The computer comes with Vista Home Premium on it, so as soon as I could I repartitioned using the partitioning software that comes in Vista. It can only shrink the drive so far (because of how Windows writes to its filesystem), but with such a large disk, I was able to create an 80Gb free space partition. I then rebooted back into Vista just to make sure it still worked (You never know with Microsoft products!), then rebooted into the Ubuntu Feisty 7.04 Alternate x386 cd.
I decided on the alternate because I previously attempted the normal live cd and the wonderful ATI mobile Radion x1200 graphics card creates an error for X (ok, I know it is not the cards fault but...). I performed the install using the text installer, and installed grub on the root partition (/dev/sda4) not the MBR (This I think is very important). The partitioning for linux was done using the alt. live cd, selecting manual partition, and then making a 1Gb swap partition (/dev/sda3) and the rest for root (/dev/sda4). I am sure you could get fancier and have a /home or /usr partition but me not comfortable AT ALL with Vista and its antics, I decided not to press my luck with logical partitions (at least until the people who I was installing this for decide they really want me to just wipe the harddrive and use only linux).
On boot, I was pleasantly suprised to be presented a grub menu, but I chose Vista to see if it would still boot (it did) then rebooted into Ubuntu. Of course X dies, but I expected that. I quickly connected the laptop to my network via my LAN, and entered the following commands I had collected via Google (I used ati's latest driver I could find 8.40.4):
wget https://a248.e.akamai.net/f/674/9206/0/www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/ati-driver-installer-8.40.4-x86.x86_64.runRebooting then allowed me to see X! I logged in and got to work on wireless. Here is the disappointment - Atheros cards require madwifi drivers (which are partly closed source) to work. At this point in time, I could not find anyone who had been successful with this particular chip and felt it worthless to think I would be different. I decided to use ndiswrapper and make use of the Windows XP driver for this card. I downloaded the driver from Acer (I think - I don't remember because Toshiba only offers the Vista driver and ndiswrapper does not work with Vista drivers yet). Google for "net5211.inf" and you will find it eventually :) I downloaded it in a zip file, extracted it and followed these instructions which I also collected from my friend named Google:
apt-get update && apt-get upgrade
apt-get install module-assistant build-essential fakeroot dh-make debconf libstdc++5 gcc-3.3-base linux-headers-$(uname -r)
chmod +x ati-driver-installer-8.40.4-x86.x86_64.run
ln -sf bash /bin/sh && ./ati-driver-installer-8.40.4-x86.x86_64.run --buildpkg Ubuntu/feisty && ln -sf /bin/bash /bin/sh
dpkg -i xorg-driver-fglrx_8.40.4_i386.deb
dpkg -i fglrx-kernel-source_8.40.4_i386.deb
dpkg -i fglrx-amdcccle_8.40.4_i386.deb
dpkg -i fglrx-amdcccle_8.40.4_i386.deb
dpkg -i xorg-driver-fglrx-dev_8.40.4_i386.deb
m-a build fglrx
m-a install fglrx
sudo -iOn reboot, I had wireless choices in my Network Manager!!! I chose mine and it worked!
echo "ath_pci" >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist
apt-get install ndiswrapper-utils-1.9 ndiswrapper-common
ndiswrapper -i Desktop/Wireless\ Lan\ Driver\ 802abg\ Atheros\ Ver.18.104.22.168.zip_FILES/XP32_WHQL_5-3-0-45_\(Negative-Pole\)70510/net5211.inf
(or wherever you place your net5211.inf and extraceted folder at - I put them in a hidden folder)
- look for something like this:
net5211 : driver installed
device (168C:001C) present (alternate driver: ath_pci)
echo "ndiswrapper" >> /etc/modules
If you are trying this on your new Toshiba a215-s4747, then you might right now be saying, "hey, this is nice but I have no sound." Well, go to System>>Administration>>Update Manager and check to see if you need to update anything. It had me update the kernel (which had me in almost a kernel panic as I thought my ndiswrapper or ATI driver were going to have to be reinstalled), but I was happy to hear the Ubuntu entrance sound after the required reboot (I have this eiree feeling I have rebooted too much for a linux install :) )
So - Sound works, Wireless works, Graphics work, LAN works, Modem works, USB's work - what doesn't work you might ask. Well, I the little bit of time I messed with this, I could not get the new compiz-fusion to work :( It was not compiz-fusions fault, the instructions (which I will therefore NOT link or explain here) did not give me a recognizable xorg-xgl screen.
It does not matter, the people are happy with it as it is, it is fully functional and I can help them remotely now because I also installed openssh-server. I hope this is a benefit to someone, I had a difficult time finding anyone who had attempted linux on this laptop, I was worried about it, but it turned out ok in the end.