Red Hat Linux 9 on Sharp Actius UM32W

disclaimer:

These are short notes based on my experience - your mileage may vary. Please give me feedback by email to trisberg@yahoo.com and I will try to maintain this document.

intended use:

I intend to use this laptop for Java evelopment on the go. Installed the latest Blackdown JVM (Java HotSpot(TM) Client VM (build Blackdown-1.4.1-01, mixed mode). It runs better than the Sun JVM, but you have to tell it to use old LinuxThreads instead of the new NPTL. I use "export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.2.5" to accomplish this. LimeWire and Eclipse both runs great - see screenshots.



review:

Very light and compact laptop. Not the fastest processor, but it is one of the smallest and still full featured laptops available. Good size disk and memory is upgradeable to 512MB, which is necessary for serious Java development. I compared it to an Apple PowerBook G4 12" and the speed seemed to be about the same for Java development. Tried a large Ant build and the Sharp is actually a bit faster. The standard battery is a bit skimpy - only 2+ hours. Will probably get the extended battery that should give over 7 hours. That still keeps the whight under 4 lbs. Most of the important features work well:

What's not working? Well, I have not spent a lot of time trying to get this to work, but the battery indicator does not work so far.


specs:

Sharp's product page

installation:

I followed the instructions outlined at http://www.people.virginia.edu/~hz5p/laptop.html. You can't install from the CD - only boot from it. I decided not to keep the Windows XP that came with the system. If you want to keep it, you would have to resize the partition somehow. These are my notes from the installation:

  1. Copy/download Redhat ISO images to the second partition (hda5/D: drive). My machine had two partitions - hda1 fat32 30GB and hda5 fat32 9GB.
  2. Set CD-ROM as the first device in the Boot Sequence under the Setup Utilities Boot menu. This will enable you to boot from the CD.
  3. Once you boot Disk 1 from Red Hat 9, you will have to tell the installer not to load the USB driver and to install from local disk. I entered "linux text nousb" at the first prompt.
  4. I selected /dev/hda5 as the local disk to do the install from, and manually created the partitions I wanted. I deleted /dev/hda1 (this is where Windows XP was installed). Then I created 100MB /boot ext2, 256MB swap and 29GB / ext3 partitions.
  5. From then on I selected all defaults except for the monitor. Here I selected "Generic LCD Display 1024x768".


Red Hat 9.0.93 Severn Beta Update

I had no problems upgrading to the latest beta directly from the CDs - no need to copy the ISOs to disk. I also managed to get the battery status applet to work. I had to add a couple of modules - ac.o and battery.o in /etc/rc.local. Without them the applet kept crashing. This is what I have now:

/etc/rc.local


#!/bin/sh
#
# This script will be executed *after* all the other init scripts.
# You can put your own initialization stuff in here if you don't
# want to do the full Sys V style init stuff.

modprobe battery
modprobe ac
modprobe orinoco_pci
touch /var/lock/subsys/local


The wired network card is now configured as a "RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+" and the wireless as "Prism 2.5 Wavelan chipset".


Fedora Core 1 Update

I was again able to upgrade directly from the CDs - just one minor issue. The graphical install does not work - it did in Severn Beta 1. Instead of just hitting ENTER on the first screen that pops up as the install boots from the CD, I type in "linux text" and then hit ENTER. Now everything works as expected, and I was able to install from the CDs. Go figure.

I have changed a few things since the last upgrade. I have added "acpi=on" to the kernel line in grub.conf to force acpi to be loaded. I have also added a few additional modules to /etc/rc.local. These modules seem to make the processor run at the max speed. Here is what I have now:

/etc/rc.local


#!/bin/sh
#
# This script will be executed *after* all the other init scripts.
# You can put your own initialization stuff in here if you don't
# want to do the full Sys V style init stuff.

touch /var/lock/subsys/local
insmod ac
insmod battery
insmod button
insmod processor
insmod thermal