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Debian GNU/Linux Laptop & Notebook Distribution - Unofficial Proposal

Though laptops and notebooks are different from desktops, there is currently no Linux distribution with a dedicated laptop and notebook support. This proposal provides an outline of such a project for Debian .

Back to Debian/GNU Linux and Knoppix for Laptops, Notebooks, PDAs, Mobile Phones, Portable Players, ...



Intro

Writing the Linux Mobile Guide - Installing, Maintaining and Tuning of Linux on Mobile Computers, I noticed there is no Linux distribution dedicated to the needs of laptop and notebook users available. Since Debian/GNU Linux is my favorite distribution I started to collect information about laptop and notebook related Debian packages. Though this text reflects my personal thoughts only. It's not an official Debian document. I'm following two objectives:

  • making a suggestion for a laptop related distribution/package of Debian
  • providing a survey of laptop related Debian packages, even if not included in the official distribution

Desktops and laptops are different. Usually:

  • they use certain hardware (PCMCIA, IrDA, graphics controller, LCD display ..).
  • their resources are more limited (disk space, CPU speed, memory size, screen size ..).
  • they are often used in different environments (home, office, university, on the go ..).

Therefore Debian support for laptops should contain:

  • a kernel which excludes features, which don't make sense in a laptop yet (e.g. non PCMCIA network cards, though they might be useful for a docking station) and includes features like PCMCIA, APM and IrDA support
  • the other packages should be nearly the same as in 'standard' and additionally contain packages like anacron, irda-utils, apmd, etc.

Kernel

Kernel support should consist of two parts: laptop devices and optimization.

Support of Laptop Devices and Different Network Configurations

The following devices should be considered: PCMCIA, USB, IrDA, (Video In and Out), Sound, APM, Framebuffer, GGI. Also support for certain laptop models should be included, e.g. Thinkpad, Toshiba. And different network configurations, e.g. Mobile IP, DHCP can be supported.

Framebuffer

Usually for every new graphics card there has to be a Linux X server developed. Framebuffer is kind of 'generic' graphics card support, at least if the card manufacturers follow the VESA VBE standard.

Framebuffer devices could use the hardware better, they avoid the current video memory mapping 'concept'. Please see Framebuffer-HOWTO for detailed arguments.

General Graphics Interface - GGI

GGI "is a complete rewrite of the Linux console subsystem that gives the standard Linux Virtual Consoles (VCs) pixel-graphics drawing and display capabilities, an enhanced and flexible message-based console IO subsystem, and a suite of GGI-native userspace libraries, platforms, APIs, utilities and applications." GGI Project

Similar arguments as for framebuffer support. Though I'm not sure whether there is support for laptop graphics chips yet. Please read the GGI-FAQ for further arguments.

Optimization

Optimization could be done in size, speed and flexibility. Therefore a kernel should be build as modularized as possible, which seems Debian standard already (though I didn't check Debian-Policy yet). And CPU dependent compile flags should be used for certain processor architectures e.g. Pentium, Pentium-M, single-core, multi-core.

Since there are so many kernel options related to laptops and so much different machines and user profiles around, I think no distribution can satisfy every laptop user. As a laptop user you should love to build your custom anyway.

Packaging

Metapackages/Tasksel

Debian support for laptops can be done as a suggested 'metapackage'. Metapackages are a new feature of Debian. They are "packages that depend on a group of packages that relate to a common activity, like playing games or developing C programs." Therefore it might better not to call such a project a 'distribution'.

The tasksel package contains a "laptop" entry already:

Task: laptop
Section: hware
Description: Laptop
 This is a collection of tools that laptop users will expect to find on a
 system. It includes some special utilities for IBM Thinkpad, Sony Vaio,
 Toshiba, and Dell Inspiron laptops.
Key:
 apmd
 pcmcia-cs
Packages:
 # XXX What about acpi?
 anacron
 guessnet
 irda-tools
 irda-common
 noflushd
 wireless-tools
 bluez-utils
 hdparm
 smartmontools
 # Hardware-specific
 # for toshiba:
 toshset
 # for thinkpads:
 tpb
 mwavem
 # Note that this needs a kernel module, and prebuild modules are not
 # currenlty available.
 thinkpad-base
 tpctl
 # vaio
 sjog
 # Left out until there is less assembly required.
 #vaiostat

Optimization

Optimizations could be done in speed , file size and memory usage.

