Today, I got a Samsung Q25 from PolyU’s notebook ownership scheme, with the help from my darling’s cousin, Ada.

It is really amazing: a notebook with only 1.3 kg but with everything you needed: 12 inch LCD, Ethernet, Modem, USB, IEEE 1394, Memorystick slot, SD slot, PCMCIA, mic, headphone, internal speaker, IR, and most importantly the 802.11g Wi-Fi with a button to turn it on and off anytime.

After playing a while with the BIOS, I found that it has built-in Windows XP – but in this planet, only UNIX rules! So I would like to switch to Debian.

Booting the System

I didn’t buy the DVD Combo nor the docking for the notebook. So I can only try with other way of installation. I can see that the only ways to boot it is to use to USB devices, or PXE which I think is so tired to use.

At this point, I should probably clarify: because I use my notebook as my main workstation, hence I would like it to be not-so-stable. That’s why I’ve chosen Sarge/Sid and also the new Debian installer.

After reading the file debian/dists/sid/main/installer-i386/20040801/doc/INSTALLATION-HOWTO from any Debian mirror, I see the following:

'’It’s also possible to install from removable USB storage devices. For example a USB keychain can make a handy Debian install media that you can take with you anywhere.

The easiest way to prepare your USB memory stick is to download hd-media/boot.img.gz, and use gunzip to extract the 128 MB image from that file. Write this image directly to your memory stick, which must be at least 128 mb in size. Of course this will destroy anything already on the memory stick. Then mount the memory stick, which will now have a FAT filesystem on it. Next, download a Debian netinst CD image, and copy that file to the memory stick; any filename is ok as long as it ends in “.iso”.’’

It is the way I wanted: because I got a new “USB thumbdisk”. Hence, accroding to that, I downloaded

if your disk is less than 128MB, but not recommended) After that, I insert my USB disk into my PC, and run:

# gunzip boot.img.gz
# dd if=boot.img of=/dev/sda
# mount /dev/sda /mnt/my_usb
# cp sarge-i386-netinst.iso /mnt/my_usb
# umount /mnt/my_usb

Now, everything’s finished. But please be care that the device must be /dev/sda, not /dev/sda1. It won’t work in Q25 if it is in a partition but in my case, I can brute-forcely using the commands above.

The next step is to take out my Q25, insert the “USB thumbdisk” and boot it – but press F2 on boot to enter BIOS setting. Inside the BIOS setting, in the boot selection, expand the part about hard disk booting, and press F5/F6 to make USB disk the first priority over the toshiba 2.5 inch hard disk. Then save and reboot.


After boot, you will get into the new Debian installer. It is quite easy to use and I don’t describe it here. But a point to note: I’ve intentionally don’t give anything to network configuration, not even the IP. Hence my whole installation is using the built-in package from sarge-i386-netinst.iso. The hard disk partitioning that I’ve used is:

  • 39GB at front of disk, ext3 format, mount as /
  • 1GB at end of disk, swap

The reason for the large swap is to use as a hibernation partition, which supported in kernel 2.6 – hence you know, the kernel I’ve chosen during install is kernel-image-2.6.7-1-386.

Waited for a while, and keep my finger on the enter key, the system is finished installing and rebooted. Any more? No – because we used the new installer and it crafted a fabulous initrd image for us, so that it will probe for everything (this piece came from gentoo??) and load the module for you. Once finished the installation of Debian, type ifconfig, I can even use my wireless LAN immediately! The only thing lacks is the card reader for Sony MemoryStick and SD media.

Card Reader

Upon spending a whole day on Google and doing experiments, I found that my Samsung Q25 is using a “Ricoh Bay2Controller” card reader. It is a strange thing and not a good design. Strange because it is a PCMCIA reader. Hence you cannot use your memorystick or secure digital cards as USB mass storage devices as usual. It is a bad design because, when using some inferior OS, the system will always occupy two drive letters for your MS and SD slot and you can never reclaim it.

But the worse thing among – I can find no driver for it in Linux. Hence I gave up, left it behind at this moment and concentrate on other works first.

Wireless LAN

The Q25 has a centrino-based wireless built-in. It is running the Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG and hence you can follow my instructions on the article “[Linux Kernel with IPW2200 driver}]” to create a kernel with suitable driver for it. After having the kernel, the things I need to do is to unpack the firmware (files: ipw2200_boot.fw ipw2200_bss.fw ipw2200_ibss.fw ipw2200_ucode.fw) into /usr/lib/hotplug/firmware/. In the future, you can simply load the module and the Wi-Fi will work.

Tunning Base System

Right now, I have a basic system installed. To make it better, I have to install some more utilities and customize it to make it suitable for my general use.

The first thing I did is to modify the /etc/fstab, so that I mounts the procfs and sysfs. Further, I added noatime option to root mounts to save some battery power by reducing the I/O amounts.

Afterward, I tuned the /etc/network/interfaces for an appropriate network configuration – because I didn’t do that at installation time.

