OpenBSD 3.9 on Toshiba's Portege 3480CT

Last Update: 2006-05-30

Apparently this laptop is problematic for OpenBSD's boot-loader, I am an OpenBSD user since 3.3 and I never found one release with a compatible boot-loader. Here is a solution and some information about this little notebook.


The problem seems to be with the boot-loader. This laptop being completely floppy-less, I tried using an USB floppy disk drive, using the BIOS to emulate a standard fd I realized it never went beyond OpenBSD/i386 BOOT 2.xx. I never had the chance to try any usb CD drive but it ends up emulating a floppy disk anyways. The other option was to PXE boot, but I do not have the "dock station" with the embedded ethernet card (the 3480ct comes without ethernet), my pc-card does not support PXE boot. This is a thread with Bob Elred trying to get some help from for a Portege 2000 (same machine). He already got suggested the following solution.


I came to this solution when I installed OpenBSD on another laptop, and I realised I obtained a faulty power cord for it. After using the battery for an hour it died on me while I was configuring the obsd39 fresh install. Just because I had no other computer to work with, I moved the hard disk in the portege 3480ct and realised that it was passing the boot-loader! So if you still didn't get it, if you need to install OpenBSD on this laptop, you will need to do a first install from another laptop or use a 2.5" to 3.5" IDE adapter in your desktop machine. If you really insist on doing the install process from the machine, once the first install is made you can book bsd.rd from the (now working) boot-loader. According to boot(8), you need to type boot /bsd.rd at the boot prompt (boot>). </p>

Sound, video, pointer

The sound is working, as the card is recognized correcty:

auich0 at pci0 dev 0 function 1 "Intel 82440MX AC97" rev 0x00: irq 11, 440MX AC97
ac97: codec id 0x83847644 (SigmaTel STAC9744/45)
ac97: codec features 18 bit DAC, 18 bit ADC, SigmaTel 3D
audio0 at auich0

Video mostly is not a problem either, as the card is supported by the current X distribution as an s3 savage:

(--) PCI:\*(0:4:0) S3 Inc. 86C270-294 Savage/IX-MV rev 17, Mem @ 0xf0000000/27, BIOS @ 0x000c0000/16

I usually use 1024x768 in 16bpp, here files/xorg.conf``__ is my current ``xorg.conf (rename to XF86Config-4 if you are using an older OpenBSD). The only problem I get (crash) is with apps which change themselves the video resolution (i.e. Prboom, mplayer with SDL). I wonder if it's directly related to SDL as xvidtune -next works.

The portege pointer device is supported by wsmouse as a ps/2 beast, I'm not quite in love with this stuff so I use my USB mouse. To make this all thing work and in order to have a mouse in X, you will need to enable wsmoused (set wsmoused_flags="" in /etc/rc.conf will do it).


This is the dmesg for it:

apm0 at bios0: Power Management spec V1.2
apm0: battery life expectancy 100%
apm0: AC on, battery charge high, estimated 1:38 hours
apm0: flags 20102 dobusy 0 doidle 1

And this is what is written when calling apm during battery usage:

Battery state: high, 98% remaining, 129 minutes life estimate
A/C adapter state: not connected
Performance state: uninitialized (600 MHz)

You will need to start apmd by default, apmd_flags="" has to be set in /etc/rc.local. Putting the machine in light sleep apm -S seems to be working, unfortunately the laptop wakes up directly and everything goes back to normal state. Deep sleep is working a little better because it actually keep the machine in sleep mode, the 'On' light in front of the computer starts to blink orange (is green in normal operations). To get the laptop back out of sleep, just press the power button. I experienced some problems when waking up, the display might be a little unusable, you can xvidtune - next; xvidtune -prev in order to "refresh" if you have vidmodext enabled. Beside that, network, usb mouse returns to normal.


I can't give any detail concerning this as the Portege I have was without any deck station or extra, I had to buy my own NICs and wifi cards. Just for the heck of it, my NIC is a (according to dmesg) "3Com, Megahertz 574B, B" using the ep driver, and my wifi card is "Atheros Communications, Inc., AR5001..." using ath.

Not working

The WinModem (do I need to tell more about that ?).


Thanks to sysctl(8), there is a few settings that can be viewed. Here is a list of the ones particular (more or less) to this machine (Read man sysctl for usage).

hw.sensors.0 and hw.sensors.1
can be checked for 'external' and 'internal' temperature. I would guess CPU and motherboard, but I'm not too sure about that.
can be checked for the actual cpu speed (should be 600), you can't use this to set manually the cpu speed.


As a conclusion I can say that I used this laptop during now 2 years, as OpenBSD was not working I settled for Linux for a little bit and realised after a while that FreeBSD was working. So I worked with FreeBSD until I wrote this document. Now I've been using the laptop for 2 weeks with OpenBSD, waiting for the power cord replacement for the other laptop. I really recommend Toshiba's Portege 3480CT, it's a really tiny and confortable piece of hardware, I've been shaking and moving this notebook everywhere, it's tough. You can also buy an additional long-length battery (+6 hours) for plane trips ;)

Bertrand Janin <> · Powered by the spirit of the UNIX gods.