Installing Linux on a Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo A 7600 portable

by Janne Nurminen

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Updated: 5. Jun 2005 / On since: 13. Dec 2002 

Contents

F-S Amilo A 7600

Current Status (17. Jan 05)

Display 2D: Works good. >> Read more: [ News 29. May 2003 ]

3D: Xorg 6.8.1 includes the DRI driver for 3D acceleration. However, there are serious issues with the IRQs. IRQ #11 is disabled during X startup when DRI is enabled, and this results into a system freeze. To get by this, you need to fix your DSDT (Differentiated System Description Table). Take a look at these two posts on the subject.
Sound Works
DVD/CD-RW: Works (some are having problems with reading those burned cd's; dunno anything about that)
PCMCIA: Works
NIC: Works
Firewire: Works. >> Read more: [ Additional Information ]
Modem: I hear it's working with SmatLink's slmodem driver ver 2.9.10.
I haven't tried, and I won't.
TV-out: Works. Read more: [ Additional Information ]
ACPI: Works, at least to some extent, I hear (kernel 2.4.20 compiled including ACPI patch from acpi.sourceforge.net).
Touchpad, floppy, USB, PS/2, hot keys, serial and lpt ports: Yes, they work, too. With kernels > 2.6.5 or so there are, however, issues with the IRQs. I've got my USB mouse and touchpad working simultaneosly just great on my Gentoo installation (kernel 2.6.9-r13), but only when the USB mouse is attached to one of the two outermost USB ports (what the heck, it works, right?). To get it all working, you need to check you Differentiated System Description Table stuff (described above).

Latest News

[5. Jun 2005]: Get your Amilo rocking with Gentoo and ALSA
Added instructions for getting the sound card working in Gentoo.

[30. Apr 2005]: Config files
People have been requesting my config files, so here they are: my current xorg.conf (X configuration) and kernel configs I used to compile 2.6.9 and 2.6.11. The synaptics patch I applied to 2.6.9 is now included in 2.6.11 by default. See the config dir for the files.

[17. Jan 2005]: Amilo <3 Gentoo Linux
Quite some time ago, I started using Gentoo Linux as the main OS in my development (and other) work. I have learned to love it, and eventually ended up installing it on my Amilo, too - and it just rocks. I've been thinking of writing a short howto on the subject. Maybe I'll get it done some time soon.
   Samuel sent my some updated information on amilo matters, and I've updated the current status section accordingly. If you're interested in solving your amilo related problems or tweaking your own amilo baby, don't forget to check the yahoo group for amilo users.

[08. Jun 2004]: A COUPLE OF NOTES ABOUT TV-OUT and 3D
Tarmo pointed out that it is possible to use TV-OUT (S-Video) just by using fn-F5 to switch modes between tv/lcd/tv+lcd while in LILO screen. (>> more about TV-OUT..) -- IGP 3D acceleration can be enabled by downloading dri and Mesa (+XFree 4.4) from the CVS. This, however, results in breaking the IRQ configuration so that eth and pcmcia will stop working.

[29. Oct 2003]: MODEM WORKS
It seems that our modem is finally working (more or less). >> Read more from here. (-- Hmm.. nice job with your page design, Mr. Francesco Angelo Medagli!)

[12. Oct 2003]: TV-OUT using S-VIDEO
So, Oskari tested S-VIDEO also. He managed to get a picture showing on his TV screen, but without colors (maybe he missed some settings with this telly, 'cause I got it working with colors, too -- >> read more about using TV-OUT).

[11. Sep 2003]: TV-OUT WORKS
Oskari reported that he got TV-OUT working with minor tweaking using composite output and atitvout 0.4. S-Video (Separate Video) will hopefully be tested later, since it provides much better quality as compared to a composite connection.

[1. Sep 2003]: AN AMILO A MAILING LIST HAS BEEN SET UP
A mailing list has been set up for users interested in installing and using Linux on a Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo A series laptop. After subscription you can start sending messages to members of this group by simply sending email to amilo at yahoogroups dot com. Unsubscribing is done by sending an email to amilo-unsubscribe at yahoogroups dot com. To learn more about this, point your browser to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amilo.

[30. Jul 2003]: SMARTLINK MODEM DRIVERS TESTED - NO LUCK
Remember Luis trying to make our modem work? Well, SmartLink has announced a new beta Linux driver. Anybody want to give it a try? (Luis tested this version also: compilation, installation and configuration ok. /dev/ttySL0 was created and it answered back. But when establishing a real connection, the system hung up like before. --JN 080303)

[22. Jul 2003]: PROGRESS WITH 3D SUPPORT
Progress with 3D support! Hui Yu from ATI is working on a agpgart driver for Radeons based on 320M/340M chipsets. A preliminary version of the driver and a patch for XFree CVS are available.. 4x data rate on IGP320/340 internal graphics is working; Mesa demos, TuxRacer and Chromium run fine, they say. Wouter Bijlsma has ported Hui Yu's driver to compile also under 2.5.x (but the patched X had reported "AGP unavailable"). The patches and more detailed information can be found from http://bugs.xfree86.org/show_bug.cgi?id=314.

