Linux on the Toshiba Tecra series laptops

DISCLAIMER: The information on this page is provided as-is. I make absolutely no guarantees about its accuracy or suitability.

Table of Contents

News and Recent Updates

This page was last updated 1998-05-04.

This is a summary of recent additions to this page. Updates earlier than 19 Jan 98 are not mentioned.


This page is designed to help you get Linux up and running on your Toshiba Tecra series notebook (500CS, 500CDT, 510CDS, 510CDT, 520CDT, 530CDT, 710CDT, 720CDT, 730CDT, 730XCDT, 740CDT). The Portégé (320CT, 330CDT, 650CT, and 660CDT), Satellite Pro (440CDT, 460CDX, 460CDT, 470CDT, 480CDT, 490CDT, 490XCDT) and Satellite (220CS, 230CX, 300CDS/CDT, 310CDS/CDT, 320CDS/CDT) series seem to be similar. Note that the Tecra 540CDT, 550CDT, 750CDT, 750DVD, and 780DVD seem to be a completely new design and thus might expose problems not covered by this page. A summary description of the features of these computers are in the specifications section. The Satellite Pro 420CDS/CDT and 430CDS/CDT models have a VESA Local Bus (VLB), but the graphics chip is the same as in some of the Tecra models.

Please note that I have no longer access to a Toshiba laptop and therefore can´t test the recommendations and settings herein. If you find any error, omission, or inaccuracy, please contact me.

This page should cover some of the most common issues, but as usual with software, hardware, and more so with documentation about them, there is always struggle to stay up-to-date. If you have any additions, comments (including style and language), or questions, please direct them to me via e-mail. I speak German (native language), English, and French, so take your choice.

If you wondered about the naming conventions for the laptops, here is my guess: The number is just some number without further meaning, preferably incremented by 10 when a new model comes out. The "C" which comes after the number denotes "color", the "D" stands for an integrated CD-ROM drive, an "S" for a DSTN display and a "T" for a TFT display. The "DVD" suffix does not fit into this scheme and stands for a DVD-ROM drive (in addition to a TFT display). The additional names like "Tecra" and "Satellite" etc. originate in the marketing department and have no further significance. When referring to specific laptop models, this page omits the "marketing" part, thus a "Toshiba Tecra 710CDT" becomes a "710CDT".


Some TFT screens have one or more broken transistors. On dual-scan LCDs, there rarely is a whole half row or column broken. See my personal opinion page what I think about it, and refer to the graphics troubleshooting section for a few XFree86 issues. This section tries to explain the technical details.

Color on computer displays is generated by overlaying separate red, green, and blue (RGB) colored light rays. On standard cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) this is done by beams of electrons hitting red, green, and blue phosphorescent dots on the screen. On the other hand, on liquid crystal displays (LCDs) used in laptops, a liquid crystal area is used to control reflection of external light or penetration of background light to the viewer.

The older and cheaper dual supertwisted nematics (DSTN) technology uses a matrix of wires to control the state of the LCD pixels. The matrix intersections are charged more or less, and thus more or less external light is reflected to the viewer. Therefore, you cannot see anything on a DSTN display when there is no external light source. For example, the 500CS has a DSTN display. When the control for one of the wires of the matrix is broken, a whole half row or column of the display will always be lit or always stay dark. Note that this often only affects one of the three RGB colors, so not a white line is shown, but a red, green, or blue one. The reverse effect is also possible, i.e. one of the three RGB colors is always missing in a row or column.

With thin film transistor (TFT) displays, each pixel has three separate transistors controlling the state of the liquid crystal at this point. One transistor can make the appropriately colored liquid crystal pass the background light or make it completely block the light, with many gradual steps in between. One broken transistor thus leads to a red, green, or blue dot on the screen or a pixel where there is one of the three colors always missing. A 1024x768 TFT display has more than 2.3 million transistors, so it is not improbable that one or more pixels are broken.


BIOS versions installed on the laptops depend on the laptop model and the date of manufacture. BIOS updates can be downloaded from Toshiba's support site. The most recent BIOS versions available there are shown in the specifications section

If you need to get into the BIOS setup screens and don't want to boot some Microsoft product just to run TSETUP.EXE, press the Esc key while turning on or resetting your laptop. After the BIOS' system initialization is done, it displays the message "Check system. Press [F1] to continue.". Pressing the F1 key will get you to the BIOS setup screens. Note that local keyboard mappings are not yet in effect.


The Toshiba Laptop comes preconfigured with a choice of Windows 95 and DOS 6.22/Windows 3.11. Since you cannot change your choice later and you can only create installation disks once, you should think carefully about what you need. It might be a good idea to make a complete backup of your hard drive first (don't forget the master boot record (MBR) and the DOS partition's boot sector) and only then booting your laptop the first time from the hard drive and choosing the version of Windows. Additionally, some of the DOS modifications and Windows drivers are available from Toshiba's FTP site.

One method how to do this is to use the standard "dd" command of Linux to read the contents of the entire hard drive and store it somewhere else. Thus, you need to install the laptop's hard drive in some computer where you have either physical or network access to another storage media with enough free space to hold its contents. Boot Linux and read the boot messages to find out what device Linux associated with the laptop's hard drive. This is probably "hda" or "hdc" and henceforth referred to as hd?. Don't mount any partition of the laptop's hard drive, but use "dd" to copy the entire hard drive to some temporary storage space.

Then, re-install the hard drive in the laptop and install your preferred operating system. If you ever wish to change, you must put the complete old contents of the hard drive back using Note that this erases the complete contents of the hard drive, so better make a backup copy of your valuable data. (Thanks to A. White for the instructions.)

