Monday, August 20, 2007

Ubuntu on a Toshiba a215-s4747

This is a new computer that has dual AMD 64 cpu's with an ATI Mobile x1200 graphics card and an Atheros AR5007EG wireless card (those are the specs that matter - all else works out of the box).

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):

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

ln -sf bash /bin/sh && ./ --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

cd /usr/src

m-a update
m-a prepare
m-a build fglrx
m-a install fglrx

aticonfig --initial
Rebooting 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:

sudo -i
echo "ath_pci" >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist
rmmod ath_pci

apt-get install ndiswrapper-utils-1.9 ndiswrapper-common

ndiswrapper -i Desktop/Wireless\ Lan\ Driver\ 802abg\ Atheros\ Ver.\(Negative-Pole\)70510/net5211.inf
(or wherever you place your net5211.inf and extraceted folder at - I put them in a hidden folder)

ndiswrapper -l
- look for something like this:
net5211 : driver installed
device (168C:001C) present (alternate driver: ath_pci)

modprobe ndiswrapper
echo "ndiswrapper" >> /etc/modules
On reboot, I had wireless choices in my Network Manager!!! I chose mine and it worked!

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.



siuneq said...

i have the same laptop as you, i installed ubuntu 7.04 today and trying to make it working (wireless, graphics etc...). in 1 hour i will be able to have wired connection on it so i will start working soon :).

sorry for my english, best wishes and a lot of successes with Toshiba :D

siuneq said...

in polish but i've installed compiz-fusion on my toshiba a215 s4747 thanks to it :D

MR said...

Thanks siuneq, I will try that when I get a chance

Andrew said...

I just purchased this laptop the other day and have been battling to get it fully functional under kubuntu. I still can't get the wireless to work - after installing the driver, I do an ndiswrapper -l and I only get one line of output: net5211 : driver installed

and sure enough, no device has been installed.

Anonymous said...

I am like Andrew, I battled for a while trying to get wireless working to no avail.
$ ndiswrapper -l
net5211 : driver installed

$ dmesg | grep ndiswrapper
[ 46.917862] ndiswrapper version 1.47 loaded (smp=yes)
[ 46.985583] usbcore: registered new interface driver ndiswrapper

Perhaps the net5211.inf file I loaded is bogus. Can you provide a link to the driver you used?

inportb said...

Judging from the path, I think it's

I'ma try it now, on the same model of laptop...

inportb said...

DUDE! That's the package to get. Wireless works now! THANKS SO MUCH!

Anonymous said...

Damn, I love the internet... I'm considering selling my Satellite A105 to a friend of mine and upgrading to an A215-S4xxx series, but was uncertain about Linux compatibility. Thirty seconds of Googling led me to your blog entry, which will soon be posted to my acount... well done, sir!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the info. However I'm not having luck. I get to the 'ndiswrapper -l' and get the repsonse:

net5211 : invalid driver!
sh: Syntax error: "(" unexpected
xp32_whql_5-3-0-45_(negative-pole)70510 : invalid driver!ng

- now I'm new at Linux, so it may be something really simple, but not to me yet!

MR said...

You might want to completely uninstall ndiswrapper and reinstall the latest version (follow instructions from their website) and redownload the driver. Are you using the same laptop - I mean are you sure this is the driver you need? You might want to dig through lspci and dmesg. Also check and keep googling. Sorry to not be much more help.

3d said...

Thank you very much for the pretty accurate instructions for getting this laptop working in Ubuntu.

I just bought this laptop and was able to set up everything on it because of you.

Anonymous said...

i have that laptop, I tried installing ubuntu using the alternate cd as you said. After rebooting, I can get into windows, but when I select Ubuntu from the grub menu, the only thing I see is a black screen and nothing else happens...

any help would be really apreciated

Name: Andrew S. said...

Anonymous, you probably need to boot into "Recovery mode" from the Grub menu. You can run all these commands form there successfully.

Other notes:

For the Graphics driver:

I started getting errors when you said to run

"dpkg -i xorg-driver-fglrx_8.40.4_i386.deb"

So I gave up from that point and followed this guide:

Which enabled em to successfully get the graphics working.

For the Wireless driver:

(1) You need to have the word "blacklist" right before the module you're trying to blacklist. Here's the correct command...

echo "blacklist ath_pci" >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist

Name: Andrew S. said...

If this matters, I also ran these commands right before following the graphics drivers guide that I posted a link to above:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install linux-restricted-modules-generic restricted-manager

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for the help!

I fought bravely to succeed installing WiFi on my similar toshiba a215-s4697

The difference was that my computer seems to have different atheros card - it worked with the driver for E5007EG from here:

After that, using ndiswrapper it worked.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention (for a215-s4697) that on my ubuntu 7.04 i had to manually download, compile and install ndiswrapper -1.47 because ubuntu has an older version.

Anonymous said...

When you say "modem works" do you actually use dial-up? I ask because I will use only dial up and want to use Kubuntu (KDE version of Ubuntu) after purchase of an A215.

David Hall said...

I've just bought the same model, installed kubuntu feisty, and found your page very helpful for the video and wireless.

There was a problem with the sound, though -- there was no sound through the headphone jack and the front volume control didn't work. However, following the instructions here:

to install the 1.0.15-rc2 version of the alsa driver seems to have largely cleared that up!

(there's one minor glitch -- to control the volume of the built-in speakers, you use the line-in slider in KMixer)

Shivanno said...