Optimization of Speed

Better speed could be achieved by compiling the packages with compiler flags according to the CPU, e.g. Pentium. This topic is already discussed controversely at the debian-devel mailing list (e.g. 07/99 subject: Pentium Optimized). I dare to quote Anderson MacKay:

"... be aware that Pentium optimizations only make a big, noticeable difference for the original and MMX Intel Pentium (not PPro, not P2, not P3, not K6, etc.) processors. The big speedup is because the compiler/assembler reschedules integer instructions so that they can execute in parallel inside the Pentium's two integer pipelines (which have rather primitive inter-pipeline conflict/dependency resolution hardware). Most CPUs since then (Cyrix 6x86MX/M2, AMD K6-series, and Intel P6-series including PPro, P2, P3, and Celeron) have better conflict and dependency analysis/resolution hardware (or can execute out-of-order), and don't gain much from Pentium-specific optimizations. In fact, most other CPUs run better with plain old i386 or i486 code than they do with Pentium-optimized code. That said, Pentium optimizations *should* really help out owners of the genuine Intel Pentium (and MMX) processors..."

Available in Potato is a script pentium-builder, which may help recompiling. But I didn't check things like apt-get -b source <packagename> to rebuild a pentium-optimized package, yet. Another method to compile an optimized package could be the use of the build daemon buildd. Quotation from Debian Developer's Reference - Chapter 8 - Porting and Being Ported:

"The buildd system is used as a distributed, client-server build distribution system. It is usually used in conjunction with auto-builders, which are ``slave'' hosts which simply check out and attempt to auto-build packages which need to be ported. There is also an email interface to the system, which allows porters to ``check out'' a source package (usually one which cannot yet be autobuilt) and work on it.

buildd is not yet available as a package; however, most porting efforts are either using it currently or planning to use it in the near future. It collects a number of as yet unpackaged components which are currently very useful and in use continually, such as andrea, sbuild and wanna-build.

...

We are very excited about this system, since it potentially has so many uses. Independent development groups can use the system for different sub-flavors of Debian, which may or may not really be of general interest (for instance, a flavor of Debian built with gcc bounds checking). It will also enable Debian to recompile entire distributions quickly."

Maybe it's not necessary to recompile every package, but some like X, Gnome, Gimp, etc.

You may find the thread 'package compilation madness' started by Drew Parsons in the February 2000 archiv of <debian-laptop@lists.debian.org> useful. It contains some caveats and their solutions.

The topic was mentioned different times in Debian Weekly News - DWN:
CPU optimized Debian builds? Every once in a while, the [29]question pops up why Debian does not support pentium-optimised or athlon-optimised binaries for that particular processor. However, as Michael Stone [30]points out nobody did some research to [31]back up the idea of things running significantly faster. Daniel Burrows also [32]noted that we don't provide an optimised glibc due to unforseen bugs with its optimisation.

Custom Compilation on a Laptop? Johannes Graumann [48] wondered if custom compiling of packages would be better suited for machines with limited resources like a laptop. Russell Coker [49] explained that the resources to compile a package are vastly greater than those required to just install a binary Debian package.

Benchmarking Debian's Performance. Indranath Neogy tried to [35] explained that the discover what kind of gains the source based nature of Gentoo might give it over Debian and Mandrake. The tests included timing how long it took to open a large sheet in Gnumeric, how long to compile the Linux kernel and how long to perform various operations in GIMP. Gentoo was expected to lead in the tests, but the results showed no significant variation between the distributions. Simple recompiling doesn't seem to speed things up, fine grained tuning may.

The package dbuild will take one or more Debian source packages and build the corresponding binary packages. This can, in theory, be used to build the whole distribution from sources.

Optimization of File Size

Smaller package size can be achieved by stripping the binaries. This is Debian standard already.

Optimization of Memory Usage

Instead of CPU optimized compilations it's maybe better to improve memory allocation, to avoid swapping. These techniques include the usage of small and shared libraries. Or usage of one file instead of many C files.

