Sunday, January 26, 2014

Installing Ubuntu 12.04 on Compaq Presario B1900 Laptop

I have an old laptop - a Compaq Presario B1900 - and I was wondering what to do with it since I was reluctant to part with it. So I decided to turn it into a Linux laptop - specifically an Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) laptop.

I discovered very early on that there were issues with Ubuntu 12.04 running on this laptop - the biggest of which had to do with the wifi and the sound hardware - the standard drivers simply did not work.  After doing a bit of research on the internet, I finally solved the drivers issues. This how-to guide is aimed at those having the same laptop and wants to use Ubuntu 12.04 on it. Just follow the steps below:

  1. Make sure that internet access is available to the laptop before installing Ubuntu - DO NOT USE wireless as the Broadcom drivers will NOT be recognized by Ubuntu. Use a Ethernet LAN connection to the internet instead.
  2. Install Ubuntu 12.04.3 (the latest version) on the laptop as usual by following the on-screen prompts. Restart the laptop upon completion.
  3. Run Update Manager and apply the latest updates to the system. Restart if prompted to do so.
  4. Open a terminal and run the following commands to install the Broadcom wireless drivers:
      sudo apt-get remove --purge bcmwl-kernel-source
      sudo apt-get install b43-fwcutter firmware-b43-installer
      sudo modprobe b43
      sudo su -
      echo "b43" >> /etc/modules

    Close the terminal and test the wireless by first switching off wireless (fn-f2) wait for a second and then switch it back on - it should work now. Remove the Ethernet LAN connection and reboot - wait for a while then connect - laptop's internet connection is now purely wireless.
  5. To fix the audio, first edit:

    sudo nano /usr/share/pulseaudio/alsa-mixer/paths/analog-output-speaker.conf

    Search for all lines beginning with "required-any" and comment them out by placing a "#" at the start of the line. Save the edits and close the file. Then edit:

    sudo nano /usr/share/pulseaudio/alsa-mixer/paths/analog-input-internal-mic.conf

    As before, search for all lines beginning with "required-any" and comment them out by placing a "#" at the start of the line. Save the edits and close the file. Then reboot the system. You should see all audio devices under 'System Settings' -> 'Sound'.
  6. To enable MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) support so that an Android smart-phone can be connected to the laptop via a USB cable for file transfer, execute:

      sudo apt-get install mtp-tools mtpfs

    Then install full support for MTP devices by first opening a terminal and then add the following PPA to your system:

      sudo add-apt-repository ppa:langdalepl/gvfs-mtp
     sudo apt-get update

    Then, close the terminal, launch Update Manager and install the available updates. Once everything has been updated successfully, restart your computer, unlock your Android device, connect it via USB and it should show up in your file manager.
That's it - you now have a Compaq Presario B1900 laptop running Ubuntu 12.04 on it. Enjoy!


  1. hello! I have b1900 installed Lubuntu 14.04, I could not find file "/usr/share/pulseaudio/alsa-mixer/paths/analog-output-speaker.conf" any idea? Thanks in advance!

    1. Sorry but I don't have Lubuntu 14.04 on my Presario. Could you check if Lubuntu is using Pulseaudio and that /usr/share/pulseaudio directory exists?

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