Welcome to my experiences of installing and using GNU/Linux on the Toshiba P20.
Disclaimer: These are MY opinions and experiences. I do not guarantee they will work for you, but only offer them to assist you. Remember to back-up ALL critical data before messing around with your hard drive (and if you use Windows XP solely, you should always be backing up your data... don't know when that will crash and take everything with it). I will not take responsibility if you "nuke" your PC. In other words:
THIS PAGE IS PROVIDED AS-IS AND WITHOUT WARRANTY. ALL USERS ACCEPT FULL RESPONSIBILITY AND LIABILITY IN THE EVENT OF SYSTEM FAILURE, DATA LOSS, OR ANY OTHER FAILURE OR LOSS RESULTING FROM THESE INSTRUCTIONS.
Saying that if you feel like you would like to add something to this page or correct something, please feel free to e-mail me. My e-mail address is: rdefrance (at) gmail (dot) com.
This page contains information of (in the chronological order that I tried them):
Please keep in mind that the entire operating system is made up of GNU utilities and has Linux as the kernel. The entire operating system should be referenced as "GNU/Linux", but in this page I will also use the term "Linux" to refer to the entire operating system, and not just the kernel.
If you want to help me out, please write to me with suggestions of distros to try, what the BIOS 1.8 upgrade (dos upgrade or windows upgrade) does (as Toshiba techs don't really know over the phone), any other information about the Toshiba P20, your P20 / Linux / BSD experiences.
Go back to Ric's Home Page.
Background / FAQs:
What is a Toshiba P20?
The Toshiba P20 (also known as the "Toshiba Satellite P20") is a 17" wide-screen notebook with either a 2.8GHz, 3.0GHz, 3.2GHz, or 3.46GHz Pentium 4 + HT processor. I've downloaded the brochure for the model I have which is the 3.0GHz model, and the brochure is available off this server (this is due to the fact that Toshiba sometimes reorganize their downloadable files). While the models share some commonality between them, the little noticable differences are:
In some other parts of the world, the P20 is also known as the P25 (ie. the "Toshiba Satellite P25"). I don't know why Toshiba have marketed it like this, but they must do it for some reason. What I have noticed recently is that they're coming out with a red case instead of the blue one that is commonly sold in Australia.
What's good / bad about my Toshiba P20 (PSP20A-08EJ7) ?
Firstly, read the brochure. While my experiences are mine, they may be similar to experiences with the other variations of the P20 (or international P25) model.
In a nutshell, the good bits are:
In a nutshell, the bad bits are:
I would not hesitate to purchase this again (or even to upgrade to the latest 3.46Ghz model). But if you're looking for more of a notebook that is portable (as opposed to a desktop replacement - a "desknote"), then this won't be the PC for you.
Here are they installation steps:
This works extremely well. I can't believe how well it did work. Based on this, I only wanted to try out other distros. Sound worked, and so did all the software I tried out from the CD (eg. Mozilla, OpenOffice.org, XMMS, etc.).
I would be guessing (as I did not have the opportunity to try it out), but I think the ethernet card would have worked correctly too. It appeared to detect it correctly, so I'm only guessing.
The things that didn't work are the resizing to fit the screen correctly. I put in (in the boot options) a size of the screen (1440x900) and it did not resize it correctly. This is definitely not the fault of Knoppix, but more of a constraint of X and how it relates to information returned to it by the graphics card (which Knoppix also detected). The winmodem was not detected and therefore did not work. Once again I don't think this is the fault of Knoppix.
Overall, this is a really great distribution to try out.
Gentoo works like a dream on this machine. I must advise that I did have some problems here and there when I was attempting to install Gentoo off CD only (GRP-install), but after I connected to cable broadband, I have successfully re-installed from Stage 1, and the machine is superb. Due to the fact it works so well, I have hardly had to reboot into my Windows XP partition. The only thing I do have to use Windows XP for is to transfer images off my phone to the hard drive. As soon as I can figure out how to do FiR transferring in Linux, I'll probably never have to boot into it again.
Here is the installation in a nutshell. Please note that these are the instructions for 2004.0 (I may install using 2004.1 one day - see below). If you're going to use my steps, keep in mind it's only a guide. Have a copy of the Gentoo Linux installation handbook handy. Follow it as much as you can, and use these steps to hopefully clarify bits and pieces of the installation process specific to the Toshiba P20. Depending on how you want to set up your machine, your mileage will vary!
This next section discusses how to get a desktop on your PC under Gentoo Linux.
Ok, getting sound to work was my next step. I basically followed the instructions listed in the Gentoo ALSA manual. That was easy enough to follow. One thing that should be noted is that when you install sound, by default everything is muted, and all the sound is set on volume level 0. If you change there settings and then attempt to use a test file you should be able to hear sound. The only remark I would like to make here is that you can set your volume settings up, then issue this command: alsactl store. This will store the volume settings. Then add the line alsactl restore in /etc/conf.d/local.start and you will have those sound settings set at the levels at startup everytime.
