Linux on Laptops

St. Louis Linux Users Group   /   19 October 2000   /   Steve Holdener (

Important websites/newsgroups

Common Problems and Solutions

Problem Solution
No CD-ROM drive Install via network or floppy.
Remove HD and use another machine to install onto it. *
Can't boot an installation
CD-ROM or floppy
Download a BIOS flash utility from the manufacturer's site.
Graphics, sound, or
PCMCIA controller support
Check the linux-laptop site; you may find settings for your model.
(e.g., if you're lucky, you can get the whole XF86Config file.)
Internal modem/network adapter Get a real modem/NIC.   ;-)

* If you have to use this method, make sure you reconfigure X once the hard drive is back in the laptop. If you use a desktop machine, you'll probably need to go get the PCMCIA source code package, too.

Before you buy...

Check out the MobiliX site. Determine which features your ideal laptop must have.

Look at the linux-laptop page to see how tricky the installation and configuration will be.

Try booting the kernel from a floppy disk or CD. See what works and what hardware is detected. Try the following:

Before you install...

If Windows is installed, use it to gather information about your video card, monitor settings, sound card, devices on COM ports, etc.; Autoprobing during the Linux installation may fail, and you will be glad you did.

See the above note on booting from floppy or CD.

After you install...

You may wish to recompile the kernel. The default kernels from most distributions are optimized for hardware support, not performance. If a stable kernel has been recently released, use this opportunity to upgrade. Be sure to exclude any options you know you won't need when performing the kernel configuration.