Debian on a Toshiba Portege 2000

Important note

This page is provided as a courtesy to the Linux community. Although I hope that you will find it useful, I take NO RESPONSIBILITY for what will happen to your data, your computer, or for anything else, if you use the information contained below. Enjoy!


This page only describes why I decided not to use Debian 3.0 on the Toshiba Portege 2000. Another page describes my experience with Mandrake 9.0, which is what I ended up using.

Installation steps

After reducing the WinXP partition as described elsewhere, this is what I did.

I booted the computer off of CD 1 in the Debian collection. I booted using "linux video=vga16:off". To be precise, I first booted with the default option, but then realized that some text got chopped off at the bottom of the screen, so I went back, read some of the help pages (F1 through F10), and booted using the string given above.

To load the kernel and drivers, I used the network method. I had no trouble with the rest of the installation, except for X Windows.

Debian 3.0 comes with xfree86 version, which does not seem to support this laptop, even when I tried using Heidi's config file. So I set the default distribution to stable (as explained in Section 3.7 of the APT howto), and then installed xfree86 version 4.2.1 from the unstable distribution. This works fine with this configuration file.

At this point, I added the line append="video=vga16:off" to the entry of the default kernel (2.2.20-idepci) in /etc/lilo.conf, so that it would boot up with that option every time.

At this point, the computer was working mostly fine with kernel 2.2.20. However, I wanted to use kernel 2.4, and I wanted to be able to use the built-in wireless (802.11b) card. This generally did not work. I tried to compile the 2.4.19 kernel with the kernel .config file given in Heidi Sacha Bond's Web page, but the wireless did not work. I also tried to compile the Gentoo-patched 2.4.19 with that .config file (which is what she told me she did), and a couple of similar things, but the wireless never worked. One of the problems that I encountered is that wireless-tools in Debian/stable is compiled with wireless extensions 12, whereas the Debian/unstable one is compiled with wireless extensions 15. Thus neither worked with 2.4.19, which seemed to have wireless extensions 13 in it.

Furthermore, I found that every 2.4 kernel I tried with Debian also broke the ethernet connection that worked fine under 2.2.20.

After monkeying with this for a while, I decided that it would probably be faster to install Mandrake and see how it works than to figure out what's wrong with Debian. I obviously cannot assess if this is true, since I never determined the time it would have taken me to fix the Debian installation. However, the Mandrake 9.0 installation was very quick and painless and I got everything I wanted to work properly quickly (see details).

This page was last edited on 11th February 2003, but pages linked from here might have been edited more recently. HTML 4.01.