The information within in this document is compiled during the installation of SuSE (7.3)-Linux on a Gericom webboy laptop. I hope my experiences will help others to get a well running system, however you are using this information completely at your own risk!

This document will grow with my ongoing efforts to get everything run as I think it should. Components and devices configured and tested so far are marked with a . Another icon, , indicates elements that partly work.

I´m using SuSE-Linux, so any distribution-specific information is valid for SuSE 7.3. I use to compile my new kernel (v2.4.0) myself, but remember: you will loose support of SuSE if you do so!

Technical data

Technical data of the laptop as read from the packaging box:




14.1" TFT


PIII, 750 MHz







128 MB (shared between memory and video)


Built-in 56k


AMIBIOS (BIOS Version: 062710, BIOS Release: 11/10/2000)


SiS PCI Audio Accelerator


Built-in 10/100 Mbit LAN


1 x Type II or Type III PCMCIA Slot; USB-Port; 1 x serial; 1 x parallel; 1 x PS/2 (external keyboard and mouse)




...having a special „Internet-key“




Li-Ion, apm-compatible BIOS

The output of „cat </proc/pci“ is shown here.


The display is driven by a SiS630 graphics controller.

There is an X-server which should work with that chip (XF86_SVGA). However, all trials with different modelines weren´t successful. So I fear that an accelerated driver is not applicable and one must use the framebuffer device.

There is a kernel framebuffer module (sisfb) which should drive the SiS630 but is an experimental state. On my machine, it definetely does not work. The computer hangs in any way I tried this driver. Instead, I use the VESA framebuffer, vesafb. This driver must be compiled into the kernel (which is true for the SuSE standard kernels). When compiling the kernel by yourself, you must enable „prompt for development and/or incomplete code/drivers“ under „code maturity level options“. The framebuffer devices can then be found under „console drivers“.

In /etc/lilo.conf you must enable an appropriate VGA mode. In this case it is 1024x768 with a color depth of 64k. So the correct line in lilo.conf is


Now, use sax with the framebuffer X-server:

sax -s XF86_FBDev

and set all parameters needed by X. Especially in the card-section you have to choose the framebuffer driver. The [wiki:matthias/XF86Config.html /etc/XF86Config] on my site may give you a hint how the result can look like. (The version number of the installed X window system is XFree86 4.0.2)

There were many hints from persons who have read this page to have a look at the SiS supports & download site. There should be accelerated graphics driver, which I didn't try out, up to now. If you want to try, look here:


Nothing really exciting here. It works at 750 MHz but is much too fast for a laptop as battery power lasts for just two hours.


The IDE interface SiS5513 is supported.

My drive is a TOSHIBA MK1016GAP, ATA DISK drive. It is capable to use DMA transfer so this option is enabled in the kernel: use PCI DMA by default when available (CONFIG_IDEDMA_PCI_AUTO). The hdd device is /dev/hda.

Because of these strange problems with APM and the resulting unclean shutdowns, I propose using „ReiserFS“ as your Linux filesystem. I have no trouble with it. The opposite is true: a new boot after an unclean shutdown is much faster than with ext2.


The IDE interface SiS5513 is supported.

The CD-ROM device is a QSI CD-ROM SCR-242, ATAPI CD-ROM 24x drive. Its device is /dev/hdc and it is using DMA transfer as well.


I never saw problems with floppy-disks under Linux. Therefore it was no surprise that this one works immediately and without any difficulties.


The system does not use all 128 MB but only 120 MB. This is due to the shared memory area for the graphics adapter. Maybe this is the reason why all dedicated SiS630 drivers don´t work (see Display). Maybe someone else can give a hint what to do in this case.

On the other hand, 120 MB is a lot of memory and the bytes are coming and going fast enough, so the missing 8 MB are not harmful!


The built-in modem is a win-modem, so forget it.

Stop - a short message from Andreas Gabriel reached me in which he wrote an idea how this modem can be driven under Linux. Another guy who has figured out how this device is usable is Gabor Takacs; please have a look at his website!.

There are cheap PCMCIA modem cards. I use one of them. The cardmgr that comes with SuSE is that intelligent that one just have to insert the card in the PCMCIA slot and can use the modem under the device /dev/ttyS2. Make a link /dev/modem -> /dev/ttyS2 (preferable using yast) and one can use the card modem.


It´s hard to say what symbol this section should get. Of course, Linux works together with the AMIBIOS, but I experience strange problems when not cold-starting after a windows-session (mouse, display). And the apm part of the BIOS is not operating very well.

Having installed a new BIOS (see apm part of this description), it seems to get better....


The built-in sound system is identified as SiS PCI Audio Accelerator. YaST2 detects it as „snd-card-trident“ without any problem. Therefore, ALSA is sound system that should be choosen.

