Linux on a Toshiba Satellite A45-S130: Part I

Part I – Will it even work?

I bought this Toshiba laptop back February because it supposedly works well with Linux. After 8 months of muddling along with Windows XP, I decided to get serious and install Linux. Rather than going through the trouble of repartitioning the hard disk and installing Linux only to find some obscure hardware incompatibility, I decided to try Knoppix’s Linux Live CD (basically a Linux distro that runs off a bootable CD).

Booting from the Knoppix CD is painless (hold ESC during boot, then press F1 to get into the BIOS setup to change the boot order). Knoppix boots successfully everything appears to work, including sound.

Getting connected to a wireless network

The A45-S130 comes with a Atheros 5001x wireless network interface and I’m using a D-Link DI-524 Wireless Broadband Router to share my DSL connection. The following steps worked for this configuration and might work for a similar setup.

First, I verified that the OS recognizes the hardware by running the commad (as root) iwconfig ath0.

ath0      IEEE 802.11  ESSID:""
          Mode:Managed  Frequency:2.412GHz  Access Point: 00:00:00:00:00:00
          Bit Rate:0kb/s   Tx-Power:off   Sensitivity=0/3
          Retry:off   RTS thr:off   Fragment thr:off
          Encryption key:off
          Power Management:off
          Link Quality=0/94  Signal level=-95 dBm  Noise level=-95 dBm
          Rx invalid nwid:0  Rx invalid crypt:0  Rx invalid frag:0
          Tx excessive retries:0  Invalid misc:0   Missed beacon:0

Getting the above output verifies that the OS at least sees the Atheros 5001x.

I decided to use the ifup / ifdown interface to start / stop the wireless network interface. This requires changing the /etc/network/interfaces file. I found the following /etc/network/interfaces works for me:

# /etc/network/interfaces -- configuration file for ifup(8), ifdown(8)

# The loopback interface
# automatically added when upgrading
auto lo ath0
iface lo inet loopback

iface ath0 inet dhcp
        pre-up /sbin/iwpriv ath0 mode 3
        pre-up /sbin/iwconfig ath0 essid MyEssid mode mananged key XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX enc on

Replace MyEssid with your ESSID or network name and replace XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX with your current encryption key (ascii keys wouldn’t work for me). Don’t forget to copy your new interfaces file to some sort of writable media, since Knoppix won’t save it!

Run ifup ath0 (as root) to bring up the interface. If there are no errors, then everything should be working.

So now I know everything should work, including wireless networking.

Stat tuned for Part II – Repartitioning the hard drive and installing a Linux distro (probably Mandrake).

3 thoughts on “Linux on a Toshiba Satellite A45-S130: Part I”

  1. Hey good luck with that. I partitioned my harddrive and installed Red Hat IX last year, which is very cool. I’ve been having a lot of trouble getting a wireless card to work with Linux, though. It looks like it’s working better for you.

  2. Thank you for your information, however it did not really give me too much information on wather or not the linux install will work when not using Knoppix. However Knoppix is one of my fav dist for linux, however I would like to use another one like Fedora. Could we plase have more information on a non-knoppix linux dist? I don’t want to make the move until there is some good information on it. please tell me, I can only take XP for so long. lol. Thank you for your time.

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