Linux Laptops- Compaq LTE 5100




CPU Intel Pentium 90Mhz 256Kb L2 Cache.
BIOS SystemSoft OPTI PNP, APM support.
CDROM ATAPI-IDE Warm Swap (See below)
VIDEO Cirrus Logic 7543 w/10.4" TFT SVGA LCD and MPEG support. See below.
AUDIO ESS-688/1688 Sound Blaster-compatible.
PCMCIA Cirrus PD672x Intel-compatible.



Overview: Compaq has occasionally driven me crazy with some of their nominally-compatible hardware but the LTE 5100 was an exception. Almost everything worked right away. X-Windows took some time but should not be a problem with the correct configuration settings. Other than the weight, which must be over twelve pounds with floppy, cdrom, both batteries and accessories, this makes a good Linux laptop.

Installation: I applied the most recent ROMpaqs from Compaq before starting. I planned to install Caldera's OpenDOS 7.1 and my collection of Phoenix and Intel PCMCIA drivers but for some reason could not get the laptop to boot the first disk. Instead, I loaded PCDOS7 which had its own Phoenix card drivers, saving me a step. Note that the Compaq CDROM drivers are required since normal ones will not "fake" the presence of the CDROM when it isn't in the multibay during boot. After installing a minimal Windows '95 to test the hardware and look over the settings, I used Partition Magic to shrink the FAT partition down to a more useful 200MB size and installed the Debian 2.0 (Hamm) release.

PCMCIA: No problems with PCMCIA.

X-Windows: Compaq uses the Cirrus Logic 754x chipset with 1MB RAM and an active matrix LCD panel that supports 800x600x64k. The CLGD754x has accelerated support under XFree86 v.3.3.2 without resorting to the substitution of the CLGD5428 for the detected version so I figured that I could just use an existing configuration for the panel. It doesn't work that way, folks. I had no trouble driving an external monitor but the panel differs from other models in the Compaq line and has its own particular configuration. After a great deal of frustration, I found through DejaNews an XF86Config, adapted below, posted in 1997 by Lars Hoglund which did the trick. I did not experiment with the MPEG support.

  Section "Monitor"
    Identifier   "LCD"
    VendorName   "Compaq"
    ModelName    "LTE 5000"
    HorizSync    31.5-40
    VertRefresh  50-70
      Mode       "800x600"
       DotClock    40
       HTimings    800 856 976 1000
       VTimings    600 637 643 666
       Flags       "+hsync" "+vsync"

  Section "Device"
    Identifier   "Cirrus_Logic"
    VendorName   "Cirrus Logic"
    BoardName    "Cirrus Logic"
    Clockchip    "cirrus"
    Option       "linear"

  Section "Screen"
    Driver       "svga"
    Device       "Cirrus_Logic"
    Monitor      "LCD"
      Subsection  "Display"
        Depth        16
        Modes        "800x600"
        ViewPort     0 0
Audio: The ESS688/1688 chipset is Sound Blaster-compatible. I compiled the SB and ESS support into the sound module and was ready.

Other Notes: The stick-pointer is a standard PS/2 mouse compatible and worked with both GPM and X-Windows. I was surprised that the Compaq "Warm-Swap" multibay feature works more-or-less correctly under Linux. All that was needed to replace the CDROM with the Floppy or secondary battery was to hit the Suspend button, wait for the beep and powerdown, swap the units and hit the Suspend button again to revive. The only hitch is that Linux does not fake the presence of the CDROM when booting with the floppy or battery in the bay so it is necessary to boot with the CDROM if you want to use it later. The BIOS does not support booting from a CDROM. Power management works but Linux (naturally) complains when the hard drive has powered down and it tries to access it; disabling powerdown of the hard drive solved this at the expense of battery life.