Individual Entry

My envy is not my ENVY17

My venerable old 17" Toshiba Satellite has been demonstrating that its time is nigh, so I'd been shopping for a new laptop to replace it. The selection criteria was simple — 17" display, keyboard with alternate/numeric keypad, and it had to be capable of fitting comfortably into my red Vanguard® attaché case along with my 17" MacBook Pro. I looked at several candidates and had narrowed it down to two; another Toshiba or an HP Envy. The Envy was thinner but also much pricier; however, I was able to get a nice discount which brought the HP Envy in at about US$1000.00 including the state sales tax. So, I made its purchase. This is the first system that I have purchased new with the added baggage of Billy-tax — Micro$oft WEENDOZE. Hear it not, Duncan, for this system never booted this demonic seed! It was erased from the drive upon arrival and I began my protracted sojourn to install Ubuntu.

Before I committed to the purchase, I'd read a number of blogs — avoiding ridiculous YouTube videos — about installing Ubuntu on the HP Envy. Most, if not all, of the accounts were with the 15" HP Envy but they gave me hope that installing Ubuntu was possible on my 17" Envy when it arrived. There were also a few accounts of people who had some success with Hackintosh too on the HP Envy. Hope springs eternal.

My HP Envy 17 arrived ahead of schedule. Almost two weeks ahead of its scheduled delivery date. It was very nicely packaged too. In HP's defense, and I've been very critical of HP, they did a very nice job on the design of the Envy.

HP Envy 17t-3000

Of course, it is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and therefore, HP's Envy is flattering Apple's MacBook Pros. Cast aluminium body, black-framed display, and even a back-lighted keyboard; sadly, the Micro$oft swastika still adorns the keyboard and the underside of the case. Fortunately, a small Ubuntu keytop-label I purchased covers the swastika and it fits just inside the circle so that the back-light on that key is still visible.

This Envy laptop was, however, specifically designed/engineered to be WEENDOZE biased and, in my humble opinion, anything else hostile. The BIOS is lame and what few things that are changeable exude the foul oder of WEENDOZE. The hardware choices for wireless, video, audio, ethernet, bluetooth, etc. may just be because they were the latest and greatest offerings at the time of manufacture, or they may have been intentional. Regardless, these hardware choices erected some interesting hurdles to the smooth installation of Ubuntu.

Installing Ubuntu

I chose to install Ubuntu 10.10. Why, you ask? I simply do not like the new user interface introduced with Ubuntu 11.04 and its Gnome-Classic option has elided a number of features. Perhaps, as an upgrade, I might be able to maintain some of the prior Ubuntu offerings but, from a clean install, it was just more effort than I was willing to invest.

I inserted the Ubuntu 10.10 distribution CD and booted from it. I tried a few things before installing to the hard drive just to appease myself that it was viable. Of special interest at this phase of the installation pre-trial was the wireless card. Happily, this configured itself and I was able to get on my wireless network allowing me to download many of the updates at the time of installation. The installation was effortlessly painless. After about half an hour, maybe more, the Envy was ready to boot Ubuntu 10.10 from its hard drive and, when it did, it was extremely fast!

It was now time to tackle the usual Ubuntu/Linux hardware issues: sound, video, and sundry peripherals. With this laptop, a new item to configure too. This is the first laptop, other than my MacBook Pros and PowerBooks, which had built-in Bluetooth.

Enabling Bluetooth

The trackpad of the Envy 17 is very sensitive to touch. If you look at it wrong, the pointer goes racing from one side to the other. Contrary to its sensitivity to mouse movement, it requires much greater effort to click than on my MacBook Pro. This required much nerve-calming Guinness imbibing until I was able to get the Bluetooth configured. I had to get the Bluetooth working so that I could use one, of many, Bluetooth enabled pointing rodents in lieu of the wonky trackpad.

To begin, I entered: $ lshw -numeric -businfo and perused the output for Bluetooth.

