Fedora Linux on the Sharp M4000 notebook

This page contains some brief notes about my experiences getting Fedora Core 6 Linux working on my Sharp M4000 laptop. A previous page about Fedora Core 4 on this machine is here. Here is a brief summary of what's working on this machine. (Basically everything is, except that I haven't tried the modem.)

FeatureUnder LinuxNotes
Widescreen 1280×800 displayWorksNo special action needed
Accelerated graphicsWorksNo special action needed
SATA hard driveWorksKernel parameters: "ide0=noprobe ide1=noprobe"
SoundWorksNo special action needed
DVD-ROM/CD writerWorksNo special action needed
TouchpadWorksNo special action needed
Suspend to RAMWorksMay need to adjust sound volume following resume
Suspend to diskWorksNo special action needed
CPU speed scalingWorksNo special action needed
EthernetWorksNo special action needed
WirelessWorksDownload firmware
External monitor/projectorWorksRequires editing of one configuration file
ModemUntestedNever tried it, so I don't know whether it works

Basically Fedora runs pretty nicely on this machine. A few small tricks are needed as described here. Complete installation should take you about an hour.


Screenshot of Fedora on my M4000 laptop. (The open window contains an instance of Windows 2000, running within Linux under QEMU.)

As usual, these notes are merely a document of things that worked for me. There's no guarantee they will work for you, and there are some things you could do while installing Linux that would really mess up your computer bad. I'm not aware of anything that will do that other than flashing your BIOS, which I don't recommend, but hey, you never know. You have been warned. All opinions expressed here are those of the author and are not necessarily shared by the University of Michigan.

Installation

The machine came with Windows XP Professional. I wanted to keep that, so I resized the Windows partition, as described in many other places. There are many tools you can use for this (parted, gparted, qtparted, Partition Magic). I used the free GParted Live, which did the job fine.

Windows came in a 60GB NTFS partition, which I resized to 15GB. There was another empty 10GB NTFS partition, which I deleted. Also there was a 5GB FAT partition. This partition contains an entire spare copy of Windows XP, in case you need to reinstall Windows. (Sharp provides this instead of a Windows CD.) The standard boot loader on the computer can reinstall Windows for you from this partition. (I think you hit F10.) However, installing Linux overwrites the standard boot loader with the Linux boot loader, which means you will no longer be able to reinstall Windows this way after you have installed Linux. This means (a) that there's not much point in keeping the utility partition, and (b) that you may want to make a Windows recovery disk, as an alternative way of reinstalling Windows. (As far as I know, the recovery disk contains a complete copy of what's in the utility partition, so you don't lose anything by doing it this way.) To create a recovery disk, boot Windows and then follow the instructions contained in the computer manual. Once you create a recovery disk the reinstall-Windows-from-hard-disk-partition option is disabled anyway, so you might as well delete the utility partition, or you can reinstall Windows from the recovery disk, which deletes the partition for you.

This left me with 65GB of free space for Linux.

I installed from CD-ROM by downloading and burning the five CDs. I had to change the boot order in the BIOS to get the machine to boot from the CD – hit F2 as the computer is booting and use common sense. Then stick the first CD in the drive and fire it up.

By default the Fedora 6 installer does not detect the DVD drive correctly on this computer. (This is a known problem with computers that have IDE DVDs and SATA hard disks.) The fix is to type linux ide0=noprobe ide1=noprobe at the boot prompt once the first CD boots. After that things all proceed as normal. When you get to the part about partitioning the disk, you can accept the default partitioning, which works just fine, or you may want to do a manual partitioning yourself, which is what I did. I made a 100MB /boot partition on /dev/sda2, a 1GB swap partition on /dev/sda3, and then an extended partition holding 10GB for / and the rest on /home. (Note the disk appears as /dev/sda, not /dev/hda, because it is a SATA drive.)

The installer will also ask you about the boot loader. At this point click the advanced options box, and when you get the advanced options screen there's a box for general kernel options. Here you want to type ide0=noprobe ide1=noprobe again. This will make sure you get SATA mode on the hard drive each time you boot. Without it, your install will not work at all.

The rest of the installation is vanilla. When it's done installing it'll reboot and the first time it boots it will run through some setup stuff – creating a user account and so forth. After that you're done! Congratulations. You've installed Linux.

Tricks


That's about it. Overall, I really like this machine – it's very nice to use, has an excellent screen, it's fast, light, and well designed. I'd certainly recommend it if you're looking for a sleek and portable Linux machine.


Last modified: August 6, 2007

Mark Newman