Installation

In some cases laptops need certain installation methods (via PCMCIA, without CD drive, etc.), or specific boot media (e.g. Toshiba Tecra). There is already support for this in Debian. For a survey of installation methods see the Linux Mobile Guide - Installing, Maintaining and Tuning of Linux on Mobile Computers.

Installation from Network

Gilles Lamiral <lamiral_at_mail.dotcom.fr> wrote in his PLIP Install HOWTO: "This HOWTO will be obsolete when every Linux distribution includes a PLIP install option. For example, the Debian installation only needs to add two commands to make this HOWTO obsolete (ifconfig + route). I hope one Debian maintainer will consider this point."

Installation from Floppy

With these USB boot floppy [archived link] images you can run the installation system of Debian Woody on a system with no floppy drives, using an external floppy/LS-120 drive attached via .

Common Installation Caveats

Question: "I was able to get it to boot off the floppies and start the installation, but my screen size seems to be such that I cannot see the last 4 or 5 lines at the bottom."

Answer: Try to use FrameBuffer mode, e.g. enter vga=791 at the boot prompt or check your BIOS.

Wish List

I know that wishing doesn't help much, therefore this list is meant to show what might be possible.

Hardware Detection

Since the hardware used in laptops is not always supported by Linux, it's is necessary to have some information before buying a new one. Usually the information given by the manufacturers is often not useful. Therefore it is a common custom to describe your laptops features at the WWW. Kenneth E. Harker maintains a great database of these pages. To make this task easier I would like to have a tool, which generates such a report. Though there are numerous hardware detections programs available already. Unfortunately I couldn't find one, which is suitable for laptops.

Some suggested features:

  • dedicated to laptops: detects IrDA (SIR and FIR), Framebuffer (VESA), PCMCIA, USB, ...
  • portability, using a library
  • includes some benchmarks (optional)
  • small, has to fit on a "One Floppy Linux" e.g. tomsrtbt, muLinux. Or even a "Debian One Floppy Linux", there are some according packages already available: yard, mkrboot, boot-floppies, ...
  • options for different output formats: text, HTML and SGML
  • separates between hardware (e.g. CPU, hard disk) and OS configuration (e.g. partitions, host name)
  • licence: GPL

Survey of some existing packages, there are probably more.

  • si (System Information Viewer) [archived link] , (Debian package: si)
    is a Linux application (written in C) that displays information about the local computer from data gathered from the /proc filesystem, a readable interface to kernel memory. si displays information in different sections (optional):
    • s - System Section (CPU, IO-ports, interrupts...)
    • h - Hardware Section (TTY, IDE, SCSI devices...)
    • m - Memory Section (total memory, used memory...)
    • k - Kernel Section (kernel version, modules...)
    • f - File-System Section (partitions, mounts...)
    • n - Network Section (host and domain name)
    • p - Process Section (information on running processes)
  • hinv , (Debian package: not available)
    is a Perl script which displays the hardware configuration of a running Linux system. It is named after, and tries to emulate, the command of the same name under IRIX.

We shouldn't make a Debian laptop hardware detection program. But the projects I checked, didn't support certain laptop hardware detection yet. For instance, I would like to have IrDA controller, ACPI and VESA/VBE correctly detected. Of course the actual list is longer. - Therefore my intension is, to have some laptop people working together with a good hardware detection program. Personally I prefer the Mandrake - Lothar - Project (but this has to be researched). And an according Debian package should be provided (see also Debian packages hwtools and tpctl).

InterMezzo

InterMezzo is a new distributed file system with a focus on high availability. InterMezzo is an Open Source project, currently on Linux (2.2 and 2.3). A primary target of our development is to provide support for flexible replication of directories, with disconnected operation and a persistent cache. For example, we want to make it easy to manage copies of home directories on multiple computers, and solve the laptop/desktop synchronization problems. On a larger scale we aim to provide replication of large file repositories, for example to support high availability for servers. InterMezzo was deeply inspired by the Coda File System, but totally re-designed and re-engineered.

apmcd

apmcd is used to configure a set of actions to take when the discharge of the batteries reach various states. Can also be triggered by change in AC status and a change in battery status. Note: I didn't check whether this features are merged into one package (apmd eventually) already.

