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Linux on Toshiba's Libretto U100

Vincent Danen

September 09, 2005

Ahhh... it's cold out but I'm outside with my new couple-day old Toshiba Libretto U100.. typing is slow and I feel like my fingers are very fat, but I'm happy and satisfied. After a couple days of struggling, I've got this little beast configured almost the way I want it.

The Toshiba Libretto is probably the smallest full-feature laptop I've ever laid eyes on. It's got a Pentium M 1.1GHz chip, bluetooth, 802.11a/b/g, a dockable CD-RW/DVD+-RW drive, a USB-based fingeprint scanner, 2 USB2 ports, a firewire port, 10/100 ethernet, modem, PCMCIA card slot, a pin for an external monitor, 60GB HDD, 7.2" LCD screen (nice and bright!), and a SD card reader built in. All this in a form factor of very very small (product page on toshiba.ca).

Here's a picture:

Of course, getting this sucker setup was a bit of a chore and I'm not done yet by any means.

Here's a shot comparing it to my Compaq laptop (the lugger):

The first thing I did was resize the Windows XP Home partition. I gave it a little less than half the drive. Next step was to install Mandriva LE2005. This worked ok, but I couldn't get wireless working and could only get 800x600 using the fbdev driver, so I gave the 2006 RC1 a go. Pretty much the same thing. For kicks, I tried SUSE 9.3. Different driver (vesa?), but same resolution. Still no go on the wireless.

I can live with 800x600 even though the monitor supports 1280x768; what I can't live without is the wireless. So I went back to Mandriva 2006 (the devil I know) and decided to get it working with it rather than fight with SUSE (I'm not a big fan of YaST, and SUSE seemed slower on this than Mandriva). After some farting around, I downloaded the madwifi drivers from CVS (what came with Mandriva didn't work well, and ndiswrapper, which loaded ok, didn't seem to do anything). Now we're getting somewhere! Using "iwlist ath0 scan", I can pick up my AP's about 40-50% of the time. Stupidly, Wireless Assistant (wlassistant) and the Mandriva Control Center could never, no matter how many times I refreshed/re-scanned) would never see the AP's. As a result, I wrote a few shell scripts to set the connection and WEP, gave myself sudo access to run them as root, and off I go. In retrospect, that was easier than changing networks via MCC anyways, although using wlassistant would have been nice.

So now I'm writing this outside, wireless, and it works peachy. For anyone interested, I setup ath0 as a static IP address so it would come up and am using variations of the following script to make the connection (named roam-ESSID):

/sbin/ifconfig eth0 down
/sbin/ifconfig ath0 down
/sbin/iwconfig ath0 essid [ESSID_NAME] mode Managed \
key [WEP_KEY]
/sbin/ifconfig ath0 up
/sbin/dhclient ath0

This works really well. I have my doubts that I'll ever use this guy using physical ethernet, so I made sure that eth0 came down. Oh! I also removed ifplugd from the system and set MII_NOT_SUPPORTED=yes in the /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-{eth0,ath0} scripts.

Wireless now works like a hot damn. I still have to figure out if I can boost the resolution on this (although 800x600 is ok), and see if I can get my MS Bluetooth mouse to work with it (I don't like the little accupoint stick). Other than that, this machine is pretty slick. I don't think it's doing any CPU frequency scaling, and the cpufreq package seems to contain just an initscript to load the modules but nothing to set any kind of profile. I think I'd also like to be able to suspend the machine too.

Still quite a bit to do yet, but so far I'm really enjoying this little guy. And would you look at that! My typing seems to be faster on it now too! =)

UPDATE: Played with suspending the machine using suspend-scripts. "pmsuspend2 memory" seemed to work well, my power light was blinking which it never did in Windows when I tried to suspend it (which, incidentally, doesn't suspend worth crap either... oh to be a mac). Anyways, powering it back on restored the image and then it shut off. Nice. Tried to use "pmsuspend2" just to suspend to disk and it worked, turned it on, came up quite quick, then rebooted by itself. Interesting difference is that when suspending to disk, I got unclean filesystems; suspending to ram didn't although the end result was the same. Oh well.

Oooo! Adam Williamson is my fricking hero! On his suggestion, I tried the i810 xorg driver and set the resolution to 1280x768. Worked like a charm. Now I have to squint to read anything again, but I have more screen room. Thanks, Adam!!

So the only things left to do are to get the SD card reader working and bluetooth (and by the looks of things, trying to get a bluetooth mouse working on it will be an exercise in PITA).

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