11 April 2002: there is now another page describing Linux on this laptop (URL was http://mobilix.org/toshiba_tecra550cdt_e.html, observed to be broken on 3 Dec 2012). It is based on more recent experience than this document (I no longer have access to the laptop and so cannot provide such updated information). In particular, this new document seems to suggest that PCMCIA now works in CardBus mode under Linux and that the IrDA port is functional under Linux. Note that I cannot give any assurances about this since I cannot test it myself.
3 December 2012: this document is now very old and the information in it has been largely superceded: the hardware and Linux software it refers to is over 10 years old. If ever there was a desire to run Linux on this old laptop now I expect more recent versions require far less hacking and may in fact work out the box. Even so, I intend to keep the page active for historical reference.
Keep in mind that since this document no longer has practical use I am not personally checking the validity of URLs and email addresses on a regular basis, and haven't done so for many years. However, if broken links and addresses are noticed by others I'm more than happy to update or remove them - please let me know of such breakages via email (my address is elsewhere in this document).
This document is free documentation; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
This document is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. See the GNU General Public License for more details.
You can obtain a copy of the GNU General Public License by writing to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
Please note! In late February 1999, Toshiba announced that it was not going to release any details regarding the chips used inside their laptops. The immediate result of this is that the IrDA port will never be supported unless Toshiba changes its mind. There are also implications for the CardBus mode of the PC Card controller. Dag Brattli, developer of Linux/IrDA is now recommending that no one wanting to run Linux on their laptop should buy a Toshiba Laptop. Make sure you let Toshiba know exactly why you are not purchasing their product!
Update: 11 April 2002: To quote from the latest PCMCIA howto available from the Linux PCMCIA information website:
In order to be able to use the PCMCIA slots, the "PC Card controller mode" (2nd page of BIOS setup) option should be set to "PCIC" (aka PCMCIA). Although the inbuilt Toshiba controller (ToPIC95 and friends) chip does support the newer 32 bit CardBus interface, programming details have not yet been attainable by the Linux CardServices author. Until that happens, CardBus cards will not be supported in Toshiba laptops which use these chips. By setting the PC Card option to "PCIC", the controller emulates a standard Intel i82385sl-B.
I have had success in setting the "PC Card controller mode" option to "Auto-Selected". What I think happens is that the controller adapts to whichever mode is being assumed by the operating system at the time. This would enable CardBus cards to be used under (say) windoze-95 while the 16 bit PCMCIA cards would still work under Linux.
Setting "PC Card controller mode" to "CardBus" will prevent any operation under Linux.
It is worth taking note of the "Sound" settings (also on the 2nd page) to avoid having to reboot later. The settings I used were:
A successful install from CDROM can be done using the Slackware bare.i kernel image since the CDROM is a standard ATAPI drive. Make sure that the CDROM is plugged into the appropriate port BEFORE applying power to the computer.
The bare.i kernel booted without any dramas and without any special boot flags. A standard Slackware installation proceeded without problems.
Out of the box, the CMOS clock was very wrong (it thought it was 1990). This was rectified before beginning any compiling to prevent complications with make.
"Advanced Power Management BIOS support" was enabled with "Make CPU Idel calls when idle" and "Power off on shutdown" suboptions active. If "Enable console blanking using APM" is enabled, the LCD will be inexplicably turned off whenever there is a switch to graphics mode (when an X server is started, for example). It can be turned on again using Fn-F5 but this is a pain. It's better to forego this APM feature IMHO.
"Enhanced Real Time Clock support was included".
PCIC_OPTs="poll_interval=100"line was added to /etc/rc.d/rc.pcmcia to enable polled mode. This method was 100% reliable.
/etc/rc.d/rc.M had a call to rc.pcmcia inserted so CardServices would be installed automatically at startup:
if [ -x /etc/rc.d/rc.pcmcia ]; then . /etc/rc.d/rc.pcmcia fiThis was inserted after the call to ldconfig but before sendmail was started. When called like this rc.pcmcia does not appear to require the "start" argument.
