Linux Laptops- Toshiba Portege 7020CT

Specifications

CPU Intel Pentium II 366 MHz Mendocino
CHIPSET Intel 82443BX, 82371AB PCI controller (PIIX4) USB, I/R and ACPI support.
BIOS Toshiba See below
HARD DRIVE IDE - Toshiba MK6411MAT No cache...
CDROM (Dock) ATAPI-IDE Toshiba DVD ATAPI CD compatible (20x)
VIDEO NeoMagic MagicMedia 256AV 2.5M SGRAM
DISPLAY 13.3" Active Matrix Color 1024x768 LCD See below.
AUDIO ESS 'Maestro' 2E (1978) AC97
PCMCIA Toshiba ToPIC97 Auto Intel PCIC compatible
RAM 64MB 192MB Max.
MODEM Lucent L56xMF See below.
POINTER Integrated mouse stick PS/2 compatible
ETHERNET (Dock) Intel 82557/82558 10/100  

2003-08-24: Update
Since people are referring to this page, I've decided to follow up on my earlier experiences with the 7020.

I acquired one of these a little over two years ago when a marketing executive dropped his, ruining the LCD. The repair was going to be nearly the cost of a new model replacement so our office decided to trash it. I salvaged it and bought an identical model with a dead motherboard and swapped parts. I added a Kingston 128MB SODIMM to bring it to 192MB and bought an open-box Li-On extended use battery (PA2506U) for cheap.

It runs the free *Nixes very nicely. I've variously run OpenBSD 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3, NetBSD 1.5.2 and 1.6, and flavors of Linux with 2.4 kernels. Currently, I have Debian (unstable) with an x686-optimized 2.4.20 kernel. For the most part (excepting that Lucent WinModem), it just works. I've dragged it cross-country and to a conference and it is a great machine. Now that 802.11b is common, I don't bother carrying the docking station.

Recent kernels solved my earlier problems with the Video and Audio. Configuration with XFree 4.2 was trivial and loading the Maestro (Linux) or Maestro2e (OpenBSD) kernel module was all it took for sound. The USB is a little flakey under Linux, and once or twice has produced a hard lockup or refused to eject the device after transfering 64-128MB of pictures from my camera.

The PCMCIA configuration under Linux was slightly problematic. Your configuration my differ but I used the following in my /etc/pcmcia/config.opts:

  include port 0x100-0x4ff, port 0x800-0x8ff, port 0xc00-0xcff
  include memory 0x60000000-0x60ffffff
  include memory 0xc0000-0xcbfff
  include memory 0xd0000-0xd7fff
  include memory 0xe0000-0xe3fff
  include port 0x1000-0x17ff
  exclude irq 4, irq 3, irq 7, irq 14, irq 15, irq 6

I had no such problems under NetBSD or OpenBSD which figured this out adequately on their own.

For the truly curious, the Linux /proc/pci output reads:

  PCI devices found:
    Bus  0, device   0, function  0:
      Host bridge: Intel Corp. 440BX/ZX/DX - 82443BX/ZX/DX Host bridge (AGP disabled) (rev 3).
	Master Capable.  Latency=64.  
	Prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0xe0000000 [0xefffffff].
    Bus  0, device   4, function  0:
      VGA compatible controller: Neomagic Corporation [MagicMedia 256AV] (rev 18).
	IRQ 11.
	Master Capable.  Latency=64.  Min Gnt=16.Max Lat=255.
	Prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0xdf000000 [0xdfffffff].
	Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0xff800000 [0xffbfffff].
	Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0xff700000 [0xff7fffff].
    Bus  0, device   5, function  0:
      Bridge: Intel Corp. 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 ISA (rev 2).
    Bus  0, device   5, function  1:
      IDE interface: Intel Corp. 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 IDE (rev 1).
	Master Capable.  Latency=64.  
	I/O at 0x1000 [0x100f].
    Bus  0, device   5, function  2:
      USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 USB (rev 1).
	IRQ 11.
	Master Capable.  Latency=64.  
	I/O at 0xffe0 [0xffff].
    Bus  0, device   5, function  3:
      Bridge: Intel Corp. 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 ACPI (rev 2).
	IRQ 9.
    Bus  0, device   7, function  0:
      Communication controller: Lucent Microelectronics 56k WinModem (rev 1).
	IRQ 3.
	Master Capable.  No bursts.  Min Gnt=252.Max Lat=14.
	Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0xffefff00 [0xffefffff].
	I/O at 0x2f8 [0x2ff].
	I/O at 0x1c00 [0x1cff].
    Bus  0, device   9, function  0:
      Communication controller: Toshiba America Info Systems FIR Port (rev 35).
	IRQ 11.
	Master Capable.  Latency=64.  
	I/O at 0xff80 [0xff9f].
    Bus  0, device  11, function  0:
      CardBus bridge: Toshiba America Info Systems ToPIC95 (rev 7).
	IRQ 11.
	Master Capable.  No bursts.  Min Gnt=128.Max Lat=5.
	Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0x10000000 [0x10000fff].
    Bus  0, device  11, function  1:
      CardBus bridge: Toshiba America Info Systems ToPIC95 (#2) (rev 7).
	IRQ 11.
	Master Capable.  No bursts.  Min Gnt=128.Max Lat=5.
	Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0x10001000 [0x10001fff].
    Bus  0, device  12, function  0:
      Multimedia audio controller: ESS Technology ES1978 Maestro 2E (rev 16).
	IRQ 11.
	Master Capable.  Latency=64.  Min Gnt=2.Max Lat=24.
	I/O at 0xee00 [0xeeff].
    Bus  0, device  13, function  0:
      Multimedia controller: C-Cube Microsystems Cinemaster C 3.0 DVD Decoder (rev 2).
	IRQ 11.
	Master Capable.  Latency=64.  Min Gnt=4.Max Lat=128.
	I/O at 0xec00 [0xecff].

