Saturday, 31 July 2010

Samsung Jet - Android slowly becoming a reality

This excellent piece of hardware was crippled by Samsung's poor operating system but those who own a Samsung Jet continue to live in hope as the JetDroid project continues to make progress.

The JetDroid project is an attempt to port the popular Google Android operating system to the Samsung Jet.

The people working on the JetDroid project are talented volunteers who together in their free time are making what some thought impossible, possible.

You can follow the project at: http://code.google.com/p/jetdroid/

Here is a video the JetDroid team released showing the Samsung Jet booting into a very limited Google Android.



Check out the JetDroid project page for more details.

Keep up the good work!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

OpenSUSE 11.3 - First Impressions

Thanks to my 10MB Virgin Media connection it only took a few hours too long to download, courtesy of their traffic management system.

As always I went for the 64-bit DVD version and after checking the SHA1 I quickly burnt it to a DVD+R disk.

If you have used the previous version of OpenSUSE, you will be quite familiar with the installer. In fact it is the same but with different graphics.

I am not surprised that the installer has remained the same because it is quite hard to improve something which does an excellent job, OpenSUSE has the best installer of any distribution I have used with some great options for the more advanced user.

Installing OpenSUSE 11.3 is very quick, in about 10 minutes it was all done.

Since I am a KDE fan, I chose to install KDE. OpenSUSE 11.3 comes with KDE 4.4.4 which I have already been using in Gentoo.

After logging in, I must admit I do not like the default green wallpaper but I do like the performance.

The system feels quite nippy and is a big improvement over 11.2. In fact I am quite amazed with this release. Opening a few applications such as Firefox, OpenOffice, Kaffeine and browsing through folders with Dolphin was reasonably quick.

The sluggish performance I felt in OpenSUSE 11.2 seems to have disappeared and I installed Gentoo in favour of 11.2 for this very reason.

As it happens I wiped out my Gentoo install in order to try out OpenSUSE 11.3, question is do I put it back?

For now I will continue to evaluate OpenSUSE 11.3, I have only been using it for a few minutes but already feel it is going to be a good release.

Time will tell if any hidden monsters await and I will be keeping an eye on the OpenSUSE forums to see what horror stories may surface.

OpenSUSE 11.3 with KDE 4.4.4 (Oxygen Theme and a nicer wallpaper)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Clonezilla - A free easy to use disk imaging program

If your PC operating system becomes corrupt it can be a pain to reinstall it all over again. This is why disk images are so beneficial. With a disk image you can restore your operating system in minutes.

You may have heard of Symantec Ghost or Acronis True Image, both of which are good disk imaging programs but Clonezilla not only does a good job but is free.

I have heard about Clonezilla for a long time but never used it until today.

Clonezilla: http://clonezilla.org/

It doesn't have a nice graphical user interface and does have a few limitations but it is very straight forward and simple.

I decided to try it out on my Samsung R510 Laptop which has Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit installed.

Clonezilla runs from a Live CD and allows you to clone a disk to another disk or a disk to an image file.

There are also further options, for example cloning the entire disk or just a partition.

In my case I was interested in cloning the entire disk.

Clonezilla is so easy to use that it is just a case of hitting the enter button a few times. Generally all you have to do is select clone disk to image, then select where to save the image and finally which disk to clone. That is more or less it.

What I liked about Clonezilla was after I chose to save to a local disk, the program instructed to plug in any USB storage devices and hit the enter button.

So at this point I plugged in my external USB 250GB disk which features an NTFS filesystem and followed the on screen instructions.

The total disk space in use on my Samsung R510 was identified by Clonezilla as 23.9GB, which took about 12 minutes to clone to an image file on my external USB NTFS formatted drive.

Clonezilla was able to clone the drive to an image with a file size of 6.99GB which is about 30% of the used disk size, not bad.

In contrast to Acronis True Image, Clonezilla does not create a single image file.

It creates multiple files with the main drive data broken up into 2GB chunks although you can alter this by changing the expert settings.

Below is a screenshot showing the contents of my Clonezilla image. The Clonezilla program created a folder on my external USB drive called 2010-07-14-16-img, the screenshot shows the contents of that folder.

By default the 2GB max file size results in 4 main disk data files as can be seen

So if I had changed the expert settings to create 8GB file chunks, rather than 4 main data files I would have had only 1.

Unfortunately Clonezilla is not able to burn directly to CD's / DVD's or restore from CD's / DVD's.

You could burn the image files later on to a DVD for safe keeping, it is always good to have more than one backup.

Restoring the image files created by Clonezilla took about 25 minutes and was successful.

Does 25 minutes sound too long?

Well, I would rather restore an image in 25 minutes than install Windows Vista, then SP1, then SP2, then do a Windows Update followed by downloading and installing various drivers and programs. All that would take a few hours.