If you wish to install Linux after using your whole disk for Windows, you can use "fips" to shrink an existing Windows partition to make room for Linux. Another option is to employ the "umsdos" filesystem which emulates a Unix-style filesystem using storage space on an existing FAT partition.

The Linux installation disks created from the Suse Linux 4.2 CD-ROM (Slackware-descendant) or the Debian 1.2 distribution won't boot due to their use of the new "bzImage" format for kernels. With this format, you can have larger kernel images, because they are loaded into memory > 1MB. (See the LILO documentation for details.) Unfortunately, this results in an immediate hard reset just after loading the kernel and before printing "Uncompressing".

Under certain circumstances, unpatched bzImage type kernels do seem to work, though, probably if you never ran Windows 95 on that laptop before. The new BIOS version 5.80 (dated 96-12-06) does not seem to help reliably. If you have any clue exactly when bzImages won't boot, please mail me.

I created a detailed description of the problem and a verbose patch with debugging hooks, which Hans Lermen <> streamlined and submitted to Linus Torvalds, the kernel maintainer. As of kernel version 2.0.30 / 2.1.42, this patch has not yet been integrated into the official kernel sources, but a precompiled kernel is available.

If you wish to use the Debian 1.2 distribution, please refer to Kirk Hilliard's page at for specific notes on using Debian with the Toshiba laptops and a working Debian rescue/installation disk.

Booting with normal "zImage" bootdisks works, as does using "loadlin". For Windows 95, you have the choice of not starting the GUI at all (press F8 during the textual one-line boot message or change "BootGUI" to 0 in MSDOS.SYS), shutting down to the command line ("Start"/"Terminate" button in the lower left corner), or configuring loadlin as a "DOS exclusive" application.

This exact same problem reportedly also exists on Fujitsu 555T (report from Andrea Caltroni) laptop and Compudyne Pentium 60 (report from David Kerr) desktop computers.

Unfortunately, Philip Hands reports that the above patch makes some people with other non-laptop computers unable to boot.

System Configuration

This section explains some problems not specific to a certain application or subsystem.

Interrupt Conflicts

The BIOS tends to assign the SCSI host adapter in the docking station and another PCI add-on card therein the same interrupt line (IRQ). While there are in principle no problems with this, the Linux AMD SCSI driver is unable to operate in shared IRQ mode. There are the following options:

PCI Device Recognition

As of now, only the SCSI host adapter in the "DeskStation V plus" docking station is correctly identified in /proc/pci, the glue logic (PCI-PCI bridge, ISA bridge, Host-PCI bridge) are not.

Magnetic & Optical Storage

The IDE ATAPI CD-ROM drive only works when plugged into the laptop main unit or the docking station. It will then appear as the first device on the second IDE channel (hdc); the internal hard drive is the first device on the first IDE channel (hda). For the floppy drive, you can choose if you would like to insert it into the main unit instead of the CD-ROM drive or attach it externally with the provided cable which fits into the right side of the laptop. Although the CD-ROM drive also fits into the small external floppy case, it does not work there.

When you want to use the SelectBay feature or the docking station to plug in a second hard drive and you get the error message

hdb: non-IDE drive, CHS=525/128/63
or something similar and an undetected hard drive during boot-up, the controller is probably located at a different I/O port and/or IRQ as Linux expects. To remedy this, the preferable solution is to use the kernel command line option "ide1=0x190,0x396,10" (see the lilo.conf(5) "append" statement), which indicates to the kernel to use I/O port 0x190 and IRQ 10 (compare these values with your BIOS settings). Alternatively, you could change the configuration in the BIOS setup to I/O port 0x170 and IRQ 15.

Playing audio CDs

You can play audio CDs using two methods: Either using the internal connection of the analog "headphones" output of the CD-ROM drive to the sound system or reading the raw digital music data via the ATAPI interface.

For the first method, use any of the audio CD playing tools, e.g. "WorkBone" (text-mode) or "WorkMan" (X11), to be found on or mirrors thereof. This works when the CD-ROM drive is in the laptop main unit or the docking station. (Thanks to James Kingdon <> for pointing out that this works in the docking station.) The quality is quite good.

For the second method, you need cdda2wav, available from or mirrors thereof. Adapt the Makefile to use the "nonscsi" audio read method and correct the CD-ROM device node to /dev/hdc or create a symbolic link from /dev/cdrom to /dev/hdc.

will read the CD sound and play it on your /dev/dsp device. Unfortunately, the quality is quite bad and the CD-ROM often looses synchronization. This should be investigated further.

SCSI host adapter

The AM53C974 SCSI host adapter chip in the "DeskStation V plus" docking station is supported by the appropriate Linux driver. I had to make the driver set the host adapter's SCSI-ID by a well-documented #define in AM53C794.h. With this configuration, I was able to detect an externally attached Hitachi hard drive, but the spin-up timed out and consequently, the hard drive was subsequently not usable. This could possibly be the hard disk's fault.

Accessing a Sun (alias Toshiba) SCSI CD-ROM drive works.

There are also PCMCIA cards like the Adaptec APA-1460A which work with Linux and provide a SCSI interface without using the docking station.


The laptop has a Toshiba-proprietary PCMCIA controller which supports the standard PCMCIA (now "PC-Card"), CardBus and ZV (Zoomed Video) interfaces for plug-in cards. While PCMCIA is modelled after the 16 bit ISA bus, is CardBus structured similar to the PCI bus. ZV is an extension which allows high-speed access to the graphics subsystem. A setting in the BIOS allows switching between PCMCIA ("PCIC") and CardBus operations.