Mergemem Project

Many programs contain memory areas of the same content that remain undetected by the operating system. Typically, these areas contain data that have been generated on startup and remain unchanged for longer periods. With mergemem such areas are detected and shared. The sharing is performed on the operating system level and is invisible to the user level programs. mergemem is particularily useful if you run many instances of interpreters and emulators (like Java or Prolog) that keep their code in private data areas. But also other programs can take advantage albeit to a lesser degree. Note: I didn't check whether this features are merged into the kernel already.

Theft Protection Software

Though there are some solutions to protect laptops from being stolen available already (you may see my Linux-Mobile-Guide and Databases of Stolen Laptops , I find this letter from Jon Anderson <jon_at_locust.co.uk> quite interesting:

"Use the power of the laptop! I read recently that several laptops were recovered as they were running the RC5DES distributed computing client Distributed.Net this exchanged http requests on a regular basis and was used to trap the thief after they went on the net with their new toy!

Perhaps a more targeted system would be if someone (maybe me if anyone is interested) could set up a host on the net and then you just add a ping to that host into your ppp-on script (dial on demand etc) with the -p option to pass data in the packet with a unique reference number. That way if the laptop is ever stolen you could enter in the unique number and get tracking information as to where the laptop was last registered as connecting to the net from etc?"

Maybe it makes sense to develop such a program for Linux.

Theft Protection Hardware

I'm still looking for a sophisticated and payable solution. The only notebook I know, which includes a smartcard protection is the Siemens Scenic Mobile 800.

gLaptop

gLaptop is a front-end for several common laptop functions. "Everything Laptop" software for GNOME. Features include:

  • Standby (turn off monitor/hard drive)
  • Suspend (save status to disk, and shutdown)
  • PC-Card (PCMCIA) swap button
  • Battery Meter (percent remaining)
  • AC-online indicator (when on AC power)
  • Time-Remaining indicator (when on battery)
  • Show/hide Battery Meter
  • Variable number of customizable toggle buttons

Not yet supported:

  • Hot-Swap Drive Support
  • Auto-shutdown/suspend at given battery percentage

Apmiser

Apmiser is a daemon that monitors the CPU usage patterns of your laptop and automatically switches between power-saving mode (in which the CPU is underclocked) and normal mode, depending on whether it thinks you will need the extra CPU speed. This lets you leave your laptop in it's power-saving state without having to suffer from poor performance when you need to perform a CPU-intensive task. Apmiser currently only supports IBM Thinkpads via tpctl, but support can be easily added for any laptop that supports switching power-saving modes programmatically.

Updating Firmware

AFAIK there is no Linux program to update firmware (BIOS, PCMCIA). Though I have heard there have been some efforts.

Including of Unofficial Packages

The below mentioned list of suggested packages contains some packages which are not officially Debian yet. Would be nice if they could find their way into official Debian/GNU Linux.

Documentation

Laptop related documentation could be provided by the Linux-Mobile-Guide (since the HOWTO is now part of the Linux Documentation Project - LDP I suppose this is available as a Debian package already, I have applied as a Debian maintainer anyway) and a Debian Laptop FAQ. Laptop related installation methods are already part of the installation docs.

Configuration Settings

Laptop friendly config settings, e.g. cron.daily should only run disk intensive jobs when the laptop is connected to mains.

Promotion

Though this proposal has got a good response already. I would like to have some more promotion.

Contact and Contributions

If you like to contribute a package please read the according documentation (Developers Reference and others). Apply as a Debian maintainer and announce your project at the according Debian mailing list(s). You may also contact me, though it seems better to discuss all projects together. Be aware this is no official Debian project yet.

Discussion

I suppose this proposal needs some discussion and I would appreciate your comments. A discussion of this topic takes place at the debian-laptop mailing list. This list is highly recommended ;-) You may subscribe at Debian/GNU Linux .

If you like to contribute a package please read the according documentation (Developers Reference and others). And announce your project at the according Debian mailing list(s). You may also contact me, though it seems better to discuss all projects together.

Note: My suggestions about optimization are controversial. They probably need some examination and benchmarking before going this way or not.

