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Installing Debian Linux to Acer TravelMate 661LMi

Installing Mandrake 10.0 "OFFICIAL" Linux to Acer TravelMate 663LMi

latest changes 2004-7-25

Introduction

Okay, I desided to write this page when I got my new laptop and  find some pages dedicated on getting linux to work on it, but they were too complex and always implied patch the kernel.

This page contains easy info for those who have similar laptop. Acer models seem to contain quite much similar hardware, so this might be of help to owners of some other Acer laptops as well. I think must work on:

- Acer TM 290 series -> TM 291.

- Acer TM 660 series -> TM 661, TM 662, TM663.

- Acer TM 800 series -> TM 801, 802, 803 but ATI graphic chipset isn't the same and i haven't tested it. ( ATI uses to be better supported ).

And the distribution I've used is Mandrake 10.0 OFFICIAL(free version) 3CDS. I obtain it in a spanish magazine's DVD with other 3 distros:

- Debian Sarge, on-line instalation -> linux runs but Xfree intalation isn't for begginers, high-speed conection is needed, and comes with almost any aplication (GCC and libs NOT INCLUDED!!!), in addiction to this: Win_XP not detected at the beggining, and USB mouse confused with an USB storage device.

- Red hat FEDORA CORE 2 -> absolutely not runs with WINDOWS_XP thus not for begginers.

- GENTOO LINUX -> really not to begginers.

The name of the magazine is "SOLO LINUX" Nº3.

Warning (Not at all)

Selecting the level of security of the distro, i select "hight security" the option before "paranoic security", if you are not thinkin about use the laptop as a server, I'm sure that you must choose the "normal level" option or you can really regret your decison soon.

It's FINALLY really very easy to install linux to this laptop and getting almost everything to work properly (or even on acceptable level), some HW requires using developement code.

So if you consider buying Acer Travelmate 663LMi for using it with Linux, JUST DO IT!. The properly drivers have just been released.

Anyway, this is a howto for everybody, but focus on begginer users or people that don't like waste their time like me.

Hardware

The manuals that came with the computer gave the following information:

  • Intel Pentium M 1.6GHz
  • Intel 855GM chipset
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 (802.11b WLAN), 10/100 Ethernet, 56Kbps V.92 Modem
  • 15,1'' SXGA+ TFT LCD (the display)
  • 40 GB Ultra ATA/100 HDD
  • DVD-RW (yes, it's really rewriting dvd, not just dvd / cd-rw combo. It writes CD as well)
  • 512 MB DDR SDRAM
  • Smart Card Reader

    The machine has display port, serial port, PS2, 4 USBs (placed unpractically on the left side, except if you are a left-handed person, in this case its great)  thats makes that you must deploy the wire usb mouse behind the computer and as in the right side it's placed the DVDrw/CDrw drive when you open this drive the CD-bay intercepts  the mouse area), and a ieee 1394 firewire and parallel port (TM 661 not).

    There is one type II PC-Card slot (16 or 32 bit), a smart card reader and "4-in-1 card reader" that is claimed to read Smart Media Cards, Memory Sticks, Multimedia cards and Secure Digital cards (Both not tested, I ignore if works or not). The pcmcia at least works fine.

    There is also the normal sound plugs, a michrophone(TM 663 placed on the right top corner) and an infrared port, which is placed unpractically to the front.

    First Steeps.

    - 1) Select the DVD/CD drive as first boot device in the BIOS setup, save & exit (F10), place the first Mandrake 10.0 CD into the drive and reboot the laptop.

    - 2) Making partitions:

      I assume that you are trying to install Linux Mandrake 10.0  with Win_XP (or other windows release), if not will be easier to you yet.

    ***** 660 series and 800 series comes with a tiny partition (about 40Mb) placed only for Acer new recover technology testing pourposes, but that don't have any utility in these models, you can delete it. (for further information about this question see the ACER webpage forum). *****

    Instalation needs 2 mounting points "/" and "/home" if you chooses auto-format, will be created 3 new partitions, 1 for the "/" mount point, 1 of swap, and the last one for the "/home" mount point in this order, with the same size for the first and third (hda5 and hda8) new partition(i don't know why), note that the first "/" partition needs at least 2GB to run properly (with GCC libs and docs). swap partition size is set automatically to 380 Mb.