So far, Linux only supports the standard PCMCIA interface and none of the more advanced features. Newer laptops have the BIOS setting default to "CardBus", which will render the PCMCIA ports useless under Linux unless the user changes the setting. (Thanks to Peter Teuben who confirmed that for a 740CDT.) When the "PCIC" BIOS setting is active, the laptop features an Intel i82365sl-B compatible PCMCIA controller.

In the usual configuration, there is an interrupt conflict with the PS/2 mouse at IRQ 12 when using the PCMCIA card services version 2.8.23 or earlier. Version 2.9.0 and newer has the problem fixed by never using IRQ 12 for monitoring card status changes. I have not yet tested version 2.9.x personally.

To make the i82365 driver use IRQ 11 for status change interrupts:

Problems with specific PCMCIA cards

Please refer to the APM section for problems with suspend/resume.

3Com's 3C589 Ethernet card is reportedly working with pcmcia-cs-2.9.0 onwards only. There might be problems activating the 10Base2 port of said card.


(Thanks to Pavel Turcaj <> and David Bateman <> for providing some of the information hereinafter. All errors are most probably mine, though.)

Most of the notebooks feature a Chips & Technologies (C&T) CT65550 graphics controller, newer ones have a CT65554 or even a CT65555. The Tecra 540CDT and 750CDT have a S3 ViRGE/MX chipset, which is completely different from the C&T chipsets. Please see the specifications section for details on hardware equipment.

The commercial X server from MetroX, version 3.1.5, is reported to support the ct65550 graphics chip.

Freeware support for the C&T graphics chips is available in XFree86 3.2 and newer. XFree86 3.2A has major speed improvements, especially for 16 and 24 bpp color depths. More bugfixes and a few more speed improvements are in XFree 3.3. The most current version is XFree 3.3.1, where a few bugs are fixed. You can find out about your X server's version using X -version. Use the "XF86_SVGA" server.

XFree86 since version 3.3.2 supports the S3 ViRGE/MX chipset found in the 540CDT and 750CDT.

Hardware Limitations (C&T)

Chip Dotclock (DClk) Memory clock (MClk)
ct65550 rev. A1-A580 MHz (3.3V), 100 MHz (5V)38 MHz
ct65550 rev B95 MHz (3.3V)50 MHz
ct6555494.5 MHz55 MHz
ct65555110 MHz55 MHz

The memory clock limits the graphics modes which the chip can display. Computation according to Chips & Technologies' documentation is as follows: The video engine needs to read the video data from the display memory. This is 1, 2, or 3 bytes for each pixel, depending on the color depth of 8, 16, and 24 bpp, respectively. Using a DSTN display requires one additional byte per pixel, independent of the color depth, for the double-buffering. The required memory bandwidth is the product of the number of bytes accessed per pixel times the dotclock. On the other hand, every MClk cycle accesses 4 bytes. About 70% of the thus computed memory bandwidth is available for consumption by the video engine. The bandwidth provided by the memory subsystem must always exceed the bandwidth required by the video engine.

For example, the popular 1024x768 mode at 65 MHz (see below) with 16 bpp requires a memory bandwidth of 130 Mbyte/sec, while on an old ct65550, there is only about 4 byte/Hz * 38 MHz * 70% = 106 Mbyte/sec available.

X Window System - XFree86 (C&T)

My complete working XF86Config file is available, but, as usual with XF86Config files from other people, please take this only as an example and verify the settings yourself. For me, it works for resolutions up to and including 800x600 pixels in 8, 16, and 24 bpp modes displayed on the internal TFT (710CDT). Chris Wilson <> reports that 1024x768 works as well (730CDT) with this XF86Config. Trevor Harmon offers his XF86Config. Ed Hoo recommends settings as follow for a 500CDT:
ModeLine "800x600" 50.5 800 856 976 1040   600 637 643 666
Qingchun Guo reports that the following settings work on his 500CDT instead:
Modeline "800x600" 40.2 800 840 968 1056   600 601 605 628
Paul Healy reports that these settings work fine in 16bpp with his 720CDT:
ModeLine "1024x768" 58.5  1024 1032 1176 1344  768 771 777 806
Samuel Tardieu reports a limit of 46.9 MHz for 16bpp, so he used this modeline with his 720CDT:
ModeLine "1024x768" 46.0 1024 1032 1176 1344 768 771 777 806

The following sections detail some information useful for creating your own XF86Config file. This is not intended to be a replacement for the documentation accompanying XFree86.

Video Modes

The following table lists a few modelines which are known to work. This should give you enough information to construct an XF86Config file yourself.

Mode "640x480" DotClock 28.32 HTimings 640 680 720 864 VTimings 480 488 491 521 EndMode Mode "800x600" DotClock 28.32 HTimings 800 816 856 920 VTimings 600 603 605 618 EndMode Mode "1024x768" DotClock 65.1 HTimings 1024 1032 1176 1344 VTimings 768 771 777 806 EndMode Note that some people have various problems with the above video modes, especially with the 1024x768 mode. If you experience LCD screen flicker, wandering lines or other such effects under certain circumstances (e.g. when dragging windows), try adjusting the DotClock value in your XF86Config's ModeLine slightly, e.g. use 65.2 MHz instead of 65.1 MHz for a resolution of 1024x768 pixel. David Bateman even recommends a dotclock of around 50 MHz for the 1024x768 mode. Robert Nicholson solved his flickering problems by using a dotclock of 62.5 MHz. Note that the documentation for the graphics chip says that using 16 bpp at 1024x768 is only possible with a DotClock of 56 MHz or less due to video memory bandwidth limitations.

