Installing Linux on the Toshiba Portégé 7020 CT

[Photo: Portégé overview] The Toshiba Portégé 7020 CT has a 1024x768 display, a Pentium II 366 MHz processor, and is incredibly slim and light-weight. It fulfills all important laptop critery: powerful -- at least at the time of purchase -- and cute. ;-)

[Photo: multi-purpose laptop] The Portégé has a very handy size. In particular, it is so flat it leaves lots of room for other things in a laptop case. It can even serve as a breakfast dish if you are in a hurry -- while calculating the final data points for your talk.

There is a suite of utilities for Toshiba laptops at

By the way: I found out that the keyboard is very sensitive to spilled tea. The slightest amount of fluid is sufficient to generate random key signals which make work difficult or impossible. So be careful ...


Information Contributed

My original report (below) is of May 1999. I added any news to the top of this page:
February 9, 2004
Jacek Pliszka: more on DVD playback
December 9, 2003
Kevin Power: speedy DVD playback
November 9, 2001
Jörg Zielosko: extension hardware
May 26, 2001
Tony den Haan: Neomagic Framebuffer patch
February 27, 2001
Egor P. Zindy: Soundcard and other info
September 6, 2000
Lawrence J. Wobker: BIOS and PCMCIA
September 6, 2000
Me: trouble with SuSE 6.4
August 18, 2000
Joon-Ki Choi: Keyboard lockups
August 05, 2000
James D. Durick: FreeBSD on the Portégé
July 06, 2000
IrDA and USB work, too - news from Robert Blacquiere
February 1, 2000
Good news about the winmodem shared by Kevin Kealy
January 31, 2000
A few notes added by me
October 26, 1999
Fresh information contributed by Robert Blacquiere
July 29, 1999
Lots of useful hints by Jim Dai
If you have more info on the Toshiba Portégé 7020 CT please email me. I'll add it to this page or link to yours.


Info received in January 2004

Jacek Pliszka <pliszka (from)> writes:

I have the following hints for DVD playback.

If one has XFree86 older than 4.3.0 but 4.x then there is the neomagic_drv.o module with xv extension that can be downloaded from the mplayer site:

There is also info about another speed up patch for 4.3.0 :

If your playback is still jumpy then you should check the DVD drive settings with hdparm. This setting helped me:

hdparm -c3 -d1 -u1 /dev/hdc


Info received in November 2003

Kevin Power <> reports:

I have Mandrake 9.2 loaded with Xine and Mplayer. I resolved the problem of choppy DVD play back by finding information on the NeoMagic chip set on the Xfree86 webpage. I had to add this line to the Options in the XF86Config file:

Option "OverlayMem" "829440"
This means: Reserve the given amount of memory (in bytes) for the XVideo overlay. On boards with limited memory, display of large XVideo buffers might fail due to insufficient available memory. Using this option solves the problem at the expense of reducing the memory avilable for other operations. For full-resolution DVDs, 829440 bytes (720x576x2) are necessary. This is found at

After I did this, the xv module worked perfect and the DVD play back worked excellent.


Info received in November 2001

Jörg Zielosko <> told me:

I am using Debian 2.2 (kernel 2.2.19, pcmcia-cs 3.1.29) with the following setup you might find interesting:

Socket 0:
  product info: "FREECOM", "PCCARD-IDE", "REV836"
Socket 1:
  product info: "ELSA", "AirLancer MC-11", "Version 01.01", ""
The Freecom cable goes to a Ricoh 6020 combined DVD/CD-RW drive. Burning CDs goes without problems. It is accessed as a SCSI drive by the following chain of drivers:
ide_cs -> ide-scsi -> sr_mod
Together with an Elsa DSL / WLAN router, the Elsa WLAN card gives a very comfortable internet connection.


Info received in May 2001

Tony den Haan <> wrote:

I got a Portege 7020CT, found the vesafb horribly slow, and I found: Scrolling up is still horrible, but for the rest it's pretty ok.


