Originally Published: Friday, 28 January 2000 Author: Jessica Sheffield
Published to: enhance_articles_hardware/Hardware Reviews Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Sights and Sounds: Video and Audio on a Linux Laptop

The first hurdle was cleared - Linux Mandrake successfully booted on my Toshiba laptop. But I wanted to run my desktop at something greater than 640x480 in 16 colors, and I wanted to make use of my Yamaha sound system and (surprisingly good for their time) speakers. So I knew I still had some work ahead of me.

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It's All Downhill From Here

The first hurdle was cleared - Linux Mandrake successfully booted on my Toshiba laptop. But I wanted to run my desktop at something greater than 640x480 in 16 colors, and I wanted to make use of my Yamaha sound system and (surprisingly good for their time) speakers. So I knew I still had some work ahead of me.

Look At All The Pretty Colors

I changed into the /usr/X11R6/bin directory and ran the Xconfigurator several times, playing with using different values for the refresh rates and color depths. Nothing seemed to work very well. Luckily, I had a copy of the XF86Config file for a Satellite 315 CDS that another laptop user, Mr Charles Bennington, had posted online. (I found Mr Bennington's page through Kenneth Harker's Linux Laptops page.) I compared my XF86Config file with his and found several lines that were different in the "Monitor" section and the "Display" subsection. I changed my file so that it matched his and lo and behold, the Xserver came up beautifully in 640x800 and full color.

Tommy, Can You Hear Me?

Now it was time to get the sound working. Having exhausted most of my creativity on the display, I was at a loss as to what to do about drivers until a friend suggested Open Sound System to me. From their web page: "OSS is a set of device drivers that provide a uniform API across all the major UNIX architectures." That sounded good to me, so I checked the 'Sound Cards' page to see if mine was listed. After clicking on the 'Notebooks.README' link, there it was: Yamaha OPLB-SAx. I got a copy of the software, installed it according to their instructions, and popped in a CD to test it... perfect.

A Sigh Of Relief

Amazing! Despite my worst fears, getting Linux running on my laptop was the work of a mere afternoon. I certainly couldn't have done it, however, without the help of Kenneth's excellent resource page, my friends in IRC, and my mom who brought Diet Coke refills without my even having to ask. Thanks also to all the readers who sent encouragement, tips, and advice. The next article to fill this space will be comprised of excerpts from their emails, so that I can share their help with the rest of the community.

starlady will return in "From the Community: Our Readers Respond with Laptop Advice"





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