Some of these problems are probably due to interference of the internal analog circuits, which is explained further in the README.chips file.

Options (C&T)

For detailed documentation of all options for the ct655xx driver, please read the README.chips file delivered with XFree86.
Option "fast_dram" Re-program the memory clock to 38 MHz (instead of the text-mode default of 33 MHz with some machines). Note that the ct65554 seems to have programmed its clock to 40 MHz per default, so that this option actually slows down the graphics.
Option "no_accel" Disable hardware acceleration. If you suspect a bug with hardware acceleration, try again with no_accel
Option "no_stretch" At lower resolutions, use only a part of the TFT display; if omitted: stretches smaller resultion screens over the whole screen
Option "lcd_center" Place images at lower resolutions in the center of the screen; if omitted: place them in the upper left corner. (Only relevant with no_stretch)


For pointing device configuration, there is a "Pointer" section in the XF86Config file. The AccuPoint (the green stick) emulates a PS/2 mouse, thus you have to specify the protocol "PS/2" and the device "/dev/psaux". If you want to emulate the third mouse button by pressing both buttons simultaneously, make sure you add "Emulate3Buttons" and "Emulate3Timeout 50". If you wish to use a separate external PS/2 mouse, make sure that it is activated in the BIOS setup and plug it into the rear mini-DIN connector before powering on the system. Note that attaching both a PS/2 mouse and a PS/2 keyboard using a 2-1 adapter reportedly does not work. (Thanks to Lars Waldheim for pointing this out.)

Alternatively, you can use any serial mouse by plugging it into the rear 9-pin serial connector of your laptop and changing your XF86Config file appropriately. If you wish to use both the AccuPoint and an external serial mouse without adjusting your XF86Config file all the time, you could use the gpm daemon like this:

/usr/sbin/gpm -m /dev/psaux -t ps2 -B132 -M -t ms -m /dev/ttyS0 -R
You should adjust the "-t ms" option in case your serial mouse is not MouseSystems compatible. The "-R" switch makes gpm act as a repeater, multiplexing both mice's movements into a simulated MouseSystems compatible mouse available at /dev/gpmdata. This device should be specified in the "Pointer" section of your XF86Config file (thanks to Roland Rieke).


Advanced Information

I ran graphics benchmarks.

For further information about the C&T graphics chipsets, refer to Ken Raeburn's Chips & Technologies 655xx video chips page. There's also a low-volume mailing list, see Ken Raeburn's page for subscription info.

The most recent development drivers are available at, with a mirror (accessible only via HTTP) at this site. You need to get the file "ct65550_elf_YYMMDD.tgz" only, YYMMDD being the latest date available. Replace your /usr/X11R6/bin/XF86_SVGA with the new one contained in the archive, but make a backup of your old file first.
The "dRegs" and "mRegs" programs included in the archive are for dumping and manipulating internal registers of the chipset. Non-developers can ignore them.


David Bateman's FTP site (see above) has support for SVGALIB available as well. This works even accelerated except for one small nuisance: After textmode restoration, the text is not stretched in the vertical direction and thus will not cover the whole screen vertically.


Reportedly, a resolution of 640x480 with 256 colors works when specifying a standard S3 chipset (neither ViRGE nor Trio64) in the configuration file. (Thanks to Dr. Christian Burger)

SVGATextMode (S3 ViRGE/MX)

Specifying a standard S3 chipset enables 112x48, 128x48 and 112x40 textmodes which are readable well on the 750CDT's 13.3" display. (Thanks to Dr. Christian Burger)


Most of the laptops use a Crystal Semiconductor CS4232 sound chip, albeit at a somewhat unusual I/O port address. The Tecra 750CDT has a Yamaha sound chipset.

You may want to check out for updated sound drivers.


The following list of configuration settings works when using the default BIOS settings (thanks to Bjoern Kriews <>), but always verify with your current BIOS settings.
Setting BIOS setting (possible values)
CS4232_BASE=534 WSS I/O Address (534/608/e84/f44)
CS4232_IRQ=5 WSS & SBPro IRQ Level (5/7/9/11/15)
CS4232_DMA=1 WSS & SBPro DMA Playback Channel (0/1/3)
CS4232_DMA2=0 WSS & SBPro DMA Record Channel (0/1/3)
CS4232_MPU_BASE=330 Note: linux/drivers/sound/ says that the MPU401 synthesizer emulation does not yet work on the CS4232

I have very little experience with the Linux sound system, therefore I maintain the following table of sound software working on the laptop until I have full confidence that all aspects of sound work on the laptop, including but not limited to playback, recording, full-duplex operation, MIDI, /dev/dsp, and /dev/audio interfaces.
spectrum analyzer, not working with 24 bpp graphics
cat > /dev/audio - no comment
reads audio data from CD

When playing sound files with, e.g., wavplay, the sound quality gets much worse when the CD-ROM drive is spinning; there is a relatively loudly audible background hiss. Even just after the initialization of the sound system, and nothing playing or spinning, there is a noticeable background noise. For specific problems when playing audio CD-ROMs, see the section on the CD-ROM drive. When using the SoundBlaster and OPL-3 emulations of the CS4232 chip (see next section), the sound quality is generally quite bad, but there is no extra noise depending on the CD-ROM drive spinning. This needs further investigation.

Some people have reported the need to boot Windows 95 before booting Linux in order to get the sound chip working. This is reasonable for the SoundBlaster setup (see next section), but the CS4232 driver is said to have special plug & play (PnP) support built-in. Things might improve when PnP support is integrated in Linux.