Though some of the thoughts outlined above, might fit for desktops as well, I will concentrate on laptops here.

Werner Heuser <wehe_at_tuxmobil.org>

Related Projects

Other Debian projects related to mobile computing:

Services

Debian offers a `debian-laptop` mailing list. And on IRCnet you may find the #debian-laptop channel.

Useful Packages

Currently I have information about Intel based i386 packages only. My apologies to users of other CPUs. Please let me know if there are Debian packages which work on other portable computers, too. But you may search the build logs for the availability of packages for other architectures. For Apple iBook you may especially look up the Branden Robinson [archived link] page. Though my suggestions might seem eclectic, I hope they are useful to show the scope of packages which are related to laptops and notebooks in different senses. Unofficial packages not included into Debian yet are marked with an asterisk.

Program Description project page

Kernel

   
Kernel-2.4.x IrDA, PCMCIA, (USB), (Framebuffer), (Mobile IP) TuxMobil
pcmcia-cs PCMCIA Card Services for Kernel <2.4 only
pcmciautils PCMCIA utilities for Linux 2.6  
hotplug Linux Hotplug Scripts  
hotplug-utils Linux Hotplug utility programs  
murasaki automatically loads and unloads modules for USB, CardBus, network, etc using "Hotplug" in Linux 2.4 - deprecated  
prelink prelinking utility to speed up dynamic linking  

Internal Modem

   
sl-modem Driver for SmartLink Win-Modem (backport)  
sl-modem-daemon sl modem daemon  
mwavem Mwave/ACP modem support  

Input Devices

   
gpm General Purpose Mouse Manager (versions >= 1.18 contain Synaptics touchpad support)  
qsynaptics Qt application to configure Synaptic TouchPad  
ksynaptics KDE application to configure Synaptics TouchPad  
gsynaptics configuration tool for Synaptics touchpad driver of X server  
xfree86-driver-synaptics X11 (X.Org/XFree86) driver for the Synaptics touchpad  
cpad-kernel-source source for the Synaptics cPad driver  
xmonobut simple X11 application that modifys mouse button mapping  
rsjog handler for Sony Vaio "Jog Dial"  
vaiostat-source Sony Vaio status and control kernel module (source)  
motioneye PPM/JPG snapshots or MJPEG compressed video on Sony Vaio laptops  
sjog program to use the "Jog Dial" on Sony Vaio Laptops  
spicctrl Sony Vaio controller program to set LCD backlight brightness  

IrDA

   
irda-utils utilities to use kernel IrDA support (former packages irda-tools, irda-common) Linux IrDA Project
openobex-apps Object Exchange Protocol apps  
obexserver Receive files with OBEX protocol  
qobex swiss army knife for the OBject EXchange (obex) protocol  
cobex connector for mobile devices  
obexfs Mount filesystem of ObexFTP capable devices  
ircp utility for *beaming* files via IrDA  

BlueTooth

   
bluez-sdp BlueZ Bluetooth SDP daemon and tool  
bluez-pcmcia PCMCIA support files for BlueZ 2.0 Bluetooth tools  
bluez-utils utilities for controlling Bluetooth devices  
bluez-pan personal area networking for Bluetooth devices  
bluez-pin Bluetooth PIN helper with D-BUS support  
affix User space utilities for the Affix Bluetooth protocol stack  
bluemon activate or deactivate programs based on bluetooth link quality  

WireLess

   
wireless-tools tools for manipulating Linux Wireless Extensions  
wpasupplicant client support for WPA and WPA2 (IEEE 802.11i)  
kwlan WPA-supplicant frontend for KDE  
wpagui GUI for wpa_supplicant  
xsupplicant 802.1x and 802.11i supplicant (client)  
linux-wlan-ng utilities for wireless prism2 cards  
kwirelessmonitor wireless interface monitor for KDE systray  
antennavis antenna visualisation software  
wmwave monitor status of an 802.11 wireless ethernet link  
kwavecontrol wireless device monitoring application for KDE  
wavemon Wireless Device Monitoring Application  
kwifimanager KDE Wireless Lan Manager  
gkrellmwireless 802.11 wireless link monitor plugin for GKrellM  
hostapd user space IEEE 802.11 AP and IEEE 802.1X/WPA/WPA2/EAP Authenticator  

Wireless Sniffing

   
kismet wireless 802.11b monitoring tool  
prismstumbler wireless network sniffer  
aircrack wireless WEP cracker  
aircrack-ng Wireless WEP/WPA cracking utilities  
airsnort WLAN sniffer  
swscanner simple wireless scanner  
wifi-radar Graphical utility for managing Wi-Fi profiles  
weplab Tool designed to break WEP keys.  

