Linux on a Gericom WebBoy

(Gericom WebBoy 1000 14.1 XL-DVD)

Heiko Holtkamp <heiko@rvs.uni-bielefeld.de>
last modified 2002-05-07

Please note: This page is no longer maintained and updated


This is a guided tour to install Linux on a Gericom WebBoy notebook. Information on this page should be relevant to most distributions of Linux. However, since I use SuSE Linux (currently version 7.1), my instructions may need to be modified if you use a different distribution such as Debian, RedHat or Slackware. If you have any information regarding a different Linux distribution provide me the details and I will - perhaps - add it. I am not using the Gericom notebook on my own, I installed Linux on it for a friend who has bought the notebook, so the informations on this website may not be up to date.

But before we continue, please understand that I am not be held responsible for any damage that you do to your own system in case something goes wrong! E.g. it is possible to damage your display by using a bad video mode, so keep that in mind when you use other peoples values - including mine - even if it works for them. The same is true for any other modifications that you make.

Table of Contents

Setting up Linux to Coexist with Windows95/98

The notebook arrives with one big partition (FAT32) for WindowsME. The easiest way to install Linux and Windows coexistent is to use Partition Magic to resize the WindowsME partition without destroying it. Partition Magic is also able to resize Linux partitions. But since I don't have Partition Magic I had to do it with fips 2.0 which is contained on the SuSE 7.1 CDs/DVD. First you have to disabled the virtual memory under WindowsME, next you have to defragment the WindowsME partition so that all data is on the "beginning" of the hard disk. Now you can use fips 2.0 to resize the WindowsME partition. After all this you can use the Linux fdisk tool to repartition the harddisk. You have to create at least one Linux swap partition (type 82) and one Linux native partition. Its sizes depend on your needs and your RAM (since the notebook has 256MB RAM I have chosen to create a 256MB swap partition). If you want to use the suspend-to-disk feature of your notebook you also have to create a suspend-to-disk partition. But you can't create this with the Linux fdisk tool. Normally your notebook is shipped with the tool to create a suspend-to-disk partition (contained on the Gericom utility CD). So my partitions look like this: 512MB suspend-to-disk, 256MB Linux swap, 100MB /boot-Partition (for Linux boot-kernels), 9GB Linux native and the rest is for WindowsME.

The next step is to install Linux on your notebook. After you have installed Linux you can use LILO to dual boot Linux and Windows. You should edit your /etc/lilo.conf file to make it look like this (the exact configuration for your lilo depends on your installation etc.):

# Start LILO global Section
boot=/dev/hda
read-only
prompt
timeout=100
default=Windows
# DOS bootable partition config begins
other = /dev/hda1
label = Windows
table = /dev/hda
# Linux bootable partition config begins
image = /boot/vmlinuz_kernel2218_20010523
root = /dev/hda4
label = Linux
read-only
vga = 791

Next run /sbin/lilo. If everything works fine its output will show something like this:

Added Windows *
Added Linux

The * indicates that this is the default "system" for booting. The next time you boot you will see the LILO prompt on the screen. Now you can choose which OS to boot.

Base Installation

As said before I use SuSE Linux 7.1. The installation is straightforward. I installed it directly from the CD-ROM since the DVD drive in my notebook can boot from CD/DVD. So there is nothing more to say here :-)

Setting up X11

Currently the stock Xserver developed by the XFree86 project does not support the SiS 630 graphics. But you can use the framebuffer device to run X11. With XFree86 4.2 you can use the normal X servers, the SiS 630 chipset is now supported.

Note: The SiS company offers a website for Linux users. You can find this under http://www.sis.com.tw. I believe in the next time there will be a solution to run the SiS 630 graphics without the framebuffer device.
Update 2001-05-31: there is a driver available for the SiS 630 graphics on the SiS-Website (http://www.sis.com.tw/support/download/linux.htm#linuxvga). I have not tested this X-Server.
Update 2002-05-07: There are more informations for the SiS 630 chipset on Thomas Winischhofers website (www.winischhofer.net).

First you have to install a 2.2.x kernel or higher using a framebuffer device. If you don't know how to compile a kernel I strongly recommend that you read the Kernel-HOWTO. But compiling a new kernel is not as hard as installing MS Windows and bring it to work properly :-). But you have to know what you are doing since you can end up with an unbootable system. It's a good idea to have a rescue disk, CD or kernel before you proceed.

Note: The default kernel shipped with the SuSE 7.1 distribution already supports a framebuffer device.

