Fixing Lenovo Screen Hinges

In case you’re just tuning in, I have a Lenovo G530 laptop.  It’s not bad, though a little on the cheap side.  It hangs in there, and while I sometimes dream of upgrading, I want to get more time out of it.  Having just ordered a new battery (after about a year and a half of use I now get 26 minutes out of it), I have turned my attention to the next improvement: the screen hinges.

These became loose at some point.  The laptop opens and closes just fine, but wen it’s open the screen will wobble and sometimes mess with the wiring, causing all sorts of weird, scary flickering I can do without.  (Note: This still happens sometimes when the laptop is shaken, but it’s nowhere near as easy.)  I’d been thinking about fixing this for a while, but had put it off in fear of having to disassemble the whole machine.  But this weekend I sat down to have a look, and it’s really not that bad.  Here’s how I did it; it’s not that hard, but keep in mind that you do this at your own risk.  (IE, I’m not responsible for any damages, etc.)

First, remove the battery.  This will reveal four screws you remove.  (Note: SAVE THESE.)  Next, open the laptop and push gently on the area where the screws were, allowing you to remove the plastic cover between the keyboard and screen, which also holds the multimedia and power buttons.  Next, look for the screen hinges; in my case it was the screws holding them down that needed tightening.  I did that, reassembled, and it was fine.

Here is a pictoral guide:

Of course, this is condensed; you can also go to Lenovo’s site for more fun take-apart instructions.  But hopefully, this will save someone some time.

New Laptop

Well, I mentioned before that my trusty old Toshiba laptop finally kicked it.  Well, I am now on a shiny new Lenovo G530 laptop, and so far it’s going good!  I’m running Ubuntu 9.04, and am impressed with how well things seem to be supported on it.  So far I’m pretty happy.

I wanted to get a refund for the Windows Vista Home license I’m obviously not using, but Lenovo was giving me the run around about not being able to do that when it’s bundled in with the machine.  I’m still going to try, though, so we’ll see what happens.  Anyway, now for some pics, mouseover for comments:

So far so good...

Yeah, no thanks.

And suddenly, out of nowhere...  FreeBSD!  (Wait, what?)

I didn’t, of course, accept the Windows license.  I probably won’t get anything for it, but whatever.  For fun I threw a FreeBSD CD in, but decided not to do the install.  Ubuntu is running happily, and that’a s good thing.

New Laptop Coming…

Well, it’s been a while since I wrote anything.  A lot’s been on my mind with school and some Jack Swift things, but the end (of the quarter at least) is pretty much here.  I just have a couple exams, and then I’m free for about a week.  Wish me luck!

On another note, my laptop died a couple weeks ago.  It was an old Toshiba one (relatively), and it held out nicely for the five or six years I had it.  I’m not sure what made it croak; it started crashing mysteriously at one point, and then it just wouldn’t boot.  Luckilly the hard drive seems to be alright, and at any rate I’d pulled my data off it.  So I didn’t loose too much.

I’m getting a lower-end Lenovo to replace it.  It’s not the zippiest machine, but I don’t need that – just something to throw Ubuntu on, and use for Web browsing and working in the coffee shop, checking my Email, posting here, watching the occasional movie on car rides, etc.  I may do some heavier things from time to time, like edit video, but that’s what the desktop is for.

I should get it next week, and I can’t wait.  I’ll post more when that comes.  In the meantime, I’m off to the pool, because it’s too hot.

Battery Life and Other Nonsense

As I mentioned before, I have switched my laptop to Gentoo again after getting a new battery for it.  When I first finished my Gentoo install there was this beautiful feeling of euphoria…  It was just a raw Linux system, somewhat optimised for my machine.  It could be a normal Gnome desktop, it could be a mobile server…  It could be a workstation with no GUI at all…  So much potential, so many things I could do without having a predetermined computing environment like what Ubuntu provided.

Yeah, I ended up putting Gnome on it, along with the other types of apps normal people tend to put on their laptops: OpenOffice, Firefox, Pidgin (thus completing the desktop publishing-Web browsing-instant messaging trifecta), etc.  And now I find myself trying to replicate a lot of the things Ubuntu did configure out of the box.  Things like PulseAudio, multimedia codecs, and power management settings.

Actually the power management was a bit of a sticking point with Ubuntu.  I mean, it did provide decent control over LCD backlight brightness, and it configured CPU frequency scaling out of the box.  But at the same time I still never got the battery life I got in Windows.  The same is true for Gentoo.  I can get maybe four hours of life, which is nice.  But the older, smaller battery was rated for about this also.  Yeah, I know that rating’s a bit optimistic, but I sitll got maybe three of those hours on XP.  I’d like to get about 5 or 6 with this battery.

So I have some tweaking to do, no matter which distro I use on here.  I really do like having a less-bloated system, and at the very least Gentoo is a little more encouraging of tweaking, and is more familiar to me, so I may as well try diferent power saving methods on here for a while.  (Yeah, compiling software takes a bit of juice, but I do that when I’m plugged in anyway.)  Ubuntu 9.04 is coming out soon, and I’m thinking I might go and try it on here.

So, that’s that.  On an lighter note, the sun is coming out more and more here in Rochester.  We’re finally starting to get some Spring weather, even though we also just got some snow.  (I woke up one morning and it looked like it was winter outside.  It didn’t last long, but it was still weird.)  Though I do enjoy winter I am looking forward to the warmer weather a lot.  Soon it will be summer, and I will (hopefully) be working.  Getting away from class will be nice.