SoundBlaster and OPL-3 emulation

The chip contains SoundBlaster Pro and OPL-3 emulations, so as an alternative (yes, that's either-or) to the above mentioned native CS4232 driver, you can configure the Linux SoundBlaster Pro and OPL-3 drivers. When using the default BIOS settings, the standard settings offered by the sound configuration tool are fine.

Tecra 750CDT: Yamaha chipset

After changing the sound IRQ in the BIOS from 5 to 7, the following list of settings is reported to work. (Thanks to Carlos Puchol.)
Setting BIOS setting
CONFIG_SOUND=y Please report which BIOS settings change these values
Harald Koenig suggests defining the CONFIG_AUDIO, CONFIG_MIDI, CONFIG_AD1848, and CONFIG_SEQUENCER options as well. SELECTED_SOUND_OPTIONS should be 0x00a80214. Double-check the IRQ and DMA settings with your BIOS.

Serial and Parallel Devices

Serial Port

The laptops are equipped with one 9 pin serial RS232 interface, which works flawlessly with Linux. You could attach a serial mouse there.

Parallel Port

The laptops also have one25 pin parallel interface, which works flawlessly with Linux. The advanced operating modes (EPP etc.) have not been tested yet.


The serial interface can optionally operate in infrared mode. The IrDA 1.0 standard only supports up to 115 Kbps, but IrDA 1.1 supports up to 4 Mbps. Please see the specifications section below about which laptops support which standard.

For drivers, please refer to the Linux/IR project at

Note that the IrDA device is independent of the optional built-in modem.


Warning: Do not exchange Toshiba built-in modem cards between different laptop models. I got one report of an obviously overheating laptop, probably due to this. This paragraph does not apply to PCMCIA cards.

Depending on the exact laptop model, a modem chip is built-in. In the 750CDT, there's a Lucent Technologies DSP1645 "Mars" chip built-in. This is a digital signal processor (DSP) directly attached to the PCI bus and the analog telephone line. It is unable to interpret standard "AT" commands and requires a host driver to setup the DSP configuration data and/or download the DSP firmware. The Windows VxD driver for the device is said to be of a size of about 0.5 MB. No Linux support for the device will be available anytime soon, and none is in development as far as I know.

You can disable the internal modem in the BIOS setup. Additionally, the modem card may be physically removed by removing a few screws from a lid at the bottom of the laptop.

While the 660CDT is said to have a simpler ISA-based "Apollo" chip built-in following the same concept as the "Mars" chip, this modem reportedly works fine with Linux (probably missing the voice functions). (Thanks to Taketoshi Sano.)

Depending on the country and time of sale, the 710CDT and 720CDT either have a V.34 modem built-in or delivered seperately as a PCMCIA card. In Germany, a V.34 faxmodem card was formerly supplied with it, now the internal modem seems to be BZT (German telecommunications device authority) approved and no external PCMCIA card is provided. Note that the internal modem (at least that supplied in Germany) is only able to do Class 1 fax, while the popular mgetty+sendfax package requires Class 2. The Hylafax software supports Class 1 fax, though.

I have PPP working with the German PCMCIA card. Others reported success with the internal modem, which is accessible as COM2 under DOS and /dev/ttyS1 under Linux. There is also a /dev/cua1 which refers to the same device but is supposed to be used for outgoing connections. Read the Serial-HOWTO, section 12.4, for a detailed explanation.

If you have trouble getting your internal modem to work, check that there are no interrupt conflicts. Compare the BIOS settings with the values autodetected during the Linux kernel boot and the output of "cat /proc/interrupts", and take note that some devices (for example serial ports and PCMCIA cards) get registered in /proc/interrupts only when in use. Check that the PCMCIA card manager does not use the modem IRQ for PCMCIA cards. For example, when you have your modem interrupt configured at IRQ 3, you could put a line "exclude irq 3" into /etc/pcmcia/config.opts to prevent the card manager from using IRQ 3 as well.

(First report of the German PCMCIA card working from Ralf Windecker, Bjoern Kriews told me about the internal modem, Randy Thompson added that the internal US modem works as well.)

Power Management (APM)

The laptop has an APM-compliant BIOS. During kernel configuration, you can choose a variety of APM options. I am currently using the following features: This will reduce power consumption when the CPU is idle, turn off the backlight of the LCD screen when the normal Linux screenblanker is activated, and turn off the computer after a shutdown -h. See the section on graphics troubleshooting for possible interactions of CONFIG_APM_DISPLAY_BLANK with the X server.

For hard disk spin-down, see "man hdparm", but cron, syslogd and/or lpd might access your hard drive very frequently so that it is unable to spin down.

If your laptop is unable to transition from a power-saving state to full operations (for example, after having blanked the screen), this could be due to too many interrupts happening. A timer seems to be employed to check whether some external event has occurred which should lead to leaving the power-saving state. However, that timer is restarted at every interrupt. Thus, if interrupts happen at a frequency faster than every 10 msec, the power-saving state will never be left. AVM ISDN cards using drivers older than from the early February CVS tree are likely such an interrupt source. (Thanks to Bernd Mielke for the explanation.)


Suspend/resume seems to work mostly. The following problems have been encountered:

If the latter does not help, you could use "cardctl eject" to shut down the PCMCIA socket before the suspend to solve the problem. Use "cardctl insert" to revive the PCMCIA cards. If the "cardctl eject" returns "device busy", you need to stop applications currently accessing the device, in the case of an Ethernet card, that could be for example the nameserver "named". Björn Kriews <> modified apmd (updated as of 28 Mar 1997) so that it automatically shuts down the PCMCIA socket before a suspend and revives it after the resume.