    So you should have something like this:

    at the beggining (my case):

    | Win_XP  O.S. partition (hda1) |       FREE SPACE   (about 5GB in my case)              |     WIN Data Storage partition (hda6)                                |

    | Win_XP  O.S. partition (hda1) |  Linux "/" (hda5)  | swap (hda7) |Linux "/home" (hda8) |     WIN Data Storage partition (hda6)                               |

    hda5 and hda8 don't have to have the same size so you can reduce the "/home" partition size but manually.

    If you want to create manually the partitions remember they grows from left to right, so you must to create the partitions in the same order from left to right). A trick is select automatic partitioning and after that delete hda7 and hda8 then you can increase hda5 and finally you cerate again the deleted partitions with the free space remaining (380Mb for swap).

     - 3) LILO:

    There is no problem to place LILO in the Boot master record of the hard drive even if you have "WIN XPain" cause XP will be detected either.

     Linux is set as default OS to be loaded, you can change this in /etc/lilo.conf just change default="Label_OF_XP_partition",

    as well you can comment with "#" character some LILO entries in /etc/lilo.conf in order to clean the boot screen (5 load modes are created to start linux) and don't forget set a password to the fail-safe load mode.

    after any change in in /etc/lilo.conf run $lilo in the console to save the changes (its a good idea to make a copy backup of the file in /etc/lilo.conf  before you modify it just in case).

    For further info about LILO

    Kernel

    You don't need the kernel config i used because i don't modify it, Madrake 10.0 does it for you. Mandeake will install 2.4.22 kernel version, but a Linux 26.0 pre is also provided in contribs)

    Network:

    In order to get a driver for the inregrated ethernet card (b44), you must have 2.4.22 kernel. 2.6.0-test series also seem to have the driver, but I haven't tried it.

     The network driver is supported

    As far as I know the wlan doesn't work on linux yet.

    I haven't tried the modem as I have no need for it, some reports on the net suggest it should work.

    Suspend

    There is certainly no APM support on the BIOS. (not tested, but i think that it works)

    Sound

    Sound works fine with alsa (ac97_codec, automatically detected with mandrake 10), but the mixer isn't exactly the best i've heard. Quite acceptable for a laptop still...

    Other

    Note that you need ISA support compiled in the kernel in order to get the PCMCIA work properly as the PCMCIA package uses ISA interrupts or something Some cards might work without ISA support though.

    Xfree86

    For details about the 855GM support, you can see David Dawes's driver page because is the author of the driver but its not neded.

    Installation

    Xfree86 will be the only that not comes auto-configured but its too simple: you select i85X card in the menu (marked option) after that you choose "FLAT PANEL", i choose a 1280x1024 resolution because it was said to me that the 1400x1050 screen size is not supported by the BIOS, but for my surprise when i had started Xfree i could change my screen size to¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡1400x1050!!!!!!!! Haw haw :-).

    select always the auto-maked option unless you know what are you doing, that's a good advice so remembet it.

    X version 4.3.0 stable is included in Mandrake 10.0 OFFCIAL and will  work, besides this  the X version 4.4.0 stable has already been released.

    (certain intern problems inside Xfree86 developmet group points me to think that the 4.3.0 will be the last Xfree86 version released into Mandrake's distros, following the other famous distros.) 

    Screen size

    (read above)

    Touchpad

    The touchpad mouse works very good and  right and left buttons do too, but the extra scroll button (scroller) not much, you can search a Synaptics driver   version   0.11.3 and over, then the scroller will be capable of scrolling up and down, but the horizontal scrolling doesn't work.

    Not tested yet

  • Infra red
  • The 4-in-1 multicard reader.
  • Burning CDs or DVDs (CD heard to work fine)
  • Smart Card Reader

     

    Links

  • Linux on the road - the guide for using Linux on laptops
  • tuxmobil.org lots of info on using linux on laptops
  • Installing Slackware linux on Travelmate 661LCi
  •  Installing Debian Linux to Acer TravelMate661LMi (My template, j0as).
  •  Installing Gentoo Linux to Acer TravelMate661LMi.
  • and some totally unrelated stuff


    Special Thanks:

     

    About me:

        Name: Vicente J. Bailén Jonker

          Nation: Spain,  The Whole NET

         Ocupation:  informatic's student of the University of Alicante

         E-mail: doc0@mixmail.com or voidkey@mixmail.com I only request in English or Spanish languages.



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