More broken batteries

Okay, information requested. Can anybody with a Toshiba:

  • Satellite A100
  • Satellite A110
  • Tecra A7
  • Satellite Pro A100
  • Satellite Pro A110
  • Equium A100
  • Satellite M70
  • Satellite Pro M70
  • Equium M70
  • Satellite M50
  • Satellite Pro M50
  • Equium M50
  • Satellite M100
  • Equium 110
  • Tecra A6

Please send me a lshal please (richard_at_hughsie_dot_com) – with [fire] in the subject. There's another recall I'm trying to add to the bad-battery-database, but I need to know the battery vendor. NOTE: Your battery won't explode in this case, but it might stop working after a little while. Thanks.

My laptop is nearly dead…

My faithful development machine, a Toshiba A10 2.2GHz Celeron is nearly dead. The screen backlight keeps cutting out when you move the lid, the hinges are floppy, the maximum brightness is half what it used to be and the fan makes noises that it really shouldn't. Ohh, and the AC adapter plug is really broken too. Now, I've got to decide if I want to repair everything (probably about £200), or just buy a new laptop.
As I'm now back being a poor student, money is fairly tight. I've been looking at the Toshiba Satellite Pro A120 – which seems very similar to what I have already, but I've also been looking around: I've compiled a list of needs / would likes / don't wants:

  • Less than 700 GBP (student)
  • WXGA screen
  • Open graphics chip (Intel?)
  • 15 inch screen
  • Wireless G networking
  • DVD reader
  • 40Gb hard drive
  • 512Mb RAM (I have existing SODIMMS)
  • Intel Pentium M or Duo.
  • 2 hours battery life

Would like:

  • WXGA+ Screen
  • SPDIF out
  • Brightness sensor
  • DVD-Writer
  • >3 hours battery life

Don't want:

  • DELL or Sony (nothing personal, just ACPI issues)
  • 64 bit anything
  • Gigabit ethernet
  • Lots of 3D performance (I don't do games)
  • Bluetooth
  • Biometric fingerprint security
  • Lots of special buttons that do clever things
  • Firewire
  • Modem
  • Software
  • Windows XP (although I'm probably going to get it “free”)

So anybody got any good ideas for a budget laptop that will have good Linux support for less than 700GBP? Also, if you are running Linux on a Toshiba Duo, please let me know. Thanks.

Ambient light sensors

PowerManager : the quest for world domination continues. The detecting exploding batteries idea is on hold until we can clear up some legal issues – I can't say anymore than that, but everything is looking good so far.

Next on the agenda: laptop light sensors.

These are little sensors (once only found on expensive apple notebooks) that simply tell the operating system how much ambient light there is around. These can be used to adjust the laptop LCD screen brighter on sunny days, and dimmer on cloudy days for instance. You can also control the keyboard backlight like this. DavidZ has written an addon for the Macbook Pro, but other hardware support is planned.

Now, p.g.o readers – I need your help. We have potentially three inputs.

  1. Ambient light sensor input(s)
  2. User input (pressing the keys)
  3. Software input (e.g. totem turning off the keyboard backlight when fullscreen and watching a movie)

At the moment I'm just considering the first two. I'm thinking about a sliding-window auto-feedback scale, where the sensor input is first damped, and then scaled into rangewidth. The output is a percentage scale which is defined by the user with keypresses or power policy. The rangewidth defines the ranging of the sensor input (basically the +/- value the sensor can affect) and allows us to have user control and limited auto-ranging. The brightness policy scale would range from -rangewidth% to (100+rangewidth)%, obviously clamped at 0 and 100. This allows the user to specify a policy of 50%, and if rangewidth was 20%, then the brightness could just range from 40% to 60% automatically.

Now, does this seem sane? How does OSX and Windows handle this? Anyone think of any better ideas?

GNOME Power Manager "you have 10, 9, 8…"

Thanks everyone from the feedback (and lshal entries) from my last blog entry.
I have got lots of data on this, and am now in the process of getting a couple of patches finished and (hopefully) approved to be added to HAL sometime soon.

I've added initial code to gnome-power-manager (it's not going to work yet!) for the warning notification. I asked my girlfriend (a typical non-technical user) if she would check her battery faced with that warning and she said probably not as it didn't seem very serious.
I'm not sure I can (from a legal perspective and user sanity point of view) put up a window saying “YOUR BATTERY MAY EXPLODE ANY SECOND!!!” but the wording could do with some work. Comments please.

Exploding laptop batteries

I'm looking to add an fdi file to HAL so we can check if a battery is defective and is likely to go boom.

I want to see if I can match battery serial numbers against fdi rules and if present, merge a key battery.is_likely_faulty so applications like gnome-power-manager can give a nice warning message so the user can go check on the recall website.
Note, I think we need to keep the word “likely” to avoid lawsuits. :-)

So, I need some data. If you have a Dell laptop:

 – Latitude: D410, D500, D505, D510, D520, D600, D610, D620, D800, D810
 – Inspiron: 500M, 510M, 600M, 700M, 710M, 6000, 6400, 8500, 8600, 9100,
9200, 9300, 9400, E1505, E1705
 – Precision: M20, M60, M70, M90
 – XPS: XPS, XPS Gen2, XPS M170, XPS M1710

Or an HP/Compaq laptop:

HP Pavilion : dv1xxx ze2xxx
Compaq Presario: V2xxx M2xxx
HP Compaq : nx48xx

I would really appreciate if you could send me (richard at hughsie dot com) the complete output of lshal. Include [fire] in the subject so I can filter them easily :-). And also, if you know your laptop might be affected (or another one that might have been affected) and isn't a DELL or HP then please send me the data also.

: Don't panic. Your battery is probably fine, but I want to see if these models express the battery serial number in HAL (via ACPI) or just fill in junk data.



Please also state:

  • If your battery is affected by the recall
  • The value of your barcode
  • cat /proc/acpi/battery/BAT*/info | grep number

Also, I would appreciate it if someone could test this hal patch as it looks like it's needed to properly detect the DELLs.

Drop down menus for batteries

Okay, two posts in one day. A new record for me. :-)
Whilst playing with bug #347913 I've been thinking about killing the “Information” window (as this is also in-process with gnome-power-manager).

The planned solution is like NetworkManager, where you have all the possible battery devices on the drop down, where you click them for more information. I can then launch gnome-power-info (or whatever the executable will be called) with the HAL UDI, and the user can get all the detailed hardware information (like present capacity and stuff like that).
Now, two questions all you p.g.o readers: What is the standard for the right-click menu, and what belongs in left-click? The r-c-m has About and Help currently, but I've a feeling Preferences belongs there too. Second question. Is this sane? There's nothing in CVS yet.


Lots of people has recently been striving to get down the memory requirement of thier GNOME application or deamon.

I've recently created an out of process (the old one was in-process for each instance) graphing program, gnome-power-statistics. The displayable name is yet to be decided, but it's basically a graph viewer that talks to gnome-power-manager over DBUS to the shiny new org.gnome.PowerManager.Statistics interface.

Notice the surge in power usage as I start “make distcheck” on HAL in the 23rd minute.

Now, I know the application really needs some HIG love, but this removes a whole chunk of memory from the session daemon, namely 500kb of writable memory.

Comments welcome.