Mobile AdHoc Networking - MANET

   
olsrd Optimised link-state routing daemon (unik-olsrd)  
mobilemesh mobile adhoc networking  
waproamd WLAN roaming daemon obsolet, use wpasupplicant

WireLess LAN Drivers

   
acx100-source ACX100/ACX111 wireless network drivers source  
atmel-firmware firmware for Atmel at76c50x wireless networking chips  
wmaloader firmware downloader for Linksys WMA11B media adapter  
ipw2100-source source for the ipw2100 driver  
ipw2200-source source for the ipw2200 driver  
firmware-iwlwifi Binary firmware for Intel Wireless Intel 4965 WiFi on Debian HOWTO
ndiswrapper userspace utilities for ndiswrapper  
ndiswrapper-source source for the ndiswrapper linux kernel module  
ndiswrapper-intel2100b installer for the Intel PRO/Wireless Lan 2100b drivers  
ndiswrapper-utils userspace utilities for ndiswrapper  
linux-wlan-ng utilities for wireless prism2 cards  
madwifi Driver for Atheros Wireless Cards  
hostap-source software access point driver for Prism2 based 802.11  
hostap-utils utility programs for Host AP driver for Intersil Prism2/2.5/3  
ap-utils Access Point SNMP Utils for Linux  
airo-mpi Driver for Cisco MPI 350 Wireless Card  
Orinoco wireless drivers deb http://math.mit.edu/~pezz/debian ./  
rt2500 configuration tool for wireless RT2500 network cards  
rt2500-source RT2500 wireless network drivers source  
wlassistant user friendly KDE frontend for wireless network connection  
airport-utils configuration and management utilities for Apple AirPort base stations  

X11

   
xresprobe probes laptop and DDC-compliant screens for their standard resolutions  
videogen small but nice utility to create modelines you can insert to your XF86Config file  
fbset framebuffer device maintenance program  
xserver-fbdev X server for framebuffer-based graphics drivers  
xviddetect detects which X server to install, by running a non-invasive PCI scan this package is no longer available
xserver-svga X server for SVGA graphics cards (contains NeoMagic support) XFree86 3.x  
XFree86 4.2 unofficial preliminary support  
XFree86 4.3 unofficial preliminary support  
i810switch enables/disables video output to CRT/LCD on i810 video hardware i810switch
nvtv tool to control TV chips on NVidia cards (TV-Out,VGA)  
atitvout ATI TV out support program  
radeontool utility to control ATI Radeon backlight functions on laptops  
855resolution resolution modify tool for Intel graphics chipset  
915resolution Resolution modify tool for Intel graphics chipset  
vbetool run real-mode video BIOS code to alter hardware state  

Power Management

   
powertop Linux tool to find out what is using power on a laptop  
powermgmt-base common utils and configs for power management  
longrun Transmeta(TM) Crusoe(TM) LongRun(TM) utility  
wmlongrun a program to monitor longrun status  
cpufreqd SpeedStep applet clone  
cpudyn CPU dynamic frequency control for processors with scaling  
powernowd control cpu speed and voltage using 2.6 kernel interface  
athcool enable powersaving mode for Athlon/Duron processors  
laptop-mode-tools Userland scripts to control "laptop mode"  
gnome-cpufreq-applet CPU Frequency Scaling Monitor applet for GNOME  
cpufrequtils utilities to deal with the cpufreq Linux kernel feature  
sleepd puts a laptop to sleep during inactivity  
kpowersave frontend to powersave for setting user specific policies  
powersaved power management daemon  
gnome-power-manager frontend for gnome-powermanager  
pm-utils utilities and scripts for power management  

