Setting up Linux on the Toshiba 330CDS Notebook

NOTE: Redhat version 6 and newer are now out. In this document I used RH 5.1, but I've long since sold the laptop, so didn't see any point in rewriting everything. Anyway, you should use the newest version available.

   I'll start off by noting that I am not a Linux expert. Far from it. I do enjoy tinkering with it, however, and do use it for some C programming. So when I bought my Toshiba Satellite 330CDS Notebook, I was itching to try my hand at installing Linux on it. I did run into some trouble, however, as well as some unresolvable problems, so this document is aimed at assisting those who try in the future.

Factory Specs on the Satellite 330CDS:
  • Processor
    • Intel Pentium (1.8 volt) with MMX technology, running at 266MHz
    • 512KB pipelined burst SRAM level 2 cache
    • 66MHz bus clock speed
  • Memory
    • 32MB EDO DRAM standard
  • Disk Drives
    • 4.1 gigabyte hard disk drive
    • 1.44MB, 3.5" diskette drive (integrated)
  • CD-ROM
    • 20X (max) CD-ROM module (integrated)
  • Display System
    • 12.1" diagonal, 800 x 600 resolution color display
    • Color bright dual scan
    • C & T HiQVideo PCI (65555) video controller
    • 2MB Video memory (EDO DRAM)
    • 64-bit BitBLT graphics acceleration
    • 66MHz local bus clock speed
    • Super Video Graphics Array (SVGA) compatible display
  • Communications
    • Xircom K56flex PC Card modem
  • Special Features
    • Yamaha Sound System
    • Two built-in stereo speakers
  • Mouse
    • AccuPoint integrated pointing device
  • Dimensions
    • 11.9" W x 9.4" D x 2.1" H
  • Weight
    • 6.7 lbs.
   In addition to the aforementioned equipment, I added a 3Com 589 10bt Ethernet card (PCMCIA).

   I chose RedHat Linux 5.1, which uses kernel 2.0.34. RedHat 5.0 does work, but it requires newer SVGA drivers in order to run X-Windows, and I had trouble getting the PCMCIA subsystem to work. I would reccomend downloading or buying version 5.1, or 5.2, which is now out. I'll provide step-by-step instructions for preparing and installing Redhat 5.1 on your Toshiba Satellite 330CDS.

Step 1: Preparation
   The first step is to go into Windows95 (should be preinstalled) and go to Start | Programs | Toshiba Utilities | Hardware Setup. Then click on 'Hardware Options'. Click on the 'PC Card' tab, and make sure 'CardBus/16bit' is selected. If you choose any of the others, you will not (from my experience) be able to get Linux to recognize any of your PCMCIA cards. Next, click on the 'Boot Priority' tab. If you have the RedHat CD (5.0 or newer), select 'CD-ROM -> FDD -> HDD'. You can, and should, change this back after installation, but it will allow you to install directly from the CD, no bootdisk required. If you do not have the CD, you'll need to make a bootdisk from the CD or another source, but in this case leave the 'Boot Priority' as 'FDD -> HDD -> CD-ROM'. Next, reboot your system with the RedHat CD or bootdisk in the appropriate drive.
   My notebook came with two partitions, C and D. C was formatted FAT16, while D wasn't formatted at all. This is ideal for installing Linux, because it avoids having to destroy or resize partitions. Linux uses a high-performance file-system format called 'ext2', so you can't (at least not ideally) install it on an MS-DOS partition. If you've already formatted your D partition as FAT16, you need to look into resizing it (potentially dangerous) with a utility called FIPS. I know this comes on the RedHat CD, and is freely downloadable from various sites. If, however, you formatted D as FAT32, I do believe you are out of luck unless you want to reformat it as FAT16 and then resize it. Either way, it's risky, and I reccomend making sure you know what you're doing before you actually do anything.

Step 2: Installation
   If all goes well, you should now be at an installation screen. Assuming your system is the same as mine, there should be absolutely no problem autodetecting the CD-ROM drive. Simply hit 'Enter', and you should be at the graphical installation screen. Just follow the instructions from there. Partition the hard drive however you wish, but I suggest you create a swap partition of some size unless you have expanded the Satellite's RAM from the factory 32. Again, if you don't know what you're doing, see the installation manual or call a friend who does know what they're doing. If you mess around with your partition table you could end up with a system that doesn't boot.
   The stock kernel that is installed should work relatively well. The installation program autodetected my video chipset (Chips & Technologies 65555), as well as the Accupoint integrated pointing device.

If for some reason it doesn't detect your video chipset, I've included a copy of my /etc/X11/XF86Config file. Make a backup of yours and try putting mine in its place.

If for some reason it doesn't detect your pointing device, type the following at the shell:

   rm /dev/mouse
   ln -s /dev/psaux /dev/mouse

   If you hate the AccuPoint and want to use an external mouse connected to your PS2 port, try using /dev/ttyS0 instead of /dev/psaux. That worked for me, but I don't use it because I like the pointing stick just fine.    Eventually you'll be asked to reboot. During the reboot, keep an ear open for a high pitched beep (2 if you have 2 pcmcia cards). This is indicative of proper recognition of your PCMCIA cards. If you hear low pitched tone(s), there is a problem with the recognition of the PCMCIA cards. Make sure you followed the directions in the 'Preparation' section. If you did, then you probably have an unsupported card, or the drivers for the card weren't included with the PCMCIA subsystem and can be downloaded seperately. A list of supported cards can be found at Redhat's Web Site Assuming you only have the Xircom modem that comes with the Satellite, typing 'lsmod' as root should yield the following output:

Module		Pages	Used by
serial_cs	1		0
ds		2	[serial_cs]	2
i82365		5		2
pcmcia_core	8	[serial_cs ds i82365] 0

In order to get my modem to work, I had to do the following:

   ln -s /dev/ttyS3 /dev/modem

I'm not sure why this was, but none of the /dev/cua0-3 would work. I don't particularly care though, as long as it works.

   To get the sound working, I had to pay $12 or so dollars for a license from Opensound. I downloaded the package which Opensound provides, and during the installation it detected my sound chipset (Yamaha OPL3-SA3). I had no problems whatsoever, but you will not get this chipset working with the stock RedHat distro.

   The funny thing to me is that people always complain about how difficult it is to install Linux. It used to be. I've been playing with it since Slackware 2, and believe me, the install programs are 100X better than they are now. The bootable CD was a myth just a couple years ago. And for those of us who had Sony CDU-33A CDROM's, we were lucky the drive ever got detected. Well nowadays the install procedure with a lot of distributions is cake. I actually found it easier to get Linux up and running on my laptop than on my desktop. A lot of people have the opposite experience. I guess that speaks well for Toshiba, if nothing else.

Linux is really becoming a force in the Microsoft-controlled operating system market. I'm primarily just fooling around with it, trying to learn it better. I know people who have moved completely to Linux - don't use Win9x anymore at all. And they love it. I think that's something to aim for. I hope this page was of use.

You can contact me at with comments, suggestions, job offers, and cash donations :P