I do own a Toshiba Satellite R630 and I want to run Linux on it, because in common I do use Linux only since years and all the programs I use are Linux/Unix programs. I already tried to run the laptop with OpenSUSE 11.3 (64 bit) [see:Linux openSUSE on Toshiba Satellite R630/ Portege R705] but without success. The support was so bad that I decided to stay with the pre-installed Windows 7 and try to get as much application working as I could. One of the main reasons why I stopped my investigations was that a kernel update would have been necessary and I do not like to mess up a good basic Linux distribution. Therefore I decided to try to run Arch Linux on it, because it is updating the software packaging in a rolling way instead of fixed release cycles which results in a more up-to-date distribution. My research of running Arch Linux on my notebook should be valid in common for the Toshiba Portege R700, Portege R705 as well as the Dynabook R730 because the devices are very similar.

One of my preparation to do a test installation of Linux on my Satellite R630 was to resize the Windows drive D: where Toshiba stored the recovery information. My objective was to test Linux without deleting the pre-installed Windows 7. You can read more about it in my earlier report: Linux openSUSE on Toshiba Satellite R630/ Portege R705

First of all I downloaded the 64 bit net-installation CD from the Arch Linux website. (You can get it from here: http://www.archlinux.org/download/) and created a boot CD by using the ISO file.

Then I booted my Toshiba from the CD by keep pressing F12 when the Toshiba Logo is displayed after powering on the notebook. (A menu shall appear where you can decide from which device the notebook shall boot). After the boot was complete I simply followed the “Official Arch Linux Install Guide“.

I did the very simple installation but before starting the setup program I switched my keyboard to German layout and set the console font to default by running the command ‘km’. To be on the safe side to be able to do a installation by using the net-install-CD I connected my notebook by wire to the network.

Regarding setting up partitions I reused the ones my OpenSUSE installation created. Which are:

  • /dev/sda4  Extended partition
  • /dev/sda5  Swap space
  • /dev/sda6  mounted to /
  • /dev/sda7  mounted to /home

As file system I used EXT4.

I didn’t changed anything regarding the packages to install -> I followed the recommendation of the Arch Linux Installer.  Next was installing the packages. This procedure needed some minutes.

Within the step of system configuration I changed the rc.conf because the installer forgot that I want a German environment on the notebook 😉  So I changed the LOCALE to “de_DE.UTF-8”. Additional this is the place to set the system name etc. For more information have a look into the Wiki of Arch Linux: https://wiki.archlinux.org/

Last but not least it time to install the bootloader. Here Arch Linux/ Grub detected my Windows installation but this section was added as comment and I had to uncomment it. After saving that change I installed it strait into the MBR of /dev/sda, exited the installer and rebooted the system. Believe it or not, but the system was still able to boot – Arch Linux and Windows 7 😉 [See screenshots].

Before concentrating on checking how well Arch Linux is supporting the device I decided to install Xorg and KDE 4.5.x to get some more comfort.

As before I followed and how to from the Arch Linux Wiki, this time the first the one for Xorg [https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Xorg] and than the one for KDE [https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/KDE].

For Xorg you can just follow the tutorial from the Wiki. I did just the basic stuff to get the things running. Fine tuning can be done later.  Basic means: Get the touchpad working, setup the correct Keyboard layout and add necessary DAEMONS. Everything else it up to auto detection or to be done later (maybe). Not directly described is which package you need to add to get the intel graphic chip working. After installing the package synaptics you should add ‘xf86-video-intel’  too. Close to the end of this Wiki entry you will find a section about “Running Xorg” make sure to got through this with success! After firing X up the first time I ran the command ‘setxkbmap de’ to get the Germany keyboard layout.

Next is installing KDE4.5.x. I did this running Xorg with twm. Regarding configuring the system to get KDE running you should follow the already shown Wiki entry, but for installing the right packages I recommend to it following the Wiki entry about KDE Packages [https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/KDE_Packages]. Arch Linux offers a good meta package concept which makes life much easier. I want the full KDE SC on my notebook, therfore I ran the following command to install it:

pacman -Syu
pacman -S phonon-xine kde-meta
pacman -S kde-l10n-<ISO CODE OF YOUR LANGUAGE>
pacman -S networkmanager kdeplasma-applets-networkmanagement

After installation is complete you have to decide if you want to boot your notebook strait into runleve 5 (GUI) and which display manager. In my case I decided to boot up to runlevel 5 and use KDM. So I added ‘kdm’ to the DEMONS line at /etc/rc.conf and modified the /etc/inittab by comment out and uncomment, like described at the Arch Linux Wiki.

Comment out:

#id:3:initdefault:

[...]

#x:5:respawn:/usr/bin/xdm -nodaemon

Uncomment:

id:5:initdefault:

[...]

x:5:respawn:/usr/bin/kdm -nodaemon

After rebooting your system I should boot up into KDM. And that’s it to get Arch Linux running with a GUI. But pay attention root can not log in using KDM. Therefore create a normal user for you in advance! For example by executing as root the following commands:

adduser USERNAME

A basic system should run by now on your computer. What I discovered is that I want to have some additional daemons running like HAL etc. Therefore I added them to the DAEMONS entry at the /etc/rc.config. I can recommend to read the following Wiki page: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/DAEMONS. In case you are using HAL you can remove DBUS because HAL starts DBUS automatically. My daemons line looks like this now:

DAEMONS=(hal syslog-ng network netfs crond kdm)

In addition to add everything manual to this line you can use the GUI tool “ArchLinux Deamon Manager“.

