The Haiku/BeOS Tip Server
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Installing BeOS on laptops

Contributed by: Scot Hacker and Chris Herborth and Jesse Hall
This tip is valid for: Both BeOS and Haiku

Note: For the latest hardware-compatibility lists, be sure to check the Hardware section of thebesite.

Be’s hardware compatibility pages include some rather stern warnings about laptop support in R4.5. But while Be does not officially support laptops just yet, hundreds (maybe thousands) of users are successfully running R4.5 on laptops of all kinds, and have found the installation just as easy as with desktop machines. Some PCMCIA support is present, and battery life isn’t too shabby either (I’ve gotten 2.75 hours from a 3-hour battery with my Sony Vaio PCG-F150).

You’ll find a preliminary list of notebooks that support both audio and video below. You may also want to have a look at the NotePC Compatibility page.

The biggest difficulty with installing BeOS onto a notebook/laptop arises when the CD-ROM drive is not available or not supported. To work around this current limitation, ITO Takayuki has written a utility called BeWrite. This tool runs from within Windows, and writes the Be file system to a prepared blank partition, thus bypassing the need for BeOS to see a funky, outboard CD-ROM drive. Note that BeWrite is unsupported and should be used with caution. Read the documentation carefully before proceeding. A preliminary version for R4.5 can be downloaded here.

You may find additional helpful information at this b500 page, covering installation onto the Sony Vaio PCX line (far more difficult than installing onto the PCG line).

It appears that external floppy drives and touchpad pointing devices work in the vast majority of situations. If you have the ESS audio chipset in your laptop (this is found in NEC and probably many more machines) download the driver here.

Note: You may also find the Linux on Laptops page useful for general information.


The information provided below was gathered by Chris Herborth (arcanedragon at home dot com) with the desire to find laptops that have supported video and sound. Laptops that have supported video (especially the NeoMagic 128, 128XD and 256AV chipsets) are much easier to find.

ATI Rage LT Pro notebooks (best supported laptop video chipset, IMHO); info in parenthesis after the model name is the sound chip, if known (on this list, only the Compaq Presario 1685 is known to have supported sound under BeOS R4.5):


Compaq
 - Presario 1600s (?)
 - Presario 1685 (ESS Solo-1)
 - Presario 1687 (?)
 - Presario 1688 (?)
 - Presario 1690 (?)
 - Presario 1800 (?)
 - Presario 1800T (?)
 - Presario 1825 (?)

Dell
 - Inspiron 7000 (ESS-Maestro 2 slightly modified)

Fujitsu
 - FMV-6266NA8/X (?)
 - LifeBook 990Tx2 (?)

Gateway
 - Solo 9150 (?)

HP
 - OmniBook 7100 (?) - out of production
 - OmniBook 7150 (?) - out of production

Note: The HP OmniBook 7150 is the same exact machine
as the Dell Inspiron 7000; both are made by Compaq.

NEC
 - Ready Notebook 440T ("Advanced 3D PCI Sound System")
 - Versa LX VL3H0A20-0000A0 ("SoundBlaster Pro compatible", "Maestro-2E")
 - Versa LX VL4H0A20-0000A0 ("SoundBlaster Pro compatible", "Maestro-2E")
 - Versa LX VL4J0A60-0000A0 ("SoundBlaster Pro compatible", "Maestro-2E")
 - Versa LX VL4J0A6C-A100A0 ("SoundBlaster Pro compatible", "Maestro-2E")
 - Versa LX VL4K0A20-0000A0 ("SoundBlaster Pro compatible", "Maestro-2E")

Manufacturer Model Max Resolution Audio ?
Compaq Presario 1685 1024x768 yes
Compaq Presario 1690 1024x768* yes
Dell Lattitude CPi 1024x768 yes
Dell Latitude XPi CD 800x600 16bit and 8bit no
Digital HiNote 735 1024x768 yes
HP OmniBook 4100 1024x768 yes
IBM ThinkPad 380ED 800x600 yes
IBM ThinkPad 380Z 1024x768 yes
IBM ThinkPad 390E 800x600, 1024x768 yes
IBM ThinkPad 535X 800x600 yes
IBM ThinkPad 560E 800x600 yes
IBM ThinkPad 560z ? yes
IBM ThinkPad 570 ? yes
IBM ThinkPad 600 1024x768 yes
IBM ThinkPad 600E 1024x768 yes
IBM ThinkPad i1412 ? yes
IBM ThinkPad i1450 1024x768 yes
IBM ThinkPad i1452 ? yes
IBM ThinkPad i1417 800x600x16 yes
Sony VAIO 505G 800x600 yes
Sony VAIO 505RX 1024x768 yes
Sony VAIO 505TS 800x600 yes

? for Max Resolution means I forgot to check before I left the store. The ThinkPad 390E has two Max Resolution entries because different models have different max resolutions.

* For Max Resolution means confirmed to work at 1024x768 in any bit depth.


