Linux on the Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook E6550

Document Title : Linux on the Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook E6550
Document Created : 07 April 2001 10:20 CEST
Document Last Modified on : 07 April 2001 18:00 CEST
Document Version : 1.0

Technical Overview
Processor : Intel Pentium III 650mhz
2nd Level Cache : 256KB
Memory : 128 MB RAM
IDE Hard Disk : 10 GB
Floppy : 1.44MB, External
Modular Bay : 6x DVD Drive (24x CDROM)
Display : 14.1" TFT XGA - 1024*768 /64K Colours
Graphics : ATI Mobility-P with 8MB of SDRAM
Audio : ESS Maestro-2E + ESS1921 Codec
Keyboard and Pointing Device : Full sized keyboard with windows keys & Euro Symbol. Touchpoint Pointing Device.
I/O Interfaces: IRDA, 2x Type II or 1x Type III PC Card, Serial, Parallel, PS/2, VGA, USB
Modem : Built-in V90 Modem (56K)
Network : Xircom RealPort 2 Ethernet 10/100 (R2E-100)
Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook E6550

If you want to see the official technical overview click here. (pdf document)

Basic Installation
When I received my laptop it came with Windows 98. The first thing I did was fdisk the harddrive and repartition it. Out of 9.5 GB, 4 goes to Windows 2000 (ntfs), 3 goes to a shared partition (Fat32) and the remaining 2.5 GB was assigned for linux. My Partition Table looks like this:

hda1 - NTFS (4GB)
hda2 - Win95 EXT'd (LBA)
hda5 - Win95 Fat32 (3GB)
hda6 - Linux Swap (128 MB)
hda7 - Linux / (182 MB)
hda8 - Linux /var (273 MB)
hda9 - Linux /home (463 MB)
hda10 - Linux /usr (1500 MB)

The linux distribution used was Debian gnu/linux. This distribution allows you to easily install only software packages you need, and drop all the bloatware some of the commercial distributions seem to install (e.g. Red Hat). Also the "apt-get" utility allows you to easily synchronize your software packages with the internet, through ftp or http. Currently my laptop is running the "unstable" release, which means I have all recent development packages installed on my system. Don't let the "unstable" fool you. Although it's not the official release, I've had few problems with running the development packages.
My current Debian installation size (with the usual console tools, gcc, XFree86 4.0.2, kde2, koffice, gimp) is about 900 MB, including the compiled 2.4.3 kernel source tree.
Mind, Debian is the distribution of choice if you already have some Unix/Linux experience.

My initial plan was to perform an FTP based installation (Immediately install debian "unstable"). However, the Xircom Realport 2 provided with my laptop was not supported with the PCMCIA utilities provided with Debian 2.2.0. I installed a basic system instead, and when that was finished I copied the latest PCMCIA-CS package (3.1.25 at the time that I write this document) on my laptop. After compiling and installing the latest driver my network link was activated and I could finish installing debian through FTP.
When the installation was complete I went on to the task of installing the latest linux kernel. Currently linux 2.4.3 runs nicely on my laptop, and I even dropped the pcmcia-cs drivers from the system. Kernel 2.4.3 built-in pcmcia drivers support the network card very nicely.

The Modem chip in the E6550 is a lucent winmodem, but fear not ! There is a linux driver, and you can download it here (look for ltmodem). If you want more information on running winmodems with Linux, visit

Installing the lucent software package is not that difficult. In my case I had to download ltmodem-5.78e.tar.gz, unpack it, and run "./build_module". This prepares your system for the installation of the modules. When this part is done, you need to run "./ltinst". This will install the module in /lib/modules.
Debian uses a file "/etc/modules" where you can specify which modules have to be loaded at startup. I added "ltmodem" and restarted the system to test if everything was OK. The modem got recognized, but I didn't have a dial tone (though everything was connected properly). If this happens you need to disable the "Plug And Play OS" option in the BIOS. (you can access the bios by pressing F2 when you start up the laptop).
Once I set that option the modem worked very nicely: Usually the connection speed to my ISP is a not too shabby 53333.

The Maestro Chip is supported out-of-the box in Linux 2.4.3 (I compiled it as a module, and it works without a problem)

The ATI Mobility-P isn't supported by XFree 3.3.6. XFree 4.0.2 supports it under the "ATI" module. The output on the 14.1" screen is VERY nice, though I was a little sad to learn that XFree 4.0.2 doesn't support the RENDER module for this type of video chip (which means you cannot have anti-aliased fonts, for now). Configuration was seamless, Debian asked me the necessary questions and generated the XF86Config-4 file. Only one remark, I had to change my keymap manually in the config file. (Belgian Layout, not qwerty).

Other Hardware
The DVD drive works very well for CDs, but I have yet to test a DVD movie with this laptop.
The TouchPad works out of the box (/dev/psaux). The option to use the pad as a mousebutton works too.
The recent linux kernels have support for USB and IRDA, but I have not tested it.
About the Email Led and the Special Keys, a project is underway to support these with linux. For more information visit this site.

Closing Remarks
This is an excellent Linux Workstation !

Linux is a registered Trademark by Linus Torvalds
Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook E Series :
Linux on Laptops copyright by Kenneth E. Harker
All hardware and software names used are trade names or trademarks of their respective manufacturers.