[16. Jun 2003]: RED HAT 9.0 INSTALLATION
Installed Red Hat 9.0 yesterday. There was no problems during installation (the magic button came in handy, though!) - but soon enough, other issues appeared:

  • "i8253 count too high! resetting.."
    The kernel dumped this message every now and them to my terminal. After upgrading to kernel version 2.4.20-18.9 (from 2.4.20-8) the problem was fixed. (It turned out that it only seemed that way. After a much longer period of time the same message occured again. --JN 072203).
  • ATi Radeon IGP320 chipset was not recognized by XFree 4.3.0. Replacing the drivers with these helped.

[3. Jun 2003]: MODEM TESTS - NO GO
Luis from Spain had tried to make the modem work by trying the drivers Stydovsky's script suggested. He said that the drivers from pctelcompdb.sourceforge.net didn't work at all, but the ones located at linmodems.technion.ac.il did - at least to some extent: the modules were installed without problems and the modem was actually detected. Minicom had returned "AT OK" and KPPP tests had gone well. But when trying to establish a connection to an ISP, the damn thing had hang up totally. He had also tried using wvdial instead, with the same results (oh boy am I glad that I'm done with modems ;-). If you feel up to it, download the drivers and try them out yourself.

[29. May 2003]: SUMMING UP
I've received quite a few questions regarding some specific details on what's working and what's not at the moment. So let's sum up here:
  • Display: The Radeon driver shipped with XFree 4.3.0 includes support for Radeon IGP (this isn't exactly true, since this applies only to Mandrake 9.1, see news 16-Jun. --JN 061603). It may be wise to upgrade to kernel version 2.4.21, since from the ChangeLog you can find stuff like "Allow DMA setup on radeon IGP now we think its fixed" etc. (-- The Linux Kernel Archives)
  • Sound: works.
  • DVD/CD-RW: works.
  • PCMCIA: works.
  • NIC: works.
  • Touchpad, floppy, USB, PS/2, hot keys, serial and lpt ports: yes, they work, too..
  • Firewire: Works. I tested my external firewire harddisk myself today -- if you're interested, read more about it.
  • TV-out: No reports. I haven't tried.
  • Modem: No reports. But see how to get started with it..
  • ACPI: No reports, no efforts.

[22. Apr 2003]: MANDRAKE 9.1 INSTALLS SMOOTHLY
So, I tested the new Mandrake 9.1 myself yesterday. The installation went extremely smoothly. The XFree 4.3.0 Radeon driver covers the IGP320 chipset, too - and I must say there really is a significant difference in speed (do those X screensavers now fly!). During booting kernel warns "Warning: ATI Radeon IGP Northbridge is not yet fully tested", but for me everything has worked fine.

Btw, as a hint to all you people trying different distros, plan your partition scheme well. For example, I have all the databases and development stuff on separate partitions, so when installing a new distro I just use the same partitions and mount points, but leave those partitions intact (unformatted) which contain my work data and other personal stuff.

[16. Apr 2003]: RADEON DRIVERS
Lucky sent me an email about his Amilo FSC 7800 homepage. The page is unfortunately in German, but after doing some heavy translation I am now able to give you some good news :-). Firstly, Lucky uses Debian Linux. He says that XFree 4.3.0 now includes full support for ATi Radeon, and after upgrading he has been able to watch movies with xine without problems. Additionally he had installed another Radeon Driver Pack which "works great". He also has a XFree86 Config file available, from which he has removed some things that had some kind of speed-reducing effects, if I understood correctly. (Btw, note that eg. the new Mandrake 9.1 ships with XFree 4.3.0 included.)

[4. Apr 2003]: MANDRAKE FLIES
Michael from Bryssels reported that he had installed the new Mandrake Linux 9.1 on his Amilo and he says that "it flies". The installation had went smoothly and he says that everything works perfectly and no tweaking was needed at all. Goddam, that is good news! You can get Mandrake Linux from www.mandrakelinux.com.

[24. Feb 2003]: AGPGART: WANNA DO THE JOB?
Mayby YOU are interested in getting agpgart/video working correctly? What you need to do is either reverse engineer it or get ATi to send you the needed documentation.

[21. Feb 2003]: ABOUT 3D
I've received questions about OpenGL, DRI and 3D support in general. Currently there are no drivers available for the IGP320 chipset. I am using generic vesa drivers with 1024 x 768 resolution and 16 bit colors. The Direct Rendering Infrastructure (DRI) doesn't support the chipset, not to mention that agpgart isn't working, either. For more information on DRI see http://dri.sourceforge.net.