Info added in February 2001

Egor P. Zindy <> send these notes:

I run Debian potato and usually compile my own stuff, whenever I can. I noticed that

  1. compiling Linux 2.2.18 with the APM stuff and Toshiba module in
  2. compiling pcmcia-cs 3.1.23 (the latest pcmcia-cs fixes some stuff for the Toshiba chipset, so it's a good idea to grab / install the latest source no matter what!)
  3. putting the PCMCIA BIOS mode into autoselect mode

allows me to

  1. use my Xircom CardBus / 32 Bits realport 10/100 + gsm + modem all in one thingy
  2. fixes the Maestro soundcard problems when the power cord is removed and/or when the computer is suspended/resumed (but only when the Xircom card is plugged in, go figure!!! :-) (Actually I suspect, but I'll have to check, that if you use a PCMCIA slot the APM stuff is handled properly, so the correct soundcard behaviour should be triggered by any card plugged into one of the PCMCIA slots.)

I just thought you might want to know... with the Toshiba PCMCIA chipset fixed, and the sound more or less working as intented, we're getting one step closer to having one of the best laptops to run Linux on!

What's missing: opensource Lucent modem driver, hibernation (still no hibernation in Linux :-/ ) and maybe a module to use the DVD docking station mpeg accelerator... that would be uber-cool! :-)

PS: If you want to compile your own kernel, check-out my config file: when you type make menuconfig in the linux directory and go to 'load alternate configuration', type in tosh.config to load this file; that should compile you a kernel similar to the one I use on my laptop.


Info added in September 2000, part 2

Lawrence J. Wobker <> told me:

I had some trouble with the PCMCIA card and thought I would share the solution with others...

Initially, the laptop would hang up during initialization when the kernel attempted to load the pcmcia module. To fix this, we entered the BIOS (hit [ESC] during startup) and changed the PCMCIA controller to CardBus 16-bit mode, and everything works great.


Info added in September 2000, part 1

When upgrading my laptop to SuSE 6.4 (booting from floppy), inserting the pcmcia drivers from the modules floppy did not work. I spent a whole evening debugging it. :-( Eventually I had a look at SuSE's FTP site. Apparently, the pcmcia package that comes with SuSE 6.4 is broken. You can download a new floppy image for the modules floppy as well as a new pcmcia rpm package from SuSE's FTP site. With the new floppy image, the installation went without further problems. Surprisingly, the rpm package that came with SuSE 6.4 works on my machine. Only the driver from the modules floppy did not work.


Info added in August 2000, part 2

Joon-Ki Choi <> reports that his keyboard locked up after he installed SuSE 6.1. Someone else mentioned this, too, about an older version of RedHat. The solution is, according to Joon-Ki, to disable the gpm program. I did not have these problems (both gpm and X are working fine on my machine), but I skipped SuSE's release 6.1, anyway.


Info added in August 2000, part 1

James D. Durick <> installed FreeBSD 3.3 on his laptop. Concerning the graphics card, he reports:

I used the boardname setting:

BoardName "Toshiba Tecra 750DVD" 
for my Toshiba 7020 CT and it worked great ... Download XF86Config file.

I'm installing FreeBSD 4.0 and NetBSD 1.4.2 on my other laptops which are also Toshiba Portégés 7020 CT and hopefully I won't have to change the XF86Config settings at all but who knows :-) Will send you the XF86Config files after I get those up and running!


Info added in July 2000

Robert Blacquiere <> has good news concerning the IrDA and USB devices.

I have experimented with the IrDA device (I have a Siemens S25 mobile phone). It works with the toshoboe driver in the newer 2.2.1x kernels with the latest IrDA utils (0.9.9, I think).

Also the USB port works. I received a dynalink USB web cam (only 320x200) with the notice on the box "Windows 98 ONLY". I could not stand the temptation to get it to work on my Linux box ;-). Let me say it works !!! I used the backport from 2.3.99 USB into the 2.2.15 kernel. And used the cpia drivers. There are links on the USB project web page.

So I have everything working on this laptop. Oh yeah the win modem doesn't work, because I don't trust binary only drivers into the kernel without the source.

Info added in February 2000

Kevin Kealy, <> was kind enough to share info about his success with the built-in modem:

I've been getting my Portégé to work with Red Hat Linux 6.1, and the Lucent (binary-only) modem driver for the built-in winmodem works great.

