Installing Linux (RH7.2) on a Toshiba Satellite 2800


In February 2001 I intalled Linux (RedHat 6.2) on my new Toshiba 2800 notebook. The saga is available for anyone who wants to read it.

In March 2002 I did a fresh installation, this time of RedHat 7.2. The reasons for this were:

  1. I had been hacked, and some binaries had been modified and replaced in a way I could not amend;
  2. I wanted to overcome some of the problems with my 6.2 installation, in particular the inability to handle later rpms, the inability of the (Toshiba-special) X-server to handle TTFs, etc.

Why RedHat

I'm sticking with RedHat because:

  1. I know it reasonably well, and use it on my office system at Monash;
  2. it is the only version for which support is provided by our sysadmins at Monash;
  3. I have no particular reason to change.

The installation

Compared to the heroics of getting RH6.2 installed, RH7.2 was simple. This time the Toshiba's video hardware, etc. were recognized and supported.

The installation process was basically:

  1. make backups of all the things in /home I wanted. I made a set of .tar files (6.2's filesystem limits files to 2Gb), then ftp-ed them onto my office machine. Some I also stored in the DOS partition.
  2. make a boot diskette from the boot.img file on the installation CD (I had heard that the Toshiba cannot boot the CD, so I never bothered trying that.)
  3. booted from diskette and went straight into graphics installation (unlike 6.2 where I was forced into a text intallation.)
  4. I tried to split my Linux partitions between /home (9Gb) and / (5Gb), but for some reason it kept failing during package loading. Eventually I gave up and let the installation choose the partitions, which meant having averything except the swap (256Mb) in one partition.
  5. I tried to select LILO, but when the installtion was complete, it would not boot. I reinstalled using GRUB and it worked fine
  6. the default colour depth was 8 bits, which was awful. I eventually changed it to 16 in the /etc/Xll/XF86Config-4 file and it was OK.
So that's it, am almost entirely succesful out-of-the-box installation.

Some weeks later, I added some Unicode TTFs, which is a story in itself.


The main installation-related problem I had initially was that the sound card did not seem to work. I eventually found I had developed a H/W problem with the connection of the audio side of the CD to the sound card. I can get sound from audio files but not from CDs. The same problem exists under Windows, so I am assuming it is a hardware fault.

A problem which existed with RH6.2 and persisted with RH7.2 was that the screen occasionally froze when the notebook was left running for a while. Eventually I made it go away by:

  1. disabling standby mode. This has to be done under Windows using the Toshiba utility;
  2. turning off the screensaver under Linux.
I suspect it was caused by a lockup between the screensaver and the Toshiba's automatic screen-blanker.

Jim Breen
March 2002/May 2002