Bus info Device Class Description

pci@0000:00:00.0 bridge Sandy Bridge DRAM Controller [8086:104]
pci@0000:00:01.0 bridge Sandy Bridge PCI Express Root Port [8086:101]
pci@0000:01:00.0 display ATI Technologies Inc [1002:6740]
pci@0000:01:00.1 multimedia ATI Technologies Inc [1002:AA90]
pci@0000:00:01.1 bridge Sandy Bridge PCI Express Root Port [8086:105]
pci@0000:00:01.2 bridge Sandy Bridge PCI Express Root Port [8086:109]
pci@0000:00:02.0 display Sandy Bridge Integrated Graphics Controller [8086:126]
pci@0000:00:16.0 communication Cougar Point HECI Controller #1 [8086:1C3A]
pci@0000:00:1a.0 bus Cougar Point USB Enhanced Host Controller #2 [8086:1C2D]
pci@0000:00:1b.0 multimedia Cougar Point High Definition Audio Controller [8086:1C20]
pci@0000:00:1c.0 bridge Cougar Point PCI Express Root Port 1 [8086:1C10]
pci@0000:09:00.0 wlan0 network Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 [8086:4238]
pci@0000:00:1c.2 bridge Cougar Point PCI Express Root Port 3 [8086:1C14]
pci@0000:0a:00.0 scsi6 generic Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. [10EC:5209]
pci@0000:00:1c.4 bridge Cougar Point PCI Express Root Port 5 [8086:1C18]
pci@0000:10:00.0 eth0 network Illegal Vendor ID [FFFF:FFFF]
pci@0000:00:1c.6 bridge Cougar Point PCI Express Root Port 7 [8086:1C1C]
pci@0000:11:00.0 bus uPD720200 USB 3.0 Host Controller [1033:194]
pci@0000:00:1c.7 bridge Cougar Point PCI Express Root Port 8 [8086:1C1E]
pci@0000:12:00.0 bus uPD720200 USB 3.0 Host Controller [1033:194]
pci@0000:00:1d.0 bus Cougar Point USB Enhanced Host Controller #1 [8086:1C26]
pci@0000:00:1f.0 bridge Cougar Point LPC Controller [8086:1C49]
pci@0000:00:1f.2 storage Cougar Point 6 port SATA AHCI Controller [8086:1C03]
pci@0000:00:1f.3 bus Cougar Point SMBus Controller [8086:1C22]

There was no Bluetooth listed in the above output. So, I set out to see if the Bluethooth incorporated in the Envy 17 was USB. I issued the command $ lsusb and reviewed the following output.

Bus 002 Device 004: ID 064e:e258 Suyin Corp.
Bus 002 Device 003: ID 0424:b832 Standard Microsystems Corp.
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0a5c:21e1 Broadcom Corp.
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

I then issued $ lsusb -d 064e:e258 -v and reviewed its verbose output. This was a video device — most likely the built-in webcam. I then issued $ lsusb -d 0424:b832 -v and reviewed its verbose output. This device was an audio class device; certainly not the Bluetooth. The only other ID in the list that was not a hub was then explored with the command $ lsusb -d 0a5c:21e1 -v. Perusing its verbose output was inconclusive, so I resorted to a Google search of the ID. I found a number of links which said that this was the Bluetooth — a Broadcom BCM20702A0. This device can be configured into the kernel to use the BTUSB module. Well, I wasn't about to begin a full-blown kernel patch and rebuild, so I opted for a temporary hack. I put the following into a file called /etc/init.d/envy-bluetooth.

modprobe btusb
echo "0a5c 21e1" >> /sys/bus/usb/drivers/btusb/new_id

I then issued $ sudo update-rc.d to cause this script to be executed when Ubuntu boots. I logged out and restarted the Envy 17. When I logged in, the Bluetooth icon in the Indicator Applet region of the menu bar now showed that Bluetooth was active. I proceeded to register an old MacAlly Bluetooth scroll-wheel mouse.

Macally Bluetooth Mouse

Hooray! No more need to contend with the wonky trackpad. I then installed Touchpad-Indicator — an applet to allow enabling and disabling of the trackpad.

Enabling Wired-Ethernet

This Envy is a laptop; therefore, for most of my needs, wireless ethernet is satisfactory. However, there are times when I find I need to use wired ethernet, so I plugged a cable into the Envy's ethernet port and plugged the other end into one of my switches. Nothing! Even with /etc/networking/interfaces containing auto eth0, the wired ethernet did not auto-configure.

The wired ethernet is a Atheros Communications device, which was discovered using the command $ lshw -numeric -businfo -C network.

