Linux on Libretto 50CT

Ruhan Alpaydin

Libretto 50CT

Libretto 50CT is a very small laptop computer with 16 MB of RAM and 75MHz Pentium CPU and a small, 6 inch display. It can run Windows 95 and RedHat 5.0. Since the keyboard is a little bit tiny, I think it is good for small children. In particular my motivation for installing Linux on the Libretto is to teach my son Linux and shell programming. Another usage might be writing while travelling (it is less than a kilogram, really the maximum ideal weight for a portable computer). 

Problems in installing RedHat 5.0

I heard that RedHat 5.0 is the smallest Linux that fits into Libretto 50CT and I had a full fledged RedHat 5.0 distribution with boot floopy disks, cdroms and the book. So I went for it.

My Libretto 50CT had an external floppy drive and an external CD-ROM drive connected through PCMCIA. Libretto can boot either from hard disk or floppy drive but not from the CD-ROM drive. RedHat 5.0 has the PCMCIA connection utilities on the second floppy disk. So one can not continue the installation process through what Libretto allows and RedHat installation provides. Installing through the PLIP is the one solution [1] one can use. Another solution, having both Windows and RedHat 5.0 partitions on the disk is explained in [2] although I am not sure if Libretto 50's 800MB hard disk can accomodate both.

I had a more direct approach. I took the harddrive of the Libretto out, attached it on a Linux box as the primary hard disk and installed RedHat 5.0 on the the Libretto's tiny hard disk.

Configuration of the X server

The remaining part was configuration of the X, which I managed through [1,2] and Vaughan Pratt's XF86Config files. One very important thing is that calling 'Xmetro' directly does not work. You should use 'startx' to start the X server which runs Xmetro.

The X configuration file which you may find useful. It should be under /etc/X11.

Adding PCMCIA support

Now we have a nicely running Linux but communication with the outer world requires PCMCIA connection to work. First one has the start the cardmanager, 'cardmgr'.  This deamon writes messages to /var/log/messages when the PCMCIA card is plugged into the Libretto's PCMCIA slot.

References :

1. Alan Jeffrey, "Linux on the Libretto",
2. George B. Moody, "Linux on the Toshiba Libretto 70",