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Red Hat Linux on an HP Pavilion ze4100 Notebook Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Wednesday, 07 January 2004 22:12
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Red Hat Linux on an HP Pavilion ze4100 Notebook
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This page started as "Red Hat 8 Linux on an HP Pavilion ze4100 Notebook". In August of 2003, the system was upgraded to Red Hat 9. Most of what appears here is applicable to both Red Hat 8 and Red Hat 9. I have attempted to indicate any known differences between Red Hat 8 and 9.

The Hewlett-Packard Pavilion ze4100 (KB series) is a built-to-order notebook with the following specifications:
  • 1.6 GHz Intel Mobile Celeron Processor
  • ATI chipset using ATI Northbridge (agpgart) and ALI 1533+ Southbridge
  • 512 MB DDR SDRAM at 266 MHz (1024 MB maximum)
  • Removable 40 GB IBM Travelstar Ultra-DMA 100 hard drive
  • Quanta Storage 24x16x8x internal CD/CDRW/DVD drive
  • 15" XGA (1024x768) display
  • ATI Radeon IGP 340M video with 32 MB onboard RAM and sharing of system RAM (see below)
  • Conexant v.90/v.92 56 Kbps software modem
  • National Semiconductor NS83815/816 10/100 Mbps ethernet controller
  • Altec Lansing 16-bit Sandblaster Pro-compatible sound with two speakers, headphone jack, volume, and mute buttons
  • IEEE 1394 Texas Instruments TSB43AB22 firewire controller
  • National Semiconductor embedded 87/88 key (101/102 key emulation) keyboard
  • O2Micro 6912 CardBus/PCMCIA (2 slots)
  • Synaptics touch pad with scroll pad, left and right buttons, on-off button, and indicator
  • 5 user-programmable one-touch multimedia keys
  • external HP USB floppy drive
  • Rechargable 14.8 Vdc lithium-ion battery
  • Universal AC adapter (100-240 Vac, 50-60 Hz input; 75 W, 19 Vdc output)
This is similar to a prebuilt model ze4125 (KB Intel series) with 256 MB additional RAM, but substantial portions of this page should be relevant to any HP ze41xx or for that matter other models in the ze4000/ze5000 series.

Preparation for Linux

Windows XP Home edition comes preinstalled on the ze4100. Many Linux users remove Windows before installing Linux. However my company still supports several products on Windows platforms, and I often find it convenient to have Windows loaded on a Linux computer--especially during the initial phases of Linux installation and configuration. I therefore used PartitionMagic (in Windows) to repartition the hard disk for a dual boot system as shown below:
 Partition  Start(MB) End(MB)   Type    Filesystem   Purpose 

1 0.0 23.5 primary fat HP utils
2 23.5 7522.7 primary ntfs Win XP
3 7522.7 38154.4 extended
6 7522.7 7569.7 logical ext2 /boot
7 7569.7 32192.8 logical ext2 /
8 32192.8 33149.8 logical linux-swap SWAP
5 33149.8 38154.4 logical vfat /dos
This arrangement places the Linux /boot partitition below cylinder 1024 (8003.5 MB). While not strictly necessary on newer computers, I have found this to be a generally useful disk arrangement for dual boot Linux systems. The /dos vfat partition is accessible to both Windows XP and Linux, and it can easily be made accessible via Samba to other Windows machines on a heterogeneous LAN.

[BTW PartitionMagic is a great tool, but most people who run Linux use it only once. So for those of you who prefer to save some money, it IS possible to do equivalent repartitioning using a Linux rescue disk and the Linux ntfsresize and parted utilities.]

Installation of Red Hat 7.2

On computers used for production work, I generally run Red Hat Linux because this operating system is widely used throughout the bioinformatics and IT industries in which I work. On the other hand, I try to avoid dot-zero (major version) releases of Red Hat because they tend to be buggy (effectively beta) software. At the time this computer originally arrived, Red Hat 8 had just been released, and Red Hat 7.3 media wasn't easily obtainable. I therefore initially installed 7.2 on this notebook using a notebook installation.

During installation, I selected grub as the boot loader with Linux as the default boot option and Windows as an alternate option on the grub boot menu. Under this arrangement, grub appears at boot with Linux as the default boot option and Windows as another option that can be selected. If the user chooses to boot Windows, then the Windows XP boot menu appears next (if there is more than one boot option for Windows).

The Red Hat 7.2 installation went smoothly up to the point of XWindows graphics configuration. The install program was then unable to identify either the display or a graphics driver. This left me with a Linux installation that would boot successfully into console mode but was incapable of running XWindows. A little research on the internet quickly convinced me that in order to run XWindows on this hardware, I needed at least XFree86 4.1 and a more recent kernel than is easily supported on RedHat 7.2. That wasn't too surprising. The very latest hardware usually requires the most recent Linux (and then some).

Installation of Red Hat 8

I therefore decided to to go ahead and install Red Hat 8 from CD. I used the upgrade option with custom selection of packages. The installation was straightforward, and this time the configuration of X graphics was partially successful. I was able to boot into XWindows with 800x600 resolution. A little quick editing of the /etc/X11/XF86Config file produced an acceptable 1024x768 XWindows display in VESA framebuffer mode. (See lspci output and XF86Config-vesa file.) Red Hat 8 was up and running, and I was ready to configure and test the rest of the ze4100 notebook capabilities under Linux.

Installation of Red Hat 9

The Red Hat 8 installation was upgraded to Red Hat 9 in August of 2003. The upgrade process was straightforward, and Red Hat 9 booted successfully into X/Gnome after the upgrade was complete.


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