Go to the Linux on Laptops page and follow the links. I did this:

Went to the page, got the Lucent driver:

mv /usr/local/src/drivers/
cd !$
mkdir ltmodem
cd !$
unzip ../

There's a readme. To install, type


ls -l /dev/modem now shows a link to the new character device ttyS14.

If you've enabled PCMCIA support (I have) and may insert a PCMCIA modem, I suggest doing this:

ln -s /dev/ttyS14 /dev/ltmodem

so you don't lose the symlink when the card services insert your PCMCIA modem.


cu -l /dev/modem
(goes to blank screen)
... etc...

Works great. Saves a PCMCIA slot.


Info added in January 2000

As two problems I had with my laptop resolved, I thought I'd share the good news:

A brief note on the soundcard: After compiling and installing the module maestro.o, I had no sound yet, but no error messages, either. It turned out that a module sound.o was missing. I compiled my own kernel and included both "sound suppport" (this produces the module soundcore.o) and "OSS drivers" (without choosing a specific driver) which gave me the module sound.o. After installing the new kernel and modules, and another modprobe maestro, all three modules were inserted (and did their job fine).

I tried to set the soundcard to an interrupt_line other than 11. However, after reboot it took 11 again. Surprisingly, it works -- despite all my PCI devices sitting on IRQ 11.

My machine is running Linux (currently SuSE 6.2 / kernel 2.2.10) exclusively; no other operating system modifying the IRQs. Thus, your mileage may vary.


Info added in October 1999

Here are a couple of helpful notes I got from Robert Blacquiere <>.

I have now some weeks the portege 7020CT in use. Great machine. There were a couple of small problems with it, but now "all" resolved.

First the sound worked. It is detected as Maestro 2e. APM of the card does not work so unload module before suspend. On my machine all pci devices are on the same IRQ (11), so I had some lockups. I used setpci to set at least the interrupt_line to another.

I had some problems with the pcmcia stuff but the pcmcia-cs-3.1.x seem to work. I have USB support and FIR support not tested yet but will mail you as soon as they seem to work.

I have found a newer driver for the maestro 2e soundcard. The link is

I successfully use wmtoshiba which controls the cooling fan. I have also tried xtuxtime but it did not work.

Oh I use slackware current on my machine (5/6 beta I think). I have also removed all windows software from the disk since I don't understand m$.

Currently, Toshiba does not officially support Linux. Nevertheless, Toshiba Europe provides a page with Linux / Unix information:

Robert Blacquiere


Info added in July 1999

Jim Dai <> emailed me with lots of additional info on the Portégé 7020 CT which I want to share here.

I installed RedHat 6.0. I bought the DVD/CD docking station. So installing Linux from a CD is very easy. The ethernet card (Intel EtherExpress Pro) on the docking station works. Adding the line

alias eth0 eepro100
in /etc/conf.modules does the job. Note you need power to use the ethernet through docking. Battery power will not work.

Regarding X in 24 bpp, I did not notice any slow down as compared with 16 bpp mode as you mentioned in your message. I was using the new X driver for NM 2200 from RedHat that comes with RedHat 6.0. The XFree version, as of July 99, does not support the chip to the fullest extent yet. Go to the Laptop page; there are a couple of links on this. In particular, see the section about X servers. However, Adobe Acrobat version 3 (and 4) does not work under 24 bpp, so I changed the server back to 16 bpp.

Apparently, there is a Portégé mailing list operated on I went there. It is a very helpful / useful list. To subscribe, follow this link.

The Internal modem is a Mwave / Winmodem type. Therefore, it is not working with Linux.

The soundcard is a PCI ESS Maestro 1/2 card. OSS has released a beta version of a sound driver supporting it. Have a look at for the current information.

A useful tip to those want to have win98 and Linux simultaneously: Reinstalling win98 would NOT do. It will take over the entire harddisk again even if you have Linux installed already. Use FIP 2.0 (in dosutils in RedHat CD) to partition an existing FAT32 disk. It worked for me and many others.