Hi (my apologize 4 my poor english)
i have some issues: i run the "ndiswrapper -l" shows the good answer :) :

net5211 : driver installed
device (168C:001C) present (alternate driver: ath_pci)

so whats the problem? i go to "Network Settings" and i can't see my wireless card!!!, so i google it and try this command:

dmesg | grep ndiswrapper

acording with ndswripper install docs the command should be display something like this:

ndiswrapper version 0.11 loaded (preempt=no,smp=no)
ACPI: PCI interrupt 0000:00:0c.0[A] -> GSI 10 (level, low) -> IRQ 10
ndiswrapper: using irq 10

but in my laptop i see insteed this:

[ 26.944000] ndiswrapper version 1.38 loaded (preempt=no,smp=yes)
[ 27.080000] ndiswrapper: driver net5211 (,05/02/2007, loaded
[ 27.080000] ndiswrapper (ZwClose:2467): closing handle 0xef52fee8 not implemented
[ 27.080000] ndiswrapper: probe of 0000:14:00.0 failed with error -22
[ 27.084000] usbcore: registered new interface driver ndiswrapper

i search again and find my error might be a irq issue, but i cant solve it... :(

There is something funny too: you said everything its ok when you get the line

device (168C:001C) present (alternate driver: ath_pci)

but i find in the ndiswrapper docs that isnt correct -since the ath_pci its blacklisted it shouldnt be here... even worst it musn't be here-

TNX soo much 4 any sugestion

Anonymous said...


This exact guide also works for a Packard Bell EasyNote MX52-B-009!


Zachery said...

I have the same laptop (Toshiba a215-s4747) with ubuntu 7.10 installed and I cannot seem to get the wireless to even show up. I have installed the net5211.inf and I have followed the instructions that the original blog creator suggested. I rebooted and had the ethernet with taken out and I still have no wireless choices. I cannot even search for wireless netoworks.

Screenshot#1 shows this:

Screenshot #2 shows this after I pull the ethernet cable out.

Screenshot #3 shows the net5211.inf is installed

brian said...

how do you get the intergrated webcam to work

Zachery said...

go to add/ remove programs then make sure the drop down for types of programs is selected to be at all types. Then search for CHEESE!. After you download the program then your webcam should work.

brian said...

i dled cheese and it worked for the first min then after that it keeps crashing. is there another program that i can dl that will be more stable

Zachery said...


go to add/ remove programs>make sure that you can view ALL programs. Search for "webcam" (w/o quotes) and download a few of the programs to see which best suites your issue.

Dave said...

There are some very inexpensive Toshiba and HP laptops on sale these days at the Office outlet stores.

Looking at an Office Depot flyer I see a Toshiba A215-S7422 for $550 after $150 buck rebate.

Turion 64 X2 Dual-Core TL-58
160BG HD
DVD, R/W Dual Layer DVD

I may get one and try Ubuntu 7.1 on it.

CHR15 said...

I am considering in buying the A215-S4817 model in the Toshiba Satellite line of notebooks. I HATE Vista's excruciating appetite for system resources so I am also considering installing either Mandriva, Knoppix, PCLinuxOS, &/or Kubuntu.

I have played with these distros for awhile but this is the only page I have found that explains (very well I might add) how to get Linux working on a Toshiba. It sucks that they are being very loyal to Vista by having more drivers available for this aweful OS.

My question is, by following the steps as you have written for the A215-S4747 model, will I be able to get everything to working for the A215-S4817 model? Are the steps the same for both models?

If anyone has found anything regarding the A215-S4817 model which includes any of the Linux OS's I mentioned or any Linux distro for that matter, please let me know.


:-) :-) :-)

CHR15 said...

I found these pages from Toshiba's site:

Toshiba supports the Linux community with the TOSHIBA Digital Media Engineering Corporation's Linux support portal at

Links regarding IrDA, Video and wifi LAN.

Hope this helps.

I will continue my quest for getting Linux functional on the Toshiba notebook I mentioned earlier.

hansie said...

Hey you guys:
In Linux Mint 4.0, the 'net5211.inf' driver already exists, within 'mintwifi':

1. 'Updatedb'
2. 'locate net5211.inf'
3. cd to the address obtained
4. ndiswrapper -i net5211.inf
5. ndiswrapper -l

Note: Maybe you have to 'blacklist' 'ath_pci'?? I don't knwow

I do believe the confusion comes from the fact that the 'nixes 'see' the card as an AR5006EG, whereas the driver in 'mintwifi' is called AR5007EG

Sylke66 said...

Hi, i have a notebook toshiba but i can't install modem!!! How have you done to install it???
The Toshiba reference guide says that any software modem can be work under linux!

thanks a lot!

MR said...

I mis-spoke regarding the modem - I never tried the modem (it just appeared to work under the networkmanager). I am walking my familymember through troubleshooting it with penggy. I will try to keep this updated. Hopefully the modem will work.

castor_troy said...

Hi, i have the same Toshiba, and Texas Instruments 5-in-1 Multimedia Card Reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO/xD) doesn't work..what can i do?

Brandon Hall said...

Thanks for this guide!

I have the same laptop (Toshiba A215-S4747) and have posted my experiences installing Debian etch on it.

I still have a few wifi problems (occasionally I am unable to connect to a network in Linux that nevertheless works fine in Vista), but for most routers I have no problems. Maybe my wireless instructions will be helpful to those of you still struggling.

Bill Smith said...

I myself have the satellite a215-s4757. I believe it's the same lappy with a 250 gig HD instead of a 160. Anyways, just installed Ubuntu hardy (8.04) and, with Sam Leffler's release of the new HAL AR5007eg is now supported! I have fully working wifi w/ monitor mode! Also, with ATI's latest driver release (8.06) video is looking better and better! I'm very happy with this laptop.

Drew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drew said...

I have set up a google knol with an install guide for Ubuntu 8.04 on the A215-S4747. Please come and contribute to it!

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abendkleid said...

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