My configuration files as of 27/09/2004:
Here are my system files off my PC as of the date above. I've left the ones in the text above as they are (mainly because I'm too lazy to remove them), but you can also compare them with the ones I have here:
My configuration files as of 31/05/2005:
Any differences in file names or locations has been due to the upgrading via emerge, and not due to me moving things around and renaming them.
Things to do:
I also intended on upgrading the BIOS to version 1.8 when I find out what benefits it will give me. This may or may not mean I will install my PC again. I've already downloaded and had a quick look at Gentoo Linux 2004.1 and 2004.2 and they seems to be fine, once again detecting things correctly. Even the "smp" option from boot (which to my understanding uses the 2.6 kernel) detects my ethernet port as eth0.
This section is complete (but may get updated from time to time). I have been using (and upgrading) Gentoo Linux constantly for nearly 2 years without any desire to replce the partition with any other distribution of Linux. I am also attempting to keep an open mind out, and if something else comes along that does suit my needs better, I will give it a go. Also, I may re-install Gentoo at sometime in the future (along with upgrading the BIOS, and a few other things). But until that happens, please consider this section complete. Do e-mail me if you require more information and need me to clarify points, and I do my best to reflect discussions in this page.
I'm guessing that Mandrakelinux (MDK) is just one of those distros that everyone should try out. I did on the spare sandbox partition on my P20. I most likely won't go through all the steps of how to get it on, as most of the steps are automated by the installer, and it's just a matter of choosing what to install, but I will give a quick run down of my experiences of it.
Ok, basically, it was very quick and easy to install. MDK seem to have discovered most of the components of my system. Most of the installation comprised of me clicking on the "NEXT" and "OK" buttons. Two areas that weren't detected that well was the monitor / graphics card combination, and the sound. For the graphics / monitor problem, I manually downloaded and installed the Linux drivers from nVidia. Their installer ran without a problem. Then I just copied over my XF86Config file from my Gentoo partition, and it worked immediately. I couldn't figure out how to get sound working, so I gave up after a few hours. USB was detected and configured fine, as well as anything to do with networking.
What I couldn't get to work was the internal modem (dial-up). I don't consider this a fault of MDK - I haven't been able to get it to work with other distros either, but that's more due to a lack of trying (broadband makes you lazy). I did notice the occasional crash when attempting to start up a browser, but I didn't investigate it very deeply. UPDATE: Joris Kofman (joriskofman (at) gmail (dot) com) contacted me recently and mentioned that this irritating thing can be solved by turning off the external amplifier powerdown option. As I don't have Mandrakelinux (or Mandrivalinux as it's called now) installed anymore, I cannot confirm that, but I hope it's of use to those of you that choose to install Mandrakelinux / Mandrivalinux.
MDK have done a superb job getting a general look and feel done for the desktop. Here's a picture of the MDK desktop on the P20. Everything appears to follow the one theme, and I think this will be good for people who are just trying their first Linux disto. I wouldn't stay with using this distro as I dislike the package management technology used by MDK. Other (undoubtedly) will disagree.
In summary, if you have the time to devote to properly installing MDK on a Toshiba P20, then I would suggest doing it if you're after that type of distro. Christian Convey has discussed how he is pleased with his installation. I would also recommend a visit to his page. MDK 10.0 CE may install well, but you'll eventually end up having to do some of the tweaking manually.
This section is now complete. I will not write any further on Mandrakelinux 10.0 CE. I may start up a new section for any other Mandrakelinux versions I get my hands on in the future.
I've always wanted to give SUSE Linux a "go" ever since I started to try out Linux. The problem that was stopping me from trying out SUSE Linux is that it demanded that you buy an installation set of media along with a pre-printed manual. As much as I wanted to try it out, there was not much I could do to justify a purchase of open source software to my significant other. Thankfully, Novell took over SUSE in late 2003, and has recently offered an evaluation version of SUSE Linux to try. I'm guessing that Novell has figured out that Red Hat has such a foothold on the Linux operating system market because they were giving their software away for free download. I know that there is an ftp installation option for SUSE, but I have never found any solid documentation on how to do it. For those of you that are curious at trying out SUSE for yourselves, try this link: NOVELL: Customer Communities: Linux Resource Kit Order Form.
I don't want to write another installation guide for SUSE. I think there's already plenty good ones out on the internet to choose from. What I am hoping to document is what I've noticed in using YaST and all the other SUSE made applications.
