Linux on a Toshiba Satellite 2595XDVD

Linux on a Toshiba Satellite 2595XDVD

$Id: index.html,v 1.34 2003/05/11 22:53:52 nemesis Exp $
After getting screwed by Dell, (I wanted an Inspiron 7000, but they cancelled the line the day after we called them) I purchased a Toshiba Satellite 2595XDVD.

Toshiba pulled the specs on this laptop, which is a shame, but at least you can still get software updates for the thing. These are the specifications significant to me:


Let's get this section out of the way right now, since the laptop over-all is pretty nice. Here are some things I've been disappointed with:


update: There are a number of fixes that Toshiba released for the BIOS. It is available from the above "software updates" link, or you can grab my copy of the 8.0 2595XDVD BIOS.

I also recommend hitting "ESC" during the Toshiba Logo, and setting the PCMCIA mode (page 2) to "PCIC compatible". I had some trouble with loading the PCMCIA drivers under Linux without this.

Install Linux

Redhat 6.1+ seems to install without a hitch. When I originally got the laptop, only 6.0 was out. Here's what happened:

I installed RedHat 6.0. Since RedHat offers LOTS of support on how to install their OS, I'll just give you my list of steps:

Disk Performance

update: I added the following line to /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit before it mounts all the filesystems:
action "Running hdparm" hdparm -c3 -d1 /dev/hda /dev/hdc
This kicks on the DMA and 32-bit access for the disk. It seems to GREATLY reduce the system-stalls during heavy disk IO.

Install X Windows

Redhat 6.1+ comes with XFree86 3.3.5+. When I originally got the laptop, I needed to compile it. Here's what happened:

The X Windows that comes with RedHat 6.0 wasn't a high enough version to work with the Toshiba. Support for the Trident Cyber9525 video chipset was added in X server version 3.3.5 of XFree86. I used another RH6 box to compile XFree86 3.3.5 from the Redhat Rawhide Source RPMs. However, since RH6.1 is out now, the 3.3.5 version of the server comes with by default. My steps to getting X Windows working were:

Keyboard repeat

PROBLEM: people have reported keyboard repeat problems (getting too many letters when they shouldn't be) at times. This seems to happen more with Shift/Ctrl/Alt+[letters], and happens only occasionally. It's not known if this is limited to X, or if it is a console bug, Gnome bug, or what. UPDATE: After playing with it myself for some time, I've decided that this bug is really a problem with the Toshiba keyboard itself. I've reproduced the bug both in X and on the console. By turning off keyboard repeat altogether, it's more obvious. I tested it with "ctrl-c" since the bash prompt will scroll once each time that sequence is hit. If you press down the C, and then ever so slightly raise your finger, you can get it to send the keyboard code about 6 times. So my guess is that the power-users on the Toshiba are going to be typing rapidly, and at times will depress the key to the "not quite enough" position, and end up with 6 codes. This is REALLY annoying, and I haven't been able to repeat it on any other keyboards. Damn shame, really. Your Milage May Vary. UPDATE: This email to the linux kernel mailing list might be a fix (or if that's no good, this post is an earlier version). update: Here is Andrei Pitis' most recent posting to the kernel mailing list.

New Kernel

I don't like the default RedHat kernels, so I always recompile with a new one. Some notes, not including the specifics for APM, Frame Buffer support, and PCMCIA support:

Advanced Power Management

APM on the Toshiba seems to behave rather well. The steps to use it under Linux:

Frame Buffer

I wanted to have the Linux penguin in the corner during boot, so I needed to set the VESA video mode on the /etc/lilo.conf "vga=...." line. Should be easy to test.

I tried it with "vga=0x317" and the frame buffer DID work, but when X loaded, it crammed the screen into the top 1/4th of the LCD for some reason. However, other people have had success with this. update: looks like it's an X server problem. The build that ships with RedHat 6.1 and better appear to deal with the frame buffer just fine.


RedHat 6.1's most recent kernels seem to run fine after I set "PCIC" compatibility on page 2 of the BIOS. Before that, I did:

PCMCIA on the Toshiba hasn't given me any trouble. I downloaded the latest version of the pcmcia source code (which for me was version 3.1.0), compiled it against my new kernel and it ran fine. So far I've tested only an OLD 3com 10MB card, and a Hawking PN656 combo card. It works quite well with Linux as a 10/100 Ethernet card. I've used it as a 56k modem card, and it works, but I always get the feeling it's not really at 56k. (But it's a REAL modem, not a stupid WinModem!)

Internal Modem

The internal modem is, of course, a "WinModem". However, it's a Lucent, and the lucent-released drivers WORK for it. There is open-source development under way though. Check here for linmodem code as it becomes available. Here is one person's way to make the Lucent driver work. I just do:

Infrared Port

I haven't even taken the small sheet of protective plastic off the "lense" yet. I think it's supposed to work fine, but I haven't had a chance to play with it.


When I originally purchased the Toshiba I had misread the specifications, and I thought it came with an SVideo port. It does not, so I have to come up with some other way to watch DVDs on my TV. I spent about $80 for a "TV Magic" VGA to video converter unit (needs to be plugged in). It has SVideo and composite video output, and does a good enough job for viewing DVDs. It's a basic VGA to NTSC/PAL converter. I got it at a local computer shop, but Toshiba sells the same thing for $189 in their catalog, so watch out for the price.


Sound under Windows on the Toshiba is flawless. The speakers are crisp and clear, and the headphone outputs are without interference from RAM, Floppy, HD, or DVD/CDROM. Sound under Linux was not good. When I started this project, only the OSS Commercial driver could provide playback, but the sound quality was terrible. Since then, however, the free version has developed to the point where I think it's surpassed the Windows sound driver. Here are the options for sound: Here is what my maestro.o loading looks like in dmesg:
	maestro: version 0.13 time 11:14:50 May 28 2000
	maestro: Configuring ESS Maestro 2E found at IO 0xFC00 IRQ 11
	maestro:  subvendor id: 0x00011179
	maestro: AC97 Codec detected: v: 0x414b4d00 caps: 0x0 pwr: 0xf
	maestro: 1 channels configured.
update: it seems that after extended playing, the speakers start to freak. There is static in the output, but if you let them "cool-off" for about 5 minutes, it goes away. I need to check the "line-out" portion and see if the static appears there.


Well, DVD playing under linux sure is an evil legal subject what with all the CSS troubles. However, the project does go on. The LiViD group has come leaps and bounds towards a functioning DVD player. Right now it works. However, it's still a little top-heavy, and DVDs are unplayable on the laptop: just not enough CPU. However, they're optimizing their code all the time, and hopefully soon, there will be a fully-featured DVD player for linux.

Toshiba Utilities

For fun, you can play with the Linux Toshiba Utilities to turn your fan on and off. The "development" version of this code didn't work for me, but the old (1.1) versions at least let me control the fan on the back of the laptop. I still haven't figured out if the Toshiba BIOS is turning this fan on and off by itself. I don't think so, and since the laptop does get rather hot while running, I just turn the fan on when I boot up (fan -n).

Special Thanks

Kees Cook.