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Gentoo 2005.1 on a Toshiba M50-192 (UK)

Here is how I have set up linux on my M50-192. Please note that you are responsible for your own actions and just because something worked for me does not mean that it will definately work for you. This page is written with the assumption that the reader is an intermediate level linux user. If you use linux a lot, then I would recommend checking out this price comparison site to find linux compatible hardware - it is where I go when I need to buy new components.

Here is a general overview of my system (template taken from Mandrake on a Dell 8100).
Component Type  Installed Type  Running on Linux  Comments 
Processor  Intel Celeron M processor 370 (1.5GHz) yes   
Display  14.0" WXGA TFT  yes  Running at 1280x768 
RAM  1 GB  yes   
Video Card  ATI Radeon Xpress 200M  yes  A pain to set up.
Hard Disk  60GB  yes  Hitachi UDMA5 capable HDD 
Touchpad  Builtin  yes  Use synaptics/ALPS driver. Gentoo kernel and emerge synaptics. 
Modem  Builtin ATI AC'97  not tried   
NIC  Gigabit Realtek 8139  yes  Detected automatically, some bugs in kernel, use "acpi=nopci noapic" boot options 
Fixed Optical Drive  DVD-RW  yes  Recognised by k3b as dvd writer, but not tried yet 
Sound  Builtin, AC'97 ATI  yes  works with ALSA no problem 
USB  Builtin ATI  yes  LG 1GB Memory Stick used 
PCMCIA (PC card)  Builtin CardBus CB1410  not tried  Not used
802.11b/g Wireless  Atheros AR500G  not tried  Not used


I thought I would leave windows on and so went with the following partitions:

Disk /dev/hda: 255 heads, 63 sectors, 2432 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 bytes

   Device Boot    Start       End    Blocks   Id  System
/dev/hda1             1        19     152586  83  Linux           (/boot ext2)
/dev/hda2            20       635    4948020  83  Linux           (/home, reiserfs)
/dev/hda3           636      1251    4948020  83  HPFS/NTFS       (windows 5GB)
/dev/hda4          1252      7296   48556462+ 82  Extended
/dev/hda5          1252      1376    1004031  82  Linux swap      (swap)
/dev/hda6          1377      1501    1004031  82  Linux           (/tmp reiserfs)
/dev/hda7          1502      7296   46548306  83  Linux           (/ reiserfs)

I would ALWAYS recommend splitting tmp and home into different directories. My last laptop (dell inspiron 8600c) had a hard drive failure which took out the root partition, but since home was stored in another partition, I was able to recover all my data. If you are messing around and fill up /tmp, you wont take out the whole hard drive, likewise, if you fill up the root partition, KDE will still boot (it needs space in /tmp).


I installed a stage3 i686 version of Gentoo, following the install guide. Before I installed the Kernel (after chrooting), I upgraded GCC to 3.4 instead of 3.3, as 3.4 supports optimisations for celeron-m (pentium-m). Do this with 'emerge gcc', then revdep-rebuild (see the gentoo site for more information on upgrading gcc).

Once GCC was upgraded, I set the CFLAGS to be as optimised as I dared:

CFLAGS="-march=pentium-m -O3 -pipe -fomit-frame-pointer"

And finally I downloaded the gentoo-sources kernel.


Not much to say for the kernel, except enable every ATI related driver (but just use modules for video drivers), 8139too for networking, pentium-m processor type and various desktop optimisations. You can download my .config here for linux-2.6.15-gentoo-r1. There are a few modules compiled that dont need to be in there, but I am too lazy to go through and pull them out for such minor gains.


After rebooting, I did and emerge system and an emerge world to make sure everything was up to date and compiled with the optimal settings. I built X, KDE and some other desktop software (and went to sleep as it took about 10 hours). The network driver is a bit funky, but putting acpi=nopci on the kernel boot line allowed it to work perfectly.