J. G. "Jim" Dai


My Portégé experiences as of May 1999

General Comments

If you want to use a floppy or CD drive you have to carry them along separately and attach them to your laptop. The floppy drive is sold together with the laptop; the CD (or a DVD) drive can be bought separately. I did not buy the CD / DVD drive since I don't need it.

The laptop comes with pre-installed Windoze 95 or 98. The documentation says that upon first bootup, you have to choose one of them, and the other one will be deleted. It also comes with a CD with Windoze 95/98 and a floppy disk with Toshiba drivers to restore the basis system after a crash. In order to use this CD, you need to boot from the CD drive (so you have to buy the extra CD drive!). The handbook says using the restore CD will delete everything on your hard disk. I cannot tell you more about this pre-installed stuff since the first thing I did was booting from a Linux floppy disk and re-formatting the hard disk to ext2fs.

I installed SuSE Linux 6.0 via NFS (kernel 2.0.36). Not because I am particularly font of this particular distribution, but it was at hand. In order to use NFS, you need to get the network services to work. With SuSE's linuxrc, choose "load kernel modules" from the menu, next "PCMCIA". This worked fine for me--the PCMCIA adapter was auto-detected. After the PCMCIA services had been successfully started, I inserted the PCMCIA network card. The borrowed 3COM Etherlink III 3C589C was detected with a beep and worked fine. Next, I told Yast (SuSE's setup tool) to install via NFS. It prompts for the IP address, etc., to configure the eth0 device, and then mounts the specified directory from the server. From then on, the installation goes as usual.


Please note that PCMCIA only worked after I had changed the BIOS setting to "PCIC compatible". To enter the BIOS setup, hold down the "ESC" key during bootup. The setting for PCMCIA is on page two (you get there with the "PageDown" key). If you cannot modify this option, change "Device Configuration" from "Setup by OS" to "All Devices" first.

You might want to check the other BIOS settings, too. On my laptop, someone had set the processor speed to "low" and turned the fan off.

Unfortunately, I could not make work the Xircom network card (CreditCard Ethernet 10/100-Ready) I purchased together with the laptop upon recommendation by the salesperson. However, it might be supported by now; I had no time yet to try again. You can get a driver for Xircom cards at


If you like working in text mode as I do, this is for you.

The BIOS has an option named "LCD display stretch". When disabled, only the middle of the screen is used in text mode. When enabled, the font is stretched to fill the whole screen. In default 80x25 mode, this looks awful, but after setting up SVGATextMode, I now have a nice 120x48 screen. My settings for SVGATextMode (the relevant lines from /etc/TextConfig) are as follows:

Chipset "VGA"
Clocks   25.175  28.322  45  50
FontSelect "lat1u-16.psf.gz" 8x16 9x16 8x15 9x15 9x20
"120x48x9"         50   960  961  962  963    768  770  772  800 font  9x15

The latter two clocks are chosen more or less randomly to go with the resolutions I experimented with. The LCD display is not picky about clocks. The "120x48x9" mode is not from the default TextConfig file but the result of some hours of experimenting.

To activate the higher resolution text mode at boot time, you have to configure your startup scripts. For example, with the SuSE distribution, edit your /etc/rc.config like this:

From the font here and above you can tell that I am in Germany and want umlauts on my screen. Depending on where you live, you'll probably prefer another lat*u-16.psf.gz font (or a completely different one).


Configuring the X server was no problem. I installed the standard SVGA server and configured it for a standard SVGA card and monitor with the (only) resolution 1024x768. The mouse point behaves as a PS/2 mouse. The video memory was correctly auto-detected as 2560 kB. In case you need it, here is my XF86Config file.

In 24 bit mode, my X server worked but was rather slow (I could watch the xterms scrolling). With 16 bit color depth, the X server is working fine. You can specify the color depth via the file .xserverrc in your home directory (i.e. this is user specific). Mine contains only the following line:

exec Xwrapper :0 -bpp 16
As an alternative, you can also delete the 32 and 24 bit mode from /etc/XF86Config if you want to.

Other stuff

I have not yet tried to use the soundcard or the modem built into the laptop. When I have news to tell (bad or good), I'll mention them here.

For more information and other users' reports about using Linux on mobile computers, have a look at these sites:

Anja Gerwinski,
Last modified: February 9, 2004