Linux on the Sharp Actius 100


linux on the ultralight portable

This page describes my experience installing Red Hat Linux 5.2 on the Sharp Actius 100. I am brand new to Linux on Intel, and have used LinuxPPC on my PowerTower Apple clone. My usual OS is MacOS; in fact I am writing this in BBEdit, an HTML text editor I have seen nothing equal to in Linux or Windows (any suggestions?). I know I should be learning to use emacs; perhaps I will.

Anyone using Linux on this machine or other ultralight portables may consider using the Actiux HyperNews site for networking and support. Feel free to post questions and comments about other ultralight portables there.

This is a great machine. It weighs 3 pounds, has a nice screen that is not too small; the keyboard is usable; the processor is reasonable; and it weighs only 3 lbs. Did I mention it weighs only 3 lbs??

Anyway, on to the install. I used RedHat 5.2 and followed the instructions on Kenneth Duda's Linux/Actius page once I found them. Thanks to Kenneth I found the accelerated X server for NeoMagic Graphics chipset.

I first used FIPS to partition the hard drive, since I didn't want to destroy the Win98 partition (not yet anyway). The RedHat install started off OK until I hit my first snag. Of course, I was installing it off of an external CD recorder (I am too cheap to buy the $300 Sharp CDROM drive)* connected through an Adaptec SlimSCSI PCMCIA connector. The RedHat installer needs a second install disk with the PCMCIA drivers in order to talk to the PCMCIA devices. After I figured this out, rebooted, and created the disk using the image on the Red Hat CD, I was in business. I guess that should underline the importance of reading the docs before installing.

UPDATE (14 April 1999): Since I finished my taxes early, I had some time to fix some PCMCIA trouble I was having. While the RedHat installation kept everything working fine, I recompiled kernel 2.2.2 as per instructions; PCMCIA support quickly died. Recompiling the pcmcia package worked for everything but the CD-ROM drive (which is attached through an Adaptec 1460 SlimSCSI PCMCIA card). I just compiled and installed kernel 2.2.5 and reconfigured and installed the pcmcia package, and all is running smoothly. at least so far ... Anyway it was probably something I did wrong when configuring the first kernel regarding SCSI options.

Anyway the rest of the install was pretty basic if you have used the Red Hat installer before. Again, it doesn't hurt to RTFM first - had I done so, I would have found the excellent section on learning about your hardware with Windows. It helps to know exactly what kind of hardware you have before installing the OS; and the tiny manual that Sharp ships this thing with doesn't tell you much.

After the install, the screen is an issue - X runs but looks like crap. But the accelerated X server from the redhat site improves things wonderfully. At first I installed the wrong X server which I found by typing "neomagic" into the search box at freshmeat, bad idea. All I could see when I started x was a tiny fraction of the screen, blown up to gargantuan proportions. Then I found Duda's page and from there found the x server on redhat.

Once that was installed, I decided I wanted KDE. you can never have too many window managers. So I grabbed the kde 1.1 binaries and installed them; the process was entirely painless. Now I can switch between kde and fvwm2 with ease simply renaming .xinitrc.

Corel Wordperfect was also a pretty painless install; since I do a lot of wordprocessing it is a must in any operating system. The instructions from control-escape really helped.

The modem is a cheap-ass half-software Winmodem, so forget about using it with Linux. Until I get a PCMCIA card modem the only networking I can do with this thing is through ethernet at work.

penguin power Just for the hell of it, I created a HyperNews group for Ultralight Laptop Linux people to keep in touch. Feel free to post questions, comments, discussion, etc.


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