Jesse Hall (jesse at xmission dot com) contributes the following list (modified with additions from miscellaneous contributors):

Some of these reports are several months old and were tested with R4, so a) these models may no longer be shipping, and b) R4.5 may have improved support for the marginal ones. Also, many of these come from someone taking a CD to a store with friendly (or sometimes even unfriendly) salespeople and seeing if the install booted, so details on sound support are pretty slim. Here goes:

Make / model Video Sound Contact Comments
AMS Tech TP-257CXA Y N (rmoser1
at san.rr dot com)
 
Compaq Presario 1210 Y N (gurpal.x.hundal at mail.sprint dot com)  
Compaq Presario 1255 Y N (rmoser1 at san.rr dot com)  
Compaq Presario 1260 Y N (rmoser1 at san.rr dot com)  
Compaq Presario 1260 Y N (gurpal.x.hundal at mail.sprint dot com)  
Compaq Presario 1640 Y N (allen
at driversoft dot com)
 
Compaq Presario 1690 Y Y (earl
dot malmrose at sierra dot com)
APM supported; clean power
down
CTX EzBook 893T-FK Y ? (dsowsy
at cs.uml dot edu)
CTX F Series Y Y (jamescrockett
at earthlink dot net)
winmodem
Dell Inspiron 3500 Y N (beos at
birdhouse dot org)
audio should be possible, but no
working audio driver for NeoMagic 256AV yet. Have to boot in vesa mode, even
though it runs fully accelerated (not vesa)
Dell Inspiron 7000 Y Y (various) Lots of good reports on this one; everything works
well.
Fujitsu 520D Y ? (gurpal.x.hundal at mail.sprint dot com) generic video
driver
Fujitsu C350 Y ? (rmoser1 at
san.rr dot com)
 
Fujitsu C353 Y ? (rmoser1 at
san.rr dot com)
 
Fujitsu E340 Y ? (rmoser1 at
san.rr dot com)
 
Gateway 5150 Y N (oliver at
benews dot com)
 
IBM ThinkPad 380ED Y Y (etomlin
at expersoft dot com)
 
IBM ThinkPad 600 Y Y (peteru at
null dot net)
works really well
IBM ThinkPad 600E Y Y (greg.r.smith at intel dot com) works really well
IBM ThinkPad 770 (VESA) Y (achitnis at cbconsulting dot com) The entire install was done
on a 2.5 hour flight from New Delhi to Bangalore - on battery power. Winmodem
:)
IBM ThinkPad 770ED Y Y (blamb at
mail dot cise dot ufl dot edu)
video fine with VESA options
set
IBM ThinkPad 1450i Y Y (blunt at
amazon dot com)
have to install in safe mode
IBM ThinkPad 1451 Y ? (rmoser1
at san.rr dot com)
 
Mitsubishi Pedion Y N (allen at
driversoft dot com)
 
Quantex I-1510 Y N (koehler at
mythrium dot com)
 
Sony VAIO 505FX Y N (allen at
driversoft dot com)
 
Sony VAIO PCG-F150 Y N (shacker
at birdhouse dot org)
 
Sony VAIO PCG-731 Y ? (allen at
driversoft dot com)
 
Sony VAIO PCG-808 Y ? (allen at
driversoft dot com)
 
Sony VAIO PCG-862 Y Y (kisaka at
pochi dot iijnet dot or dot jp)
Audio requires ess1879 driver
Sony Viao N505VE Y Y (allen at
kindacool dot com)
Audio requires ymf724 driver
Toshiba Portege 7010 Y Y (donaldson at cisco dot com) Docking station works
Toshiba Tecra 4025C?? Y ? (rmoser1 at san.rr dot com) VESA mode video

UMAX, Toshiba, and AMS Tech systems mostly don't work, with exceptions above. VAIOs seem to use ESS sound chipsets (see below).

Allen said that every box he's tried (which is a lot) that has an Intel 440TX (or is it 430TX) MB and a Neomagic chip has worked. Unfortunately, I don't think the TX supports the P-IIs, so you may have trouble finding it.

ESS sound chips (1868 & 1869) weren't supported in R4, but are common. I don't know if that's changed for R4.5.

One more thing I forgot. I have no idea how DVD support is in R4.5, but with R4 the boot CD wouldn't be recognized if it was in a DVD-ROM driver. Many newer laptops just have DVD instead of a normal CD-ROM, so you may want to watch out for it.

Finally, many laptops freeze completely on restart. This seems to be related to APM (which BeOS doesn't support for reasons I can go into if you're interested). I'm in the habit of telling it to shut down (which doesn't power off) and hitting the reset button.

From everything I've seen, the IBM 600[E] may be your best bet. Both Greg R Smith and Peter Urbanec are very happy with them, and video and sound are known to work. Standard disclaimers apply, of course :-). [Editor's note: some claim that the 600E has a very slow screen redraw and that this machine sometimes freezes on boot, so it's questionable whether this machine is the "best bet."]

Posted in Hardware


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