Linux and the Gateway Solo 2500

Welcome! I set up this page to share my experiences about installing Linux on a Gateway Solo 2500 laptop. Solo 2500
The star of the show - the Solo 2500!

 

Laptop Specs

CPUPentium MMX 199 MHZ
SCREEN12.1 inch HPA SVGA; Resolution: 800 x 600; Color Depth: 262,000 colors (18-bit)
VIDEONeoMagic NM2160 (MagicGraph 128XD) with 2 MB integrated RAM
NETWORK CARDSMC 8040TX (PCMCIA)
HARD DRIVE4GB (IBM DKLA 24320)
RAM128 MB
SOUNDNeoMagic NMA 2
FLOPPY(internal)
CDROM8/20x Panasonic UJDA 110 (internal)
MOUSEThe Solo 2500 comes with a touchpad, which I don't use. Instead, I use a regular PS/2 mouse.

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Installing Linux

I installed RedHat Linux 7.1. The Solo came with 1 partition dedicated to Windows 95. I booted from the RedHat installation CD and proceeded to install a Laptop-class installation (with GNOME). Using Disk Druid, I deleted the Windows 95 partition and created the following partitions:

When the installation was finished, I installed the rhn_register and up2date packages from RHN. Once I registered my PC, I ran up2date and fully updated the box. When all was said and done I was running a 2.4.20-20.7 kernel.

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XFree86

I use the neomagic driver with XFree86 4.1.0. The chipset is NeoMagic's NM2160 (MagicGraph 128XD) Using the NeoMagic driver, I get a resolution of 800x600 at pixel depths of 8 and 16 (Note that the chipset can actually handle higher resolutions and bit depths. I'm limited to 800x600, 16 bpp by the 2500's LCD). Here's a copy of my XF86Config-4 file and my for the Solo 2500 (use at your own risk).

Window Managers

A brief note about window managers. I don't use either the GNOME or the KDE desktop environments. I prefer to simply run my current window manager of choice, Blackbox (although I have been known to run Ratpoison on occassion). In any case, here are some links to my configuration files for Blackbox:

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Network

For networking, I use a SMC8040TX PCMCIA card. It is NE2000 compliant and therefore automagically loads the pcnet_cs.o module. So far, so good!

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Sound

After many fruitless Internet searches and hours of frustration, I finally went to www.opensound.com and downloaded 4Front's Open Sound System. It is not free software (a license cost me $20), but I am very happy with the results. I configured the NeoMagic NMA2 chip as a "Generic Yamaha OPL3-SAX (YMF719) non-PNP". Here is a copy of my devices.cfg, modules.cfg and options.cfg files, which reside in /usr/lib/oss, and a copy of my /etc/modules.conf file. I used OSS' soundconf utility to setup the card.

At the end of March 2004 I received a note from Andrew Haninger, who shared his experiences with me. Andrew is using the OSS drivers that came with the kernel. He wrote,

Just a note that I found your site while searching for tips on how to get the sound working on my Solo 2500 with Linux 2.4. I had it working previously in 2.2 with certain settings for io, mss_io, irq, dma, and dma2, but these settings did not work 2.4. Through much trial and error, I found that the following seem to work:

io0x370
mss_io0x530
irq5
dma0
dma21

I don't think it even matters what you put in the BIOS because when I was first playing with this, I remember changing things there and then using those settings when loading the module and they did not work.

Andrew later wrote me with some additional information, including the following modprobe line for his OSS driver:

modprobe opl3sa2 io=0x370 mss_io=0x530 irq=5 dma=0 dma2=1

He also wrote:

Also, I found later that I was wrong about the BIOS settings having no
effect on which options work. I think the irq setting actually needs to
match the IRQ set in the BIOS.

So far, I've found ALSA to be more difficult to set up than I think it
should be.

Thanks Andrew!

Update on ALSA and the Solo 2500

Andrew has written me again to keep me updated. He wrote

Hello once again. I wrote to you nearly a year ago when I was trying to get ALSA to work on my SOLO 2500. At the time I was using a 2.4 kernel. Since then, I've installed a 2.6 kernel. Trying to get ALSA to work on a 2.6 kernel on this laptop drove me nuts (and still does, but I'm not alone).

Since then, I've also begun to try to get this problem fixed once and for all with ALSA. After reading bug reports and talking with the OPL3SA2 driver author, we've found that there seems to be a bug in ALSA or Linux 2.6 (but misbehaving hardware is probably the biggest issue). I'm currently still working with the developer to get automatic detection of this card to work flawlessly. We've made some progress, but there is still a lot to do.

I was wondering, if you still have your 2500 and it's running a 2.6 system, if you could try out some of the patches that have been made available in my discussions with the developer. If not, could you put a link on your page to the most recent bug report I've filled out? Here's the URL: https://bugtrack.alsa-project.org/alsa-bug/view.php?id=1326. It will require a login for making comments, but you should be able to view them and download files without logging in. This way, maybe others who stumble upon your page will be able to help out further (and serve as a check to see if I'm doing everything right).

Oh yeah, in my last reports, I wasn't completely sure if the BIOS settings mattered. Well, it appears that, at least with the ALSA driver, the DMA1/DMA2 settings must be set to what they are in the BIOS, but the IRQ doesn't have to be set the same. I think the only options available for the IRQ are 5, 7 and 11, if these are otherwise free. Thanks!

Thank you Andrew!

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More Information

To learn more about running Linux on laptops, please visit TuxMobil.org

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Contact Me

If you find this information useful, please drop me a note to let me know. You can also send comments, questions or updated information about Linux on the Solo 2500 to me at: joephayes@_NOSPAM_yahoo.com (Take out '_NOSPAM_', to send.)

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Last updated on 2 September 2005