Success Stories

The following is a matrix of features and laptop models which at least one person got working with the indicated distributions.

Abbreviation DRHSuSl
Distribution DebianRedHatSuseSlackware

Help others, add your own entry for new combinations of distribution/laptop/feature by sending me email and be prepared to get an occasional e-mail asking for help.

Note: All entries in the following list have working mainboard (CPU, cache, memory, PCI), internal hard drive, internal floppy, Toshiba IDE CD-ROM (see specifications section whether provided with the model), AccuPoint.

Graphics Sound (CS4232) APM PPP (internal modem, where provided) external PS/2 mouse Network (PCMCIA) parallel ZIP
internal LCD external monitor
500CS RH4.1, Sl3.1, D1.2.?, RH4.2 RH4.1, Sl96 RH4.1, D1.2.?, RH4.2 RH4.1, Sl3.1, D1.2.?, RH4.2 RH4.1, Sl3.1, RH4.2 D1.2.?, !RH4.1 Megahertz XJ10: RH4.1, !RH4.2 -
500CDT RH4.0, RH4.1, RH4.2, Sl3.1 - RH4.1, RH4.2, Sl3.1 RH4.1, RH4.2, Sl3.1 !RH4.0, RH4.1, RH4.2 RH4.0 Megahertz XJ10BC: RH4.2, Sl3.1; 3Com: RH4.0 RH4.2 Adaptec PCMCIA SCSI, Jaz, SCSI tape
510CDT RH4.2 - RH4.2, Sl3.2 RH4.2 RH4.2 RH4.2, Sl3.2 3c589, Adaptec PCMCIA SCSI: RH4.2; NE2k clone: Sl3.2 Sl3.2
660CDT RH4.1 - - - RH4.1 RH4.1 - -
710CDT Su4.2 Su4.2 Su4.2 Su4.2 - - -
720CDT Ddevel, RH4.1, Su2.0.25, Su4.4, Su5.1 Su4.4 Ddevel, RH4.1, Su2.0.25, Su4.4 Ddevel, Su2.0.25 Su2.0.25, external: Su4.4 Su5.1 3Com: Ddevel, RH4.1, Su4.4 -
730CDT RH3.0.3, RH4.1, Sl3.0 RH4.1, Sl3.0 Sl3.0 Sl3.0 RH3.0.3, RH4.1, Sl3.0 RH4.1, Sl3.0 RH3.0.3, 3Com: RH4.1, Xircom 10/100: Sl3.0 RH3.0.3, RH4.1 SCSI with docking station, Sl3.0: cardstation
730XCDT Su5.0 Su5.0 - - - Su5.0 - -
740CDT D1.3, RH4.2, Sl3.2, Sl3.4, Su5.0 Su5.0 D1.3, Sl3.2, Sl3.4 D1.3, Sl3.4 D1.3, Sl3.4 Su5.0 D1.3, Sl3.2, Sl3.4 -
750CDT Su5.0 - - - - - Su5.0 -


Unfortunately, the booklets which came with the laptop or its docking station do not specify the exact details of the chips used, although this information is of vital importance to configuring the right drivers for Linux. Therefore, I collect below any hardware-related info which is not obviously available from the end-user documentation provided by Toshiba.

The first table shows the information for the outdated models of the Satellite, Satellite Pro and Portégé series. The next two tables present the outdated models of the Tecra series. The last two tables show the features of all current Toshiba laptops. The hyperlinks refer to Toshiba Europe's WWW site.

To keep the tables small, short descriptions have been used within the table, explained below them where necessary.


Satellite Satellite Pro Portégé
220CS 230CX 440CDX 440CDT 460CDX 460CDT 300CT 660CDT
Processor P133 P133MMX P133MMX P166MMX P133MMX P133
L2 Cache 256 KB PB standard
RAM 16 - 144 MB 16 - 144 MB 32 - 160 MB 32 - 64 MB 16 - 80 MB
BIOS 6.90 ? 6.90 6.90 6.40 6.30
Hard disk 1.26 GB 1.26 GB 2.0 GB 1.5 GB 1.26 GB
CD-ROM optional 10x 10x optional 10x
Graphics ct65555 ct65554 ct65555 ct65554
Display 800x600 1024x600 800x600
12.1 inches 10.4 inches 16:9 11.3 inches
Sound Soundblaster Pro compatible 16bit stereo CS4232
PCMCIA either two type II or one type III.
Infrared - IrDA 1.1, 4 Mbps - IrDA 1.1, 4 Mbps
Modem - (opt.) built-in 33.6 kbps V.34, V.80 (opt.) built-in 33.6 kbps V.34, V.80 V.34 fax voice (?)
Keyboard standard 84 keys Win95 standard 84 keys (???) Win95
External connectors USB, SelectBay USB, SelectBay USB -
Battery ? 3.6 Ah 2.4 Ah 4.0 Ah
Battery life max 3 h 2-3 h 2.5 h 2.5-2.8 h 2h 3 h
Power supply 100-240 V AC 100-240 V, 50-60 Hz, 30W
Weight 3.1 kg 3.1 kg 1.7 kg 2.5 kg
Dimensions (WxDxH) 303.6 x 235 x 50.5 mm 303.6 x 235 x 50.5 mm 263 x 192 x 35 mm 263 x 210 x 49 mm

