The Freelance Traveller (freetrav) wrote,
The Freelance Traveller

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Setting Up A Linux Laptop

Note: This entry was updated to reflect changes subsequent to an on-line upgrade to the Ubuntu 8.04 ("hardy heron") release. Changes are shown with old material struck out and new material in italics.

The laptop computer used for this is a Toshibe Portégé 4010. The specifications can be found here, This particular unit has 512MB of RAM and a 60GB HDD installed. The specifications do not mention the following:

  • The unit supports IrDA.
  • There is an option for either BlueTooth or WiFi; this particular unit has the WiFi option.
  • There is a SlimSelectBay in the unit, which may take any of several different modules; this particular unit has a DVD-ROM/CD-RW unit
  • The unit has a slot for SD cards

I attempted to install three different distros on this unit; only one succeeded. I do not rule out the possibility of personal deficiency and poor-quality media preventing the first two distros from installing; in fact, I consider those to be quite highly probable. The first attempt to install was off a Knoppix LiveCD; if I recall correctly, this was version 4 of Knoppix, and dates back to a previous attempt to experiment with Linux that ultimately went nowhere. While the LiveCD worked fine, I was unable to determine how to install the distro onto the hard disk. The second attempt to install was Fedora 8; while downloads of the ISO appeared good, and appeared to burn successfully to CD, the resulting LiveCDs failed to boot, or, if booted, failed the Fedora pre-installation verification.

The third distro attempted was Ubuntu 7.10 ("gutsy gibbon"); this attempt succeeded on the third try: The first try, selecting the option to install from the main menu, hung with a scrambled screen; the second, selecting the option to use 'safe' graphics, failed similarly (although the appearance of the scrambled screen was different). When I used the function keys to tell the LiveCD what the actual screen resolution is, and then selected the normal install, the install went through with no problems.


  • General functionality. The system appears to operate in a reasonable manner. Other reports (from TuxMobil) indicate that certain features in the keyboard need to be disabled; I found that this was either automatically detected and done by the Ubuntu installation, or is not necessary.
  • Hibernation. Based on other reports, I installed the Toshiba utilities for Linux, as it appeared that the suspend/hibernation mode would fail abjectly without them. With them, the system does appear to go into hibernation properly; however, restoring system state from hibernation is not without problems - most notably, the network interfaces do NOT get reinitialized, and the system acts like there are no functional network interfaces until rebooted and appears to function normally after coming out of hibernation.
  • USB. The system successfully mounted (automatically) USB mass storage devices with Windows-compatible filesystems on them, and files could be read from and written to the devices. A Phaser 4500 printer was detected, and drivers (for the 6100) installed. Printing to this printer from OpenOffice Word Processor resulted in garbage being printed out; the same from the Printer Configuration tool, thus indicating that the selected drivers were not valid for the printer. Changing to the Generic PostScript driver resulted in valid printouts from both the printer test and OpenOffice.
  • WiFi. This was tested on a secured network; upon provision of authentication information, the computer successfully acquired an address from DHCP and participated in the network with no problem. This included accessing the internet and shared files on other computers on the LAN.
  • Wired LAN. The computer successfully acquired an address from DHCP, and participated in the network, including accessing the internet and shared files on other computers on the LAN, with no problems.
  • IrDA. This appears not to be supported at all under Linux, though it works fine with Windows.
  • Toshiba Fn Keys. These are the keys marked in blue on the keycaps, requiring a special function key to be pressed to activate the function. This allows keyboard control of muting the speaker, controlling the display brightness, switching between internal LCD display and external monitor, and so on. What I was equipped to test, worked.
  • PCCard/PCMCIA/CardBus slots. The built-in USB ports on the base unit are USB 1.1. I acquired a Belkin USB 2.0 Cardbus interface for a different computer, and decided to try it on this one. On plugging it in, I saw some disk activity, but no messages indicating success or failure at device installation. However, plugging a USB 2.0 thumbdrive into the USB ports on the card caused the thumbdrive to be recognized and mounted immediately.

Not Tested

  • 56K Modem. This will be tested in the near future, and this report updated at that time The conditions that I intended to test it under have become unavailable to me; I have no current expectations of being able to test this.
  • SD slot. I have no media for this slot, and no other devices that use this media, so it is unlikely that this will be tested.
  • PCCard/PCMCIA/CardBus slots. I have no peripherals using this interface that are useful with this computer, and do not anticipate obtaining any in the forseeable future. See Tested section.
Tags: computers, linux
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