Originally Published: Monday, 10 January 2000 Author: Jessica Sheffield
Published to: enhance_articles_hardware/Hardware Reviews Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Taking the Plunge: Installing Linux on a Laptop

I awoke this morning filled with resolve to cleanse the evil taint from my sturdy little Toshiba laptop, . . . . I popped in my Linux Mandrake CD, rebooted, set the BIOS to boot off a CD first, and began the installation process. I put the project on hold for a few seconds to ingest more caffeine (when you're dumbfounded by a partitioning screen, more caffeine is very necessary), then plunged right in.

   Page 1 of 1  

Full Speed Ahead
I awoke this morning filled with resolve to cleanse the evil taint from my sturdy little Toshiba laptop, named Angel after the fact that she is painted in the insignia of one of the Blue Angels. After spending a few minutes getting the last of my personal stuff off the hard drive and writing down the IRQs of all the hardware (hey, you just never know), I popped in my LinuxMandrake CD, rebooted, set the BIOS to boot off a CD first, and began the installation process. I put the project on hold for a few seconds to ingest more caffeine (when you're dumbfounded by a partitioning screen, more caffeine is very necessary), then plunged right in.
A New Frontier
I'd only ever installed RedHat before (except for Slackware waaaaaay on back in high school, and one botched attempt at Debian that I don't even want to talk about), but all sources told me that LinuxMandrake was based off of RedHat, so I didn't expect to encounter any problems on that end. The problems I expected were with hardware - Toshiba has apparently forgotten that it ever manufactured my model of Satellite. Go to their web site, http://www.toshiba.com, and do a search for "Satellite 305CDS" - nothing. They list the 300 and the 310, but not Angel. Still, I was fairly confident that between the specs for the 300 and the 310 and the list I had made of all my hardware and IRQs, I could figure out any hardware issues that might crop up.
Error: You Suck.
The installation went smoothly; I did a custom installation, but left most of the options at their standard settings. One thing I specifically did was to select Gnome and unselect KDE as my desktop environment. I was pleased to discover that kernel version 2.2.13 has support for the Chips & Technologies 65555 video chip set for the SVGA server, and the installer seemed to detect everything else just fine. Everything went off without a hitch until it came time to configure the X server. Apparently, the highest resolution I can run according to the installer is 8 bit color at 640x480... not acceptable. I tried several other resolutions and color depths, but the X server returned errors every time. Finally, I accepted the low depth and resolution, thinking "I'll just fix that later."
GDM Starts... What?
"Later" popped up in just a few minutes as I finished the installation and rebooted. I logged in as root and typed 'startx'. Enter my first big surprise - apparently Linux Mandrake installs KDE whether you deselect it or not, and sets it as the default desktop environment. Not too much of a problem, really, but a surprise nonetheless, since I didn't even know it had been installed. I started to feel the first hints of aggression towards this particular distribution. My second ugly surprise came when said desktop environment popped onto the screen... in 640x480 and 16 colors. Ewww. Obviously, I had some tweaking to do...
Starlady will return in "Sights and Sounds: Video and Audio on a LinuxLaptop"

Linux is (c) 1999, Linus Torvalds. Toshiba and Toshiba Satellite are (c) 1999, Toshiba Corp. LinuxMandrake is (c) 1999, MandrakeSoft. RedHat is (c) 1999, RedHat Corp.




   Page 1 of 1