Don't get your hopes up from that list. As far as I know the DVD decoder and WinModem don't work under *Nix.

See below for my earlier comments


We selected this model as a desktop replacement mostly on the "sex appeal" of its magnesium lid and slim form. Fortunately, it is turning out to be one of the most impressive notebooks I've worked with to date. In earlier models Toshiba used widely supported hardware and were compatible with most of the operating systems and as I expected this model is only slightly the exception. Since the 7020 is designed as a single spindle portable, I used the (all but essential, so tack on $600 to the price) docking station during the install to provide the necessary floppy and cdrom drives.
 

Details
We receive these sans OS and the unit was "ghosted" at the office with Win95 on a primary FAT16 partition of 2GB and a FAT32 logical partition of 4.2GB. After noting the system information under Windows, I booted to MSDOS mode and killed the empty FAT32 partition. I then began installing Debian GNU/Linux 2.1 (slink).

I had nothing but problems installing Linux but the problems turned out to have a single simple cause. None of the provided kernels would boot including the Tecra and Tecra-safe kernels. I finally resorted to disabling all caching in the BIOS and performed a minimal installation. This took hours and the system would not decompress the kernel after I enabled the cache. With caching disabled the calibration delay indicated the system running at 3.64 BogoMIPs and I was too frustrated to speak by the end of it. Hopeful, I enabled caching and grabbed an OpenBSD 2.4 CD and booted from it.  Everything worked and I quickly performed a minimal installation.

The next day I trashed all the partitions including Windows '95 and installed FreeBSD 2.2.8. The install went smoothly and the laptop works beautifully. On a whim, I tried booting from the Debian CD2 since it contains a Tecra-style kernel. Miraculously, I began a minimal installation and rebooted only to find that the install had used the wrong kernel from the CDs. After a couple of go arounds trying to direct it to use the kernel on CD2, I made rescue and driver floppies from the /boot directory of CD2 and installed from them. Finally, I installed a huge collection of packages and was up and running.

The simple but frustrating problem with the kernels is that the Toshiba cannot handle the bzImage kernel. This is a problem on other Toshiba models, notably the Tecra. I tested this by building similar kernels using the same settings but producing zImage and bzImage. The z kernel works perfectly while the bz kernel locks up after loading. Annoying, particularly, since the bz kernel can be much larger than the z. It is even more annoying that my CDs produced by LAN Comp Systems (LCS) do not properly contain Tecra (z) type kernels.

Everyone will be pleased to know that setting up X-Windows was entirely painless. The video controller is a NeoMagic 128 with support in XFree86-3.3.3 under the SVGA xserver as an NM2160.  It was necessary to download several newer packages from the unstable branch of the development tree (known as potato) since the XFree86-3.3.2 shipped with Debian 2.1.9 doesn't support the chip even though it is listed. Setup of the gorgeous LCD panel was also easy- it is a non-interlaced SVGA, 1024x768@60Hz monitor in XF86Setup. The panel works at greater color depths under Windows but I could not get the driver to do 24 or 32-bit color. A commercial driver is reported to support higher color depths.

The PCMCIA is a Toshiba auto-switching 16-bit/Cardbus work-alike of the Intel PCIC. It works fine with the standard pcmcia Cardbus manager drivers.

I am unable to get the internal modem to work, though I have read in Usenet that some 3010/3015 owners have reportedly done so under Linux. Strangely, it looks and acts like a normal com port under DOS. Under kernel 2.2.6 and FreeBSD (I didn't check with kernel 2.0.36), the PCI bus scan picks up a Lucent L56xMF-rev. 1 modem with I/O ports at 0x2F8 and 0x1C00 and using IRQ 3. The serial drivers see it as a normal com port with a 8250 UART. I'm not sure what to make of it. It may be a Winmodem or it may be something else but I couldn't get it working.

The audio, an ESS 1978(?) chipset is supposedly compatible with both the Sound Blaster and the Microsoft Sound System. The modules for kernel 2.2.6 have support for some ESS chipsets but not this particular one and I could not find a collection of parameters to make it work. I tried the ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) drivers but could not get these to recognize the card.

I also had problems compiling the IrDA support but a more mature kernel and modules will likely fix that. The hot undock does not work under BSD, locking up the system but under Linux it works adequately. Linux didn't recognize the loss of the CDROM and Floppy when hot detached from the base and generated typical errors when trying to access them. Access resumed as normal when the unit was returned to the dock. The Intel Ether 10/100 integrated into the dock was not as successful and I had to unload and reload the module and execute the network related startup scripts to restore function.

Performance was very good with applications and build times for the Linux kernel were under three minutes for 2.0.36 and just over 4.5 minutes for 2.2.6.
 

Conclusion
The Toshiba Portege 7020CT is almost my choice of platforms for an x86-based Unix portable. The system is faster and more powerful than many current desktop PC's and with the docking station even weighs less than most three year old laptops or last year's desktop replacements. The 6.4 GB hard drive should be sufficient for multibooting your choice of OSes. Running X-Windows on this awesome LCD is thrilling; the display is nearly the same size as a 15" monitor but it is razor sharp with good contrast and this particular unit had no bad pixels. My only quibbles are that the keyboard flexes slightly when I type, which, given that I prefer the noisy old eight pound IBM PS/2 and Northgate keyboards, isn't surprising, and that for economy of space the tilde/backtick key has moved to the right of the spacebar, which stalls me when I really get working in the shell (Aside, I also could have done without the useless pair of Windows keys along the top row). If support for the audio and modem is developed for Linux or FreeBSD or is unimportant, this is the one to have.