APM

   
apmd utilities for Advanced Power Management (APM) (for older laptops) apmd
wmapm an APM display program designed for Windowmaker  
lphdisk utility for preparing a hibernation partition for APM Suspend-To-Disk Patrick D. Ashmore

ACPI

   
acpid supports the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) acpid
acpi displays information on ACPI devices  
acpidump utilities to dump system's ACPI tables to an ASCII file  
acpitool a small, convenient command-line ACPI client  
acpi-support collection of useful events for ACPI  
yacpi ncurses based ACPI monitor for text mode  
iasl Intel ASL compiler/decompiler  
hibernate activates your computer's suspend functionality  
suspend2-userui user-space interfaces for software suspend2  
uswsusp Tools to use userspace software suspend provided by Linux.  

Cron Jobs

   
fcron cron-like scheduler with extended capabilities well suited to use on laptops  
anacron a cron-like program that doesn't go by time  

Hard Disk

   
noflushd noflushd monitors disk activity and spins down disks that have been idle for more than <timeout> seconds noflushd, requires kernel >=2.2.11
hdparm tune hard disk parameters for high performance  
hdaps-utils HDAPS (IBM Hard Drive Active Protection System) utilities  

Battery Management

   
battfink GNOME power management configuration  
klaptopdaemon battery monitoring and management for laptops  
battstat-applet battery status applet for GNOME  
battery-stats provides battery statistics and a simple graph battery-stats
gkrellm-x86info gkrellm plugin displaying the current processor speed  
wmbattery displays laptop battery info, dockable in Windowmaker  
wmacpi an ACPI battery monitor for WindowMaker  
xfce4-battery-plugin battery monitor plugin for the XFce4 panel  
ibam advanced battery monitor for laptops  
gkrellm-ibam advanced battery monitor for laptops - gkrellm plugin  
xapm X program to monitor APM battery status  
xbatt display battery status  
xbattbar display battery status in X11  

Different Environments - Consistent Data

   
rocks make network sockets reliable in a transparent way  
tra file-system synchronizer  
CODA * filesystem for mobile computers CODA
sitecopy a program for managing a WWW site via FTP  
rsync fast remote file copy program (like rcp)  
multisync program to synchronize PIM data  
unison file-synchronization tool for Unix and Windows  

Different Environments - Configurations

   
Dynamics HUT * Mobile IP Dynamics HUT
ifupdown-roaming * extends the ifupdown package for better support to roam from one network environment to another Thomas Hood
resolvconf * contains the infrastructure for sane updating of /etc/resolv.conf as interfaces go up and down and DNS caches start and stop  
whereami automatically reconfigure your (laptop) system for a new location  
divine locates current network address via arp requests and performs light reconfigurations based on its findings, see also intuitively  
mobilemesh mobile adhoc networking  
intuitively select network configuration appropriate to current environment  
netenv at boot time, set environment variables to interactively selected values  
dhcpcd DHCP client for automatically configuring IPv4 networking  
laptop-net continually select network configuration  
laptop-net-doc automatically adapt laptop ethernet - documentation  
laptop-netconf network detection and configuration program  
switchconf switch between system configuration sets  
guessnet mapping script for ifupdown, report current network environment to ifup, allowing ifup to select network configuration appropriate to current environment  

Virtual Private Networks/Tunneling

   
cipe-common common files for CIPE VPN software  
pptp-linux PPTP Microsoft Compatible Tunneling Protocol  
tunnelv encrypted network connection within a TCP/IP connection  