Well, firstly I kicked off the installation application and noticed how well the installation version of X had detected my screen size. I think it defaults to 800 x 600 (but I cannot confirm that). Next I went through and chose all the packages. One thing I did notice with YaST (the SUSE Linux installer) is that it basically does the work to detect as much as it can, and then you can jump back and forth in the installation until you actually make the decision to actually install. The two things I didn't like about the YaST process was:
At this point in time, I left the installation process and let the installer take care of the rest. It looked like it was going to install all the RPMs and then wait for further instructions and settings (around network and screen setup). Coming back to my PC after an hour, I noticed it had rebooted into my default Gentoo login screen. I examined SUSE's /boot directory for the vmlinuz file and the initrd file, made the changes to my grub.conf file, and then rebooted again. This time I chose to boot into SUSE Linux. I was greeted with a ncurses style screen to complete the rest of the installation process (ie. configure network, screen, and users). After that finished, and with another reboot (not impressed, as this is why I dislike installing the Microsoft Windows operating system - or some applications on it), I selected SUSE again, and was put into a 640 x 480 welcome kdm screen. I then ran YOU (YaST Online Updater) from the command line, and with a glimpse of the release notes I had downloaded during my network testing, I looked for the nVidia drivers. Please be aware that the nVidia drivers are listed in the fetchnvidia package (meaning you had to look in the "f"s, not the "n"s or "N"s areas).
From initially installing it, I've noticed it makes a good desktop. Here's a screenshot of my SUSE KDE desktop I took after copying over my XF86Config file from this page, and installing the nVidia drivers via YOU (YaST Online Updater).
The overall look and feel of SUSE Linux is very good. The themes make sense, and the desktop to use is quite well put together. The only criticism I can make over the distribution is that Gnome was not well made. It appears all their efforts have been in put in making KDE look superb. There are many menu applications which are installed, and there wasn't much that I could not find from it that doesn't come with standard Linux distros these days.
If I was interested in using an RPM (binary) based system, at this stage I would highly recommend using SUSE. I cannot speak for the Novell desktop, as I have not seen it enough to make comment about it. SUSE have made a good effort, and this desktop would be well suited for both the home user, or the business user. With an update model that is similar to Red Hat's network (ie. you pay a subscription and you get access to the latest updates), this would be something sysadmins of large Linux desktop deployments should investigate.
As of the date of writing this paragraph (15.12.2004), I believe that Novell is no longer handing out free DVDs with SUSE for the community to trial. What they are offering is the Novell Desktop Linux distro, but for download. Feel free to click on the link above, and then follow the subsequent links on the resulting pages.
This section is now complete.
I'd like to start this with a little history lesson for those people who have heard of Red Hat and haven't heard of Fedora. Fedora Linux is Red Hat Linux (sort of...). A few years ago, Red Hat (the company) made a strategic direction to stop marketing Linux as a product you can buy off the shelf, and target the corporate and enterprise market. It appears this was a good strategy as the company appears to be doing well. Red Hat came out with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Due to some legal points and other "things", they could no longer give away Red Hat Enterprise Linux for free as this would suggest that people using it were entitled to some type of support (I don't know the full details behind this all, and if you're reading this and you know better, please feel free to contact me). Fedora was the project sponsored by Red Hat to ensure Red Hat Linux was available to the community for free. My only comment on this was I hoped they could have handled it better from a public relations perspective. Initially, it appeared that they were selling their "good" stuff to the corporates, and tossing the community the "scraps". This is not what Fedora Core 3 turned out to be.
The installation process went as well as can be expected. It was basically the installer from Red Hat version 7 / 8 but without all the Red Hat references. It appeared to detect most thinks well, except for my monitor. Here's a screenshot of my Fedora Gnome desktop I took after tweaking the xorg.conf file, and installing the nVidia drivers via YUM. This instructions can be found on the unofficial Fedora faq web site. The rest of the installation is basically letting the application probe your system, and choosing the defaults - very much in the "Next, Next, Next and OK" mentality. The only bit that wasn't covered by the installer is to manually configure the grub.conf file. Since I was using Gentoo's grub, and didn't get Fedora to configure grub, this was initially a problem. Fedora appear to have their own settings (like LABEL) which I have never seen before. Anyway, if you are doing something like me, then don't forget to include all the options in the grub.conf file on the Fedora line.
Using the Fedora distribution was fairly simple, as I think the Fedora / Red Hat developers have done quite a lot of work skinning certain areas to allow for a consistent look and feel over the entire distribution. The menus appear to be organised in a neat and easy to understand manner. After about half an hour of usage, I decided to uprage it to the current "marked as stable" updated packages. While this was not difficult, using the up2date tool, I did notice it took a long time. I also attempted to install Java (Sun's JDK) using the instructions from the unofficial Fedora faq web site. While everything looked like it worked correctly, everytime I viewed a web page that contained a Java applet in Firefox, it would crash Firefox. Seeing how Fedora is not my main distribution, I did not bother trying to fix this.
I have been impressed by what I've seen in Fedora, and if the changes made to Fedora are going to be brought into Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL - the distribution Red Hat charges money for). It appears that the hardest part of the distribution (in my opinion, managing packages and keeping the system up to date via RPMs) has been addressed with the inclusion of YUM. While this is still not what I prefer in managing an operating system, I do think this will make Fedora usable to people who have installed it and want to upgrade it. Overall, it was a well put together system, with a few little glitches here and there, and I would not hesitate in suggesting people to use it if all they have been used to is Red Hat Linux.
This section is now complete.
Click on these to provide greater help.
As always, here is a link of other pages on the web that may provide additional assistance:
Go back to Ric's Home Page.
This page was last updated on 5th June 2005.