edited that file to become a shell script to yum install them all again. This was a bit of a pain, but it didn't sink too much time.

Another minor problem I encountered was the lack of any way to ``wake up'' after a hibernate or a suspend. There seems to be no way to get it going again. I therefore specify ``do nothing'' when the laptop cover is closed. Needless to say, this consumes the battery much faster, and the laptop remains pretty warm when closed (warm enough that I don't want to slide it into my shoulder bag). Therefore, if I need to take a break while running on battery power, I just shutdown the whole thing. I rarely run on batteries anyway.

The laptop wakes up fine after merely ``putting the display to sleep.''

The track-pad disable button works, which is valuable for disabling the track pad while editing text for a while in a single window. Stray touches of the track pad often generate mouse-down events wherever the mouse happens to be.

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``My Computers'', by Julius O. Smith III, Web document.
Copyright © 2014-03-25 by Julius O. Smith III
Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA),   Stanford University