Portégé Tecra
650CT 500CS 500CDT 510CDS 510CDT 710CDT 720CDT 730CDT
Processor P133 P120 P133 P133 P150
L2 Cache standard
RAM 16 MB to 80 MB 16 to 144 MB
BIOS 6.00 5.70 6.70 5.80 6.60
Hard disk 1.26 GB 2.0 GB
CD-ROM none optional 6x 10x 6x
Graphics ct65550
Display 800x600 1024x768
11.3 inches 12.1 inches
Sound Crystal Semiconductor CS4232
PCMCIA Intel 82365 compatible, either two type II or one type III. CardBus, ZV support
Infrared IrDA 1.1, 4 Mbps IrDA 1.0, 115 Kbps
Modem (opt.) built-in 28.8 Kbps V.34 fax voice
Keyboard Win95 standard 84 keys
External connectors -
Battery 3.4 Ah 3.6 Ah 4.0 Ah 5.6 Ah
Battery life max 3 h 3.5 h 4 h 3.5 h 3.5 h 3 h
Power supply 100-240 V, 50-60Hz, 30W
Weight 2.2 kg 3.4 kg with integrated AC adaptor 3.7 kg with integrated AC adaptor 3.65 kg 3.65 kg 3.7 kg
Dimensions (WxDxH) 261 x 208 x 46 mm 299 x 235 x 58 mm 299 x 235 x 58 mm 297 x 230 x 59 mm 297 x 230 x 59 mm

520CDT 530CDT 730XCDT 740CDT
Processor P166MMX P150MMX P166MMX
L2 Cache 256 KB PB standard 256 KB PB
RAM 32 - 160 MB 16 - 144 MB
BIOS ? 6.30 6.50
Hard disk 2.0 GB 2.0 GB 3.0 GB
ROM CD 10x CD 10x
Graphics ct65555 ct65554
Display 800x600 1024x768
12.1 inches 13.3 inches
Sound 16 bit stereo CS4232
PCMCIA Intel 82365 compatible, either two type II or one type III. CardBus, ZV support
Infrared IrDA 1.1, 4 Mbps IrDA 1.0, 115 Kbps IrDA 1.1, 4Mbps
Modem built-in 33.6 kbps (opt.) built-in 28.8 Kbps V.34 fax voice
Keyboard standard 84 keys standard 84 keys
Additional Features USB, SelectBay -
Battery 3.4 Ah 5.6 Ah
Battery life max 2.5 h 3 h 2.5 h
Power supply 100-240 V, 50-60Hz, 30W 40W built-in
Weight 2.9 kg with integrated 45W AC adaptor 3.7 kg
Dimensions (WxDxH) 297 x 231 x 47 mm 297 x 229 x 60 mm 303 x 239 x 61 mm

Satellite Satellite Pro
300CDS 300CDT 310CDS 310CDT 320CDS 320CDT 470CDT 480CDT 490CDT 490XCDT
Processor P166MMX P200MMX P233MMX P200MMX P233MMX P-II 233MMX P-II 266MMX
L2 Cache 256 KB PB 512 KB PB 256 KB PB 512 KB integrated
RAM 16 - 144 MB 32 - 160 MB 32 - 160 MB
BIOS ? 6.30 ?
Hard disk 2.0 GB 3.8 GB
CD-ROM 16x simultaneous 20x simult. 10x 20x
Graphics ct655?? ct65555 ct655?? ct65555 S3V/MX
Display 800x600 1024x768
12.1 inches 13.1 inches
Sound Soundblaster Pro compatible Yamaha OPL3 16bit stereo
PCMCIA either two type II or one type III.
Infrared IrDA 1.1, 4 Mbps
Modem - (opt.) built-in 33.6 kbps V.34, V.80
Keyboard Win95 86 keys
External connectors USB USB, SelectBay
Battery ? 3.6 Ah ?
Battery life max 2-3 h 2.5-2.8 h 3 h 2-2.5 h
Power supply 100-240 V AC
Weight 3.0 kg 3.1 kg 3.2 kg 3.3 kg
Dimensions (WxDxH) 304 x 239 x 54 mm 303.6 x 239 x 50.5 mm 304 x 239 x 51 mm

Portégé Tecra
320CT 540CDT 550CDT 750CDT 750DVD 780DVD
Processor P266MMX P233MMX P266MMX P233MMX P-II 266
L2 Cache 512 KB PB 512 KB integrated
RAM 32 - 64 MB 32 - 160 MB 32 - 160 MB 64 - 192 MB
Hard disk 3.8 GB 4.77 GB
ROM CD optional CD 20x DVD 2x
Graphics ct6555? S3V/MX
Display 1024x600 1024x768
10.4 inches 16:9 12.1 inches 13.3 inches
Sound 16 bit stereo Yamaha 3D 16 bit stereo
PCMCIA Intel 82365 compatible, either two type II or one type III. CardBus, ZV support
Infrared IrDA 1.1, 4 Mbps
Modem - (opt.) built-in 33.6 kbps V.34 fax voice (opt.) K56flex Lucent DSP1645 "Mars" (V.34, V.80, DSVD voice/fax)
Keyboard Win95 86 keys
Additional Features - USB, ACPI USB, ACPI, NTSC/PAL, CCD camera
Battery ? ? 3.6 Ah (???) ?
Battery life max 2-3 h 2.5-3 h 3.5 h
Power supply 100-240 V, 50-60Hz
Weight 1.7 kg 2.9 kg 2.8 kg 3.7 kg 3.6 kg
Dimensions (WxDxH) 263 x 192 x 35 mm 297 x 231 x 47 mm 304 x 240 x 54 mm

