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Linux on a Fujitsu-Siemens B-2154 Lifebook

My occasionally used laptop is a Fujitsu-Siemens B-2154 Lifebook. It's a small and light weight (1.4 kg) laptop with it's own personality. On this page, there's information on installing and using Linux on it, as Fujitsu doesn't support Linux. Many thanks to those who bravely went before me and installed Linux on their B-2154 or other Fujitsu laptops.

Hardware

Software and configuration

BIOS

PhoenixBIOS 4.0 Release 6.0
Fujitsu Siemens Computers Lifebook BIOS Version 1.07, 08/07/2000

Linux

I'm running the testing (aka Sarge) distribution of the Debian GNU/Linux.

Kernel

The current kernel version is 2.6.7 patched with the touchscreen driver. Here's the config. The 2.6-kernel has an anticipatory IO scheduler as an option. It's great, you can compile a kernel in the background and it doesn't slow your GUI down. I also recommend using a journaling file system, such as EXT3, so your hard disk can take the unavoidable shutdowns without too much fuss.

Power management

The laptop has it's own suspend-to-disk hibernation system, that can be enabled from the BIOS. It requires a primary partion of type A0 (IBM Thinkpad hibernation) to save the contents of the memory. Resume takes 10-20 seconds. The size of the partition depends on how much RAM and VRAM you have, plus some extra for the bad block table etc. The B-2154 comes with a PhoenixBIOS that might require the hibernation partition to be prepared before use. See the lphdisk utility for more. New: enabling ACPI most likely disabled the suspend-to-disk -feature.

The battery doesn't last too long, about an hour when compiling a kernel, a while longer for lighter use. I hope to get the ACPI and CPU speedstep (maybe not possible) to work someday.

New: I compiled in ACPI-support on the 2.6.7-kernel. It is disabled by default (BIOS is too old), but acpi=force in the boot parameters enables it. You might have to update the BIOS in the laptop to an ACPI-able BIOS.

New: either the 2.6-kernel or enabling ACPI disabled the suspend-to-disk feature.

XFree86

Debian testing ships with the version 4.3 of XFree86. Here's the XF86Config-4.

Touchscreen

The touchscreen (sometimes it's called a touch panel) makes the laptop so much easier to use. I recommend taking the time to make the touchscreen work.

There are drivers for the Fujitsu touchscreen, but (so far) they are not part of the kernel nor the XFree86 project. For me, the drivers were outdated and stopped working with some kernel upgrades, but currently the Lifebook B Series Touchscreen Driver works again with the recently installed 2.6-kernel. The touchscreen driver consists of a kernel patch and a driver for the Xfree86 4.3.x. There are also drivers for the 2.4-kernel and older versions of XFree86.

Sound

While changing to the 2.6-kernel, I also started using ALSA drivers for the AC'97 chip (Intel i8x0/MX440 driver, snd-i8x0), instead of OSS drivers, but both have worked. I found the ALSA drivers to work better, for instance, there doesn't seem to be any rescrictions for sample rates, that were present with the OSS drivers. I also compiled in the OSS emulation, just remember to used correct mixers (e.g. aumix for OSS emulation and alsamixer for ALSA).

Ethernet

The integrated ethernet chip is supported by the eepro100 module.

Modem

I have never used the modem. There should be drivers for it, though.

PCMCIA

The PCMCIA slot worked out of the box with the Yenta CardBus driver.

USB

There have been no problems with USB. So far I've only had tried a PS2 controller to USB adapter and it worked when I plugged it it.

Application panel

The are some button's for e-mail etc. in the front of the laptop. The driver for the Fujitsu Lifebook application panel is under development. I have yet to try it.

Problems

Power management has always been an issue. Suspend-resume has produced the following: X dies, sound dies. Restarting X or reloading sound modules usually works. It might be necessary to configure the power management deamon to unload some modules before suspending and reloading them on resume.

The Trident frame buffer has been a pain in the ass. Switching from X in frame buffer mode to a virtual terminal kills X. Hardware acceleration doesn't seem to work. Compiling the frame buffer in the kernel either scrambles the screen or gives invisible fonts. I haven't tried the frame buffer with the 2.6-kernel, hopefully there has been some progress in the development. The XFree86-SVGA has worked fine.

The touchscreen drivers were a bit hard to find and install. There was a change in the input architechture from the 2.4-kernel to the 2.6-kernel, which made the driver stop working. Currently the touchscreen works fine.

Related links

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Last modified: Tue Feb 19 09:15:18 2008