Specific Laptops and Notebooks

   
ACER TravelMate 292 non-official packages (hotkeys, WLAN, OpenGL, ...) Linux on ACER Travelmate 292
ASUS M2400N non-official packages home
i8kutils Dell Inspiron and Latitude laptop utilities  
gkrellm-i8k Dell Inspiron and Latitude module for GKrellM2 (i8krellm)  
toshiba-fan turn the fan on a Toshiba Pentium laptop on or off  
toshiba-hotkey display a window when changing modes on a Toshiba laptop  
toshset Toshiba laptop utilities  
toshutils Toshiba laptop utilities orphaned
thotswap change the device in the SelectBay of a Toshiba laptop without rebooting Tim Stadelmann (hotswap)
fnfxd ACPI and hotkey daemon for Toshiba laptops. fnfxd
fnfx-client Client for customize fnfxd hot-keys  
tpctl ThinkPad Configuration Tools for Linux tpctl
tpb program to use the IBM ThinkPad(tm) special keys  
ibm-acpi IBM ThinkPad ACPI Extras Driver  
hdapsd HDAPS daemon for IBM/Lenovo ThinkPads.  
thinkfan minimalist fan control daemon  
thinkfinger thinkfinger: fingerprint reader configuration
tp-smapi The harddisk protection does not work with the mainline kernel hdaps driver. Use this package instead.
kernel-patch-tpsmapi ThinkPad SMAPI BIOS patch for the Linux Kernel  
gaim-thinklight Blinks your ThinkPad's ThinkLight upon new messages  
rocklight Xmms visualisation plugin for Thinklights on IBM Thinkpads.  
pommed Apple MacBook & PowerBook hotkeys event handler source
gpomme graphical client for pommed  
wmpomme WindowMaker dockapp client for pommed  
pbbuttonsd PBButtons daemon to handle special hotkeys of Apple computers  
pbbuttonsd-dev Development files for PBButtons  
gtkpbbuttons-common GTK client for pbbuttonsd -- themes and other common data  
picturebook utilities for the SONY VAIO PictureBook  
keytouch Program to configure the extra function keys of multimedia keyboards.  
hotkey-setup auto-configures laptop hotkeys  
hotkeys A hotkeys daemon for your Internet/multimedia keyboard in X.  
kmilo laptop special keys support for KDE  

Removable Storage

   
pmount mount removable devices as normal user  
lsscsi list all SCSI devices (or hosts) currently on system  
usbmount automatically mount and unmount USB mass storage devices  
mountpy script for quick mounting of removable devices  

Mobile Solutions

   
timidity a software-only MIDI sequencer, requires no hardware specific MIDI port  
lshw list hardware in TXT or HTML  
lanoche generates a HTML report of laptop hardware (deprecated) lanoche
dgpsip correct GPS location with DGPS signal from internet  
sattrack satellite tracker and prediction  
seesat5 a satellite location program  

Smart Cards

   
libmusclepkcs11 PKCS support  
libcflexplugin SmartCard support Schlumberger CryptoFlex  
libmcardplugin SmartCard support JavaCard  
xcardii GUI to manage smart cards  
muscletools command line tools to manage smart cards  

Limited Resources/Optimization

   
pentium-builder force pentium optimized compilation  
upx-ucl an efficient live-compressor for executables  
perforate utilities to save disk space  
hdparm tune hard disk parameters for high performance  
systune writes kernel parameters, previously saved in a configuration file, to the /proc filesystem  
parted allows you to create, destroy, resize and copy partitions  
set6x86 modify the internal configuration registers in the 5x86 and 6x86 CPU (note: causes trouble with some hardware, during boot)  
dbuild take one or more Debian source packages and build the corresponding binary packages  
task-laptop meta package for laptop support - deprecated  
education-laptop metapackage containing dependencies for packages required on all laptop installations DebianEdu  
powertweak a tool for tweaking Linux systems to peak performance  
gok GNOME Onscreen Keyboard  
tpconfig A program to configure touchpad devices  
hotswap register/deregister hotswappable IDE hardware  
hotswap-gui (de)register hotswappable IDE hardware (GUI front-ends)  
hotswap-text (de)register hotswappable IDE hardware (command line tool)  
bcm4400-source module source for Broadcom's bcm4400 ethernet driver  

Hotkeys/Extrakeys

   
hotkeys daemon for your Internet/multimedia keyboard  
klineakconfig KDE configurator for lineakd  
acme provides support for the multimedia keys found on laptops  

Miscellaneous

   
aes2501-wy userspace software for USB aes2501 fingerprint scanner  
laptop-detect attempt to detect a laptop  
xournal GTK+ Application for note taking.  

Credits

I hope I didn't forget one.








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© Werner Heuser 1997-2013 · http://tuxmobil.org/debian_linux.html · last change Mon Apr 18 2011