Toshiba Portégé (Portege) 7140CT
Debian Sarge / Testing
You are probably reading this because you have one of these Toshiba's, or just because you have any other machine that you have something not functioning in the way you wish it would. I hope this site can be of any help for you.
Here, I will cover what I had done to get everything working the way I wanted. And that is, to have Debian Sarge with a recent kernel and with VMware running, so that I can get to Windows sometimes when I just cannot get away without it. I also made sure, I have a decent media player, and to get my Locales set up correctly for Hungarian and Japanese inputs. Later I had wireless set up as well.
A good way to this manual, is to read whatever you need to read. I wrote down everything, but you might only need a fragment of that.
Note: The reason why I had to install Woody initially, was that despite to the fact VMware runs on both Woody and Sarge, I could only attempt a windows XP install when I ran VMware on top of Woody. When windows was installed, I just left that partition untouched, reinstalled Debian Sarge, and installed VMware, and just chose to run the Virtual Machine (VM) from the already existing Windows partition, and it booted just fine.
- Full featured Debian Sarge installed with Mplayer, VMware Workstation 4.5, Wireless Network with Netgear MA401 Prism 2 based card.
Issues: (If you have already figured these out, please let me know, and I will update the site, "and my laptop".
- X server occasionally freezing when using the "trident"
driver but fully functioning with the "fbdev" driver.
Debian Woody and Sarge Installation
First, lets start with the basic. I will share my experiences with Debian Woody.
The Distribution installs very smoothly, with a few exceptions to consider. I have the docking station, so I can only tell how it is to boot from the CD, as I had this luxury, that I didnt have to bother with the net install.
I will assume that you have a basic knowledge of Linux, and Debian in particular, so I wont go into all little details. Boot the CD and do the usual things to boot from it. For me, it first complained that this CD doesnt have the necessary Kernel on it, but while hesitating on what to do, it just passed this stage and went on with the boot with this 1 minute delay. Dont take the CD out, and brake your laptop, just wait, it will go.
When you get to the part where you can select the modules, dont forget to select the following
After this, it will install the base system, and will reboot and give you the Tasksel to select the packages. I installed the X desktop environment, and Japanese Environment. You may select what suits your need.
Toward the end, it will ask you a lot of questions about the install. For the IrDA, select "Native" support, and chose the toshoboe driver.
At one point, the install will ask you if you want to enable the "framebuffer" feature. Dont forget to say yes to that.
For X, just go with the default, and you will replace the XF86Config-4 file that I made, or write it yourself.
Now you should have a working Debian Woody install. It might try to boot into the X windows system, but it is very likely that your X will crash at this point. It X comes up, shut it down. If you cannot shut it down, press CTRL ALT F1, and there you stop the process with CTRL Z, or if you cannot, just open another console with CTRL ALT F2, and log in, and kill all the X processes. Or if you cannot, just leave them running, and change the /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 file with this that I found to be the best successful one to use the "trident" driver. You might also try to upgrade to a newer X, from www.xfree86.org and try your luck with that.
Using the 'trident' Driver
If you find that X keeps crashing on you, you might just go with the Framebuffer driver. That is stable, but very slow. For that, you had to answer the question during the initial install, that you do want to enalbe Frame Buffer for the kernel. If you have, then just use the XF86Config-4 below, and modify a line in the /etc/lilo.config file from 'vga=normal' to 'vga=791' . This is very important, and also you need to run /sbin/lilo for the changes to take effect, and reboot.
Here is the XF86Config-4 file for the 'fbdev' framebuffer driver
Using the 'fbdev' Driver
Now, that you have a functioning X, you can do the updates, but do it only if you will stay with Woody. If you will go with Sarge, you dont need the updates, as Sarge will do that for you.
I always do the updates at this point, with apt-get, and for that you need to make sure that the /etc/apt/sources.list file is right.
