Wednesday, July 18, 2018

LinuxCNC on Laptops

Most people say LinuxCNC can't be run on laptops. This is false; for low-end applications like those Chinese '3020' routers, software stepping via the parallel port on an old laptop works fine.

Some tweaking is required on almost all laptops - specifically, the system management interrupt (SMI) needs to be disabled. Fortunately, from a fresh install of LinuxCNC this is quite easy.

First, connect to the internet. Then, install the prerequisite packages:

sudo apt-get install libpci-dev vim

Next, grab the smictrl sources from Github. smictrl is a user-space tool to read and write the SMI status register.

git clone

Build the tool:

cd smictrl

Copy it:

sudo cp smictrl /usr/local/bin

Make it start at startup

sudo vim /etc/rc.local

and add

/usr/local/bin/smictrl -s 0
/usr/local/bin/smictrl -c 0x01

before the 'exit 0' line.

Reboot, and go into the BIOS and disable unnecessary peripherals (I've found that disabling everything networking related improves real-time performance) and you should be good to go.

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