/ BLOG / Debian Etch on a Toshiba Protege M200

This probably isn’t news to anyone, but getting Linux on a laptop which is running Windows, and doesn’t have a CDROM drive built in, isn’t as easy as it could be. For this reason I’ve never put Linux on my work Toshiba Protege M200; the thought of arsing about with USB drives and making them bootable made me decide that it wasn’t worth the effort - especially as I can’t actually use Linux for work (we have a new VoIP phone system which has a Windows-only teleworker client).

However, with the availability of the Debian Windows installer and a free afternoon I sat down, fully prepared to have to do a restore next time I’m in the office. After resizing the partitions and running the Debian installer I was through to the usual text installer, which I’m used to. Basically went through the defaults and eventually rebooted into a semi-working Debian Etch system.

From this point it wasn’t tricky in the least, as because it is an older laptop a lot of the problems have already been ironed out. Then again, I don’t think it’s something my sister could’ve done.

WiFi: By default Etch comes with wpasupplicant, which does most the hard work with WiFi interaction these days. Unfortunately the actual device wasn’t powering up. A quick google shows that the chipset used in the M200 is the ipw2000 - which needs firmware loaded into it at boot. A quick visit to the ipw2000 sourceforge website, a download, mv ./ipw2000/* /lib/firmware and a reboot, and the WiFi is working.

Tablet / touchscreen Functionality: Etch comes with X.org 7.1.0-11, and the installer correctly works out that you have a WACOM touchscreen which mostly configures the system for you. However, to get the stylus working you need to add the following to your X.org conf:

Under the InputDevice’s:Section “InputDevice” Driver “wacom” Identifier “cursor” Option “Device” “/dev/ttyS0” Option “Type” “cursor” Option “ForceDevice” “ISDV4”


Section “InputDevice” Driver “wacom” Identifier “stylus” Option “Device” “/dev/ttyS0” Option “Type” “stylus”

Option "ForceDevice" "ISDV4"


Section “InputDevice” Driver “wacom” Identifier “eraser” Option “Device” “/dev/ttyS0”

Option "Type" "eraser"
Option "ForceDevice" "ISDV4"

EndSection And inside the ServerLayout stanza: InputDevice “cursor” “SendCoreEvents” InputDevice “stylus” “SendCoreEvents”

InputDevice "eraser" "SendCoreEvents"

Save and restart X.org.

I’m yet to attempt getting the hotkeys working for changing the screen brilliance, or the volume, but I’m sure it can be done. The only thing that is really bugging me right now, is the fact that the button on the stylus isn’t working yet. I’m sure I’ll get it once I start fiddling with xorg.conf some more.

If you’re so inclined, the nvidia drivers for the graphics card can be installed in the usual way. I have found that once I installed them (what can I say? I love free software, but I love the beryl project a bit more) the performance was actually slower than the vesa driver. Perhaps nouveau will recitify this.

Overall it was one of the least painful non-windows orientated laptop installations I’ve done in the last few months.