So if you want a free disk imaging program, try out Clonezilla.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

How to open a Samsung R510 Notebook / Laptop


Important

Make sure you have and use the right tools. Many small screws require a sharp small screwdriver and using the wrong size may damage the screw and screwdriver.

Opening your Laptop will void its warranty.

You are responsible for your Laptop and open it at your own risk.

Introduction

This guide will show you how to fully open and disassemble a Samsung R510 Notebook / Laptop.

Laptops are always tricky to open but I am happy to say the Samsung R510 isn't that bad. Essentially to fully disassemble a Samsung R510 involves doing the below steps more or less in the order as follows,

Step 1 - Remove battery, CD / DVD unit and Hard Drive
Step 2 - Keyboard removal
Step 3 - Disconnect SPK, MIC, Touchpad and remove top cover
Step 4 - Disconnect the LCD connector, WiFi module, Internal hinge screws and Monitor screen
Step 5 - Removing the Motherboard
Step 6 - Fan and Heatsink removal
Step 7 - Cleaning and Refitting

Putting it back together involves reversing the steps above but if you decide to take the heatsink off you must renew the thermal material before re-attaching the heatsink.

This means removing and cleaning the old thermal material completely from the Processor, Northbridge chip and heatsink.

I used Isopropanol Alcohol (IPA) to clean the old thermal material and applied Artic Cooling MX-2 thermal compound.

Step 1 - Remove battery, CD / DVD unit and Hard Drive

Place the R510 on a flat surface, upside down. Place a soft cloth to protect the piano black lid.


Underside of a Samsung R510

Remove the battery.

Remove the securing screws for the KDB and CD / DVD


There are 2x keyboard screws and 1x CD / DVD

 Slide the CD / DVD unit out.


The CD / DVD unit is easy to slide out

Remove the 2x screws securing the HDD cover and slide the cover off.


Remember to use the correct size screw driver

Take out the hard drive by sliding / pulling it left. You can use the black to aid pulling it out.


Slide this entire silver unit left

Step 2 - Keyboard removal

Flip the R510 the right way up and open the screen. Along the bottom of the keyboard are three protruding plastic clips. These clips prevent the keyboard from being pulled out.

You will have to push and hold each clip inwards and at the same time pull the keyboard up. Once the base of the keyboard has cleared the clip, release the clip. This process will have to be repeated for each clip.


Notice the clip in the middle of the Fn and Windows key


The second clip, under the space bar button


The last clip, under the cursor key


I used a small flat head screwdriver to push and hold each plastic clip inwards, then carefully pull the keyboard up. I was just about able to use my finger nails to pull up from under a few of the keyboard keys.

Alternatively use a flat piece of card or plastic, eg credit card.

Once the keyboard is no longer being secured by the 3 clips, carfully raise the keyboard. Do not pull it out, as you will see it is still attached to the motherboard via a plastic ribbon cable.


The plastic ribbon cable

To detach the ribbon cable, simply lift up the black latch on the connector. Refer to the picture below.


Notice the black strip has been raised in a vertical position

With the black latch open, slide the plastic ribbon cable out, then close the latch.

You can now fully remove the keyboard.

Step 3 - Disconnect SPK, MIC, Touchpad and remove top cover

With the keyboard out you should now be able to see a few more connectors. These must be disconnected so we can remove the top cover.


Three additional cut outs provide access to more cables

Be careful when removing these connectors, some may seem quite hard to pull out.

Touchpad connector


Touchpad connector, another plastic style ribbon cable

To detach the touchpad, slide the darker beige plastic part downwards. This will release the ribbon cable for the touchpad allowing you to pull it out.


Notice how the darker beige part has been pulled

The plastic ribbon cable can now be freed

SPK and MIC connector

These are both straight forward, simply pull the connectors out.


Smaller connectors can seem harder to pull

Close the Laptop screen, and flip the R510 upside down so you can see the base.


A colourful illustration showing where certain screws are

We are almost ready to remove the top cover but first a number of screws must be removed.

Referring to the picture above, I have highlighted where the screws are. Different colours represent a different type of screw.

To avoid confusion it is best to remove screws of the same type, keeping them somewhere safe in their groups.

First remove the 15x screws highlighted in green.

Then remove the 3x screws highlighted in orange.


A close up of the 3x screws highlighted in orange (above)

Now remove the 1x screw highlighted in blue.


Close up of the screw highlighted as blue (above)

Finally remove the 2x hinge screws highlighted in purple.



Close up of the left hinge screw, right is identical. Highlighted as purple (above)

Flip the R510 back to its normal position and open the screen lid.

With all the securing screws now removed, the top cover can carefully be pulled away from the base.

The left, bottom and right side of the top cover are clipped to the base. The upper part which is under the screen has no clips and was secured only to the base by the 3x screws highlighted above in orange.


The left corner, the top cover is slightly raised.

I found it easier to start from the left corner, pull the top cover from the base working your way along the edge. You will hear a click noise when pulling the top cover from the base which will indicate a clip has been unclipped.