Graphics Card

This was the most painful part of the installation, but I hate installing X windows with a passion. According to Toshiba, the graphics card is an ATI Radeon Xpress 200M. After some googling, I got the binary drivers direct from ATI, specifically 8.21.7. The ATI installer failed the first time, so I took some advice from the Gentoo ATI Howto:

'If you want to use ATI's internal agpgart support instead of the Linux kernel one, the agpgart driver and the chip set specific driver (in your kernel configuration) must be built as modules or not at all.'

Doing this fixed the problem, and I was able to install the drivers. The next step was getting X to work, and I found a good Xorg.conf pre-made by someone here at ubuntu's forums. I modified it to remove their synaptics mouse module, and changed the keyboard layout to UK.

At this stage X worked, but the machine would hang if I tried to kill it, stop it or restart it. Doh! After reading through a lot of websites, I figured out that the agpgart, ati_agp and drm kernel modules must be installed/running to get the driver to work correctly. (thanks http://occom.no-ip.biz/r4000.html!). I quickly noticed that there was no longer any hardware acceleration whatsoever, and opengl ran at a crawl, making mplayer run very poorly which was no good. After some digging I came across this great site. Basically, extract the ATI source with "sh ati-8.21.7-installer-blah.run --extract ati" and then edit firegl_public.c (for me it was in a different location - ./common/lib/modules/fglrx/build_mod/firegl_public.c Editing this file by removing the #if and #endif around the WARNING WARNING WARNING line made the driver work (woohoo!). Make sure that agpgart, ati_agp and drm kernel modules are NOT installed, and then you can build and install the patched driver using "./ati-installer 8.21.7 --install" and it should work fine. I get 1200 fps in glxgears now which is a bit more tolerable than the 150 I was getting before, and opengl video mode works great for mplayer again. You can download my xorg.conf here. If you have any comments on this, feel free to contact me. Note, my xorg relies on synaptics being installed, so make sure you have /dev/psaux compatibility in your kernel and emerge synaptics.

By now X was working without any problems. I had huge, ugly fonts, but a quick modification in the KDE control centre to change all font sizes to 8 made things look more attractive and that was X set up.

Sound Card

With video working, it was time to get sound up and running so I could start watching cartoons again. Simply:

emerge alsa-utils
/etc/init.d/alsasound start
alsamixer      # (to unmute PCM, master, etc)

Then try playing something with aplay or mplayer
say 'DAMNIT' and then turn up the volume using the volume dial on the front-right of the laptop! oops :)
and then sound is working. Use:
rc-update add alsasound default

to get it working on boot.


once all was built (including portage compiles), some desktop-friendly hdparm options were added to /etc/conf.d/hdparm to make the machine a little bit more responsive:

hda_args="-a32 -c1 -u1 -S12 -M254 -A1"


FYI, my ~/.mplayer/config file contains:

ao=arts vo=gl monitoraspect=16:10


As a side note, here is the software I tend to install for a desktop system: gaim (IM)
thunderbird (mail)
amarok (music)
mplayer (video)
kmplayer (video)
smartmontools (test HDD for failures)
gimp (graphics)
imagemagick (graphics)
mozilla-firefox (web)
mplayer plugin (web)
flash plugin (web)
inkscape (graphics)
telnet-bsd (net tool)
ogle (dvd player)
k3b (cd/dvd burning)
azureus (bittorrent)
zip (compression)
unrar (compression)
par2cmdline (archive recovery)
sudo (admin util)
iptables (admin util)
webmin (admin util)
openoffice (office suite)
ethereal (packet sniffer)
ncftp (ftp client)
gftp (ftp client)
klibido (news client)
nessus (check for security problems)
and various emulators for consoles for playing games (eg; epsxe for playstation)


It took about 14 hours to get a basic system up and running (plus 8 hours of sleeping through compilation). OpenOffice took a loooong time to compile after that so you might want to just get the binary for that if you are impatient! It all seems pretty good now though, and much nicer than the dell inspiron 8600c that it is replacing. Toshiba feel like they have more quality than the mass-produced dell systems. The ATI graphics card was a total pain to set up though, and the next time I buy a laptop or graphics card then I will make sure it is NVIDIA.

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