Things are getting better, but Linux installation on laptops is still not as easy as it should be, for the usual reasons that manufacturers provide little help, and the latest hardware may not have Linux drivers available. So the best help is found by trawling the web looking for pages from other people that have managed something. The canonical starting point is Kenneth Harker's Linux on Laptops page.
This is a note of my attempts to get Fedora Core Linux working well on a Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook S6120, starting in May 2004. See similar pages by: Ulf Karlsson, Christoph Fuchs.
Please send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback or comments on these pages, particularly if you have success somewhere I failed, or news of new drivers, better configurations, etc.
Last modified: Wed Apr 20 13:54:52 BST 2005
$Revision: 1.1 $
The machine I have has a 1.6GHz Pentium M, 512Mb, and 60GB hard-disk. The machine has a larger than usual form factor for its class, but it does weigh over the advertised 1.7kg weight in the default configuration. I don't think taking out the DVD/CD-RW drive saves many grams.
The keyboard is mostly full-sized and pleasant to use, but I was disappointed that some bad layout choices are made (at least on my UK version). The arrow keys are slimmed down, mainly to fit in the near-useless but full-sized Windows keys (I think IBM have made the right choice here to simply omit them from their laptop keyboards). The (only) Fn key is in the prime bottom left position rather than the CTRL key is next door. Very annoying for an Emacs user! I've had to remap the CAPS key now on all keyboards I use.
Here's Linux's view of the PCI peripherals:
-[0000:00]-+-00.0 Intel Corp. 82852/855GM Host Bridge +-00.1 Intel Corp. 855GM/GME GMCH Memory I/O Control Registers +-00.3 Intel Corp. 855GM/GME GMCH Configuration Process Registers +-02.0 Intel Corp. 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device +-02.1 Intel Corp. 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device +-1d.0 Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) USB UHCI #1 +-1d.1 Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) USB UHCI #2 +-1d.2 Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) USB UHCI #3 +-1d.7 Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) USB2 EHCI Controller +-1e.0-[0000:01-03]--+-0a.0 O2 Micro, Inc. OZ6933 Cardbus Controller | +-0a.1 O2 Micro, Inc. OZ6933 Cardbus Controller | +-0c.0 Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+ | +-0d.0 Intel Corp. PRO/Wireless LAN 2100 3B Mini PCI Adapter | \-0e.0 Texas Instruments TSB43AB21 IEEE-1394a-2000 Controller (PHY/Link) +-1f.0 Intel Corp. 82801DBM LPC Interface Controller +-1f.1 Intel Corp. 82801DBM (ICH4) Ultra ATA Storage Controller +-1f.3 Intel Corp. 82801DB/DBM (ICH4) SMBus Controller \-1f.5 Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) AC'97 Audio Controller
The display uses Intel's 855GM extreme graphics, supported by the i810 driver in X.org.
I began with Fedora Core 2 installed from CDROM. Fedora doesn't have as many out-of-the-box features as some versions of Linux, but otherwise I've found it dependable. The install procedure doesn't include partition resizing: since I wanted to keep Windows XP on the machine for the time being, I began with the first Mandrake 9.1 CD to help slim Windows down.
Fedora configured this automatically without trouble: the driver used is the 8139too.
The process was somewhat laborious, but I managed to build and install the Intel-partly-supported ipw2100 driver available available on Sourceforge.
The main challenge with compilation was in making sure the kernel had the right .config file and headers: after installing kernel-source you need to copy the config from /boot; edit the Makefile to remove custom from the EXTRA_VERSION setting, and execute make prepare-all. If you don't do these things properly you end up either with inscrutable errors from header files during compilation, and/or end up with a module compiled with mismatching version information.
The driver works, after a fashion. At the moment (using version 0.45 and earlier), the startup is buggy. It often reports failure to load firmware. Removing the module and reloading a couple of times corrects this. However it can also hang the machine.
After the Centrino hype, it's a big disappointment that Intel are so late providing this driver for Linux, and haven't done a proper job on providing something more robust. It's a bigger disappointment that the wireless performance of the machine seems pretty poor: reception is much worse than on an old Orinoco PCMCIA card.
Fedora Core 2 uses the ALSA drivers included in the 2.6 kernel. The driver snd_intel8x0 was configured automatically, and works fine.
Ahh, the wonderful ACPI. You can go to sleep but you can't wake up. At least not properly.
The machine also has an infra red port, extra "hot keys" and a 1394 adapter. I haven't tried to get any of these working under Linux.