Linux on a Philips Freeline X10 Laptop

By Rob Kemp (rpkempATpostmaster.co.uk)

Last updated: 14 September 2005

Philips is a well-known brand but not in the context of laptops. The Freeline X10 is one of a range marketed in the UK through the retailer PC World - I bought mine in February 2005. The laptop itself was manufactured in China. It is labelled 'Centrino', for what that's worth.


Linux distribution: Mandriva 2005 LE

I have long favoured Mandrake/Mandriva as an increasingly stable distribution that provides sophisticated graphical configuration tools that work sufficiently transparently to be used alongside more traditional text-based configuration methods. Using Fedora Core 3 on this laptop was a nightmare, in particular because I needed it to connect to wireless networks both at home and at work. I could not set up wireless networking under Fedora because several different configuration tools were vying for control of the chip. I never did find out which one was having the last word in setting my wireless parameters. Mandriva, by contrast, is easy to configure using just the Drakconnect utility, which writes its configuration to files in the folder /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts. These can then be edited by hand if need be, making the whole experience much more palatable.

Laptop features

Processor: Intel Pentium M, 1.6GHz

Status: working I have not, however, configured speedstepping. The speedstep-centrino module loads at boot time, but with /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor set to "performance", the processor runs at 1.6GHz all the time. You can do "echo ondemand > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor", in which case cpufreq will dynamically adjust the clock speed according to the requirements of running software. However, the only other speed available appears to be 600MHz. Frankly, I do not intend to bother interfering with the processor since even running at 1.6GHz battery life is ample, and overheating does not appear to be a problem as the fan (which is beautifully quiet) cuts in only occasionally in normal use.

Display: 15" TFT, native resolution 1024x768

Status: working A nice bright screen with good definition. Looks as good or better under X as/than under WinXP.

Graphics controller: Intel 82852/82855 GM/GME

Status: working Uses modules intel-agp and agpgart, whatever that means. glxgears runs (arthritically) and reports around 510.800 FPS, but I have the card running with just 8MB of shared memory (out of a possible 32M). Video performance is fine for my purposes which do not - needless to say - include playing games.

Memory: 256MB SDRAM SODIMM

Status: working Performance is fine - for me - with this amount of RAM. (Only 248, of course, once the blistering 8MB graphics memory is taken into account!)

Hard disk: 60GB

Status: working

Network adapter: Realtek RTL8139

Status: working The ever-popular 8139too module takes care of this. No problems.

Wireless network adapter: Intel 2200BG

Status: working This required a little effort to configure - but only a little. The driver is already present in /lib/modules, but you need to install a firmware package to get it working. Download the ipw2200-fw-*.*.tgz file from http://ipw2200.sourceforge.net/firmware.php, unpack it into /lib/hotplug/firmware, and then do "modprobe ipw2200". dmesg should report that you now have an eth2 device. (eth0 is the ethernet port, eth1 is the firewire port). Set this up using either manual configuration, drakconnect or a combination of the two (see above!) and you're up and running. Speed, range and stability are all very good. NOTE: If you prefer, you can download an ipw2200-firmware RPM from http://plf.zarb.org.

Modem: Agere Systems AC'97

Status: untested

Optical storage: Toshiba SD-R2512 DVD-ROM/CD-RW combination drive

Status: working CD burning is nice and fast. (24x is quoted I think but it's not that fast, needless to say.)

Battery: Lithium Ion

Status: working This machine has a nice long battery life. I'm not sure whether CPU throttling is kicking in to prolong it; as I said above, I don't believe speedstepping is responsible though I could easily be wrong. Anyway, I would expect to get about a 2.5-3 hours of intensive word processing or web browsing in before the battery conked out.

Power management (ACPI)

Status: NOT WORKING I have not yet attempted to configure suspend/hibernate functions on this laptop. Although S3 appears to work, recovery (as is often the case) does not. (It may simply be necessary to pass "acpi_sleep=s3_bios" to the kernel at boot time (i.e. put it after "append=" in the linux stanza of /etc/lilo.conf) to fix this). S4 aborts, leaving the laptop fully functional but unsuspended/unhibernated. I have little use for suspends on this machine but if I ever do need to get this feature working (I'm sure it can be done) I will update this section.

Sound card: ICH4 845G/GL Chipset AC'97 Audio Controller

Status: working The above is what harddrake reports as the identity of the onboard sound chip. It is working perfectly as far as I can tell.

Pointing device: Synaptics TouchPad

Status: working Mandriva uses the driver "synaptics" in /etc/X11/xorg.conf and the touchpad works perfectly - including the area on the right hand side reserved for scrolling in documents. If you want to use an external mouse you need to plug a USB mouse (no PS/2 socket, as usual these days) in before X starts, or restart the X server after plugging it in. The touchpad and external mouse interoperate OK as far as I know.

Connectivity: USB

Status: working This machine has four USB ports - USB2, I imagine. All work fine with printers, scanners, mice etc.

Connectivity: Firewire

Status: untested

Connectivity: PCMCIA slot - Ricoh R/RL/5C476(II)

Status: untested

Connectivity: SD/MMC card reader

Status: NOT WORKING I have not checked lately but I don't believe there are Linux drivers for this device. No great loss to me but a shame nevertheless.

Overall conclusions

Mandriva managed just about all of the configuration on this laptop on its own, unaided by me. I could hardly be happier. I have retained a WinXP partition (the computer is owned by my employers, not by me, and if someone else has it after me they may not be enlightened enough to eschew Windows). I have been using Mandriva in an office environment for about four months now and for the past two or three months have not booted into Windows at all (except to double check some hardware specifications for this page - old habits die hard:-) For me, at least, the beta versions of OpenOffice.org 2 completely obviate the need to run Word or any other MS/Windows software. Rekall + MySQL takes care of my database needs and Scribus serves excellently for DTP. I am saving my organization vast sums they might otherwise be spending on proprietary software, which is nice because I work for a charity. It is great to be able to run Linux and only Linux on this laptop, but to do so with practically no hardware issues is unbelievably good. My inadequate thanks go to the open source developers who have made this possible.

Linux On Laptops