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Sylvania G Netbook Tips and Tricks

We have some tips for owners of the original (non-Meso) Sylvania G 8.9" netbook. If you have ever wished that the mouse didn't track so fast, or wanted some games and helpful apps for your netbook, you will leave this page as a much happier person!

  1. Log in. You need to be at your desktop with nothing open to do what I'm about to tell you!
  2. Right-click on the background. Click on "Create Launcher..."
  3. For the name, type something to the effect of "Mouse settings"
  4. For the command, type (without quotes) "gnome-mouse-properties" Click OK.
  5. Double-click on your new "Mouse settings" icon. Fix the Acceleration and Sensitivity sliders to the way you want them. Acceleration controls how much faster the pointer gets when you move your finger more quickly; Sensitivity is the raw tracking speed of the mouse. Move them around until you get the pointer going as slow as you want it to be. (The settings will change immediately as you move the sliders, so you don't have to worry about the bottom half of the panel being off-screen until you're done.)
  6. While you're here, you might as well change double-click and drag-and-drop thresholds if you want to do so.
  7. You'll need both hands to perform this stunt...here's how you can move a window in Linux even if the title bar is off-screen: hold ALT and you can drag the window by clicking ANYWHERE! So, put the pointer in the middle of the control panel, hold ALT, then hold the left mouse button too, and finally, move the touchpad UP with any spare finger you can find.
  8. Now, you can click Close, which you couldn't even see before!

Now that your mouse is fixed, you can use the machine normally! Whew.

If you're a Linux user who wants a command prompt, right-click on the desktop background again, "create launcher" and fill the name AND command with the word "xterm" (no quotes). You'll get a terminal launcher from which to do the next tricks...

Want access to the "root" account so you don't have to "sudo" every single command you need to run as root? Pop open an xterm, type "sudo bash" and enter your password to launch a root shell. This is fine on a temporary basis, but I went a step further and typed "passwd root" at said root shell and made a root password. Voila! Root account access via "su" instead of sudo.

I really REALLY hate the dock at the bottom of the screen, primarily because it hogs up space you desperately need on such a tiny laptop. Here's how to make that dock GO AWAY and not load anymore. The dock is called "wbar" and if you hop into a root shell, you can disable it with these steps (and find out how to turn stuff off that you otherwise might not have known):

  1. Open an xterm. Either "sudo bash" or "su" to get to a root shell, depending on your setup.
  2. Type "cd /etc/xdg/autostart"
  3. Type "ls" and you'll see all these little things that automatically start when you log in, like the battery meter and volume control. Notice "wbar.desktop" in there? That's the culprit.
  4. Type this and you'll have effectively disabled that dock at the bottom: "mv wbar.desktop ../autostart.disabled/" (remember that you can hit [tab] in the middle of typing something to have Linux try to complete part or all of what you're typing. If it does nothing, type more.)
  5. Type "exit" twice and the xterm will close. Log out and back in, and that pesky dock is GONE.

Did you know that your computer comes with applications that ARE NOT in the list under the gOS menu? A couple of handy things to put in the "command" part of the "create launcher" box include "gnome-sudoku" and "gnome-sound-recorder" and "gnome-calculator". If you get really bored, open an xterm, type "gnome-" and hit [tab] twice. You'll see all the GNOME programs that gOS has installed, and you might see some program names that you didn't expect. That's how I found Sudoku, Calculator, and the sound recorder application!

While you're here, create a launcher for "gedit" on the desktop. It's a text editor like Notepad on Windows, and if you need to jot something down fast, it's much better than waiting for OpenOffice.org Writer to start.

Windows XP and Sylvania G Timing Issues

Thanks to a helpful developer at the ZSNES forum, we found the solution to the VIA C7 platform speed/timing problems with certain programs.

Edit C:\BOOT.INI and add the /usepmtimer switch to the boot command line for Windows XP. This uses a timer that is stable even when in power management modes, which means that the throttling of the C7 CPU and accompanying chipset do not affect its timing characteristics.

Some applications like ZSNES rely on a very precise and stable timing mechanism (in the case of ZSNES, speed regulation depends on QueryPerformanceCounter) and the normal timer on this platform is unstable in certain power management states. Also, we used WCPUID's real-time clock display to figure out that the System control panel (sysdm.cpl) reports the frequency wrong on the C7 and that it is in fact running at 1200 MHz when under a full load, despite Windows' insistence that somehow the CPU is going as low as 198 MHz when the lowest ACPI P-state is 400 MHz.

If you have games on this netbook and are experiencing strange timing jerks or other glitches, you need this simple fix.