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Thursday·21·September·2006

IrDA and Sound on the IBM ThinkPad 760ED //at 04:19 //by abe

from the Toy-Story dept.

Since I currently have Debian Sarge and a quite actual kernel (2.6.17.13) successfully running on my 10 years old Pentium-1-ThinkPad bijou, I today thought I could see, if I get the builtin infrared port working.

Since lspci and lshw didn’t help much to find out the details about the IR port, I looked at Werner Heuser’s tuxmobil for such information. And I was right: tuxmobil listed all the necessary informations:

It’s an internal serial port infrared device on /dev/ttyS0 working without any special driver. It seems to only need the kernel modules irda, sir_dev and irtty_sir as well as probably also the Debian package irda-utils.

I could immediately play around with gnokii after configuring it ot use the right serial port and the right drivers for my Nokia 6310i. Also sending SMS via xgnokii worked.

It was funny to be able to play ringtones on the phone by clicking around on a virtual piano keyboard.

Inebriated by the success with IrDA, I decided to go on and try myself with the notorious Mwave DSP sound and modem card, which came with some of the ThinkPad 760 versions including my ED version.

This didn’t start as easy as IrDA since tuxmobil this time writes: But MWave and some other sound technologies won’t work or are very hard to get working, e.g. booting to DOS, loading a driver, then using the soundcard as a standard SB-PRO. So you might need a commercial sound driver.

Well, I too often noticed that negative information about hardware support in Linux found on the net with a search engine often is outdated and the formerly badly missed hardware support is available nowadays.

So even not giving up on a 404 for a promising site, I found the no more existing webpage of the Mwave Project for Linux in the WayBack Archive. There I found a still working link to Thomas Hood’s Debian GNU/Linux on IBM ThinkPad 600X page which mentions tpctl, the ThinkPad configuration tools for Linux. And happily, they’re included in Sarge as package tpctl. Another link still worked, too: The one to Dale Wick’s Thinkpad under Linux page, which tell’s what I’ve expected: Some of the information on tuxmobil seems to be outdated, although Dave’s page mainly concerns the modem functionality of the Mwave DSP.

So I first installed tpctl on bijou, then tried to compile the ThinkPad kernel modules from package thinkpad-source with my both current kernels, 2.4.33.3 and 2.6.17.13 using make-kpkg. The modules built fine for the 2.4 series kernel, but failed on the two latest 2.6 kernels (2.6.17.13 and 2.6.18), I’m mainly running. So I switched over to playing around with the 2.4.33.3 kernel.

The thinkpad modules loaded fine and I get access to a lot of the ThinkPad’s special hardware. But tpctl at least doesn’t work as expected regarding Standby and Suspend: It has no effect while requesting Suspend or Standby using apm still works fine. But nothing to see in direction sound, modem or mwave.

So I had a closer look at documentation around the mwave module. Tried to find out appropriate I/O and IRQ settings for the module, but what I found in the Linux ACP Modem (Mwave) mini-HOWTO didn’t help. The module just didn’t load.

Then I noticed that module seems to need an mwave daemon. A search in the Debian package repository found the package mwavem. No long thinking – installed it. But the installation script gave the same errors when trying to load the module.

man mwavem(8) gave the reason: Only the 3780i chip is supported. Earlier Mwave DSPs, which were used for sound generation as well as modem functionality, are not supported.

Also according to the kernel documentation for the mwave sound module, the only way to get it making some sounds seems to be to boot to DOS, load the Windows 95 drivers, then call loadlin and warm-boot Linux from DOS.

So native Mwave sound on IBM 760 ThinkPads under Linux is really still a dream while the Mwave modem is said to work nowadays.

I will continue my ThinkPad 760 journey with a closer look at the pcspkr driver and at eBay, where I’ll look for another 760 series ThinkPad, but with ESS1688 soundcard and no modem instead of the Mwave DSP, e.g. a 760L, 760LD, 760EL, 760ELD or maybe also a 765L.

But I won’t do that today. It’s already much too late. Should have gone to bed about two hours ago…

Now playing: Auld Lang Syne (monophonic on the phone :-)

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