Installing Linux (RH6.2) on a Toshiba Satellite 2800

Stop Press!

In March 2002 I did a fresh Linux installation, this time RH 7.2. It was much smoother than the RH6.2 installation described on this page. You can read the story.


This is going to be a sort-of log of the process/efforts associated with installing Linux on my new Toshiba 2800 notebook.

Click HERE if you want to skip over the anecdotes and go to the summary of the steps it took.

I have been a Linux user for nearly 7 years, since we first got a 486 at home in 1994, and on its 420Mb disk we put DOS/Win3.1 in one 190Mb partition and Slackware in the rest of the space. At that stage I had no clue about installing Linux - I was mainly a Unix/Ultrix user, so a colleague installed it for me.

Over the years I saw more of Linux. In 1996 the HDD on the 486 died in distressing circumstances as the backups were not that comprehensive. I put in a 1.6Gb disk, and this time moved to Win 95 and a later version of Slackware. About 18mo. later that disk began to shed sectors, but by this time I had a Zip drive backing things up, and was able to rebuild on a 2.6Gb disk, this time installing Turbolinux. In fact I practically never used that Turbolinux, as around the same time (May 1998) I got a Mitac/Synnex Pentium 200MHz notebook with a 2Gb disk, which I split equally between Win 95 and Redhat5.0. It has served me fairly well over the last 3 years, and has been lugged around the world and used in France, the UK and Japan. In 1999 I upgraded to RH5.2, which practically overflowed the system partition. I also added a 2nd disk drive, this time 4Gb, taking out one of the spare slots, so I could never have more than one of the battery/floppy drive/CDROM/power-supply in-board at a time (you can run on power-supply alone, and it could be external or internal.)

By early 2001, although the Mitac's power and disk space was still ample, my inability to install a later OS (without a gruesome backup, repartition, etc., and being off the air for days), combined with a worrying amount of chattering noise from at least one of the fans, led me to bite the bullet and get a new system. Hence this story.

The System

As one of the problems with Linux on the Mitac had been the lack of drivers for some of its components, I resolved to get a brand-name system in the hope that I would not be an orphan when it came to seeking help as I doubtless would do. That sort-of led me to Toshiba, as a very major player in the market, and as I was in Japan, and hence the others such as Compaq, etc. were not around as much. The system I bought is a "Satellite 2800DVD(OS280Z-000HP)". It is an all-in-one notebook with a 700MHz processor,128Mb RAM, 20Gb HDD, DVD/CDROM, modem/Ethernet, 14.1" screen. In other words a fairly grunty beast. It came with Win98ME installed and a recovery CDROM. The CD is bootable.

The Linux Version

After considerable thought and listening to the proponents of Debian, SuSe, etc. I decided to stay with Redhat. It was the devil I knew, and I really had no grounds for complaint. In 3 years I had never had a kernel panic, and the only time I'd had to pull the plug was when I foolishly tried to install VMWare. I had been impressed by most of the 5.0 to 5.2 upgrade. In particular I knew my way round its configuration, and didn't want to have to learn another supplier's funny little ways.

From observation I'd concluded that the n.0 releases from Redhat tended to be followed swiftly by n.1 and n.2, and therefore decided to go with 6.2 rather than 7.0 which was also available. An upgrade to 7.2 could always happen later. So the same day I bought the notebook (at Laox in Akihabara), I bought an "English" version of RH6.2 at T-Zone a few metres away.

The Support Team

The main support team in the early days were:

The Installation

Day 1

Day 2

Progress was better this day. I took the notebook in to my office at Tokyo Gaidai and worked on it there.

Thus endeth the second day.

Day 3

This day didn't see much action on the Toshiba as I was waiting for a second network connection in my office (it arrived late in the day), and I didn't really have a fully working mouse yet (I simply couldn't get the Toshiba buttons to emulate a middle button.)

Day 4


After 3 days, and perhaps 6-8 hours of effort I now have what appears to be a very nice Linux installation running on my Toshiba. I have now to carry out the installation of a large number of applications, and it remains to be seen what problems lie ahead there, but I am not expecting many.

With hindsight, the process of installing RH6.2 and getting X, sound, etc. working was not a huge task, in fact the steps involved probably only totalled a couple of hours. The time was spent backtracking and working out what to do. I hope this page can help others. Possibly the task would have been shorter with RH7.0.

Installation Summary

Possible traps: I found that booting sometimes hung at the PCMCIA initialization, so I disabled it.

With that you should have a fully working system. Good luck!

Other Links

Jim Breen
Tokyo, February 2001.