Linux and the Toshiba Libretto 100CT

Tim Pozar


I have been wanting to buy a laptop for years. The nearest thing to a laptop I had purchased up to now was a used Toshiba 1000 that had 1 meg of memory and ran Telix. Great for plugging into routers and Sun console serial ports. Really hard to read the screen. I just recently tossed it to my room mate to play with.

So I have been on the look out for something that was light and a smaller form factor than "normal" laptops. Palm tops were getting there but they run this scaled down Windows OS called "CE". Brain dead...

When the Toshiba Libretto came out I thought that was the perfect form. Who cares that the keyboard is useless for touch typing and the 800x480 screen is so tiny you need to be 6 inches away to see it. I wanted it. But I wanted it to do something that it doesn't come shipped to do, run Linux.

Every once in a while I get this "impulse buy" jones and it happened at a store called "T-Zone" in Sunnyvale. First mistake. Seems that T-Zone was to go out of biz three days later and shift over to "on-line commerence". Which means the store is gone and they just have a web site up now. Let just say that since I don't have anything good to say...

To make a long shopping experience short, I bought the Toshiba Libretto 100CT. They system itself ran about $1400 but all the other accessories ran it up to about $2000. Since I have visions of running Linux and wanting ethernet, a modem, and a CD-ROM the sales droid made up his commission there.

I walked out with the Libretto, a combo Ethernet/33.6 modem card, extra battery (for some other model) and a SCSI cdrom (of which the card ends up not being supported with the Linux drivers.)

Installing Zipslack

I brought it home loading everything up under Windows95 to see it work and get IRQ, Memory and DMA settings. Right-clicking on the "My Computer" icon and going to the properties section you can print out to a file all of the IRQ, low-memory and high-memory settings of your devices. Copy this off somewhere as you will refer to this list later when configuring things like sound cards under Linux.

Next step is to load up " Zipslack". This is a very nice version of Slackware in a zip format that you unzip on a MSDOS FAT-16 formated drive. The advantage is you don't need to have two partitions for each OS (Win95 and Linux). Running Linux on top of a MS-DOS file system is slower, but as I don't see myself thrashing the file system with indexes or running a news server this isn't an issue.

Installing Zipslack is a breeze, you just unzip it in the root directory of your drive under Win95 and then reboot the machine into MS-DOS by hitting the "F8" key on reboot and selecting "7" or "Safe mode command prompt only". Once you are in MS-DOS, change into the "linux" directory and edit the linux.bat file and find the right boot commands to boot off of your paticular drive (put examples here). Of course you can edit this under Windows. For the Libretto I used the line:

\linux\loadlin \linux\vmlinuz root=/dev/hda1 rw
Which tells it to run \linux\loadin, boot the kernel file \linux\vmlinuz, use the first drive and partition as the root and make it read/write.

Once you have edited the batch file you can just run it and after some lenghty file system checking on the "UMSDOS" file system it should show you a "login:" prompt.

PCMCIA Problems

During the boot it found pretty much everything like the hard and floppy drives, ECP parallel port, etc. When the kernel ran code for the PCMCIA slots it gave some errors regarding some symbols unresolved and never did detect the cards. I was thrown off track by the boot complaining when dealing with the modules that it found some "unresolved symbol(s)". I figured I needed to recompile the kernel. Nope that wasn't it.

I found three problems. One that I had some bogus multifunction card that was not supported by the PCMCIA drivers. It would work with the modem but not the ethernet. The solution there was to purchase a "Xircom CreditCard Ethernet 10/100+ / Modem 56" card.

The second was that Zipslack does not start up the pcmcia services. You need to change the line in /etc/rc.c/rc.M and rc.S to run /etc/rc.d/rc.pcmcia and not /etc/rc.d/rc.pcmcia.N. I would have make the file name "rc.pcmcia.N" and not have the rc.* files run the wrong file name for the default. This way if the pcmcia moudules are recompiled and installed it will come up running the pcmcia package.

The third problem took me on a bit of a wild goose chase. It seems I didn't have all of the different card support I needed so downloaded the pcmcia module package by David Hinds. A recompile and install later I was seeing my ethernet and modem card.

X Files

Don't expect to use the standard SVGA driver from the XFree86 distribution for Linux. The Libretto used the Neomagic chipset and you will need to grab a server that will support it. Jeff Shorey has a very nice page that covers the Neomagic XFree86 server and where you can download a compiled server.

You can download my XF86Config.

I can't hear you...

Being someone that wants my computer to make interesting beeps at me I wanted the sound to work on the Libretto. I haven't had much luck using the "standard" sound drivers in linux but I did find a "commercial" version of the drivers from 4Front Technologies. Folks at 4Front actually did much of the work on the orginal sound drivers and in fact there is a "freeware" version of the software with less support for different cards. Unfortunatly the freeware doesn't support the Libretto, or at least I couldn't get it to work. I didn't work too hard and just gave the folks at 4front $20 bucks and got my sound working.

I ended up installing the "Generic Yamaha OPL3-SAx (YMF715/YMF719) non-PnP" driver that came with OSS. I did have to modify the "devices.cfg" in the oss directory to match the IRQ and DMA settings for the Libretto. The following is my "devices.cfg" file...

On FreeBSD I found that the line above that describes the DMA 
channels would not work as shown. It would lock the computer in a horrible 
death. Everything was groove once I changed the line to swap the main and 
secondary DMA channels to: 
One other note about the sound hardware on the Libretto. Everywhere 
else in the world has standardized on a 3.5mm (1/8") stereo jack for smaller 
than 1/4" headphone connections. For some unknown reason Toshiba figured it 
needed to shave 1/32 of an inch more off so they installed 2.5mm (3/32") jacks 
in this machine. Don't bother trying to find stereo 2.5mm to 3.5mm or 1/4" 
adapters at Radio Shack. You need to build them. You can find the parts at Mouser. Pick up a nice metal shielded plug and 
a jack and 
wire up your own adapter.

Automagic Power Managment (APM)

APM has some handy features like shutting down or sleeping the machine properly when you do a halt or when the battery is running out.

You will want to download The Linux APM Daemon.

My APM section of /usr/src/linux/.config follows:

Do not set CONFIG_APM_IGNORE_USER_SUSPEND and CONFIG_APM_IGNORE_MULTIPLE_SUSPEND as these are for laptops other than the Libretto and can cause problems if they are set.

My whole "/usr/src/linux/.config" file can be downloaded here.

Other helpful references to the Libretto 100CT...
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Last update: Sun Mar 19 10:53:11 PST 2000
  Cleaned up broken links and update text. - Tim