LINUX on an AMSTECH Roadster 15CTA
In December 1998 my former girlfriend asked me to look for a notebook computer for
Please note that I do not actually have a Roadster. I can only help
with some general things !!!
Have a look at
That is much more up to date page on a similar notebook!
Please take note of the 'former'. I don't have access to that computer
any more !!!
I investigated the web for reasonably priced machines with 12.1´´
TFT screens. I decided for the AMS roadster mainly because of its price
and the 3 year garanty, though I hope that it won´t be necessary.
I bought it online at
Mohd H Misnan wrote to me that the AMS Roadster
15 is an OEM version of the Mitac 5033. So some, if not all, of the information
given here might be applicable to the Mitac 5033.
The Roadster 15CTA is a nice machine for a very low price. From my experience
with other notebooks it seems to be on the heavy side. The 12.1´´
TFT screen is very nice and bright and my one had no broken pixels. One
surprise came after some 20 minutes of active installation work. A fan
started. It is located on the bottom side of the notebook and of regular
CPU-fan size. Under hard computing conditions it starts about every 15
minutes and runs for 1-2 minutes. For a weaker usage, such as text editing,
it does not come up. However, this could have been expected from the low
price and the relatively strong but probably not specifically mobile CPU.
This also explains the battery time of 1:40 hours. More annoying is the
extremely weak cover for the PCMCIA slot, which I don´t expect to
last forever. Overall it´s a good deal. Now three months later it´s
already 130$ cheaper.
Repartitioning of the harddisk
The neverending story. Is there anybody who has installed LINUX onto an
existing Windows system without any problems? Of course afterwards you
find out that it could have been so easy, but... Ok, from the beginning.
I had a 2GB harddisk and wanted to reduce the Windows partition to 1250MB
and use the rest for LINUX (my girlfriend and her working environment is
more used to MS). I know of fips
by Arno Schäfer and have used it previously without problems. Cautious
as I am I checked dejanews
for information on using fips on a Windows98 system. The newest version
2.0 should be able to handle FAT32 systems (I did of course not look at
the actual filesystem type, which was an old FAT16!) I then tried to run
fips, but it always stopped when it was supposed to write the MBR with
an error message "cannot allocate memory" "failed to load COMMAND" or so.
I then gave part
(a fips-comparable program by Mikhail Ranish) a try. It worked neither.
I finally gave up and was going to delete the Windows partition and install
from scratch. I created a Windows boot disk and started fdisk. I removed
the partition and created a new smaller one. When I was going to write
the information, fdisk stopped with an error message that it was not allowed
to write the MBR. I then had a closer look into the BIOS setup. And there,
under "security", was the activated option to write-lock the MBR, explaining
all my problems with fips. Of course the Windows fdisk had destroyed files
in "c:\windows\system", so I really had to reinstall Windows98, which luckily
went without major difficulties.
Installing RedHat 5.2
I wanted to install RedHat 5.2 from a computer on our network to which
I had downloaded the RedHat source tree. Therefore I would need a working
network card. Through some investigation on relevant pages (e.g. Linux
hardware compatibility list) if found that a LINK-SYS DE660 PCMCIA
card should be supported and take both BNC and RJ-45 ethernet connectors.
I had ordered this card together with the notebook. Installation went without
unexpected problems (apparently I always have to do it three times until
I am happy with the configuration ;-).
The X window system was similarly configured without problems. Except
for one problem: X locked after the BIOS put the notebook into sleep mode!
As a simple solution I first disabled the sleep-mode in the BIOS-APM. Later
I found that activating the screensaver (see man xset) before it
goes to sleep is also sufficient. Andrew Dowding pointed out that XFree86
3.3.1-4 is not working. Later versions like 22.214.171.124 are working.
There was one problem with the X which I forgot.
After I got a couple of mails I remebered it (one should take notes!).
The X did not work from the beginning with 800x600. One of the refresh
rate ranges in /etc/X11/XF86Config is too small. A small increase in the
upper boundary fixed that problem. WARNING: You change these parameters
at your own risk ! It might damage your screen. As soon as possible I will
add the working XF86Config file.
John Cowgill followed the way
outlined above. Replacing the HorizSync 35.1 by HorizSync 36.1 worked for
him. Again the warning, that you do any changes at your own risk !
is the XF86Config
created for the notebook. It worked fine for me. I changed the HorizSync
to range up to 47.1 . If you want to be more cautious, follow the way of
John Cowgill and increase it only a little bit.
Compiling a new kernel
As next step I compiled a new kernel. Again without problems in about 10
minutes. I did not include sound card support, though there is one in the
notebook. And I never tried to get the modem to work (under Windows98 it
Rolf Weber wrote me that the modem is a Winmodem.
So it won't work with Linux !
Matthew Hixson got the sound to work. Here is his kernel configuration
for the sound part. Different from standard the interrupt is 5 and not
# CONFIG_PAS is not set
# CONFIG_ADLIB is not set
# CONFIG_GUS is not set
# CONFIG_MPU401 is not set
# CONFIG_UART6850 is not set
# CONFIG_PSS is not set
# CONFIG_GUS16 is not set
# CONFIG_GUSMAX is not set
# CONFIG_MSS is not set
# CONFIG_SSCAPE is not set
# CONFIG_TRIX is not set
# CONFIG_MAD16 is not set
# CONFIG_CS4232 is not set
# CONFIG_MAUI is not set
# CONFIG_MIDI is not set
# CONFIG_YM3812 is not set
# CONFIG_LOWLEVEL_SOUND is not set
List of encountered problems
The MBR was write-protected when I got the notebook prohibiting the usage
of fips or fdisk.
X can not recover after the BIOS has put the notebook into sleep mode.
X is not running with 800x600 after using xf86config.
See previous paragraph for a solution.
Links to information
Send comments or questions to
Last modified 8/9/2000 with