Reflections on a New Laptop Battery

Now, Linux isn’t exactly known to get you amazing battery life on laptops.  (Yes, when the distro and hardware are specially designed this there are some exceptions.)  However, in my Toshiba Tecra the battery life was getting to be horrendous, getting maybe 20 minutes tops before needing a charge.  So, I went online and ordered a new battery, at twice the original capacity of the old one from  The new one is great.  I can actually use the computer as a laptop.

So now I have thought of the possibilities.  I mean, I could go a lot of places with this computer now, and do whatever.  Type, photo edit, you get the idea…

Maybe, just maybe, this will allow me to reach new levels of productivity in a variety of locations.  Or not, we’ll wait and see.

Back to Gentoo

When I first started on Linux, my distribution was RedHat 8.0 on our old HP Vectra.  After installing it I found that I couldn’t get X to start, and so I had to navigate the system from the command line, without the GUI.  It was a good learning experience, and I think I ended up breaking the system a few times.

When I finally got a more powerful machine, I tried RedHat again, then Fedora Core, then I think Suse, and then back to Fedora…  At first it was motivated by some driver problem that made the system freeze (I never figured out what it was, but it did just stop at one point), but later on it was just to get exposure to the different distros.  And there were (and are) a lot of nice ones.  However, I wanted to tinker.  And then a friend introduced me to Gentoo.

My first install on that machine, a dual AMD MP 2800 took three days.  I think I did a Stage 1 install (no longer supported), in which the entire system is compiled from source.  I ended up reinstalling a few times after, but in the end Gentoo was what I stuck with.  I liked it, it was fast and gave me a lot of things to customize and tweak.

Sometime a little more than a year ago this computer had a power supply problem, and I decided I might as well just upgrade as it was kind of outdated anyway.  So I went with an Intel Core 2 Quad system, and it’s been good.  But, I had also been doing some recording on Linux, making a low-latency kernel necessary.  I had patched it here and there on Gentoo, but I started to take an interest in Ubuntu Studio, as it takes care of a lot of that for you.  Also, while I still liked Gentoo I still had a few incidents in which I updated the system only to have some package like X or Gnome broken, and my desktop gone.  On top of that I had been starting to recommend Ubuntu to other people, after hearing about its supposed user-friendliness.  So, I went with Ubuntu Studio on my desktop.  I had actually been running normal Ubuntu on my laptop, and it was alright.  I was really impressed with Ubuntu Studio, though.  Doing my audio stuff was easy, and performance was decent.  Overall, I was happy.

Now, in an earlier post I mentioned how my laptop only ran at 600 MHz despite a supposed speed of 1.4 GHz.  Well, that was my primary reason for switching to Ubuntu on that box, though having everything configured out of the box was nice too.  I figured I just didn’t want to do all the compiling Gentoo entailed on such a slow machine.  Well, I fixed the bug (it was hardware related), and the performance jumped.  It was great for a while.

Now, I still run Ubuntu Studio on my desktop, despite some annoyances with 8.10 version’s low latency kernel not supporting multiple processors, and thus only running on of the cores on my processor (I don’t use it unless I need to record).  Now, another annoyance, and one that I especially noticed on my laptop was the bloat present in Ubuntu.  After deciding I didn’t feel like putting up with it anymore, I relented and did a Gentoo install this weekend.

And so far it’s been great.  Even with the speed bug fixed compile times can be long, but thanks to Ice Cream I can distribute some of the compiling to my desktop.  (Most packages are fine with this, some don’t seem to like it so much.)  I got Gnome installed, got power management and CPU frequency scaling working, along with suspending to RAM.  So now I have a zippy Linux install on my laptop.

Gentoo is a bit of work, but it’s worth it, in particular if you want to learn about how your system works.  I recommend it.

Decent Toshiba CPU Speed!

I have a Toshiba Tecra M2 laptop that normally runs Ubuntu.  It used to run Windows a while back, and after that Gentoo.  One thing I noticed while running Linux on it was that I could never get the CPU speed to go above 598 Mhz, or if was lucky 600 Mhz.  I thought for the longest time that this was a software issue, with the operating system itself.  And then I tried Windows again.

I have the original hard disk, with Windows, just in case.  (I used a new disk for my Linux install, rather than dual-booting.)  So, I stuck it in, and took a look at the speed reported in My Computer.  I was surprised to see that it too reported the speed as 598 Mhz.  Shocked, I hunted around on the Web.

It turns out that if you replace the processor or motherboard on a Tecra or similar laptop, it can mess up the CPU speed table.  The speed getting stuck at 598 Mhz is a common problem.  There is a fix for this, however.  Basically, you need a Toshiba utility which creates a boot floppy.  You boot the computer to the floppy, which runs a simple program that updates the BIOS.

You can find some details here.  Now, the link to the utility doesn’t work, so there is a mirror here.  If that mirror is down, I have it mirrored on my own server: pom200t1-v15.  Note that if you don’t have a floppy drive on my laptop (mine didn’t), you’ll need a USB floppy drive — I was able to use one with no trouble.  Note also that though this worked for me, I am not responsible for any damage to your system if it does not work.  You have been warned.

Well, I still use CPU speed scaling on Ubuntu, but now the speed does go up to 1.4 Ghz.  Note that this will probably reduce your battery life.  But, it’s still nice having this power.  Hopefully, this will help some of you struggling with this.