[20. Jan 2003]: I HAVE A DREAM
Suspending? Power management? Yeah, right -- keep dreaming! For further information see ACPI4Linux. ACPI is short for Advanced Configuration and Power Interface.

[16. Jan 2003]: Whadda you know.. This 45 yrs. old american guy wrote me that he had made a homepage and had thought about cutting and pasting the information on this page to his page. But then he had came to thinking that if I ever updated my page, he would have to come back every now and then and check on it. That's why he had decided to link directly. Also: THE SKY IS F***ING BLUE.

[29. Jan 2003]: KNOPPIX ROCKS
For the record, I also tried Knoppix 3.1 and it worked great (KNOPPIX is a very cool bootable CD with a collection of GNU/Linux software).

[14. Jan 2003]: SuSe
A few users have reported that SuSe 8.1 works too but they've had some problems with sound (or rather with the lack of it). The "nomce" option was needed during the setup procedure -- otherwise the machine ended up crashing with its leds blinking.

[10. Dec 2002]: IT WORKS!
Eppur si muove! Hua!



Abstract

This page is about installing Linux on a Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo A 7600 portable computer (see specs and a picture). Note that the part Installation is mainly about installing RedHat Linux versions 7.2-8.0 and Mandrake Linux 9.0 on the laptop. For up-to-date information, see News.

At least the following distributions worked for me:

  • Red Hat 8.0
  • Red Hat 7.3
  • Mandrake 9.0

Installation

I installed from cdrom. During installation of RedHat (7.3 and 8.0) I got the following error message straight after the "Welcome to RedHat Installation" screen (had just pressed enter to install):

	Initializing PC Card Devices...

	Bank 3: b40000000000083b at 000
	Kernel panic: Unable to continue

(image)

To get pass this, I had to start the installation with an additional parameter "nopcmcia" as follows:

	linux nopcmcia

After that installation went correctly to the very end. One strange thing happened with RH 8.0, though: when the installation program first asked if I want to test the installation media or not, the keyboard locked completely. But strangely, by pressing the magic email hot key it started to work again..

So, everything went allright from that on, the X test screen looked great with generic vesa driver with 1024x768 res.. but when trying to boot the machine for the first time:

	...
	PCI: Using configuration type 1
	PCI: Probing PCI hardware
	PCI: Using IRQ router ALI [10b9/1533] at 00:07.0
	isapnp: Scanning for PnP cards...
	CPU 0: Machine Check Exception: 0000000000000007
	Bank 3: b400000000001 at 00000001fc0003b3
	Kernel panic: Unable to continue

(image)

And this happened with all distributions I tried. Finally I got pass this by booting Linux with an additional parameter "nomce" as follows:

	linux nomce

Some newer processors have the ability to self-monitor and detect inconsistencies that should not regularly happen. If an inconsistency is detected, a Machine Check Exception will take place and the system will be halted (rather than plundering forward and corrupting your data). You can use this argument to disable this feature, but be sure to check that your CPU is not overheating or otherwise faulty first. (1

Of course, to boot with additional parameters you have to get to the command line first - In Mandrake you have to press ESC when the boot menu shows up, in Red Hat you have to do CTRL-X. And if you don't want to do that every time when you want to boot the damn thing, edit /etc/lilo.conf and append the parameter there. Then you have to of course run lilo for the changes to take effect. See lilo.conf man pages for further information. If you're using Grub, the boot parameters can be edited just by following the instructions on the screen. Again, see man pages for further information on configuring Grub.

Concluding words

- Mandrake (9.0) works flawlessly. Everything (usb, firewire, lan, sound) works ok, but I haven't tried pcmcia yet. I haven't tried the modem either because I don't need it (and in fact I don't even have a regular phone line to try it with). But if someone is having trouble with the modem, maybe the HSF (softmodem) Driver could be of help.

If you're trying to make your way through with some other distro, you might be interested about some command outputs.

Yesterday (12. Dec 2002) I connected my Siemens ME45 GSM phone to it (via serial cable) and after a few hours of tweaking I could finally connect to the Internet using GPRS. (2

Cheers,

Janne Nurminen
janne dot nurminen (at) cs dot helsinki dot fi.REMOVE.christmaspoop - where Linux was invented..


Additional Information

- Firewire, modem, command outputs...

References

1. The Linux BootPrompt HOWTO 2. Of Linux, GPRS Phones, Serial Cable, Irda, Bluetooth and USB

Links

Red Hat: http://www.redhat.com
Mandrake Linux: http://www.mandrakelinux.com/en/
Gentoo Linux: http://www.gentoo.org
HSF (softmodem) Driver: http://www.mbsi.ca/cnxtlindrv/hsf/
ACPI4Linux: http://acpi.sourceforge.net/
The Direct Rendering Infrastructure (DRI): http://dri.sourceforge.net
About DSDT (Differentiated System Description Table): http://acpi.sourceforge.net/dsdt/

http://koti.mbnet.fi/~keiky/misc/linux/

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