The network card used was a "Xircom Creditcard Ethernet Adapter IIps". Once inserted it worked without a problem. The IP address (and all other details pertaining to the configuration of the ethernet device) are contained in /etc/pcmcia/network.opts.
An Adaptec APA-1480 SCSI card did not work. This card is a (32 bit) CardBus card which, for reasons already discussed, do not currently work in Toshiba laptops utilising the ToPIC95 controller. It didn't even appear to trigger a card insertion event. However, an Adaptec APA-1460 SCSI card worked without a problem.
The following are various strategically chosen bits from my working XF86Config file. I am sure it is not optimal but it works and is a good starting point. I would still recommend using XF86Setup to do the configuration, using the following information where necessary; for instance, i haven't managed to find any reference to the sync rates for the LCD yet.
Section "Monitor" HorizSync 31.5-48.5 VertRefresh 55-90 Modeline "1024x786" 65.00 1024 1032 1176 1344 768 771 777 806 -hsync -vsync Modeline "800x600" 50.00 800 856 976 1040 600 637 643 666 +hsync +vsync Modeline "640x480" 36.00 640 696 752 832 480 481 484 509 -hsync -vsync EndSection Section "Device" : # XF86Setup puts a number of commented out options in here. They don't # seem to be necessary. EndSectionPietro Terna (email@example.com) has noted:
My monitor choice has been Custom: "NonInterlaced SVGA, 1024x768 @ 60 Hz, 800x600 @ 72 Hz". I'm using version 3.3.2 of the XFree86 stuff.My experience has indicated that 16bpp support is buggy. Your milage may vary.
A number of people have asked for the complete XF86Config file. This is provided with no warrantee at all. Note that it was generated using XF86Setup from XFree86 3.3.2 and has not been modified in any way. It will probably not work at all with any earlier versions of XFree86, although I have not tested this. Note that if choosing to use this XF86Config you will have to make sure that /usr/X11R6/bin/X (or /var/X11R6/bin/X if /usr/X11R6/bin/X is a symlink to /var/X11R6/bin/X) is symlinked to XF86_SVGA, the SVGA server. XF86_S3 or XF86_S3V will not work.
Garret Cotter (firstname.lastname@example.org ) has supplied this XF86Config file. It was also generated from XF86Setup and reportedly works well.
RedHat 5.1 (and earlier) users please note: it seems that the version of Xconfigurator shipped with at least these versions of RedHat is broken with respect to the S3Virge/MX chipset as used in this laptop. Specifically it attempts to use the S3V server to drive the video which, as noted above, will not work. Since RedHat 5.1 ships with Xfree86 3.3.2 the problem must lie in Xconfigurator itself. If you are installing using one of these RedHat distributions, my recommendation is to do one of the following.
Xconfigurator --server SVGA
CTRL-ALT-Fn-; (aka CTRL-ALT-Numeric_+) CTRL-ALT-Fn-p (aka CTRL-ALT-Numeric_-)to switch to a different resolution and then back to the desired one. This requires that you have at least 2 resolutions defined for the colour depth being used.
Bus 0, device 10, function 0: Communication controller: Toshiba Unknown device (rev 20). Vendor id=1179. Device id=701. Slow devsel. IRQ 11. Master Capable. Latency=64. I/O at 0xffc0.in /proc/pci is actually the infrared port controller, not the modem device. (Toshiba also told me that the Tecra 750/780's built in MARS modem chip is not a PCI device either, which contradicts other sources of information on the web. In any case it's not all that important).
The upshot of this is that the 550's internal modem will not work under Linux. If you wish to use a modem you will have to use either an external modem plugged into the COM1 port or obtain a PCMCIA modem. In either case it would probably be a good idea to disable the internal modem (using the BIOS settings).
Some people will notice that Linux does seem to detect COM2 during bootup and identifies it as an 8250 UART. According to Toshiba, the Toshiba modem port does actually have a control port at 0x2f8; this is probably the reason why the COM2 probe identifies something and why it only "detects" an 8250 UART.