Linux on the Road

A Guide for Laptops and Mobile Devices

Werner Heuser

Laptops are different from desktops/towers. They use certain hardware such as PCMCIA cards, infrared ports, batteries, docking stations and hardware parts cannot be changed as easily as in a desktops, e.g. the graphic card. Often their hardware is more limited (e.g. disk space, CPU speed), though the performance gap is becoming smaller. In many instances, laptops can become a desktop replacement.

Hardware support for Linux (and other operating systems) on laptops is sometimes more limited (e.g. graphic chips, internal modems). Laptops often use specialized hardware, hence finding a driver can be more difficult. Laptops are often used in changing environments, so there is a need for multiple configurations and additional security strategies.

Though there are laptop related HOWTOs available already, this guide contains a concise survey of laptop related documents. Also, laptop related Linux features, such as installation methods for laptops (via PCMCIA, without CD drive, etc.), laptop hardware features and configurations for different (network) environments are described. Besides there are some notes on PDAs, Handheld PCs and other mobile computer devices (digital cameras, cellular phones, calculators, wearables).

And though some caveats Linux is a better choice for laptops, than most other operating systems. Because it supports numerous installation methods, works in many heterogenoues environments and needs smaller resources.

The printed version includes an additional part "Lectures, Presentations, Animations and Slideshows".

Copyright (c) 2000, 2001 Werner Heuser. For all chapters except "Lectures, Presentations, Animations and Slideshows" permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with the Invariant Sections being "Preface" and "Credits", with the Front-Cover Texts being "Linux on the Road - the First Book on Mobile Linux", and with the Back-Cover Texts being the section "About the Author". A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Table of Contents
About the Author
How to and Why Sponsor?
Table of Sponsors
About the Document
URLs in this Document
Latest Version, Mirrors
Proposed Translations
Disclaimer and Trademarks
I. Getting Started
1. Which Laptop to Buy?
Portables, Laptops/Notebooks, Sub/Mini-Notebooks, Palmtops, PDAs/HPCs
Linux Features
Main Hardware Features
Sources of More Information
Linux Compatibility Check
Writing a Device Driver
Buying a Second Hand Laptop
No Hardware Recommendations
2. Laptop Distribution
3. Installation
Related HOWTOs
Prerequisites - Partitioning
Linux Tools to Repartition a Hard Disk
Installation Methods
From a Boot Floppy plus CD-ROM - The Usual Way
From a DOS or Windows Partition at the Same Machine
From a Second Machine With a Micro Linux On a Floppy
From a Second Machine With a 2.5" Hard Disk Adapter
From a PCMCIA Device
From a Parallel Port ZIP Drive
From a Parallel Port CD Drive (MicroSolutions BackPack)
From a Parallel Port Using a Second Machine
Installing Linux on Small Machines
Installing Linux on Macintosh PowerBooks
Mass Installation
II. Mobile Hardware
4. Hardware In Detail
Kernel 2.4
PCMCIA Controller
Infrared Port
Graphic Chip
Pointing Devices - Mice and Their Relatives
Extra Keys / Keyboard LEDs
Advanced Power Management - APM
Power Management Unit - PMU (PowerBook)
Plug-and-Play Devices (PnP)
Docking Station / Port Replicator
Network Connections
Universal Serial Bus - USB
FireWire - IEEE1394 - i.Link
Floppy Drive
CD Drive
DVD Drive
Video Port / ZV Port
5. Accessories
Memory Technology Devices - RAM and Flash Cards
USB Devices
Printers and Scanners
Power and Phone Plugs, Power Supply
Bags and Suitcases
III. Handheld Devices - Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
6. Palmtops, Personal Digital Assistants - PDAs, Handheld PCs - HPCs
7. Ports and Tools
Agenda VR3
Newton Message Pad
HandSpring VISOR
Psion 5
8. Accessories
Serial Devices
9. Connectivity - From a Linux Box to a PDA
IV. Cellular Phones, Pagers, Calculators, Digital Cameras, Wearable Computing
10. Cellular Phones, Pagers, Calculators, Digital Cameras, Wearable Computing
Cellular Phones
Pagers - SMS Messages
Digital Cameras
Wearable Computing
V. On the Road
11. Different Environments
Related HOWTOs
Configuration Tools
Data Transport Between Different Machines
Connections to Servers
Security in Different Environments
Theft Protection
Dealing with Down Times (Cron Jobs)
Noise Reduction
12. Solutions with Laptops
Mobile Network Analyzer
Mobile Router
Hacking and Cracking Networks
Mobile Data Collection
Mobile Office
Connection to Digital Camera
Connection to QuickCam (Video)
Connection to Television Set
Connection to Cellular Phone
Connection to Global Positioning System (GPS)
Connection via Amateur Radio (HAM)
Satellite Watching
Blind or Visually Impaired Users
VI. Appendix
A. Other Operating Systems
NOVELL Netware
Debian GNU/Hurd (hurd-i386)
B. Other Resources
Main WWW Resources
Mailing Lists
USENET Newsgroups
Magazines and Newsletters
General Laptop Information
The Linux Laptop Volunteer Support Database
C. Repairing the Hardware
D. Survey about Micro Linuxes
E. Dealing with Limited Resources or Tuning the System
Related HOWTOs
Small Space
Harddisk Speed
Small Memory
Low CPU Speed
Power Saving Techniques
Tiny Applications and Distributions
Hardware Upgrade
F. NeoMagic Chip NM20xx
Textmode 100x37
G. Annotated Bibliography
H. Resources for Specific Laptops
COMPAQ Concerto Aero
DELL Laptops
IBM™ ThinkPad
Toshiba Laptops
I. Kernel Configuration for Laptops
J. Revision History
K. Credits
L. Copyrights
GNU Free Documentation License - GFDL
List of Tables
4-1. Arguments for the -t and -R option.
List of Figures
4-1. Screenshot of cardinfo
7-1. Screenshot of the HELIO PDA.
7-2. Screenshot of the iPAQ PDA.
7-3. Screenshot of the PALM-Pilot emulator POSE.
7-4. Screenshot of the YOPY PDA.
E-1. Screenshot of blackbox.