In our last episode, I overcame my innate n00b-ishness and finally got the Wacky Linux Wireless Card sponsored by Palmetto

to connect to my home wireless network. Still no luck here at work, but

I also haven’t tracked down the local IT admin to ask about the local

WEP key. More on that later. Right now, I have bigger fish to fry, such


  1. Solve the recurring mystery of why I can’t run my laptop off the battery
  2. Get a Ruby coding environment up and running on the laptop, so I can begin the Ruby Newbie series

As to Ruby, I’ve used Synaptic to download several packages, and I’ll

do the idiot’s configuration dance with them later. I have the sorry

suspicion I’m going to have to run a local database server to do any

real Ruby on Rails coding, so that should be one heck of a funny train

wreck to watch.

As to the battery, under the GNOME desktop, I can use System |

Adminstration | Device Manager to get some data on the battery (a lot,

actually). The property battery.present reads as true, as does battery.is_rechargeable.

The various different ways of phrasing the battery charge level all

read as full, yet when I try to boot up without the AC cord plugged in,

the system fails, and if I unplug the AC after the machine is running,

the laptop dies.

I figure there are two possible causes for the weirdness–hardware or

software. Hardware seems more likely, since the Compaq Armada series

appears to have a reputation for battery woes (at least, that’s part of

the reason my coworkers hated them when they were standard issue around

here.) Still, its also posible during my dodgy,

video-driver-complicated installation debacles that I hosed up

something in teh ACPI settings. I have no idea what that could be, or

how to fix it. Such wizardry is pretty far above my pay grade (as

various local Linux experts who’ve mocked my feeble Linux learnuing

curve have noted).

If its a hardware problem, I basically screwed, unless somebody has a spare they’re willing to donate, a la the aforementioned Wacky Linux Wireless Card sponsored by Palmetto. So, let’s assume it’s software-related, and get the Tech Q&A crowd involved: How do I diagnose a software problem with my laptop battery under Ubuntu?

Keep up with the Trivia Geek’s ongoing Wacky Linux Adventures with the wackylinux tag. If it doesn’t say wackylinux, it’s not really a wacky Linux adventure.