Next, I modified several files:

  • /etc/profile - Customize for shell look-and-feel
  • /root/.bashrc - Console customerization for root login
  • /etc/inetd.conf - Disable those small servers, namely, discard, daytime, time
  • /boot/grub/menu.lst - Added vga=792 to the boot options to have a framebuffer console

And the base system is fine to use now.

ACPI (Pending)

Console Workstation

The system is a bare system, So I want to install some software and remove some unwanted. Here are what I did:

# apt-get --purge remove tasksel nano nvi pcmcia-cs mailx apt-utils aptitude fdutils \
    ipchains kernel-image-2.6.7-1-386 ppp pppoe pppconfig pppoeconf
# apt-get install ssh sudo less syslog-ng hexedit unison ncftp rar unzip zip hdparm \
    smartmontools ntpdate
# apt-get install vim vim-common libgpmg1
# apt-get install bzip2 libbz2-1.0
# apt-get install wget lynx libgnutls7 libncursesw5 libgcrypt1 libtasn1-0
# apt-get install bc libreadline4
# dpkg -P klogd sysklogd

Once these are done, we’ve finished the console part applications

I tried to make a line into /etc/sudoers:

%root ALL=(ALL) ALL

and also for ‘‘/etc/vim/vimrc.local@:

# cd /etc/vim
# cat > vimrc.local
syntax on
set background=dark
set autowrite
set showmatch
set fileencodings=utf-8,big5,euc-jp,gbk,euc-kr,utf-bom,iso8859-1
set encoding=utf8
set tenc=utf8

Then we go to add some more network utilities.

Network Utilities

Here you are:

# apt-get install pptp ppp
# apt-get install tcpdump libpcap0.8
# apt-get install dns-utils bind9-host libdns11 libisc7 liblwres1
# apt-get install smbc libkrb53 libldap2 libsasl2 libsmbclient
# apt-get install iftop traceroute nbtscan rdesktop rsync

Now my system is capable of doing some networking debug jobs


As I am in CUHK, it is quite frequent that I need to use VPN for the access. As I have installed pptp, I can configure for that in a few steps:

# cd /etc/ppp/peers
# cat >> cuhkvpn
pty "pptp --nolaunchpppd"
name s034554
# chmod 0640 cuhkvpn
# chown root.dip cuhkvpn
# cd /etc/ppp
# echo "* * My_Password" >> pap-secrets

Yes, that’s it. You can now connect via PPTP VPN using just this command:

# ppp call cuhkvpn


Enough for console jobs, here we begin for the graphical part. The basic stuff are:

# apt-get install x-window-system wdm fvwm

with the following depended packages: cpp cpp-3.3 defoma file fontconfig hermes1 libxproxy libdps1 libexpat1 libfontconfig1 libfreetype6 libfribidi0 libglib1.2 libgtk1.2 libgtk1.2-common libice6 libjpeg62 libmagic1 libpng12-0 librplay3 libsm6 libstroke0 libtiff4 libungif4g libwraster2 libx11-6 libxaw7 libcursor1 libxext6 libxft1 libxft2 libxi6 libxmu6 libxmuu1 libxp6 libxpm4 libxradr2 libxrender1 libxt6 libxtrap6 libxtst6 libxv1 menu perl perl-modules proxymngr ttf-bitstream-vera twm ucf x-window-system-core xbase-clients xdm fonts-100dpi xfonts-75dpi xfonts-base xfonts-scalable xfree86-common xfs xfwp xlibmesa-dri xlibmesa-gl xlibmesa-glu xlibs xlibs-data xnest xprt-common xprt-xprintorg xserver-common xserver-xfree86 xterm xutils xvfb.

At the later part of the installation, debconf will try to configure the xserver. During so, you need not to modify anything and everything supplied as default will work fine. The only thing need to deal with is probably the X server’s modules. I have chosen only GLcore, bitmap, dbe, ddc, dri, extmod, glx, int10, record, type1, vbe, and xtt. Of course, I’ve chosen to use wdm over the default xdm. After that, upon re-initialize your runlevel, the X-Window will give you a login.

I did one more configuration on /etc/X11/XF86Config-4: in ServerFlags section, added the line

Option "Xinerama" "true"

X11 Fonts

Now we install the fonts. As well as the font utilities.

# apt-get install xfonts-75dpi xfonts-base xfonts-cmex-big5p \
  xfonts-intl-arabic xfonts-intl-asian xfonts-intl-chinese \
  xfonts-intl-european xfonts-intl-japanese xfonts-intl-phonetic \
  xfonts-scalable xfonts-efont-unicode xfonts-efont-unicode-ib \
# apt-get install ttf-arphic-bkai00mp ttf-arphic-bsmi00lp \
  ttf-arphic-gbsn00lp ttf-arphic-gkai00mf ttf-freefont ttf-baekmuk \
  ttf-kochi-mincho-naga10 ttf-opensymbol ttf-thryomanes
# apt-get install ttf2pt1 ttf2pt1-chinese fontconfig qt3-qtconfig \
  x-ttcidfont-conf ttmkfdir

Afterwards, add the following two lines to /etc/X11/XF86Config-4, Files section:

FontPath  "/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/CID"
FontPath  "/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/TrueType"

Because I am not going to use XFS, so comment out the font server setting and run “update-rc.d -f xfs remove to prevent xfs from starting up on boot.