The only difficulty I experienced was that the ALSA modules included in the SuSE kernels don´t work with a self-compiled kernel. One has to install the alsa_spm package, unpack the driver sources, compile and install them. YaST2 then is able to configure the sound correctly.

And this is what YaST2 wrote into /etc/modules.conf:

# YaST2: sound cards support
alias char-major-116 snd
options snd snd_cards_limit=1 snd_major=116
alias snd-card-0 snd-card-trident
options snd-card-trident snd_id=card1 snd_index=0

# YaST2: sound system dependent part
alias sound-slot-0 snd-card-0
alias sound-service-0-0 snd-mixer-oss
alias sound-service-0-1 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-3 snd-pcm-oss
alias sound-service-0-8 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-11 snd-mixer-oss
alias sound-service-0-12 snd-pcm-oss


The SiS 900 10/100 MBit network interface is supported.

You need the sis900 module either compiled into the kernel or as a loadable module. In the latter case one has to set the appropriate alias within /etc/modules.conf:

  • alias eth0 sis900


  • PCMCIA Slot: It´s no problem to use a modem card for instance

  • USB: see separate section

  • serial: tested with the serial connection to the digital camera DC 3400; use as /dev/ttyS0
  • parallel: not tested so far, but why should I doubt
  • PS/2: I connected an external PS/2 mouse to that port - it´s usable beside the touch-pad


not tested


Again, it is no surprise that the keyboard works. Its configuration parameters can be found in /etc/XF86Config.

However, the keyboard has another windows gimmick: the orange web-easy-key. I tried to get this key handled by KDE that I´m using as desktop. However, under X this key seems to get recognized as Ctrl-key or produces an keyboard error as in xkeycaps. So I stopped trying to get that key handled. The windows- and menu-key on the other hand can easily be configured via K -> Einstellungen -> Erscheinungsbild -> Tastenzuordnung (don´t know the english menu names, but you will surely find them when you know that they exist).


The touch-pad device is recognized as PS/2 mouse. A link

/dev/mouse -> /dev/psaux

works for X as well as for gpm.

The /etc/XF86Config includes the options that should be passed to the X-server. However, with X the pointer sometimes „hops“ over the screen, makes some clicks for no reason, so I think we have a slight hardware <-> driver incompatibility.

I don´t know why, but when rebooting the system after a MS-Windows-session, the pointer does not operate properly. Therefore, I can run Linux merely after a cold-start (or a reboot from a Linux-session). To be honest: this is no problem since I don´t use windows very often.

The external PS/2 mouse does not have any of these problems.


I'm using a Kodak DC3400 digital camera via the USB bus. Steps to get this specific device to run (see <linux kernel sources>/Documentation/usb and /usr/share/doc/packages/usbmgr):

  1. compile USB support, USB (/proc-)filesystem support USB OHCI support and Kodak DC-2xx USB support as kernel modules
  2. chmod 666 /dev/usb/dc2xx* (I don't want to restrict access to these USB devices)
  3. add a line „vendor 0x040a product 0x0132 module dc2xx“ to /etc/usb/usbmgr.conf (if you don't have a line like this)
  4. run update_usbdb -f /etc/usbmgr/usbmgr.conf
  5. add „dc2xx“ to /etc/usbmgr/preload.conf
  6. add following lines to /etc/init.d/usbmgr (just before startproc /sbin/usbmgr $MY_OPTS):
    • ## preload existing modules from $USBPRELOADS
      if [ -f $USBPRELOADS ]; then
          for MOD in `cat $USBPRELOADS`; do
              insmod $MOD >/dev/null 2>&1
  7. restart usbmgr stuff (/etc/init.d/usbmgr restart)

There is a hardware problem with the SiS 7001 chip. The timing of that USB chip is critical, so that the communication with an USB device relatively often disconnects (see the internet pages of Kodak). If you try to retrieve pictures with gPhoto via the USB port, you must be very patient.


apm is a strange thing: sometimes it works, sometimes not. This obviously is due to problems in communication between BIOS and kernel. Sometimes the BIOS tells (in a kernel-structure called that it is an apm capable BIOS, sometimes it does not. I´m very unhappy with this but at present I don´t see any solution. Maybe you know one? (One hint came from Gabor Takacs; please have a look at his website!)

October 2001: Good news. I found a BIOS update on Gericom's webpage. It is called and can be found in the support area, downloads. I can not tell the complete URL, but you will find. Please be very careful playing with new BIOSses. In my case, the results are good and APM became ok. But who knows, maybe this BIOS, flashed into your webboy, will make it stand still...


These infos have been edited on 04.01.2003 by Matthias Schütze. If you have questions or comments or hints to make things better, please send a mail to <matthias AT familie-schuetze DOT de>!

This report is listed at TuxMobil - Linux on laptops, notebooks, PDAs, mobile phones.