Installation of Debian 'woody' on a Satellite 1800-712

This page describes my experience of installing Linux onto my Toshiba Satellite 1800-712. This is not so much a procedure that you can follow step by step to install your laptop (especially not for first time users) but rather highlights some parts that I found more tricky to figure out or that I feel are not yet covered in other pages of this sort.

Woody was in its test phase when I installed my laptop and hence there were no CD-Roms available yet. I therefore installed Debian potato (base), configured my network interface, pointed the apt source to an ftp server with woody and made a distribution upgrade. The whole process run off very smoothly without any packages being broken.

Hardware specification

Processor Intel Celeron 1.1GHz
Memory 256MByte
Harddisk 20GByte
Other discs DVD/CD-RW and 1.44MByte Floppy drive
Video Trident Cyberblate XPAi1 16MByte
LCD Screen 14" XGA TFT 1024x768 pixels
Network Interface Intel 8255x PCI Ethernet
Sound Trident
Infrared SMC IrCC
PCMCIA ToPic 100 CardBus Controller
Other ports USB (ALI PCI to USB OHCI), TV output, Parallel, Serial, Screen
Build in Modem Lucent Win Modem

Kernel configuration

The kernel I used was version 2.4.18. My complete settings can be found here In the coming paragraphs I will only highlight settings relevant to the laptop and why I selected or deselected them.

These are not the only options I selected for the kernel configuration they are only those that are particularly relevant for the Satellite 1800-712. In addition to this a few options need to be passed to the kernel at startup. This can be done through lilo (i.e. lilo.conf). I have added the following parameters to my lilo.conf:

The vga option sets up the framebuffer console for a certain resolution and bit depth. In this case 791 it is 1024x768 with 24 bit colours. 792 is the same with 32bit colours. For more information check out the documentation that comes with the kernel source. The other options are for the DMA speed, agp support and Toshiba Fn key respectively. I can't tell whether any of these options really work. I mostly worked according to Francesco Salvestrini's recommendations for a Satellite 1800-514.

X-server setup

In a first attempt I had X working through kernel framebuffer support. This was due to the fact that support for the Cyberblade XPAi is only available in Xfree since version 4.2.0 but woody comes with version 4.1.0. I therefore downloaded a binary version of Xfree from one of their web servers and installed that instead. The XF86Config-4 file I used comes from Toshiba (follow OS Machine Compatibility and choose Satellite 1800-514 as model).


Burning CD's with this drive is no problem. I used scsi over ide simulation together with cdrecord to burn CDs with 8x speeds (for more information check out the CD-Writing HOWTO). I haven't tried playing any DVDs yet.


Loading the eepro100 module is enough to get the interface working.

PCMCIA modem / Connection to ISP / Wvdial and PPPD

After a lot of trouble I have eventually managed to get a ppp connection to my ISP with my PCMIA modem. In order to get it to work with wvdial I had to enable 'Stupid Mode' so that wvdial would start pppd as soon as it established a connection. Without 'Stubid Mode' wvdial doesn't find a carrier or ppp negotiation and goes completely mad. pppd will use PAP user authentication and hence I needed the relevant entries in the PAP secrets file.

This may be a completely normal way to proceed, except that I assume it reduces wvdial to a chat like program. On the other hand I had wvdial and pppd working together smoothly before without using PAP. But than it could just be my ISP who changed his configuration.


Loading the trident module is enough to get the sound working.


The SMC IrCC chip is supported by the kernel but will not work on its own. Daniele Peri has written a tool to enable and configure the chip before it can be used. Checkout his page for more information on how to do that.

The infrared port seems to work once the module is loaded. Unfortunately I haven't been able to fully test it. The only device I was able to check with was my PDA. While the PDA was recognised by the computer, the PDA was not able to talk to the computer. I suspect that it is a miss-configuration (or misunderstanding) on my side though.


USB modules work fine for me when synchronising my PDA with pilot-link-0.10.99 (test version).


PCMCIA seems to work as well. I only run into some trouble with a PCMCIA modem in conjunction with the IRDA serial drivers but I also expect interrupt sharing to play a role in messing up the modem.

Build in Win modem

I heard some say that it doesn't work.

Things not working yet (the way I like)!

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