Linux on a Toshiba 1800

This page is setup to share my experiences installing and configuring linux on a Toshiba Satellite 1800-S203 Part #PS181U-00CFC2E. I purchased the laptop from shoptoshiba.com. The laptop was on backorder when I ordered it. It shipped about 2 weeks after the original order date. It arrived via FedEx in great condition. The box contained the laptop, manuals, software, and the power adapter.

I had originally thought that the system came dual-boot Win98/WinME. Turns out that you have the choice of which to use once at install time and then the other OS is deleted. I booted into Win98SE just long enough to see that all the hardware worked and to see that there was way to much junk already installed. I decided to make a dual boot Win98/Linux system instead.

Initial install of Windows

I rebooted the system and put in my Win98SE CD (NOT the recovery CD) and proceeded to fdisk the drive. I removed the primary partition and made another vfat partition of 8000 megs. I made it bootable and restarted. I then formated the partition (with the /s flag) and copied the cab files off the cdrom onto the drive. I removed the cd and rebooted. I installed Windows using mostly default settings. I then went to my desktop and browsed over to http://pcsupport.toshiba.com and downloaded all the files for my system. I burned these files to a cdrom and installed most of them on the system. This went well. I won’t go into detail because this is a Linux information page.

Installation of Linux

I chose Linux Slackware because it is the distribution I prefer. Other distributions will vary, but the information here should be helpful. I was pleasantly surprised to find my laptop booted off of the Slackware cd. I believe this could be because my laptop has version 1.90 of the bios. I don’t even see this bios on their site. If your system refused to boot off of the cdrom, you can make boot disks. Please see the CDROM REAME for more information. I used the 2.4.5 kernel on the Slackware 8.0 cdrom. I did this so I could use reiserfs. Being on a laptop, I knew it would help in the event of the battery going dead. I put a 256M partition for swap on the system (Partition 2) and the remaining 6 Gig went to / on linux. I then let the slackware installation utility scan for my cdrom, which worked great. I did a full install of the software, which probably wasn’t the best idea. It installed a 2.2.19 kernel as the /vmlinuz and I was unable to boot the system due to a lack of support for reiserfs. I got around this by making a 2.4.5 boot dist (bare245.i) and issuing mount root=/dev/hda3 at the prompt. When the system came up, I made my own kernel (see next section). After installing it, I rebooted to my new, barely working system. Now I had to setup the individual parts.

Kernel Config

Because a laptop is a very customized system, I decided to install a custom kernel. This was really easy. I just cd’ed to /usr/src/linux-2.4.5 and applied some patches. The first patch I applied ships with Slackware. It is in the /usr/src directory. Take a look at /usr/src/README.reiserfs.diff for information on this patch. If you are using a newer kernel than 2.4.5, this isn’t necessary. I also applied a wireless patch because I wanted to use an Orinoco Silver wireless card. Please see http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/Jean_Tourrilhes/Linux/Orinoco.html for more information. This is only necessary if you plan on using an Orinico/relative wireless card. Please see the Files section for these patches and my .config file PCMCIA Config I had an issue,  even after making the custom kernel with pcmcia enable, with the pcmcia system locking the laptop on boot. After much trial/error, I found that the fix was adding do_scan=0 to PCIC_OPTS in rc.pcmcia. I guess the scanning of the ports froze something on the laptop. I also had to changed the bios config for the PCMCIA from auto to PCIC Compatible (to access the bios, hold down ESC while the system boots). After making these changed, the pcmcia worked great.

Xfree Configuration

I opted to use the fbdev for my Xsystem. I was able to get 1024×768 working.
This is all I wanted. I run sawfish as my windows manager. See the files section
for my XF86Config. I also was able to get the scroll buttons working (the buttons
right above left click) so that konqueror would scroll. This was really quite easy
to setup.

DVD

I can read DVD disks. I haven’t tried to get anything else working. I may
look at xine but I am pretty sure the video card won’t do real well playing video
DVD’s.

Advanced Power Management

This hasn’t been a whopping success. That is ok with me because I don’t
really put the laptop into sleep mode even in Windows. The best part of APM
that I set up was the command line reading of power left. This can be setup by
coping the batlife script (see Files) into you /bin directory and coping/merging
the profile with your /etc/profile script.

Sound Configuration

Originally, the sound card didn’t work. I had enabled support for a Trident
4DWave DX/NX in the kernel config, but it complained a lot about not being able to read
registers. I went to http://www.ali.com.tw/eng/support/drivers/south_new_driver.htm
and downloaded the drivers for linux 2.4.x. I followed the installation instructions
and the sound then worked. It seems to be a little quieter in Linux than in Windows.
I am not sure why (anyone have any ideas?). I think upgrading to the newest kernel
can really help the sound card to work properly.

Other tweaks

My friend/boss setup his laptop with a system to put the percent of battery
power remaining on his command prompt. This is a neat trick. Simply look at the
profile and the batlife files below to set this up.

Summary

I am very happy with this laptop. I was able to get everything working
except the modem, which I have a pcmcia modem I plan on using anyway, so that didn’t
matter much. The Orinoco wireless card works great on the system. The laptop display
is clean and sharp. The things I dislike about the laptop are its rather large size and
weight. I was willing to accept these downsides in exchange for the features and price
that it offers. If you are looking for a laptop to use at college, as I was, I would
recommend looking into these systems.

Files

Kernel .config file (2.4.5)

Orinoco Kernel patch

Slackware rc.pcmcia file

XF86Config file (includes support for scrolling via the two extra buttons, depended on fbdev in kernel)

/etc/profile file

/bin/batlife file

Links

Ali Sound drivers: http://www.ali.com.tw/eng/support/drivers/south_new_driver.htm
Orinoco Drivers: http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/Jean_Tourrilhes/Linux/Orinoco.html
Toshiba: http://www.toshiba.com
Toshiba Support: http://pcsupport.toshiba.com
Toshiba Forum: http://go.compuserve.com/toshiba

Laptop Information

Output of lspci:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Acer Laboratories Inc. [ALi]: Unknown device 1632 (rev 01)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Acer Laboratories Inc. [ALi] M5247 (rev 01)
00:02.0 USB Controller: Acer Laboratories Inc. [ALi] M5237 USB (rev 03)
00:04.0 IDE interface: Acer Laboratories Inc. [ALi] M5229 IDE (rev c3)
00:06.0 Multimedia audio controller: Acer Laboratories Inc. [ALi]: Unknown device 5451 (rev 01)
00:07.0 ISA bridge: Acer Laboratories Inc. [ALi] M1533 PCI to ISA Bridge [Aladdin IV]
00:08.0 Bridge: Acer Laboratories Inc. [ALi] M7101 PMU
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: Trident Microsystems: Unknown device 8620 (rev 5d)

Output of fdisk -l /dev/hda

Disk /dev/hda: 255 heads, 63 sectors, 1836 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 bytes

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/hda1 * 1 1020 8193118+ b Win95 FAT32
/dev/hda2 1021 1053 265072+ 82 Linux swap
/dev/hda3 1054 1836 6289447+ 83 Linux native

Output of dmesg:
Click here