Linux on the DynaNote 500 Notebook Computer

DISCLAIMER: This author may not be held responsible for any problems that may arise by following the instructions on this page. However, the information contained here is accurate and is presented from personal experience. The DynaNote 500


The DynaNote 500, is among the most Linux compatible high-end notebook computer you can buy today.
Everything works well with Linux on this machine - from the video graphics chipset, sound support and Advanced Power Management.

This machine is highly recommended to run Linux on.

Hardware Specifications

Installing Linux

I decided on Red Hat 4.1 as this was one of the releases on my April 1997 Infomagic 6 CD set Developers Resource Kit.

Firstly create a DOS floppy boot disk which has the drivers configured for the CD-ROM drive, this will allow you to reinstall DOS/WIN3.1/WIN95 at a later stage if you so require. Boot DOS from the floppy disk to check that the CD-ROM drive is availaible. This may require a BIOS reconfiguration to allow booting from drives A and C.

Boot the DynaNote with its original OS (W95) in place, install the Linux CD-ROM disk 1 which contains the Red Hat v4.1 release. Create the two linux boot floppies using the D:\dosutils\rawrite.exe program. The instructions are in the little booklet supplied with the Infomagic CD-ROM.

Boot the DynaNote with the RedHat boot disk and follow the instructions!! You WILL need the second floppy which has the PCMCIA code on it.

The rest of the system

Installing Linux doesn't necessarily mean thrashing the pre-installed Microsoft-Windows/DOS (whatever version).

If you do choose to remove MS-Windows/DOS, then when Red Hat asks about disk partitioning, remember to say "Edit" and use Linux's Fdisk to delete the MS-Windows partition and create your own partition(s). On my system I created three partitions, hda1 for win95 (800MB), hda2 for Linux (1150MB) and hda3 a Linux swap partition (64MB).

If you reallocate a partition for DOS, once you're done installing all of Red Hat's options, when it comes to LILO, Red Hat assumes you have a working DOS partition (meaning you have DOS already installed). The LILO installation will fail because when you trashed the original partition, you lost DOS with it.

What you need to do to successfully install LILO at this point is to switch to another virtual console right before you hit "OK" for LILO to be installed. In that virtual console, remove pointers to DOS in /etc/lilo.conf (and /mnt/etc/lilo.conf) file. The installation should then complete successfully.

If you chose not to remove the MS-Windows/DOS partition, I've been told that you can successfully install Linux from DOS by 1) defragmenting the Harddisk, 2) Bringing the system down to MS-DOS and running FIPS to re-partition the hardisk making room for a Linux partition, 3) Installing Linux by directly accessing the CDROM drive from W95.

Done this way, there would be no need to fiddle with /etc/lilo.conf.

To get all the other options working you will need to recompile the kernel. This as they say is left as an exercise for the reader!! Some ofthe options are:-

Running X Windows

If you're installing Red Hat 4.1, then you will need the version of X Server that supports the DynaNote 500's display S3 chipset. You require XFree86-3.3.1 for the S3 chipset which can be obtained from The XFree86 Project Inc. or its mirror site at

In any case, save this XF86Config file into the /etc/X11 directory and you're off to a running start.

Both 8bit and 16bit display depths are supported at full 1024x768 resolution. At 800x600 resolution, you even get 24bit colour depth support (with the above XF86Config file the default display depth is 8bits).

This is what my screen looks like with the Fvwm window manager. Screen Image of Fvwm Window Manager on
 the DynaNote 500

Interesting Laptop Sites

IrDATM An interesting site is The Linux IrDA Projet which is a project to incorporate an IrDA compliant protocol stack into the Linux kernel. IrDA is an industrial standard for infrared wirless communication, the DynaNote is equipped with a fast IR port. The purpose of this port is to be able to communicate with devices such as printers, modems, fax, LAN, and other laptops. But having an IrDA port on your computer is not enough, IrDA specifies a protocol stack which must be implemented in software.

USB Since this is a new technology, to get the latest information on USB, please view the official Universal Serial Bus Home Page , sponsored by the USB Implementers Forum. You will find FAQs, USB announcements of upcoming events, technical information, device class documents and more.

About This Document

This page was inspired by Kenneth E. Harker's excellent Linux on Laptops site, as well as Nelson Minar's Linux on NEC Versa laptops. If you're planning to buy a Notebook computer to run Linux on, those sites are surely where you should begin.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions, please feel free to email me.

© 2002 by Corewise
All rights reserved.
Last modified: Thu May 9 17:59:41 WEST 2002