Processor All processors without MMX are Intel Pentium 2.9V/3.3V. MMX processors with speeds < 200 MHz are Intel Pentium MMX 2.45V, 200 and 233 MHz MMX processors are Intel Pentium MMX "Tillamook" with a 1.8V core. P-II designates Pentium II processors with a 1.7V core.
L2 Cache The standard cache has a size of 256 KB and is 8 nsec at 3.3V with a 32Kx8bit, 15 nsec tag RAM in write-through configuration. "PB" stands for "pipelined-burst cache", which still seems to be in write-through configuration (54.9 MB/sec into L2 cache, 34.5 MB/sec into RAM). Note that the Toshiba chipsets used seem to be able to cache 64 MB RAM only. Adding more RAM will slow down the computer.
PCI chipset The PCI chipset is proprietary. Toshiba does not disclose any information about it. Please send me your /proc/pci so that I can determine if the PCI chipset is all the same on the different laptops.
BIOS BIOS versions mentioned are those offered on Toshiba's WWW site. The BIOS is stored in a 256KB Flash EEPROM, 150nsec, 5V divided into 128 KB system BIOS, 48 KB video BIOS, and 8 KB PnP data area.
RAM RAM is always 60 nsec EDO RAM, 3.3V. Figures in the tables indicate the standard and maximum memory configuration.
Hard disk Hard disk drive types are all 2.5 inch EIDE, PIO mode 4, DMA mode 2. See the separate table below for the detailed specifications. Please send me hard drive types (as autodetected during Linux boot-up) for the other models.
Graphics The graphics chips are PCI. The chips prefixed "ct" are from Chips & Technologies: ct65550 denotes the CT F65550, ct65554 the CT F65554. All have 2 MB EDO RAM (50nsec, 5V) as video memory. S3V/MX denotes a S3 ViRGE/MX 3D chip with 4 MB SGRAM.
ROM Most ROM drives are Toshiba EIDE/ATAPI, the combined CD-ROM/Floppy drives in the 3xxCDS/T series are TEAC CD-220EA, however.
XM-1402B XM-1502B XM-1602B TEAC CD-220EA DVD-ROM
Type and Speed CD 6x CD 10x CD 20x CD 16x, Floppy DVD 2x, CD 16x
Cache 128 kB
Seek time 190 msec 180 msec 130 msec ?
Model confirmation 710CDT 660CDT 750CDT 310CDT -
Display DSTN and HCA displays can do 64K colors, while TFTs do 16.7M colors.
Sound The Crystal Semiconductor CS4232 chipset also includes a Yamaha OPL-3 (YMF262) and a Yamaha D/A converter (YAC512), full duplex.
Modem In some countries, the built-in modem seems to be optional, in others, it's standard. Make sure you get what you want before buying.
External connectors All laptops have the following external interfaces in addition to these mentioned in the tables: 9-pin serial (16550 UART), 25-pin parallel (ECP), 15-pin RGB (SVGA), PS/2 keyboard/mouse, external floppy, 3.5 mm mini audio (microphone mono; headphone, line-in, line-out stereo). Note that the floppy is built-in and combined with the CD-ROM drive in the 310CDS/CDT and 320CDS/CDT. These models do not have an internal microphone either. A SelectBay may alternatively hold a floppy, CD-ROM drive, 2nd hard drive, or an additional battery.
Battery life Battery life figures are maximums and should be lower on real-world usage.

Hard Disks

Note: For the capacity, the first number gives gigabytes (2^30 bytes), the second in billion bytes.

Toshiba IBM
MK2720FC MK2101MAN MK2103MAV MK2104MAV MK3003MAN DPLA-25120
Capacity [GB/10^9] 1.26/1.35 2.0/2.16 3.0/3.22 4.77/5.12
Cache 128 kB 468 kB
Access time 13 msec 12 msec
Rotational speed ? 4800 rpm 4852 rpm 4900 rpm
Density (kbpi/tpi) ? 139/8772 138/8483 201/12500
CHS (logical) 589/64/63 525/128/63 746/128/63 623/255/63
CHS (physical) ? 5160/6/ZBR 5020/10/ZBR 6976/8/ZBR
Model confirmation 510CS, 710CDT, 720CDT 730CDT 660CDT 310CDT 740CDT 750CDT

Desk Station V Plus

SCSI host adapter AMD 53C974 (PCI)
PCMCIA two additional type III slots
Slots two PCI/ISA full length, one PCI half length
External connectors 9-pin serial, 25-pin parallel, PS/2 keyboard, PS/2 mouse, 15-pin RGB SVGA, joystick/MIDI, 3.5 mm mini audio (microphone mono, headphone, line-in, line-out stereo)

Sources of information

The cache configuration was obtained by running a memory speed test software written by the German computer magazine c't. The software is available from

The BIOS version information was obtained from running tdiags, the toshiba diagnostics software delivered with (at least) the Windows 95 installation.

Links to further information

My personal opinion on this laptop is on a separate page.

Kirk Hilliard has a special page for using the Debian distribution with these laptops.

There is a mailing list for running Linux on the Toshiba Tecra series laptops. To subscribe, send mail to, with the body (don't bother with a subject): subscribe tecra-linux your-email-address
(Thanks to Jeffrey R. Lewis for providing this.)

Toshiba America maintain pages with technical information about their current laptops at their WWW site. There's also a WWW site of Toshiba Europe in Germany. BIOS images, manuals, and technical information are available at Toshiba also offers a free BBS system at (registration required).

This page is referenced by the Linux Laptop Home Page.

A Notebook Graphics and PCMCIA Chipset Survey from David Fox is available as well as the X and Notebooks pages of Darin Ernst. Last time I looked (1 Aug 1996), the latest entry of the latter was of 11 Mar 1996.

Comments? Questions? Flames? Additions? Corrections?
Jens Maurer
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