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Last updated: 4/14/2007
General Hardware Specifications of Toshiba Tecra M5:
Status under Debian Etch
|Intel Core Duo CPU T2500@2.00GHz||Works||Recognized both cores without any special work|
|14.1 XGA TFT Display||Works|
|nVidia Corporation Quadro NVS 110M||Works||Had problems with external monitor (see below)|
|2048MB PC5300 DDR2 667MHz SDRAM||Works|
|80 GB Ultra ATA Hard Drive||Works|
|Intel Corporation 82573L Gigabit Ethernet Controller||Works|
|MATSHITA DVD/CDRW UJDA770 1.40 Removable CD-ROM||Works after some additions||Had to manually install CDrecord from source to get record feature working, but it works fine now. I was able to read CDs immediately after installation.|
|Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Network Connection||Worked after a bit of effort||I had to download and install ipw3945 and xsupplicant (although I beleive xsupplicant is only needed for WPA-enabled networks); after this installation, wireless works correctly under Linux|
|4700mAh Lithium-Ion Battery||Works|
|Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) High Definition Audio Controller||Works|
|Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller||Works|
This laptop is operating under Kernel version 2.6.18-4-686
I've been using Debian since Potato (that's Linux Kernel 2.2); Debian has always been notoriously hard to get set up, but amazingly flexible once you get there. However, I've found this current release (4.0) to be uncharacteristically smooth - especially in it's support for laptops. For the most part, the installation worked immediately after it was complete, including graphics display (which is a first for me with a Debian installation).
I downloaded and burned the official "netinst" image from the debian site.
Just pop in the CD, reboot, and follow the instructions ;) I didn't set up a dual-boot; I have no need for XP (which came preinstalled on the laptop) so I just wiped the hard drive completely.
My laptop spends most of its time docked, with the display routed to an external Samsung Syncmaster 930B, which has a native 1280x1024 resolution. On first boot, although the internal laptop screen displayed beautifully at its native resolution, my external monitor displayed at a horrible 1024x768. My immediate thought was that the issue was the graphics drivers (typically, the "nv" Nvidia driver that comes bundled with most Linux distributions is insufficient); but the problem persisted even after I downloaded and installed the native Nvidia driver. After following a rigorous "trying random things until something works" testing process, I finally discovered that GDM actually resets the resolution, overriding what's configured in xorg.conf! I ditched gnome and installed WindowMaker and haven't had any resolution problems since.
That wasn't the end of my display issues, though. I've pretty much just given up trying to get dual-head to work; the Nvidia driver comes complete with a vendor-supported configuration application (nvidia-settings) which shows dual-headed configuration as an option; however, after multiple restarts of X with no luck, I've resigned myself to having a single monitor.
Also, Very Bad Things happen when I try to use the Fn+F5 key combination to switch from external to internal or vice versa. When I do so, the external display freezes and doesn't respond to keyboard or mouse clicks (even after I try to Fn+F5 back), and the internal monitor stays black. I can actually hear something inside the case spinning much faster than usual when I do this (???) and the only way I can recapture my computer is with a hard reboot. The same thing happens when I try to undock while the computer is running; my workaround is to not do either of those things.
I was able to get wireless working with a little bit of effort. First, I downloaded the Intel-supported ipw3945 wireless driver, daemon & microcode. I installed all three components; however, since the wireless network I have set up at work uses WPA, rather than the less-secure WEP, I also needed to download and install XSupplicant. The only issue I've seen is that it takes about 5-10 minutes for the wireless drivers to recognize and authenticate to the network; I know that the Windows users here do not have this problems.
Incidentally, ipw3945 is available through "dselect"; however, it didn't work for me after installation, and I couldn't figure out how to configure it. I found it much easier to just install from source, but YMMV.
I downloaded and installed cdrecord from source, as the CDRecord site states unequivocally that the version bundled with Debian (a fork named "wodim") is broken, and I didn't feel like finding out if he was telling the truth (although the maintainer of that site seems to feel that a lot of things are broken). I had no problems with the version I downloaded from the official site.
The internal touchpad mouse moves the mouse pointer at a much slower rate than my external USB mouse. The "nub" in the center of the keyboard was much more usable than the touchpad. "Tap to click" doesn't work at all, although the "buttons" above and below the touchpad do.
Within a day of this review being posted on linux-on-laptops, I was contacted by several Debian maintainers with suggested solutions to some of the problems I ran across. Many, many thanks to Luis San Mateos for solving this one for me - after modifying the following entry of my xorg.conf file:
Section "InputDevice" Identifier "Synaptics Touchpad" Driver "synaptics" Option "SendCoreEvents" "true" Option "Device" "/dev/psaux" Option "Protocol" "auto-dev" Option "HorizScrollDelta" "0" Option "MinSpeed" "0.2" Option "MaxSpeed" "1.2" Option "AccelFactor" "0.05" EndSectionThe touchpad mouse started moving at the correct speed (although "tap-to-click" still doesn't work).
Somehow, the "hwclock" utility that runs at startup is setting UTC incorrectly and rebuffind all my attempts to correct it, so that my computer thinks that UTC is 8 hours later than it actually is (so, after adjusting for my correct time zone, which is GMT-6, my clock still appears 8 hours ahead). After trying many workarounds to get this to work, I finally gave up and set my TZ environment variable to "Pacific/Kosrae" which happens to be 8 hours behind me.
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