Just add these lines to your /etc/apt/sources.list file, and then do:
At this point, I installed my VMware Workstation 4.5, as that is the current release at time of writing this manual. VMware doesnt support Debian, therefore one has to obtain the tar-ball version (tar.gz), and compile it onto the distribution. This will go smootly with Woody and when its done, just install your operating system inside of VMware, but I wont go into that much further, as that is very well documented on their site. The main thing I would like to point out, is that try to install it onto a physical partition, as opposed to a virtual partition, that way when you upgrade your Debian, nothing will be lost.
Now, if you are satisfied, just stop reading here. If not, and you want to get more from your Debian distribution, go ahead and upgrade to Sarge. There are two way. One, which is to do a over the net upgrade, or pop in a Sarge CD, that can be downloaded from here, and go from there. I have done both, and I liked both the same way. But I always prefer to do the "clean" install. Yes, on servers, we dont want a lot of downtime, but this is a laptop for Christ's sake!!
To do an "over the net" upgrade, you need to replace the lines in the /etc/apt/sources.list file, with the fillowing:
At this point, run the following command, and sit back:
This will download approximately 400~500MB of data, that might take a while.
When you are finished with the distribution upgrade, you can reinstall VMware. Just do the same way as you did with Woody, except when you have it installed, set it up so that it looks for the VM on the partition it resides on. For me, there was a problem with VMware. Whenever you install a windows distribution, it will overwrite your MBR (master boot record), therefore you cannot boot into linux. To fix this, when you are done with the windows VM isntall, boot from the Debian CD, and do a rescue. When it comes up, just run:
and it will take care of the Boot loader. From here on, when you start your VM, it will show the Lilo boot screen, and there you must be able to select the installed Windows. For that, you need to change things in the /etc/lilo.conf file. Well, if you have Sarge now, and you installed it from the Sarge CD, you have grub, and not lilo at this point. I wont be able to assist with that, as I have no experience with grub.
Put this in your lilo.conf
Obviously, the /dev/hda3 has to match your system. If you dont know what partition your windows install is on, just go into fdisk, and look for it.
Now run lilo again, as I mentioned it two steps earlier. (/sbin/lilo), so that the changes will take effect. Now, when you start your VMware, and start the Virtual Machine, you will be prompted with your boot loader, and just choose WinXP, or in your case whatever you put in the "label=" portion of the lilo configuration.
Get Wireless Working
I spent days, and every weeks researching that what card
I should be getting for my Debian Sarge to work properly. As it turned
out, most of the cards are unsupported by Linux in general. At least the
new cards. When I went to the store, all the cards represented the "new"
technology, hence they wont work with Linux.
I then decided to get a Netgear card, as I have always been attached to Netgear, and their MA401 card was listed as a working card. It uses the Prism2 chipset. I found it in Fry's, in a back shelf in a cardboard box, having a large print on it "refurbished" . I coudlnt have been happier. I grabbed it and payed for it quickly.
I took it home, and popped it in the laptop, that was already running Debian Sarge. No need to say further, the card was recognized automatically, and all the modules loaded. The card found the signal right away, and connected to my Access Point with no trouble. But I wanted more. I wanted to have features like monitoring, and securing the link. Therefore I had to install the linux-wlan-ng driver for it. That was a very tricky one. If you have a matchign kernel to what Debian offers the driver for, you are in luck. Type in two commands:
The first command will give you what kernel version you have. It will likely to be something like 2.4.x or 2.6.x. At the time of writing this manual, debian had only linux-wlan driver for 2.4.x kernels. The second command will list you all the things debian has for linux-wlan. You will see the modules, for the specific kernels. If your kernel is included, you are in luck. If your kernel isn't listed, you have to compile it yourself. First, download the lates tarball (tar.gz) package from www.linux-wlan.org
You compile it, having read the README files that came with the package. This should place the drivers to the right place. After this point you need to get the linux-wlan-ng package from Debian.
Now, when you set up everything correctly, you should be able to restart your system, and have wireless working. Just a note, for wireless in Debian, you need to edit the well known config file only, the /etc/network/interfaces file. Here is how mine looks: