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Laptops, notebooks, portables and NetBSD

This is a living document -- in other words, the content will probably change. (The current info is derived from several sources, including old mailing list and newsgroup postings. Some information is attributed.) Please share your experiences with using NetBSD on laptops, notebooks and other portable computers. In particular, what laptops work well with NetBSD? What laptops don't work well with NetBSD and why (such as X, sound, modem)? What version(s) of NetBSD?

This document contains:

List of laptops by vendor and model


Jared D. McNeill successfully runs -current on an AST Ascentia 910N laptop. It is an Intel 486DX/4 75MHz laptop with 16MB of RAM and a 1.2GB hard disk; the LCD uses a Dual Scan STN flat screen technology. His dmesg output, kernel and X configurations are available via his webpage.

Baycom Agent
Feature list in PDF (Deutsch)

Bernd Sieker (05/Sep/2000) reports:

CPU:            Intel Mobile Celeron 450MHz
Graphics Chipset: ATI Rage LT Pro, 8 MB Video RAM, fully supported by XFree86
BIOS:           Phoenix NoteBIOS 4.0, Version 1.00.00
RAM:            64 MB
Disk:           6 GB
Display:        1024x768 13" TFT
What I like:

Suspend-to-disk works fine with NetBSD, when running X. When the Xserver is running, but suspend-to-disk is initiated while working on a console, the X cursor is mangled after resume. Even an Xserver restart does not cure it. If X was visible at suspend time, everything comes back fine.

Battery life is ok, if nothing much is going on it's close to 4 hours with the "smart" Li-Ion battery.

The two "mouse" buttons under the touchpad, which works nicely as a PS/2 mouse, are very close to each other, so it's easy to press both simultaneously with one thumb for 3rd-button-emulation.

PowerSaving features work fine, I have seen other notebooks with problems there.

The X display is quite fast with the Mach64 XFree86 server, and one can even have limited hardware-accelerated "OpenGL" using the Mesa-glx package.

Besides the normal interfaces one would expect in a modern notebook (PS/2 mouse _or_ keyboard, VGA, Serial, Parallel, USB, IR) there's a TV output (Y/C S-Video, PAL or NTSC). I have not tried that at all so I don't know if it actually works under NetBSD. It's probably like those on ATI's Xpert@Play cards, so I guess it needs additional software.

Serial, Parallel, VGA and TV ports are behind a dust cover.

Baycom notebooks can be ordered without operating system, which sounds like a real feature :)


The APM does not provide an estimated remaining battery life, but the percentages of remaining charge are quite accurate. Tools like asapm calculate remaining time quite nicely.

Multifunction Device Sound/Modem does not work.

This Notebook has only one Cardslot.

There is only one drive bay, which can be used by either a CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD, or floppy disk drive. The floppy can be connected to the parallel port with a special adapter cable (not included), it can boot in this configuration, but I don't know if NetBSD will detect it.


Some disk partitioning utilities leave a partition table with no active partition, which causes the BIOS to stall completely at power-on. It detects the hard disk, then three beeps, and then nothing, one cannot even enter setup to disable the hard disk or boot from floppy disk. The only chance then is to install it in another computer and re-create a conforming partition table.

The tool to create a save-to-disk area (phdisk.exe) can either create a file on a DOS partition (works fine), or create its own partition. The latter option invariably creates this partition at the end of the disk, regardless if there already is another partition, and not looking if there might be suitable free space elsewhere on the disk. I think such a partition can be created manually if it is given the correct partition ID.

Price is ca. 1950 Euros.


Ryan Hurst wrote (31/May/2000):
I use a Compaq M700, everything is supported with the exceptions of:

Audio (Maestro 2e) which is supported by OSS, so once 1.5 is released
OSS should give it audio
WinModem (3Com)
MiniPCI 3Com NIC (I use a 3c575tx cardbus card)

It has a 14.1" display and the case is ruged aliminum! All in all its a decent notebook

Steve Woodford uses a Compaq Armada 1598DT with a 266MHz Pentium MMX and 64MB RAM. He says (10/Sep/2000):

All the onboard hardware, bar the I/R port and the 4 Compaq Function keys, is properly supported by NetBSD-1.5_ALPHA2. Including:
        PCMCIA Slots (TI-1131 Cardbus bridge. Untested in cardbus mode),
        OPTi PCIIDE controller,
        Chips & Technologies 68554 Graphics (with xfree86 SVGA server),
        Touchpad mouse (using pms driver, and wsmouse protocol),
        Sound (ES1878),
        APM works fine with NetBSD's APM code.
This is a fine laptop for NetBSD. I haven't tested "Suspend to Disk" since it looks like it needs a FAT partition to work, which I didn't configure. Normal suspend works fine.

Alistair Crooks wrote that the old xf86 3.3.6 works fine on some i815-based Compaq desktops (and should work for i810s also):


Courtney Spencer wrote about being "happy with a Dell CPx PIII 450" (16/Aug/2000):
NetBSD 1.5_ALPHA (pearl) #11: Sat Aug 12 00:58:49 EDT 2000
ATI Rage Mobile works fine with XFree86 Version 3.3.6:
vga1 at pci1 dev 0 function 0: ATI Technologies Mach64 LM (rev. 0x64)
Ess Maestro is not supported but I read ossaudio may in the future:
ESS Technology Inc Maestro 2E PCI Audio Accelerator (audio multimedia, revision 0x10) at pci0 dev 8 function 0 not configured
Cardbus and the Xircom RBEM-56G 10/100 work also:
tlp0 at cardbus0 dev 0 function 0: Xircom X3201-3 Ethernet, pass 0.3
tlp0: Ethernet address 00:10:a4:ec:98:e9
com2 at cardbus0 dev 0 function 1: Xircom CardBus Ethernet 10/100 + Modem 56
Have not tried any apm stuff while in X. I like to disable apm anyway and use the bios which works fine for me. I use an external serial mouse. I believe the ps/2 trackpoint/touchpad combo would be ok though.

Duncan McEwan uses a Dell Latitude CPx 500. He says (11/Sep/2000):

Pentium III, 128MB memory, 6GB Disk

Neomagic MagicMedia 256ZX VGA works fine with XFree86 3.6.6 in 16bpp mode.

I haven't yet been able to get the Neomagic MagicMedia 256ZX based audio to work. I tried "wss* at pnpbios0" and that didn't work. I emailed port-i386 and Jason responded asking me to send the dmesg boot messages from a kernel with PNPBIOSVERBOSE turned on. I did this a week ago and haven't had a response yet (busy man!) so I need to follow up on that sometime.

3Com 3c575CT card works fine.

     ex0 at cardbus0 dev 0 function 0: 3Com 3c575CT Ethernet
     ex0: interrupting at 11
     ex0: MAC address 00:50:da:8e:fd:34
     tqphy0 at ex0 phy 0: 78Q2120 10/100 media interface
I tried my D-Link DE-650 Ethernet to see if it would be found as a pccard and it wasn't.

USB works fine with our USB 250MB Zip drive.

Valeriy E. Ushakov provided the following (16/Jul/2001):

Model:          Dell Latitude CP
System specs:
Extra hardware: MegaHerz XJEM3336 Modem/Ethernet PCMCIA card
Runs -current (tracked lazily) and XFree 4.0.3.

* Suspend

Suspend to memory and suspend to disk work. I usually try to suspend on a text console, just to be on the safe side, as restored system *sometimes* hangs if suspended in X.

For suspend to disk download s2d utils from dell site. Here are the shortcuts:  - diskette image - just utils

Or go to enter service tag of your machine, select "Downloads for your Dell" and look for "Utilities: Dell Suspend Utilities, BIOS, English, Multi System" 1999-07-28 (version A05).

Run mks2d from a dos diskette or dos/windows partition to create suspend-to-disk partition. You'd better arrange for the disk space in advance when you plan your install. ;)

* CD drive

Just a note that this drive physically cannot read CD-RW, so if you plan to install off CD, burn a one-time recordable (CD-R) disk, not rewritable (CD-RW).

* Audio

Supported by wss at pnpbios. NB: it's commented out in GENERIC_LAPTOP!

* Video

NeoMagic 2160 chipset supported by XFree4. You'll need to apply few workarounds to avoid the server lock-ups (I found them in several places on the net, so I don't remember whom to credit for these). To "Device" section add

        Option "XaaNoScanlineImageWriteRect"
        Option "XaaNoScanlineCPUToScreenColorExpandFill"
* MegaHerz XJEM3336

For MegaHerz card to work my fix for kern/11451 is neccessary (rev 1.7 of syssrc/sys/dev/pcmcia/mhzc.c).


I don't have USB gadgets, so I cannot test USB.

Matt Thomas and Hal Snyder say that the Dell i8000 runs fine. It has a 1600x1200 display and X works (what server?).

Brian de Alwis wrote (05/Feb/2002):

Just thought I'd drop a note about a very successful, though not-so-recent, laptop installation to a Dell Inspiron 2100. I've meant to do this for a while, and it may be too late as Dell appears to have discontinued it. Which is a pity, as I'm pleased with it.

The 2100 is a somewhat ultralite (3.5 pounds/2 kg; 1" thick) with a PIII 700MHz. I have the default configuration comes with 128MB of RAM and a 10GBF harddrive, but with the bigger battery. There is a docking station, though I've never seen one. Having a good backpack, I made my own case out of foam-wrapping and duct tape :-) A brief summary of its features (I've attached 1.5.3_ALPHA dmesg output):

  • 12" LCD (1024x768: 106dpi x 106dpi)
  • ATI 3D Rage Mobility with 4MB of memory
  • built-in ethernet (10/100), and Winmodem (an LTMODEM),
  • two-button synaptics touchpad81
  • built-in ethernet (10/100), and Winmodem (an LTMODEM :-(), Cirrus Logic CS4281 CrystalClear Audioe>
  • external ports:
    • one USB port
    • PS/2 mouse/keyboard (tried with a keyboard, never a mouse)
    • 15-pin VGA (works fine)
    • headphone/stereo jack + a tinny little speaker
    • ATAPI connector for the modular devices (mine came with a CDROM and 1.44MB floppy)
    • microphone jack (+ internal mic)
    • parallel port; there are serial ports, but no ports on the 'top
    • one thin CardBus slot (is this Type II?)8

One of the best things about this laptop is that everything just worked with NetBSD 1.5.1 (though read on for some 1.5.2 stuff). In fact, the biggest difficulty I've encountered was figuring out how to shrinking the WindowsME installation (forced upon me) to free up space for NetBSD; I ended up having to use PartitionMagic.

The 12" screen may sound small, but I find it perfect. Since I rarely used more than 1024x768, and it's so crisp, I've never bothered to hook it up to an external monitor, even though we have several spare 19" monitors in my lab. The stereo jack has more noise than I would have expected, but it's acceptable.

It suspends/resumes repeatedly with no problems (though I've never tried it with any PCMCIA cards). Note that this is battery-backed; see just below for suspend-to-disk woe. I get about 3 hours on a full charge, having changed to ctwm from Enlightenment (E checks the disk every twenty seconds for some reason). As I've complained in an earlier e-mail, the mouse cursor disappears in X on resume, but switching VTs fixes that, and I've now incorporated an automated switcher into my apm scripts along the lines suggested in the e-mails.

A few significant caveats:

  • I've never tried its PCMCIA/CardBus support.
  • I've only tried using the full-suspend (to hard-disk) once, which failed: this was initiated by the BIOS as the battery was low, and it ran out of power during the write. I haven't been able to try it otherwise as our APM stuff doesn't seem to be able to initiate a suspend-to-disk.
  • Some of the `special' keys don't work, like to raise or loweri the volume (Fn-F5 and -F6), or to eject the CD-ROM. I assume@ these require ACPI support, and I don't miss them anyways.te?
  • I'm not sure what this means in the dmesg:
            WARNING: can't reserve area for I/O APIC.
             Physical memory end: 0x07fed000
             PCI memory mapped I/O space start: 0x08000000
Unfortunately my experience with 1.5.2 hasn't been quite as smooth as with 1.5.1. I've had it unexplicably hang three times or so (doesn't respond to pings), these occurred after the machine had been idle for a bit. I've never been able to determine a reason for it: there are no crash dumps, nothing in /var/log/messages, etc. The only solution was to power-down and power-up. I've also suffered strange black-outs in X on resume where the screen refuses to redraw. I can switch back and forth to a text VT with no problem, but X never recovers, except by killing the server. Though this never happened with 1.5.1, it might have something to do with the automated-VT switching on resume I setup recently; perhaps I should put a sleep in there... I'm currently trying a 1.5.3_ALPHA kernel to see if that makes a difference.

I should emphasize that these are only minor problems: everything in general works like a charm!

Eric Radman reported the following about the Dell Inspiron 2650 running NetBSD 2.0 (11/Apr/2005):

1.6GHz Celeron
It will not boot off of the GENERIC i386 kernel without entering the Kernel Configuration Mode (using `boot -c` at the boot loader prompt) and entering `disable ahc`. GENERIC_LAPTOP works without issue.

The power management doesn't work at all with this laptop, but it runs fine. The nVidia video card is flakey, and requires a reboot after using an external monitor.

The winmodem doesn't work, and so far I havn't used any USB-to-serial adaptors that worked well with an external modem except for the one made by Keyspan, which seems to only work under Linux.

Eric Radman also reported the following about the Dell Inspiron 4100 running NetBSD 2.0 (11/Apr/2005):

DVD-ROM drive
10/100 Ethernet
Everything works under NetBSD except the built-in winmodem. The ATI video card on this laptop is well behaved, and I can switch from LCD to external monitor while X is running. DVD playback works fine under mplayer, but only shows up on the LCD--not the external monitor.

The Suspend feature of the laptop works even under X, but I have to us `ifconfig an0 down` to disable my Cisco 350 Wireless card first. The first release of NetBSD 2.0 has a buggy Aironet wireless driver that was fixed in NetBSD-current.

It has a built-in IrDA port that shows up as tty01, but I didn't test it.

Gabor Suveg shared the following information about a Dell Inspiron 7000 running NetBSD 1.6 beta (11/Jul/2002): It has P2-266, 128MB, 20GB hdd (upgraded), ess maestro 2. The X11, mouse, modem, network card, and audio works. Gabor says it runs very fine.


Duncan McEwan used a Digital Hinote VP710a. From memory he says (11/Sep/2000):
Pentium 166-MMX, 2GB disk, 32MB memory.

The screen was 1024x768 DSTN display. Graphics hardware was Neomagic MagicGraph 128XD which seemed to work fine with any version of XFree86 I tried (once the Neomagic support was added to XFree86). I used it in 16bpp mode.

I had the sound working in soundblaster compatibility mode.

  sb0 at isa0 port 0x220-0x237 irq 5 drq 1: dsp v3.02
  audio0 at sb0: half duplex, mmap, independent
I saw some references on the mailing lists that it should be possible to get it working better, but I never bothered.

APM suspend/resume worked fine.

I was just playing around with a USB Zip drive shortly before the opportunity to exchange it for the Dell came up and now can't remember quite where I got to with it. Initially the USB hardware wasn't being found. Responses to a post I made to port-i386 suggested using PCIBIOS_INTR_FIXUP and PCIBIOS_ADDR_FIXUP. This worked, and I was able to use the ZIP drive. But it also caused the cardbus slots to be recognised (previously they had only been found as pcmcia) and this stopped my ethernet card from working. I wasn't sure why - perhaps because the card was a pccard rather than cardbus, or perhaps because I had something else configed incorrectly. I played around a little more and *I think* I managed to get ethernet working again by removing cardbus support from the kernel config.

I never got the ethernet card working with cardbus, but didn't care that much.

After I'd had the laptop for about 2 years, the keyboard started to misbehave (occasionally strings of "random" characters would be generated when I typed certain keys). It took a while before I discovered that this was happening under windows as well and so wasn't a NetBSD glitch. Once I realised this I sent it in to be repaired (3 year RTB warranty) and it came back working fine.

Chris Wareham wrote the following about a Digital HiNote Ultra II (19/Feb/2003):

  • basic hardware and interfaces information
    • 150Mhz Pentium
    • 32Mb RAM
    • 10Gb IDE hard drive
    • 9.6" screen (maximum 800x600 resolution)
    • builtin audio (Soundblaster compatible)
    • two PCMCIA hubs - one for ordinary PCMCIA cards, the other for the base station
    • trackball pointing device (recognised as a PS/2 mouse)
    • base station with ethernet
    • "media" add on with CD-ROM drive, MIDI port and speakers
    • floppy drive add on
  • runs NetBSD 1.5.3, or 1.6 with XFree86 3.3.6
  • what works
    • floppy drive
    • IDE hard drive
    • ordinary PCMCIA hub
    • APM - power management works flawlessly
    • Soundblaster audio
    • trackball
    • graphics chipset (CT65540 I think) at 800x600 16bpp
  • what doesn't work
    • base station - the PCMCIA hub it attaches to is recognised, but no devices are detected
    • The Chips and Technologies driver in Xfree86 4 is a rewrite, and I couldn't get satisfactory results with it. XFree86 3.3.6 works perfectly.

This is a fantastic little machine - small, lightweight and very quiet. If you don't need the screen real estate or sheer power of a modern laptop, then it's a worthwhile buy.


(LifeBook??) Ron says: "I have a Fujitsu C353, and it seemed to recognize everything (cdrom, hd, usb, etc) except for the usb nic and my NDC Lan PCMCIA NIC, so I didnt install NetBSD. I assume if you get the 3com Etherlink III it will work."


Richard Rauch tried a Gateway 2000 Solo 2300 awhile ago. He says (07/Sep/2000):
* Vital statistics: A Pentium (Pentium II?) at 166MHz, I think. 16MB RAM at the time. CD-ROM. A touch-pad below the keyboard. An 800x600 display, I believe (``NeoMagic'' chipset?). Other basics. CD-ROM and floppy drive can be alternately connected (not both at once). The hard drive is something like 1.8 GB.

* The laptop has never much cared for CD-R disks. To install NetBSD, I had to make a boot-floppy, and transfer the rest of the installation via null-modem. (I ended up using SLIP, since PPP is not, I recall, included on the install floppies.)

* Most things worked quite well. I was able to get X up and running, and I _think_ that the touch-pad worked correctly. (I _know_ that I was able to use wireless keyboard, one which needed special drivers to work under MS-Windows!)

Later, Richard added (18/Feb/2003):
* The CD drive that wouldn't recognize my NetBSD boot-disks failed a while later. It was probably going flakey when it wasn't recognizing CD's that I'd burned.

* That laptop was not my own, so comments were from memory not from extensive use. (I set it up, and it wound up getting MS-WINDOWS back on it anyway.)

Richard Rauch wrote the following about a Gateway 2000 Solo 2500 (18/Feb/2003):

* The CPU is supposed to be a Pentium II, but BIOS and NetBSD say just "Pentium". I know that it was worked on before I got it (it had fried one or two motherboards or parts thereof), so it may be that a disreputable shop had swapped in a plain Pentium motherboard---or that they'd actually done so up front, but that the person that I bought the laptop from didn't pay attention to the change (he is not by profession a computer person, though he does a lot more with them than most of his colleagues).

* The USB ports did not work until 1.6, if memory serves.

Basic stats:

  • Pentium (case says Pentium II) at 233MHz.
  • ~4 GB disk drive.
  • I have 128MB of memory, though the previos owner had upgraded it from whatever it shipped with.
  • 800x600 16-bit graphic display.
  • 2 USB ports.
  • 2 PCMCIA ports
  • 1 PS/2 connector
  • 1 serial connector
  • 1 parallel connector
  • 1 video out to monitor
  • 1 composite out to a TV
  • Volume control
  • Audio in, headphone jack, mic
  • 2 little speakers.
  • Unlike the 2300 I described before, this one lets you simultaneously mount the CD and floppy drive (both are included, though I've never used the floppy).
  • 1 keyboard
  • 1 touchpad (two buttons).

I've used it with NetBSD 1.5.2 (and .1 probably; maybe also 1.5 proper; I can't remember) and presently use it with NetBSD 1.6.

Everything works as far as I know (though in 1.5.x, the USB ports did not). I've used:

  • Built in keyboard.
  • Built in touchpad.
  • X.
  • PS/2 keyboard.
  • USB mouse/keyboard
  • PCMCIA ethernet 10/100
  • CD
  • Audio (local speakers and headphones, microphone)

I bought it used from one of my brothers. Its goals in life for me were: TeX, editing, ssh (plugged into home or office networks), and playing music. It does all of those and (almost) never leaves me wishing for the extra power of the Pentium II that it was supposed to have. It's my first laptop and felt a bit heavy at first. Even after I got used to it, carrying it in its case/bag could be heavy if I had other books in there (the bag doubling as a small backpack).

Of late, it seems to have converted itself into a bedroom terminal, with a 50' ethernet cable connecting it to my home LAN.

I usually use it with a USB keyboard/mouse (actually, /trackball), since the built in keyboard has always felt cramped and I dislike the touchpad---especially because it only has 2 buttons.

Hewlett Packard

Gabor Suveg shared the following information about a HP OmniBook 800CT running NetBSD 1.5.1 (11/Jul/2002): It has a P100, 16MB, 10TFT(800x600), sound. The The X11, mouse, modem, network card, and audio works and "apm works very fine!!"

Nick Hudson's dmesg for an HP OmniBook 4150B is here. He says (12/Sep/2000):

I'm running NetBSD_1.5ALPHA2 on an HP OmniBook 4150B with a 3Com 3c574B network card and a Psion 56k modem. I run X (actually KDE) using the Mach64 X server. The only things that I haven't got working are the USB bus (I haven't got anything to plug into it) and the sound chip (ESS Maestro 2E). There currently isn't a production driver for this chip - you'll notice that the device is recognised by my kernel, but thats because I'm trying out a driver that's being developed.

All in all its a excellent laptop.

Antti Kantee shares info about a HP OmniBook XE2 (23/Sep/2000 and 01/Jan/2001):

I run -current on it and basically it works good, floppy, cd, hd and all. Also APM works, at least standby and suspend. Hibernate also works if you create the sleep-partition. It seems to mess up X pretty bad, though, so be sure to activate it only outside X. fun-fact: I couldn't get apm to work in Windows (not that I tried that hard, but.. ;)

After a power-cycle a boot to Windows is required before X will start up properly. It looks as though XFree 3.3.6 leaves something uninitialised. I haven't tried XFree 4.0.2 yet. Once X is working, standby/suspend works great also from there, but screenblack will mess up the screen. The chip is a Silicon Motion chip.

Audio is ESS Maestro 3 which doesn't work. The cd-drive is usable for playing cd's, but only when the computer is not active otherwise (eg. during suspend)

Modem is a winmodem.

Dunno if USB works, but at least it's probed.

3Com 3c575B-TX in the cardbus slot works great after the pcibios fixups.

Ir does work either (but IIRC work is done in that area)

Gabor Suveg also shared the following information about a HP XE2 running NetBSD 1.5.2 (11/Jul/2002): It has a Celeron 333, 160MB ram, 6GB hdd, 12" hpa, ess soundcard. The X11, mouse, modem, network card, and audio works. The pcmcia does not work. Gabor says "the hp make the 2 pccard to one irq. and netbsd cant use all 2 card. (with 2 card: fbsd freeze fully!!, linux works, but cant upload with modem, cant get answer from irq)".

In a posting to the bsdi-users list, Peter Seebach wrote about a HP Pavilion N5490 (13/Aug/2001):

This is NetBSD-current. ...

Under NetBSD (XF86 4.1), the console display is hosed if I leave X. The system is still alive, but the display never recovers. ...

If you are using NetBSD, and don't mind having no sound, you can probably get pretty decent milage from the machine. ...

It's a nice machine. High res display (1400x1050, and mine has precisely one bad pixel), CD burner/DVD, workable PCMCIA. Useless winmodem, difficult sound, ...

Geert Hendrickx provided information about HP Pavilion zd8105ea running NetBSD 2-stable (19/May/2005).

Has P4 2.8 GHz, 1 Gb of RAM, 60 Gb 4600 rpm HD, ATI radeon mobility video card with 128 Mb or RAM, 1440x900 widescreen 17" monitor, network card, modem, wireless, usb, dvd-rw, smartcard reader and whatnot.

XFree86 from the base system doesn't support the video card (yet), but from pkgsrc does, even without any manual configuration.

The soundcard (Intel 82801EF ICH6) is supported -but not recognized- by the auich driver. I've got it to work though and send-pr'd the patches. Update: soundcard is supported now in 2-stable. (25/May/2005).

Network card (rtk0) works, wireless doesn't. Winmodem evidently doesn't work either.

Built-in touchpad with scroll-"pad" works.

Buttons on the remote control (mostly multimedia stuff like volume and dvd actions like prev/next/arrows/...) are seen as keys on the keyboard, so these can be used via e.g. xmodmap.

USB works.

Other devices: not tested yet. I have no use for them (at the moment).

APM: poweroff works. Suspend works but resume does not. ACPI: all acpi devices recognized, but haven't tested it any further.

The dmesg output is here and the xorgcfg generated xorg.conf is here.

IBM ThinkPad

Mike Pelley says (06/Sep/2000): "the ThinkPad 560 works quite well with NetBSD 1.4.2, -release (1.4.3A?) and 1.5_ALPHA (the only ones I've tried). The internal sound card, pcmcia, external floppy, and screen all work well."

David Brownlee has a IBM Thinkpad 600X running NetBSD 1.5_ALPHA2. XF86Config and /var/run/dmesg.boot are available. He says (06/Sep/2000):

Has a 'Crystal Clear' (clcs) audio device, which doesn't work too well (can hang the machine on resume in some cases), so I've commented it out.

If you have a Windows partition with a suspend file the hibernate function works fine.

Has a 'Lose'modem builtin - I use a pcmcia card modem.

Has three mouse buttons - The way god intended.

Has a neomagic chipset - had problems with Xfree86 3.6.6 so I installed 4.0.1 and a lightly modified XF86Config from the net (attached).

Resume is trange - sometimes windows will hang for up to a minute, may be audio related. NetBSD will generally resume twice (come back, then suspend immediately, hit Fn and it comes to life for real).

Quite happy with it on balance :)

Derek Moeller says (07/Sep/2000):

I (somewhat) recently bought a Thinkpad i1460. It's a relatively decent laptop, from what I've seen of the majority of the i386 laptop competition.

I've used 1.4.2 on it, as well as the -CURRENT as of a couple months ago. Most everything is functional, except for a couple things. First is the winmodem. Second, console is only 80x25 - NetBSD won't use the 1024 display, but X works fine, so that's not really a problem. XFree 4 is needed to work on it, but 4.0.1 is stable enough for normal use now.

Mel Kravitz said (07/Feb/2002):

IBM T23 laptop runs very well with NetBSD-current (1.5ZA), all features work except software modem.

Unit comes with xp and 48GB HD, dual OS install, Netbsd requires only 250MB of diskspace, less XFree86. Using 1.5.2 floppies with pcmcia Linksys recognized card for ftp install(ne2). After basic installation the GENERIC kernel recognizes Intel Pro100 built in pcmcia ethernet card. It also reports internel wi0 wireless Intersil Prism2.5 card This card can be configured using Naoki Fukaumi instructions, see current mail list

The card will not be recognized by dhcp server using Lucent Orinco cards but can be brought on line with a simple shell script taken from the above mail. The vga chip is a S3 SuperSavage chip, support exits in XFree86-4.0.2

I included my /etc/X11/XF86Config for trackball mouse, if USB mouse support is needed change /dev/wsmouse-> /dev/wsmouse1. Care must be taken not to enable apm support in the kernel or GENERIC will hang on boot.

The fxp0 intel ethernet card is reported as the 'VE' configuration it may report errors on 10base ethernet networks. Proccedure i used to bring this laptop up to -current (support for most external devices, such as quirky USB mass storage cameras etc..): after 1.5.2 install:

No X installation, using ne2 pcmcia card, from get pkgsrc.tar.gz, install in /usr make && make install && make clean
/usr/pkgsrc/devel/editors/pico (because i don't like vi)
with ftp get binary files for current snapshot, base.tgz,comp.tgz,misc.tgz,text.tgzand man.tgz install from / directory this will bring /bin,/sbin,/usr/lib etc closer to todays current. Using cvs checkout latest src in /usr/src:
Follow build instructions for a current kernel, after make && make install in /usr/src/usr.bin/make, and /usr/src/usr.sbin/config then install a current kernel with carbus support, auich sound support and turning 'off' all the device drivers you will not need. with the new kernel booted the in /usr/src sh is ready to build a new(current system ) before building read the current mail list as well as BUILDING in /usr/src.

dmesg output for IBM T23 is here.

Kravitz also wrote about T23 running -current (21/Feb/2002):

1.2MHZ Intel P111, 256MB ram, 48GB HD -removable. Video chip is S3 SuperSavage -support in XFree86-4.2.0, savage driver, 1500x1200 24bpp display. if you get this machine e-mail me and i will send my XF86Config file, xf86config has no selection for the 'savage' driver. Internal wireless is Intersil Prism2.5 chip which is configurable as the wi0 driver and works in NetBSD-current, not tested in 1.5.2. Internal Intel fxp0/VE chip use here in current or 1.5.2 gives fxp0 'timeout errors'.

Three usb ports all work, modem does not work(win modem).Audio is intel ac97, 48000HZ only supported rate, limited audio, can use the usb audio driver to play audio (mp3's) with inexpensive usb device such as the iMic, I have configured mixerctl to allow cd's to play Cdrom and floppy are interchangeable both work.

Jan Schaumann also has an IBM T30 (10/Mar/2003). See these links:

kernel configuration
X configuration
actual kernel

And Jan Schaumann has an X config file for an IBM X21 laptop at (10/Mar/2003)

Mel Kravitz provided the following about a IBM A22m running NetBSD-current (21/Feb/2002):

1.0MHZ Intel P111 , 128MB ram, 20GB HD-removable, this is a nice feature for OS changes.

video chip:Ati-Mobility-P , configurable in XFree86-3.3.6 standard 1.5.2 install with X will allow Xserver to be configured, resolution is fixed at 1028x768 , 16bpp only. Intel fxp0 internal ethernet runs in 1.5.2 no problems. Audio is crystal 4280 pci chip, xmms has problems but xanim works in short not all audio rates are supported. USB works, tested with Olympus Umass camera D510. Cdrom and floppy work. Internal modem-win modem does not work.

David Brownlee reports about NetBSD 2.0 and the Thinkpad T41 with 1400x1050 display:

Everything works except the winmodem and Intel wireless. I normally swap out the minipci wireless card with an ath card from a T41p which works fine.

Has touchpoint and glidepoint. Only one of which works at any one time under NetBSD.

His dmesg.boot for the Thinkpad T41 is here.


Jon Lindgren wrote: "My experience with a SPARCBook 3GX is that it doesn't support serial ports, the internal modem, external keyboard/mouse, pcmcia, or advanced power saving features (like suspend/resume)."


Jasper Wallace has a Panasonic Toughbook CF-71 (maybe B model?). He says:
Works well enough - this laptop has a problem mentioned in the docs that effects all os's that run on it: if you suspend it with usb devices attached it hangs :-(


ym0 at pnpbios0 index 20 (YMH0021)
ym0: io 220-22f 530-537 388-38f 300-301 100-101, irq 5 9, dma 0 7
ym0: OPL3-SA3
audio0 at ym0: full duplex, mmap
opl0 at ym0: model OPL3
mpu0 at ym0
works fine. the builtin speakers suck tho. (it also has worked with wss and sb compat. attachments). cardbus:
cbb0 at pci0 dev 10 function 0: Ricoh 5C478 PCI-CardBus bridge (rev. 0x03)
(chipflags 2)
cbb1 at pci0 dev 10 function 1: Ricoh 5C478 PCI-CardBus bridge (rev. 0x03)
(chipflags 2)
Works ok, and with the very latest 1.5Alpha code my 3com 3CXFE575BT 10/100 NIC works, tho it dosn't seem to report the wirespeed, full/half duplex properly in ifconfig.
ex0 at cardbus0 dev 0 function 0
ex0: interrupting at 11
ex0: MAC address 00:00:86:34:11:6f
tqphy0 at ex0 phy 0: 78Q2120 10/100 media interface, rev. 3
tqphy0: 10baseT, 10baseT-FDX, 100baseTX, 100baseTX-FDX, auto
tqphy0 detached
vga0 at pci0 dev 2 function 0: Neomagic MagicMedia 256AV VGA (rev. 0x20)
Works fine with x, some corruption in xterm scroll bars and netscape tho.


Chris Wareham ( wrote about his Patriot 2420 (04/Dec/2002):
  • basic hardware and interfaces information
    • 1.2Ghz Pentium III
    • 128Mb RAM
    • 10Gb IDE hard drive
    • 14.1" screen (maximum 1024x768 resolution)
    • builtin ethernet, modem, sound, floppy and cdrom drive
    • two USB hubs, but no PCMCIA
    • trackpad
  • runs NetBSD 1.6 and 1.6_STABLE
  • what works
    • floppy drive
    • IDE hard drive
    • ATAPI cdrom drive
    • USB (two hubs with two sockets each)
    • SiS 900 10/100 ethernet
    • trackpad
    • graphics chipset (SiS 630 or similar) at 1024x768 16bpp
  • what doesn't work
    • builtin modem (probably a WinModem)
    • soundchip (reports itself as an SiS 7018, but has issues with the AC'97 codec).
The dmesg output for further details is here.
In summary, a nice machine which I picked up cheap as it was end of line. I don't miss the PCMCIA slots, and the only drawback is the soundchip problem.


Lennart Augustsson wrote (01/Jun/2000):
I love my Vaio 505TX. Unfurtunately, the model is a year old and no longer made. I think the TX was the last model where everything worked in NetBSD, then they introduced winmodems, new sound chip ...

Ted Lemon wrote (31/May/2000): "I have VAIO PCG-Z505HS, and I'm very happy with it. :') I'm running -current as of about a week ago."

Wolfgang Rupprecht wrote (31/May/2000):

Everything from the 2-year old 505f to the just phased out 505ve will work fine with netbsd and X. I've got one of the 505ve's in December and the only bug is the useless winmodem (aka losemodem). Unfortunately Sony changes their models every 6 months. The old 0.78" thick 8"x10" 2.7lb units have all been phased out.

The 10.5" "XBRITE" display is a bit better than average, but still far from readable in sunlight. You still need to find shade to use it.

Brian Stark wrote (31/May/2000):
I have a Sony VAIO PCG-N505VX and it is running the 5/27/2000 snapshot of NetBSD-current. Using the built-in mouse is awkward with XFree86 3.3.6 so I have it configured to use a USB mouse.

The built-in modem is not supported by NetBSD (If you get one with an external port replicator you can connect it to an external modem). The sound card only works in half duplex mode. I also can't access the USB floppy drive when booting from the internal hard drive, but booting from the USB floppy works (strange!).

Aside from those problems I have been pretty happy with it.

His dmesg output is here.

Mel Kravitz wrote (31/May/2000):

The Sony PCG-505TR while it has only a PI 200MHz intel proccessor, has fully supported:
USB Controller
standard irq6 floppy-not USB, hence boot floppy for network install is possible
modem -supported as com0(hardware modem not winmodem)
only one pcmcia typeII slot , supported Ricoh cardbus controller.
i installed current on it last Sep. and it has been updated to 1.4X, it is being used heavily and has been very stable.

Michael MacFaden uses a Sony Vaio PCG-FX250 (28/Jul/2001):

CPU: Pentium III/coppermine, 128M, cdrw, 12 gig ibm, intel graphics/sound chips, 10/100 ethernet 2 usb ports, firewire. added additional enterasys

1.5.1, generic kernel

Built in ethernet works, winmodem does not Intel 82815 graphics card hasn't been tested yet

apm support appears broken, apm -s will hang system and the apm report states battery status is unknown.

dmesg output:

Brian Rose provided the following about his Sony PCG-FXA32 (31/May/2002):

I bought a Sony FXA32 notebook in April of 2002. I successfully installed 1.5.2 and X 4.2.0 onto it with little trouble. This is a very nice machine and NetBSD should compliment it well.

The video chip is a ATI Rage Mobility LM with 8MB. This is a nice little chip that is hardware accellerated in the X 4.2.0 ati driver. It also does multiple framebuffers, so ou can have different views on the LCD and the VGA port (and maybe the TV-OUT). This is all displayed on a nice 15" screen.

The network adapter is a Realtek 8139 10/100 Ethernet. To get it to work you must (a) boot with a LAPTOP kernel and (b) set the ethernet media to "auto" before using it. After this is done, it runs just fine.

The modem is a Via MC-97 modem, which is derived from the Conexant HSF design. Drivers are available for Linux, but to my knowledge, no drivers exist (yet) for any of the BSDs. (03/Jun/2002)

I have detailed setup notes on my webpage. For more detailed info,

Another good place is that other OS's laptop page...

Weston Andros Adamson wrote the following about a Sony Vaio R505JS/JLM (11/Feb/2003):

Sony Vaio R505JS and (probably) R505JL

# basic hardware and interfaces information

CPU: Intel Pentium III/coppermine (850 MHz), 256 M, 30G, 2 USB ports, 10/100 nic, firewire, CDRW/DVD (for JS) or DVD (for JL) over firewire, etc...

# what version(s) of NetBSD?

NetBSD-1.6M and NetBSD-1.6N so far, as it needs ACPI support

# what works? (X11, mouse, modem, network card, audio)

X11, mouse (and wheel mouse), nic, audio, usb, cardbus

# what doesn't work?

CDRW/DVD drive

# any other information (URLs, dmesg output, etc.) or opinions


Brad Spencer (05/Sep/2000) says: "I very much like my older Toshiba Portege 3015CT [3010CT]" and the audio and video work great; hard drive is only 4GB; IR port not supported. Brad Spencer also says about his Toshiba Portege 3015: "This is a notebook size computer, 3/4 of an inch thick. Mine has a 266MHZ Pentium Pro with 96MB of ram. The cardbus code works well, the ym driver produces good sound and XFree seems happy."

Jeremy C. Reed has an old Toshiba Satellite 110CS laptop (07/Nov/2001):

I used the serial port with SLIP to install 1.5.1(?).

My Hayes Optima 336 v.34 Data/Fax with EZjack pcmcia card (model # 5347US) doesn't appear to work. It is detected, but tty03 doesn't respond.

I found a XF86Config file at In this config, I had to change the Pointer Protocol to "Wsmouse" and Device to "/dev/wsmouse0". And change the XkbSymbols from "en_US(pc102)+fi" to "en_US(ps101)". It is 800x600. I also added "Emulate3Buttons".

The long button at top is mouse button one and the short one is button three. "xset m 1 10" seems to work fine for the mouse.

