Linux on the Compaq Armada 1520D

This page describes how I have set up Linux on the Compaq Armada 1520D laptop. This is inspired by Sakari Aaltonen's page about setting Linux on the Armada 4120. Only the particular settings for this laptop model are pointed out.

New! Jean-Pierre Eckmann of the University of Geneve uses succesfully my configuration settings on a Compaq Armada 1530D laptop. He also uses XFree86 3.3.1 pretending to have the CLGD-5428 and he has no problems in restoring text mode quitting X.



The story

Back in January we planned to get a laptop computer to support our GPS data acquisition campaigns. Since the GPS data acquisition and elaboration programs run under Windows 95 (or DOS, but they seem to work under Win95 also) we need this OS. On the other hand we're getting quite Linux addicted so we required Linux compatibility.
The choice was a Compaq Armada 4120 but then the 1520D has come out, and it's less expensive.
From Sakari's page we did know it is possible to have Linux working on the Armada 4120, and we did expect just minor changes on the 1520D.


The Armada 1520 comes with a pre installed version of Win95 (you can choose NT). The user should create a set of floppy for the reinstallation of the OS. On our Pc the disks creation program failed after the first, and this operation took much time to try to recover from this. I had to give up but Compaq Italia provided two free CD with the software.
The PCMCIA Ethernet card configuration took many hours of work (it's supposed to be Plug'n'Play!) under Win95, since the combo adapter was set on the UDP (twisted pair) port and our ethernet uses coax (BNC) adapter, the Win95 driver doesn't let you choose the port.
The problem was solved booting a DOS 6.2 floppy with DOS driver and setting the port to "autosense".


The Pc comes with two partitions: one for Win95 (/dev/hda1) and one for the Compaq Setup (/dev/hda3). I added two other partition for Linux (/dev/hda2) and Linux swap (/dev/hda4) using FIPS.
This structure is reflected in the lilo configuration file (/etc/lilo.conf), setup boots the Compaq setup utility.
I have chosen to give 600 Mb to Windows and 400 Mb to Linux due to the amount of Mb the GPS data require.

Installing Linux

I have installed the Slackware 3.1 (from the Sept. 1996, 6 disks, Infomagic box) and soon have updated to kernel 2.0.30.


Our Pc is equipped with 3Com EtherLink III Lan Pc Card, Model 3C589D (Combo, both for 10Base-T and Coax).
I have installed pcmcia-cs-2.8.23 sources and have compiled them. In order to use this card you have to install a kernel with network support but no network device.
The following files must be edited in order to keep the 3C589D to work:  Note that if do a warm reboot from Win95 to Linux the ethernet card is not recognized properly, the card manager sees an "unknown memory card". You have to perform a cold reboot.

Audio device

Just compile the kernel with Audio support and the following settings:
SB 16 Compatible audio device with
DMA16 5
Buffer 16384
In our system the audio support is compiled as module and loaded automatically by kerneld when needed.


I installed XFree86 3.3. There are still some troubles with it but it works. The server is the SVGA which supports the CLGD7548 chip used by the Armada. Both 8 bpp and 16 bpp work. Find here the complete XF86Config and a brief version (with all you need). There are two major problems: Some people over the net suggested a solution for the first problem above: just reduce the virtual screen size to 1100x900 or less. Some people report the second problem doesn't occur on their machine.
Thanks to Oliver Junge,  Lim Keng Pang,  Andy Shofield and Stefan Sitter.

Mail me if you fix these problems.
BTW the window manager is AfterStep, but that's up to you.

Parallel port Zip

I currently use an IoMega parallel port Zip drive. Since this is not used often the support is compiled as module. These modules have to be compiled: scsi, scsi disk and ppa. If you load the modules automatically with kerneld comment the module loading in /etc/rc.d/rc.modules and uncomment the lines for kerneld. Set up the proper aliases in /etc/modules.conf (you can name it conf.modules). The mounting options are described in our /etc/fstab.

Other setup issues

If you don't want the system to try to mount the cd at the startup just change permissions of /etc/rc.d/rc.cdrom to 555 (login as root and type chmod 555 /etc/rc.d/rc.cdrom), that is, the cdrom startup file is not executable (this may applay only for the Slackware).
If you want let the user to mount zip and cdrom drives, modify the /etc/fstab accordingly.

Contacting me

Mail pours in at high volume here from people who use these configuration files. I'm trying to answer to everyone, but please before mail me be sure that:  For help mail to .

Distributions which have been tested (to my knowledge) on the Armada 1520D are:

Distributions which could eventually give you problems: I will try to use Debian distribution, but it will not be in the near future due to the lack of free time.
If you use the configuration from this page, please report to me any success (and failure), indicating the distribution (and its version) you are using and (if any) the non standard devices on your machine. They will be added to the list above, giving you the credit. Please tell me if you want your e-mail address to appear in the page, I won't show it by default.

Sad note: I have received some spam because of this page, so please DO NOT mail me anything that is not about Linux and/or the Compaq Armada, and NO, I  DO NOT want to buy your book about how to place my page into the Top Ten of the major search engines. I do not want this page to appear there at all. :)

Useful links

Linux laptop page: a list of linux laptop installations.
Linux on the Armada 4120.
XFree86 home page.
Linux PCMCIA Information
AfterStep windows manager home page.

Local links

Trento Engineering Faculty: where I work and where this page is hosted.
Pluto sezione di Trento: local Linux User Group (in italian).
GIS pages
Last update 29/10/97 by