The top cover, partially away from the base

The top cover can flex sightly, working from the left corner I used one hand to keep the left corner of the top cover separated from the base and the other hand to work along the edge, carefully pulling the cover from the base.

Once you have unclipped the top cover from the base, push the monitor screen fully back. This will allow you to extract the top cover completely.

Step 4 - Disconnect the LCD connector, WiFi module, Internal hinge screws and Monitor screen

The LCD screen prevents the motherboard from being removed, due to the left hinge.


The top cover has been removed, revealing the motherboard

Be careful when handling the motherboard and try to avoid contact with any of the electronic components.

LCD connector

Carefully and partially peel back the orange tape, then disconnect the LCD connector and smaller sub connector.


The orange tape is not very sticky

Notice the white wire which is also secured by the tape, remember to free this wire.

WiFi module


The WiFi module, once the black screw is removed, it will spring up

First follow the back and white wire from the WiFi module and make sure to free both wires where ever they are secured by orange tape and the small black rectangle sponges.

Where appropriate, carefully pull back the tape to free the wire, then lightly stick the tape back down. You will need to use it again when putting everything back together.

The wires can effortlessly be pulled from the small black sponges.

There is no need to remove the silver tape, but remember to free the black wire from the plastic base.

Now remove the securing screw on the WiFi module, then pull the module out and place it inside the base on the right side of the motherboard.

Internal hinge screws

There are two hinge screws, one for the left and one for the right.


The left hinge screw

The right hinge screw

Remove both screws.

Lifting the screen

You are now ready to detach the screen, remember it is still being restricted due to the wires but you will be able to place the screen alongside the base as illustrated below.

Just lift the screen up and away from the base.


The screen is no longer attached to the base

As you can see the screen is laying on the left of the base, and the WiFi module plus associated wires are out of the way.

Step 5 - Removing the Motherboard

We are now ready to remove the Motherboard, which is secured by 4 screws to the base.


3x screws, a black and two silver

1x black screw, which also keeps in place a black cover

With the screws gone, the Motherboard can be lifted out. Try and handle the Motherboard by touching the edge of the PCB only.

Before taking the Motherboard out, prepare somewhere to place it. I used an inside out antistatic bag on a flat surface.

The motherboard of a Samsung R510, the wrong way up?

It helps to have plenty of space to work with. Just on the left of the Motherboard is the laptop base, and on the left of that is the Monitor screen.

Step 6 - Fan and heatsink removal

First flip the Motherboard the opposite way up.

The fan can be removed independently from the heatsink.

Fan removal


Flipping the motherboard, gives you access to the heatsink. Nice to see solid capacitors.

Disconnect the fan power connector, then remove the 2x screws securing the fan to the Motherboard.

The fan can now be easily removed.


The heatsink fan

Heatsink removal

Only remove the heatsink if you intend to re-apply the thermal material.

Out of choice I would pick Artic Cooling MX-3 compound but since I didn't have any I had to stick with the older generation MX-2 compound.

Artic Cooling MX-2/3  is an excellent thermal paste, especially given that it is not conductive or capacitative you can make a mess without drastic consequences.


The cooling system, is quite small but does the job

The heatsink is secured in two places, first by the Northbridge chip via 2x screws, and secondly by the Processor via 4x screws.

Note, these screws do not fully unscrew and detach from the springs. Simply loosen them from their mountings.

Once done, the heatsink can freely be detached.


Looks like more than enough thermal paste was used

Step 7 - Cleaning and Refitting

I hope you have enjoyed pulling your R510 apart. Putting it back together is the reversal of removal but you must clean off the thermal material and apply new thermal compound.

I used kitchen towel to wipe off as much of the current thermal material from the Processor, Northbridge chip and heatsink, then used Isopropanol Alcohol for a clean finish.


Sparkling clean, however the Northbridge also requires cleaning

If you were not sure what the Northbridge was, look at the above photo.

I have the Samsung R510 with the Intel X4500 graphics, which is part of the Northbridge chip.


Clean, but the copper base could do with a polish

Clean but why was aluminium used instead of copper?

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture showing how thermal paste should be applied on the Processor and Northbridge.

The idea is to apply a thin layer on the core, the tiny square / rectangle bit in the middle.

See page 6 of the Artic Silver manual in the below link which gives a good explanation.

http://www.arcticsilver.com/pdf/appmeth/int/ss/intel_app_method_surface_spread_v1.1.pdf

Once you have applied the thermal paste to the Processor and Northbridge, carefully align the heatsink and screw it in place. Do not over tighten the screws but make sure they are tight enough.

Putting it back together

To put the R510 back together, just follow the steps in reverse.

If any parts are dusty, give it a clean.

For example, you can use a brush to clean out the fan and heatsink fins. Alternatively use a can of compressed air.

If the Motherboard is dusty, use compressed air only, do not wipe with a cloth. This may cause damage due to static.