Printing Support

# apt-get install enscript bg5ps ttfprint
# apt-get install foomatic-filters foomatic-db cupsys

Postscript and LaTeX

# apt-get install gs-cjk-resource cmap-adobe-cns1 cmap-adobe-gb1 \   
  cmap-adobe-japan1 cmap-adobe-japan2 cmap-adobe-korea1 gsfonts \   
  gsfonts-other gsfonts-x11 xpdf-i xpdf-utils pspresent \   
  xpdf-chinese-traditional gv
# apt-get install psutils epstool dvipdfmx
# apt-get install lyx-qt lyx-common tetex-base tetex-bin tetex-extra \   
  cjk-latex hbf-cns40-b5 latex-xft-fonts tfm-arphic-bsmi00lp \   
  tfm-arphic-bkai00mp tth aspell-en latex-ucs

Chinese Tools

# apt-get install scim scim-tables-zh pydict

Then modify the last line of /etc/scim/config to the following:

/SupportedUnicodeLocales = en_US.UTF-8,zh_TW.UTF-8

Browser and Java

# apt-get install mozilla mozilla-chatzilla

Now install flash:

# wget -nH -nd
# apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree

Then, in the debconf, supply the path to the flash binary downloaded from macromedia and select ok. Based on the Java build script (j2se-package) from, and the Linux JDK for Java 5 (jdk-1_5_0-rc-linux-i586.bin, 43.91 MB) from I have created the package sun-j2sdk1.5_1.5.0+rc1_i386.deb, so

# dpkg -i sun-j2sdk1.5_1.5.0+rc1_i386.deb

And finally:

# apt-get install licq licq-plugin-qt

Productivity tools

# apt-get install dia gimp scribus sodopodi gnuplot xchm \
  djview djvulibre-bin gocr gocr-gtk pdftk pdfjam pstotext graphviz
# apt-get install emelfm bubblefishymon jpilot mlterm mlterm-tools convmv \

Specially for mlterm, I would modify /etc/mlterm/main to add/modify the following:



# apt-get install esound abcde xmms xmms-cdread transcode mplayer-686 \
  mencoder-686 mplayer-fonts \
  acidrip gimageview cdrecord mkisofs cdrdao xcdroast cdda2wav video-dvdrip \
  hwinfo mp3burn vorbis-tools lame dvdrtools dvd+rw-tools \
  xscreensaver xloadimage

Development tools

# apt-get install make gcc g++ subversion subversion-tools stl-manual manpages-dev
# apt-get install dpkg-dev


Because the screen is just 1024x768, I would rather use 75 dpi. And I have some Chinese fonts in use, I would also like to speed up the start time. Hence I changed /etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc from:

exec /usr/bin/X11/X -dpi 100 -nolisten tcp


exec /usr/bin/X11/X -dpi 75 -deferglyphs 16

and also for /etc/X11/wdm/Xservers, change from:

:0 local /usr/bin/X11/X -nolisten TCP


:0 local /usr/bin/X11/X -dpi 75 -deferglyphs 16 vt7

which also enabled the use of remote X and set the locale and specified the XIM server. If XFS is used, you can also add the line

deferglyphs = 16

to /etc/X11/fs/config.

In order to enable inputing Chinese in terminals, I have to modify /etc/inputrc to uncomment the line set convert-meta off. So instead of sending a byte with the high-bit set to represent Alt-something, it sends the escape first and then the character. Which is better for 8-bit characters.

Then modify /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc as well as /etc/X11/wdm/Xsession to add the following lines:

if [ -f /etc/profile ]; then
    . /etc/profile
export LANG=en_US.UTF-8
export XMODIFIERS="@im=SCIM"
export GTK_IM_MODULE=xim
scim -d
xscreensaver -no-splash &

Afterwards, modify /etc/X11/Xsession.d/99xfree86-common_start, add the following lines before everything,

if [ -f $HOME/.xinitrc -a -x $HOME/.xinitrc ]; then
    . $HOME/.xinitrc

Next we come to fix Mozilla’s Chinese printing problems. Modify /etc/mozilla/prefs.js to the following:

pref("font.FreeType2.enable", true);       
pref("font.FreeType2.unhinted", false);  
pref("", "/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/TrueType");

and add the following:

pref("print.postscript.enabled", true);
pref("print.postscript.paper_size", "a4");

Finally, add the user-specific init script at $HOME/.xinitrc with execute bit set. For example, mine is:

xloadimage -onroot -fullscreen .wallpaper.jpg
xmodmap -e "pointer = 3 2 1 4 5"

also, some customerization can be done for $HOME/.bashrc and $HOME/.bash_profile.