Linux on the UMAX ActionBook 318T
I needed a laptop for a new consulting business I'm starting (the clients
I've worked with have very poor ISP service and I needed fast, reliable
Internet access wherever I went). I own another AMD K6-2/350 desktop
and so I settled on the AMD K6-2 chip for my laptop. I knew ahead
of time that the battery life for an AMD (or other made-for-desktop Pentium
for that matter) wasn't extremely long, but this was less of a concern
for me than the convenience of portability. I began to search around
for AMD laptops and I settled on the UMAX ActionBook 318T because of features
and price. This laptop is an all-in-one type unit and has:
24X CD-ROM (built-in)
3.5" floppy (also built-in)
1 USB port
2 CardBus slots (one with Zoomed Video support)
12.1" 800X600 TFT display
4M video RAM
PCMCIA V.90 FAX modem (included in package)
various ports in the back
2-2.5 hours battery life (my experience)
11.8" x 9.8" x 1.8"
Weight 6.6 lbs. (7.4 lbs. with battery)
I bought this unit in December '98 for $1250 from Onsale.com
Preparing for the Installation
The machine came with Windows 98 pre-installed on two hard disk partitions
(one tiny and used for the Suspend-to-Disk feature and one huge).
I decided that I would devote 700M of the 3.1G to Linux since I (unfortunately
:-) still depend on some Micro$oft stuff. I grabbed a copy of RedHat
5.2 and proceeded with the install preparations. I used FIPS2.0 included
on the RH5.2 CD to create the room needed for Linux from the large partition.
I defragged the disk from Windows 98 Programs-Accessories-System Tools-Disk
Defrag as recommended by the FIPS documentation. I also backed up
my hard drive to my desktop's hard drive across the network just in case.
I booted from a Win98 startup disk (with CD support), created a new partition
with 700M of space, then ran Win98 FDISK and removed the partition.
Linux was ready to be installed!
The Linux installation was pretty straightforward (Red Hat keeps getting
better and better about this!) with the exception of (as usual) the X stuff.
After going through and selecting the packages I thought I might need,
I filled up ~430Mb of the space and have a 65Mb swap partition. In
the X install, I orginally selected the "LCD 800x600 Panel" monitor description
but ended up using the 1024x768 selection later. The ActionBook 318T
uses the S3/ViRGE/MX video chip which was detected automatically and is
part of the SVGA server under RH5.2. I wrote the boot stuff to the
Master Boot Record and, viola!, it booted in either Win98 or Linux just
When I first ran X, the display came up in 640x480 resolution with a real
cruddy font. I found that if I uncommented the
line in /etc/X11/XF86Config (in Section "Device"), the font was easier
to read, but the display still took up only a portion of the screen.
This led me to another one of my late night of research sessions (zzzzzzzz....).
I ended up also uncommenting the following lines from the XF86Config file
since they were said to provide increased performance on S3 chipsets:
After looking for the monitor specs in the skimpy documentation and
on the net, I ended up finding the cool
FCC lookup site that shows who actually manufactured these laptops
from the FCC ID number printed on the bottom of the unit. The company
is Kapok of Taiwan and the 318T appears
to be one of their model 1100/1300/1500 series. I ended up using
the standard SuperVGA settings and they work. I can use "startx --
-bpp 16" and "startx -- -bpp24" (the 16bit and 24bit color servers, respectively)
and they work great. Here is my XF86Config.
I also ended up buying an Intel EtherExpress 10/100 PCMCIA card and this
worked -- it uses the xirc2ps_cs
loadable module. My card is the PCMCIA version which is supported. As of
this date, the CardBus version was not supported and you can check here
for updates on its status. I heard the beeps for my PCMCIA FAX modem,
but haven't tried this part out yet.
So far, I'm very happy with the ActionBook 318T. It's Linux and Windows
98 performance is great and you really get a lot of bang for the buck.
If you need more information on this laptop, see the UMAX
Last updated May 25th, 1999