Linux on HP/Compaq Deskpro DC7700

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Although “Linux” seems a little vague, I’ve seen people complaining about their problems with this HP/Compaq model on almost any distribution. These small-form factor desktops are one of those labeled with Windows-ready logo - and support for in can only be found on HP’s forums. Actually, HP clearly states (somewhere) Linux is not supported. But…

When you boot this little machines with Linux, we may find that it will hang mentioning it will do something with ACPI. That’s a good hint, which leads you to pass the kernel option acpi=off. This will disable ACPI entirely, so you will probably want to use pci=conf1 instead. It gave me ACPI (at least at a minimum, I did not explore it).

However, another problem remained: hard disk performance was awfull, rounding about 3.5 MB/sec with a SATA disk. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the first disk was enumerated as /dev/hda, which is not usual for SCSI-based devices, as this SATA disk. I found two solutions, both fixing both oddities:

  • Going to the BIOS and change SATA Emulation from “IDE” to “RAID”. I booted once, and the disk now showed as /dev/sda. I did not perform further tests as this measure seemed to scramble the already installed LVM volume groups. Did not spend time trying to fix it, either, nor benchmarking it.
  • It seems there is some kind of misbehaviour while detecting the disks, so passing hda=noprobe to the booting kernel will tell it to not rely on what the BIOS report, and this seems to fix the problem quite accurately. I’ll be monitoring the disk in the next days.

I hope these annotations help someone with similar problems. Here are the references I used:

  1. HP IT Resource Center forums: the dc770 just don’t do linux.
  2. LinuxQuestions.org:  slow disk in fedora 6 / hda sda detection issue

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