To recompile the kernel using a framebuffer console you have to activate the option "Prompt for development and or incomplete code/drivers" (CONFIG_EXPERIMENTAL) in section "Code maturity level options" because the framebuffer console is currently only experimental. Next you have to activate the "Support for frame buffer devices" (CONFIG_FB_VESA) and "VESA VGA graphics console" (CONFIG_VIDEO_SELECT) options in section "Console drivers". The next step is to recompile the kernel as usual (I assume you know what you have to do to compile the kernel - otherwise read the Kernel-HOWTO...). Copy your newly compiled kernel wherever you want (I assume you copy it to /boot/vmlinuz-new). Add the frame buffer device under /dev with:

mknod /dev/fb0 c 29 0
ln -s /dev/fb0 /dev/fb0current

(for a detailed explanation of these settings see the vesafb.txt file in the Documentation/fb directory of the Linux kernel source tree).

Edit your /etc/lilo.conf file to add a new section to be able to boot the new kernel:

	image=/boot/vmlinuz-new
	label=Linux
	read-only
	vga=791

Note: The vga=791 line is absolutely mandatory! (for 1024x768@16bpp). For other values, e.g. if you want to use a screen with 32bpp you need to set vga=792 instead of 791, see the vesafb.txt file in the Documentation/fb-directory of the Linux kernel source code tree. If you don't have a global root= line in your lilo config file you should add a root= line to the above (after the image= line). The right value for the root= line is your "root-partition". Normally there is a root= line in your lilo configuration file so you can take its value.

At least run the lilo utility and if no errors occur reboot... :-)

If everything works fine and your new kernel boots (of course you have to select it at the lilo prompt for boot...) you should get a penguin logo on the upper left corner of the screen and then the regular console text should appear (but now with a graphical framebuffer console). If Linux doesn't boot or hangs up while booting, then something went wrong with the installation of your new kernel :( You should be able to get your original setup by rebooting and selecting your old kernel at the lilo prompt.

If everything looks good, then we can take the next step: configuration of X. If you don't have already installed the XF86_FBDEV server you should do this right now. The next step is SuSE specific (sorry!) but I believe it will be easy to adapt it to other distributions. Run SAX (SuSE Advanced X Configuration Tool) with:

> sax -s fbdev

and configure X as you want to (I will provide a sample configuration file in the next time). Now you can test your configuration with:

> startx

If everything works go to /etc/rc.config.d/apmd.rc.config/apm and set APMD_LEAVE_X_BEFORE_SUSPEN="yes".

But keep in mind: I am NOT be held responsible for any damage that you do to your own system in case something goes wrong!

Setting up PCMCIA services

This was an easy job :-) The Gericom notebook has two PCMCIA type II slots (or one PCMCIA type III slot) which are controlled by a O2Micro OZ 6812/6912 controller. You can obtain the latest PCMCIA card utilities (by David Hinds) from http://pcmcia-cs.sourceforge.net. In order to get PCMCIA cards to work under Linux on the Gericom notebook it is enough to install the PCMCIA card utilities. But please remember that you have to recompile the Linux PCMCIA card utilities after each kernel reconfiguration/recompile. I have successfully used a 10MBit Ethernet PCMCIA adapter (Gericom 10M Ethernet Combo Card - NE2000 compatible) with the notebook under Linux. If you use SuSE Linux 7.1 you don't have to compile the PCMCIA card utilities on your own. YAST detects the PCMCIA card and configures the system properly.

Setting up Audio

This was also an easy job with SuSE Linux 7.1. YAST detects the integrated SiS 630 audio controller and everything works fine. The integrated audio controller was detected as a Trident chipset. So if your system does not detect the audio controller on its own, you may use ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture). Just download the sources for the ALSA drivers, libraries and utilities from www.alsa-project.org. Compile the sources and install the modules as described in the ALSA manual (it's the normal './configure - make - make install' stuff). You need to compile all three because the utilities help you to unmute your soundcard. And please note that kernels 2.2.x / 2.3.x / 2.4.x need to have general sound support(!), whereas kernels 2.0.x need to have all sound support disabled(!). Next you have to prepare the ALSA-sound-devices in your /dev-directory, because the ALSA-driver has it's own devices. You can make them using the ./snddevices script from the ALSA-driver-package. If you have trouble with your card or need more information on how to test your card take a look at the ALSA-sound-mini-HOWTO or the general ALSA documentation.

Setting up IrDA

No information at this time.

APM & ACPI

APM works fine with the Gericom notebook.

Setting up the modem

It seems as if the modem works, but I haven't tried it on myself. For the modem you need the ltmodem driver. You can get the driver from http://www.physcip.uni-stuttgart.de/heby/ltmodem/. It comes with an install script, there are also some precompiled binaries for some Linux distributions.
There is also a nice introduction on "Using a winmodem in linux" at http://www.dwrees.co.uk/linmodem.php.

More about the notebook

Something more on my specification:

Other (Laptop) Resources

Revision History


Heiko Holtkamp <email: heiko@rvs.uni-bielefeld.de>

Last modified: 2002-05-07