If you want to use Networkmanager instead of the traditional IFUP method please read this Wiki page: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Networkmanager

In addition to the installation so far to get more hardware working it is necessary to rely on the Arch Linux User Repository (AUR). For example the GUI to configure the Synaptics touchpad. I used the following the tool “yaourt” to install packages fro AUR. You can find the tutorial here: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Yaourt

So what is working and what not? Here are my first quick findings what works:

Into what do I have still to invest some time for research?:

  • Desktop effects of KDE SC 4.5, the Xorg freezed
  • ACPI – the fan was running the whole time (but not with full power)
  • Wireless – I was not able to find a prepared package for the broadcom chipset

Yet I can not confirm that something does not work. I really have to investigate and spend more time with my research. Therefore I will publish an update as soon as I discovered something new. Regarding priorities I will have a look on the wireless first and than to the ACPI/ Power saving topic.

If you should discover something, please feel free to post an comment or send me an email.

Arch Linux on Toshiba Satellite R630/ Portege R700/R705

10 thoughts on “Arch Linux on Toshiba Satellite R630/ Portege R700/R705

  • 2012-03-29 March 2012 at 17:09
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    Hi Nfec,
    I was wondering on a similar note,, The most distinguishable characteristic of the Toshiba Satellite U405, is it’s fantastically striking great gloss. The sheen is thick and exceedingly appealing. The pattern is called the ‘Fusion with Horizon’. And the incredibly hot-white LED lights genuinely stand out and will make this pretty a dynamic mix. The monitor is a thirteen.3″ 1280 X 800 pixel attractiveness. It has the capacity to enable for reliable viewing either indoors or out. For it’s dimensions, this monitor gives impressive provider.
    I’ll be back to read more next time

    Reply
  • 2011-07-29 July 2011 at 18:04
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    Hello there.

    I bought one of these a few months back and I’ve had no trouble under Linux Mint Debian Edition in regards to ACPI and general hardware support. The only trouble I’ve had is the resolution of the touchpad. The cursor is moving in a snakelike pattern when dragging the finger diagonally which has left me in support limbo as I’m having trouble convincing them that the touchpad is seriously inaccurate both in Windows 7 and any Linux distribution with all modules I’ve tried so far.

    Have you experienced this on your machine? I can’t find any mention of similar problems on the interwebs so I’m thinking this is an isolated case. Would be great to hear your experience with the touchpad.

    Reply
    • 2011-08-01 August 2011 at 19:19
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      Hi kslen,
      honestly to say I switched back working with Windows 7 on my Satellite R630. In my case I found it a little bit annoying that the power management was not as good as with Windows 7 as well as the behavior when returning from standby or hibernate. At least the TouchPad worked as designed. Both under Windows 7 or Linux the TouchPad is working very smooth. So I can not confirm the experience you are making with your device. I would recommend to ask Toshiba.

      Reply
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  • 2010-11-08 November 2010 at 22:17
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    I’m using broadcom-wl package from AUR (installed with yaourt) . My R700 has broadcom 4727 (lspci -n gives 14e4:4727).

    The webcam on my R700 is supported with uvcvideo module.

    How about the fan under OpenSuse? It runs also all the time?

    Reply
    • 2010-11-08 November 2010 at 22:57
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      Under openSUSE 11.3 the fan was running all the time too, but not with full power. Regarding fan and ACPI I do not see a big difference between the behavior of kernel 2.6.32 (openSUSE) and 2.6.35 (Arch). But the fan reacts to the temperature in the device. I installed sensors and if I do work a little bit under Linux sensors is showing a temperature of 75 Celsius, even a little bit more. Regarding to this I am a little bit scared because in my opinion this is quite hot already.
      I think Toshiba invested a lot of time to customize their tools for Windows 7, but I hope that the device will ever run acceptable under Linux.

      My Satellite R630 does have the same wireless module than your R700.

      Reply
  • 2010-11-07 November 2010 at 14:38
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    for wireless you need broadcom sta driver, it is available from broadcom website.
    I so far tried only ubuntu 10/10 amd64, kernels 2.6.35, 2.6.36.
    problems there include failure to turn on bluetooth, brightness controls fail after suspend (but not after hibernation). frequency scaling works only in the range 1.2-2.4GHz (on my i5-450m) while in windows it scales all way down to 665MHz.
    More on the subject here ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1550219
    I will try fedora 14 now.

    Reply
    • 2010-11-08 November 2010 at 23:11
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      It is really a pity that Toshiba is not supporting Linux on this laptop officially … at least they could give setup something to get a good ACPI support.

      Reply
      • 2010-11-09 November 2010 at 12:38
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        Same problems in Fedora. But in ubuntu thread, there are now instructions how to patch toshiba_acpi for 2.6.35 Maverick, and now bluetooth and brightness after resume do work via a black magic scripts and workaround. Hey, they do work. So, seems that U got best support for this machine atm. I am at U now.

        Reply

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