Bus info Device Class Description
pci@0000:09:00.0 wlan0 network Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 [8086:4238]
pci@0000:10:00.0 eth0 network Atheros Communications [1969:1083]

Again, after some Google research on this device's ID, I learned that I was able to support this device with a driver that was part of the Ubuntu 10.10 distribution. Again, instead of hacking the kernel, I opted for a simpler hack to configure the Atheros controller. I created a file /etc/init.d/envy-ethernet and populated it with the following.

modprobe atl1e
echo "1969 1083" >> /sys/bus/pci/drivers/ATL1E/new_id

Instead of logging out, I decided to try initializing the Atheros controller manually. I entered...

$ sudo -s
[sudo] password for vaxman: wouldn't-you-like-to-know?
root@ENVY:~# /etc/init.d/envy-ethernet

Within a brief second or two, the lights on both the Envy's ethernet port and those on the switch to which it was connected began to flash. With this confirmed to be working, I issued $ sudo update-rc.d to insure that this script was executed when the Envy next booted.

Enabling Beats™ Audio

Enabling the audio on this Envy turned out to be the simplest of the tasks. A Google search turned up the magic incantation. The Beats Audio can be enabled by simply adding the following text:

# Configuration for Envy "Beats Audio"
options snd-hda-intel model=ref

to the file /etc/modprobe/alsa-base.conf. When the Envy was rebooted, sound was enabled. I'm still not convinced that there's anything special about this Beats™ Audio system. It still sounds like music played from tiny laptop speakers. They may be fine for today's cRAP music but not for the majestic ebbs and themes of Atom Heart Mother.

Enabling SD/MMC Media Reader

With everything else apparently functioning, I inserted an 8GB SD card which I had populated with from files from the old Toshiba Satellite. Lo and behold, this was not working. Once again, I issued $ lshw -numeric -businfo and perused the output. There is was.

pci@0000:0a:00.0 scsi6 generic Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. [10EC:5209]

I visited the Realtek web site and drilled down to their downloads page. There, I found driver downloads for WEENDOZE, Linux and Mac OS X. According to the information under the Linux download section, I found a download link which read:

LINUX driver for kernel 2.6.x and 2.4.x (Support x86 and x64)

However, what was not evident was whether this driver would support the 5209 devices. I downloaded the file from the above link and extracted its contents using the Ubuntu Archive Manager onto the Desktop in a folder called rts_pstor. This folder contained the source code for this driver. In the file rtsx.c, I found my answer.

static DEFINE_PCI_DEVICE_TABLE(rtsx_ids) = {
{ 0, },

I proceeded to build and install the driver.

vaxman@ENVY:~/Desktop/rts_pstor$ sudo su root
[sudo] password for vaxman: wouldn't-you-like-to-know?
root@ENVY:/home/vaxman/Desktop/rts_pstor# make
root@ENVY:/home/vaxman/Desktop/rts_pstor# make install
root@ENVY:/home/vaxman/Desktop/rts_pstor# depmod

After going this, I rebooted the Envy and logged in. This time, when I plugged in the 8GB SD card, it appeared.

Envy-ous yet?

Most of this new Envy seems to now be functional. There are some issues still not sorted out with the graphics which would permit the full use of the Radeon graphics but, since I don't use my laptop for gaming or idle video viewing, I'm not too overly concerned with that. The trackpad still remains wonky with its over sensitivity to touch to move the pointer and its need to apply WAY too much effort to click. Click and drag is virtually impossible.

One other thing to consider is the function keys. The BIOS makes them active without having to use the [Fn] key. This caused quite a concern one evening when I could not access wireless or Bluetooth. There is a networking enable-disable function built into the [F12] key. It was accidentally depressed causing the Envy to turn off its wireless and Bluetooth. I have since enabled the [Fn] key in the Envy's BIOS settings.

Reader Comment

> This is the first system that I have purchased new with the added baggage of Billy-tax — Micro$oft WEENDOZE. Hear it not, Duncan, for this system never booted this demonic seed! It was erased from the drive upon arrival and I began my protracted sojourn to install Ubuntu.

Whew! Had me worried for a while there, Brian!

by: Mike Kier (Email ) on 14-Mar-2012 11:55


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