Linux on a Toshiba Libretto U100 - Further experiences...

This is an update to Linux on a Toshiba Libretto U100.

As time passed by I got dissatisfied with the old versions of software coming with Debian/Sarge. So I decided to upgrade to Ubuntu 6.06 (dapper).

Ubuntu Dapper

Installation was easy, everything (exept bluethooth) worked out of the box - even GRUB (I thought this was caused by a newer version on GRUB coming with Ubuntu - I was proven wrong).

There is nothing much to say - it simply worked really good.

I then decided to upgrade to Ubuntu 6.10 (edgy) and met 2 problems.

  • GRUB did not work
  • xorg 7.1 did not work

gentoo Linux

While making a reinstall - I took the chance to choose a different flavor of linux: gentoo. I used it before, but was annoyed by the long compilation phases. The U100 is fast, so it's likely the right Laptop for gentoo.

Installation took it's usual time. On my first run, I selected GRUB as a bootloader, but that doesn't work. On the second attempt I choosed LILO - that worked.

Gentoo was a little more complicated to configure, but was also faster.

Sadly there came an upgrade of xorg to version 7.1 - and I met the same problem as with Ubuntu.


My impression is, that GRUB is not working with the U100. Reason is possibly the host protected area on the HDD. That I got GRUB working with Ubuntu dapper was probably an accident: It worked because parts of LILO (which was installed before) where still around. I actually found LILO-stuff when I dd the first few blocks of /dev/hda in a file and hexdumpd that.

Changing the partitiontable while reinstall seems to damage/rewrite the bootblock, so that GRUB cannot use the remaining LILO bits, so that leads to an unusable installation.

xorg 7.1

Xorg works with an external monitor (1280x1024) without problems. But it has trouble using the internal display (1280x768). The top of the display contains something that looks like uninitialized memory. The actual screen starts at line 50something.

This is the case with Ubuntu 6.10 and gentoo 2006.1.

I tried several Modeline settings, but that didn't make any difference. I also tried 855resolution and 915resolution (the Intel 855GM needs a 915 kernel framebuffer driver). The problem these 2 programs address are indeed other problems than I experienced. There was no problem with a video BIOS not knowing about the 1280x768 resolution (it doesn't know about it, but a suitable Modeline-entry fixes that) - explicitly setting the resolution changed nothing.

No solution at this point - avoid xorg 7.1 at a U100.

This here is likely the bug: Bug#362977: xserver-xorg-video-i810: framebuffer offset by 32k pixels

I'm currently running Debian/Etch(testing) with all the relevant xorg packages set to 'hold'. Look here for an advisory how to do that yourself. And: I'm using the vesa driver ...

Update (25.7.2007)

I switched to debian unstable - and the problem with the x-driver for i810 is gone! This time I didn't try a grub installation, so it's still LILO as a bootloader.


Malte Meiboom (mm (at) netropol (dot) de)