In a previous post in this section I noted that the Linux kernel no longer supports my Thinkpad A21M's sound card, and I have been using USB speakers instead. (Another post talks about a borked mother board, which turns out to have been not the case. More on that one another time.)
Suddenly out of the blue with the latest Debian 2.6.30 kernel I am getting something loading that is pretending to be a sound card and reporting itself to my mixer as a "PC Speaker". The problem with this is both Debian user-land and Linux applications make it difficult to switch from one sound card to another, either globally or per application, and everything defaults to the first sound card. Which spot is now being squatted upon by this useless "PC Speaker" thing, making it difficult for me to use the USB speakers.
This appears to be the culprit: a "pcsp" module. And sure enough, lsmod tells me there is a snd_pcsp being loaded. So I added:
to /etc/modprobe.d/x-local-blacklist, rebooted, and it went away. Back to functioning USB speakers.
In recent days this poor suffering Thinkpad a21m (running pretty much all day, every day for the past four years) has taken to locking-up periodically, and then sometimes refusing to start afterwards. When it does the latter, it cannot seem to find the hardrive. However, swapping in a second hardrive brings no improvement. This behavior really resembles a fan / overheating problem. However, I can sometimes clearly hear the fan on, and what I can see from periodically monitoring the temperature would indicate this is not a temperature problem. I even went to the trouble of disassembling the whole machine and physically examining the fan. I also found a software means of forcing the fan to run continuously at high speed. All to no avail, the machine still dies.
Conclusion: motherboard is toast. Which on such an old (PIII 800 MHz) machine means retirement, as the cost of a whole new machine of similar vintage (just over US$100 in a local market) would be not a lot more then the cost of another motherboard. Time to go shopping....
For posterity, I will record how I went about controlling the fan, per this fine document, using kernel 2.6.30:
Unload the relevant module should it already be loaded:
rmmod thinkpad-acpiNow reload the module with fan control turned on:
modprobe thinkpad-acpi fan_control=1Inspect the state of the fan controls thusly:
cat /proc/acpi/ibm/fanAnd crank up the fan to full speed:
echo level full-speed > /proc/acpi/ibm/fan
You should get instant auditory feedback from the last action. At least on an a21m, full speed is REALLY LOUD. I have never heard it run that hard in all the years I have owned the machine, so fearing for the safety of the fan I toned the speed down to level 7. Still loud, but not outrageously so.
$ lspci 00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 440BX/ZX/DX - 82443BX/ZX/DX Host bridge (rev 03) 00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 440BX/ZX/DX - 82443BX/ZX/DX AGP bridge (rev 03) 00:02.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI1450 (rev 03) 00:02.1 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI1450 (rev 03) 00:03.0 Ethernet controller: Intel Corporation 82557/8/9/0/1 Ethernet Pro 100 (rev 09) 00:03.1 Serial controller: Xircom Mini-PCI V.90 56k Modem 00:05.0 Multimedia audio controller: Cirrus Logic CS 4614/22/24/30 [CrystalClear SoundFusion Audio Accelerator] (rev 01) 00:07.0 Bridge: Intel Corporation 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 ISA (rev 02) 00:07.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 IDE (rev 01) 00:07.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 USB (rev 01) 00:07.3 Bridge: Intel Corporation 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 ACPI (rev 03) 01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Rage Mobility P/M AGP 2x (rev 64) 02:00.0 USB Controller: NEC Corporation USB (rev 43) 02:00.1 USB Controller: NEC Corporation USB (rev 43) 02:00.2 USB Controller: NEC Corporation USB 2.0 (rev 04)
This is a big, heavy 14-inch LCD machine with everything, including floppy, removable CD drive, and two PCMCIA card slots. Your basic desktop replacement. As a Pentium III 800 MHz running Linux, this machine is just at the threshold of "just fast enough" for your normal user. I have noticed that slower machines, say around 500 MHz, tend to be noticably sluggish, and are clearly unable to play some kinds of video.
The a21m currently has a serious issue: the sound card used to work, but undistributable firmware is required to use the Cirrus Logic sound card, so apparently the snd-cs46xx module has been ripped out of the kernel until further notice. Solution: use a USB sound card.