Chris Pinnock says (14/Sep/2000):

I bought a TOSHIBA Satellite 2140 CDS. It features a DSTN screen (which is why it was so cheap), 4Gig HD, 32Meg of RAM, CD-ROM drive and Floppy drive built in, standard i/o ports (9 pin serial, parallel printer, PS/2, USB headphones, etc). It will take 1 cardbus card and 2 PC cards. It also has an internal modem.

After a few days of fiddling with Windows 98 (I have to say this was my best experience of M$ products, as the machine did not crash once or need rebooting...), I decided it was time to put on NetBSD 1.4.2.

Unfortunately, on the first boot of the install disc, the machine hung. My feeling was that it was the internal modem, so I disabled that in the BIOS, then NetBSD booted and installed fine. The modem is a WinModem anyway, so there was no loss in disabling it.

I don't think that cardbus cards are supported. The sound capability of the machine is not supported in 1.4.x, but I think it is in 1.5.

The power management on this model (and indeed it seems most toshiba's) consists of suspend to RAM and suspend to FILE (hibernate). i.e. it is impossible to hibernate the machine unless you are running Windows.

NetBSD seems to work fine with the suspend to RAM, although it is something I generally avoid. I did have a period of trouble where the machine would not switch off correctly. Something had changed in the BIOS; I must have invoked some power function from the keyboard by accident.

Still, I cannot grumble as the laptop's power management works exactly as specified in the documentation.

My main grumble with the machine is the graphics capability. If you have the money go for TFT or investigate HPA. DSTN is not very good at all.

Something that persuaded me to buy Toshiba is that they have a suite of webpages dedicated to Linux, NetBSD and other similar systems.

X windows works on the laptop. It has an S3 Virge MX. The S3V server does not work with this chip, but the SVGA server does. I initially used the server in 8-bit mode. I was getting a certain amount of screen corruption. I tried upgrading to XFree86 3.3.6 (available precompiled from which made not difference. I tried using the "noaccel" option and this fixed the problem for the 8-bit mode.

However 16-bit mode, there is still screen corruption when something moves on the screen. Thus I'm still using 8-bit mode, which can be a bit naff when surfing the web or using graphics based software. If anyone has any suggestions about this, I would be grateful for advice. I think that the screen is too slow for the video output.

I haven't tried using the external VGA so cannot comment on that.

The AMD K2 450 performs quite well. I didn't think that the machine had a fan for a long while, but gave the machine a heavy number crunching job to do and the fan came on for the duration...

The 32meg is a bit small, but it is possible to upgrade to 160meg.

I don't own any USB perhipherals so cannot comment on USB.

For network, I use a D-Link card which is compatible with the ne2000 driver. I found the PCMCIA sockets a little fragile, but nevertheless okay.

The unit is probably a bit to big to use on an aeroplane. I certainly have difficulties using it on some of the trains here in London.

Another point that comes to mind is the battery. The battery doesn't hold it's charge as much as I would like it too. Perhaps this battery is a dud.

Incidently, the service I got when I bought the machine (from Gullitronics in Holborn, LONDON, UK) was excellent. Their engineer knows what he is doing and was very helpful in recommending alternative OS's to Windows. He had tested the machines with Mandrake Linux.

His dmesg output is here.

Gabor Suveg shared the following information about a Toshiba 480 CDT running NetBSD 1.5.2 (11/Jul/2002): It has p233, 160MB, 4GB, 12tft (800x600), yamaha opl3 (the best) with docking station. The The X11, mouse, modem, network card, and audio works. But, Gabor says that it can't boot from the CD.

Ben Brown also reported that his Toshiba 480CDT laptop is running NetBSD 2.0F (16/Jul/2004):

X11, mouse, modem, network card and audio works, but the following tweaks had to be made to get the network card (3com 589 PCMCIA Ethernet card) and audio to work.

The network card had to be configured to use 10baseT instead of 10base2, this was done by adding

ifconfig_ep0="media 10baseT"
to /etc/rc.conf.

Audio took me a long time to configure, eventually I found that by recompiling the kernel without any audio with the exception of:

audio*  at audiobus?
midi*   at midibus?
midi*   at pcppi?
and everything worked fine.

I am very impressed with the laptop's performance despite its modest specifications. It runs fluxbox and gimp, firefox, sylpheed, rox, gaim and xmms without any problems.

The XF86Config for the Toshiba 480CDT is at laptops/brown-toshiba-480cdt-XF86Config. And the dmesg output is at laptops/brown-toshiba-480cdt-dmesg.boot.

Brown has a webpage and downloads for the Toshiba 480CDT for NetBSD at

Gabor Suveg shared the following information about a Toshiba Portege 320ct running NetBSD 1.5.2 (11/Jul/2002): It has p1-266, 32MB, 10gb hadd 10" (1024x600), yamaha opl3, doc with cd etc. The X11, mouse, modem, network card, and audio works, but "for use 1024x600 need a little hack." It can't boot from CD, Gabor says.

What to look for in a laptop

  • Robustness
  • Bulk/Weight
  • Size
  • Battery Life
  • PowerSaving feature
  • Mouse -- three-buttons or easy-to-use two-buttons?
  • Screen -- readable? size? resolution? type?
  • Drives -- removable?
  • Interfaces/ports -- network interface?

Links to further information

Contribute / Share information

Please share your experiences or information with using NetBSD on laptops, notebooks and other portable computers.

  • Model/version?
  • basic hardware and interfaces information
  • what version(s) of NetBSD?
  • what works? (X11, mouse, modem, network card, audio)
  • what doesn't work?
  • any other information (URLs, dmesg output, etc.) or opinions
Please send your information to

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