Installing Fedora Core 14 on a Toshiba m645 Laptop

Toshiba m645-S4070 i5, 500GB,4GB DDR3, Blu-ray/DVD

This past Christmas, my trusty HP laptop, of three and a half years, suddenly died. It was pretty a good laptop. It had a 17" LCD panel and an AMD Turion Mobile Dual Core 64-bit processor. It did have a few compatibility issues with LINUX. Most had to do with the Broadcom WiFi chipset, and the NVIDIA GPU. This is not to say that either of these are bad, but these two companies do not make enough information about their products publicly available, to enable the open source community to support them.

For a replacement, I wanted something smaller and lighter. I was willing to sacrifice a large screen for portability, but I wasn't looking for a netbook. The new machine needed to have some power. Almost all of the problems encountered installing on a laptop have to do with support for integrated peripherals. The most important are the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and the WiFi chipset. These needed to be fully supported, in order for the laptop to be useful, when running LINUX. Built-in Bluetooth would be nice.

On New Year's eve, I purchased a Toshiba m645-S4070. It has a Core I5 processor, GPU, and wireless chipset, from Intel. All of these are completely supported by LINUX.

Although it doesn't have built-in Bluetooth, it's a pretty good fit for my needs. I was able to add Bluetooth capability by simply plugging in a Cirago USB Bluetooth adaptor. I love Bluetooth as it allows me to connect several devices with out having to plug and unplug cables. While may not seem important when using a desktop system it is a big deal for portable use. It really cuts down on the time needed both to get the laptop out and start using it, and packing up to leave. Also, I don't have the nuisance of a cable threatening my coffee when I use my Logitech Bluetooth travel mouse. I can connect to my cell phone to synchronize files or connect to cellular data. I can connect wireless stereo headphones to listen to my music, watch a video, or talk over the internet using VOIP.

Of course, the new laptop came with Windows 7, pre-installed. I used Internet Explorer to download an FC14 DVD ISO image from fedora's web site. I then burned the image to a DVD, using the built-in disk burning tool in windows file manager. The machine came with a 500Gbyte hard drive, so I decided not to delete Windows. Having a windows machine might occasionally come in handy, such as when I need to use some proprietary USB device that is only supported by Windows 7.

I used the Windows 7 utility to burn a set of recovery disks. This required four DVDs and about an hour. I shut the computer down; then, powered it on, again. While still in pre-boot system initialization, I pressed the "F2" key to enter the BIOS set-up program, and changed the boot order to boot from the DVD. After this, the machine booted from the FC14 disk, and I proceeded with the installation program. I used the incorporated partition tool to shrink the hard drive partition that was presently occupied by Windows 7, and divided the 500Gbyte space in half, to make room for a new LINUX volume. Also, as this is to be a dual boot system, decided not to run the system clock at UTC. The installation proceeded smoothly. Choosing a software development workstation, the installation program took about forty five minutes to install 1383 application programs. Afterward, the system rebooted to a fairly minimal work environment.

I removed the DVD from the drive, shut it down, and powered it on, again. I caught the pre-boot BIOS splash screen, and dropped into BIOS set-up to restore the normal hard drive boot priority. To verify the LINUX installation, I shut it down, and powered it up, again, and was greeted by the GRUB boot selection screen. Fedora was set as the first and default choice. Fedora booted completely, and I was able to log in. At this point, I was having some doubts whether the Windows 7 installation survived the process. Once again, I shut down the system, and powered it on, again. At the GRUB menu, I selected "other" from the list. A pretty little glittering Windows icon appeared. This was soon replaced by a blue screen with scratchy white text.

I shut off the power, and inserted the Windows 7 Recover Environment disk that I made, and pressed the power button. I had to go through a power cycle first, in order to get to the BIOS set-up where I could set the DVD drive as the primary boot device. When the Windows 7 Recovery Environment booted, it displayed a message that essentially said my hard drive image was damaged. It also said that it would attempt recovery, but that this could take several hours to perform. I clicked on the OK button, and the hard drive light began to blink. About four and a half minutes later, a screen appeared saying the repair was complete. I removed the disk, shut off power, and powered the machine on, again. Without a DVD, the system booted from the internal hard drive, and the GRUB menu appeared. I selected "other," and after several minutes of the sparkly windows icon re-appeared.

To verify that my LINUX installation was still in tact, I rebooted, and was a little surprised to find LINUX working, as well.