Linux on Laptops

For Linux configurations on many specific laptops, see this page.

Linux on the Fujitsu-Siemens Liteline 654A


I had the oportunity of configuring a nice Fujitsu-Siemens Liteline 654A laptop belonging to a friend. In brief, it was a Pentium III 600 MHz, with 128 MB ram, 10 GB hard disk, 14" LCD screen (1024x768), floppy and DVD inside, internal modem, Irda, USB, lithium battery and a Cardbus 10/100 lan PC Card.

The laptop was fairly new, and indeed with an adequate price; for no special reason, laptops with DVD use to have exagerate prices. It came with Windows 98 Second Edition badly pre-installed (for the rest, W98SE).

I was going to have it for only one day, to install on it a dual boot Linux/W98SE configuration with Lilo on the MBR, both spanish versions. With some caveats, and with configuration to be completed, the task was succesful.

It included the following CD's:


The hardware has been briefly mentioned above. One thing that could be discussed is that hard disk and DVD were both on the primary IDE, as reported by its Phoenix bios. With patience and care this could be improved, opening the laptop and inserting an IDE cable as those used on laptops, if there were enough space.

Since W98SE came almost completeley installed (more on this later), on the Panel Control could be found the specific main componentes:

The lan PC Card was an Ovislink LFS-PCM32. Apparently, this was directly supported in Linux, as appears in PCMCIA Linux lists, but it seems that the manufacturer changed its chip from Intel to Realtek; anyhow, an Ovislink floppy contained code for supporting it.

Display can appear in LCD only, in external monitor only, or in both. This fact resulted very useful (more on this later).

Windows 98 Second Edition configuration

It came factory preinstalled, with such things as keyboard layout and time zone to be defined. Strangely (more on this later), it didn't ask for the W98SE key (that long one of 5 groups of 5 letters or numbers).

As known, manufacturer preinstallations are always poor and incomplete. Elements left out were:

It was easy to put remedy to all this.

Another strange thing was the W98SE key. As known, you can find it in W98SE Registry at HKLM/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/ProductKey. What was there was completely different to the one on a label on the laptop, so it seems that Fujitsu had made a lot of disks equal before laptop assembly to save time; I wonder if Microsoft likes this.

However, in other aspect the configuration seemed to have been done by an incompetent idiot, since the partitioning came as follows:

So 2 GB seemed to be wasted! I looked for something as an hibernation partition, with FDISK and in the manuals, without success. So I started deleting the extended partition, and changing primary from FAT16 to FAT32 with Microsoft's utility; the cluster size reduction from 32K to 4K alone made space occupied go down to something above 600 MB, a 300 MB reduction!

Looking for some free utility to increase the partition from 2 GB to something around 6 GB I found Partition Resizer, but for some reason (it complained about sector size not being 4K, certainly not the case) it didn't work (perhaps Partition Magic would work), so the fastest thing was to format and reinstall everything. Previously, I copied all files through the lan to a disk on a desktop (the more than 600 MB took around 10 minutes to be copied).

So I did with 'fdisk' a primary FAT32 partition of 5.9 MB, and an extended of 320 MB, placing there one unit to hold the W98SE swap file, formating it in FAT16. Installation of W98SE was done booting from the Fujitsu CD, which went smoothly although I customized it a little bit, resulting an ACPI installation. Then came the rest of elements (sound, video, modem and SpeedStep utility); most were easy and almost automatic with the drivers CD, although for video I had to do it manually. Final operations were:

Rather than copying previous installation, it seemed that the new one resulted the same as it, and even occupancy was also something above 600 MB.

Excuse me for this long explanation about the W98SE configuration; let me point out:

So lets go back to Linux.


Chosen distribution was Suse 7.0 (spanish version). Except for video, installation was smooth booting from first CD. From above, there were two left partitions, so in the initial stages of installation, I did the partitioning as follows:

I suppose that placing swap partition before ext2fs one decreases overall disk heads movement a little bit. Sizes and cilinder numbering resulted (see later):

It can be argued if lilo elements can go beyond cilinder 1024; lilo 21.6 or greater should take care of it ('loadlin' can be used for booting to install it).

Except X configuration, everything went fluently. I placed Lilo on the MBR, to choose operating system easily; even this was reflected on /etc/lilo.conf.

But X was a nightmare. The Silicon Motion Lynx3D chip was new to me. I looked for references about X with this chip, without succes. I couldn't get a working '/etc/XF86Config' with any of the known utilities. Finally, I executed 'sax -s XF86_VGA16' (that is Suse 'sax' graphic utility, but using the simplest server). With this, I could test and prepare a working '/etc/XF86Config', based on:

Incidentally, the Suse box mentions Silicon Motion Lynx chips as supported; within 'sax' you can find one, and it says 'Supported from XInside'. I couldn't find information about this.

But still it didn't work. X started, but lasted a few seconds, and the screen turned black. I then attached an external monitor and observed that X appeared there! So I reached the following workaround:

Miracle! X is there!

So the rest of the installation was some tweaking, such as:

To do

As said, I was going to give back the laptop, so could not proceed further with the installation. So what remained pending was:

Eventually, results of above can appear on this page. Anyhow, I hope someone can find all above useful, or improve it, if getting what I think is a very nice laptop.

Webillo Disperso,
Madrid, Spain

January 2001.

BTW, visit AutoWebadas, all about radio controlled car racing in Spain.

Last update 06/12/12