I did it! I installed Ubuntu Linux onto the Toshiba Portege 3490CT

When I first got the Toshiba Portege 3490CT from an auction at work, my main goal for the machine was to install Linux on it. Searching the web for instructions didn’t give me enough details since I’ve never used Linux in the past. Since most of the posts in forums are not getting anywhere, I decided to post my quest on a blog (one of the reasons I started this blog) to see if anyone would walk me through it by posting comments.

And there comes “craigusoz” who I traded comments for more than 20 times on my post about this challenge. He (I assume) pointed me to PXE netboot install and a detailed set of instructions posted on Ubuntu Forums. I tried it last weekend and it didn’t work. I was then pointed to using a different set of inputs in the Tftpd32 program. I tried it again today and it worked. I raised my arms in the air when the Ubuntu installer appeared on the laptop. For the interest of future explorers, here’s a picture of my inputs on Tftpd32:

Tftpd32 setup

Let me backtrack the hardware setup of this process:

  • 1 Wintel desktop running Windows XP
  • Actiontec 4 Port Wireless-Ready DSL Gateway R1520SU modem
  • Toshiba 3490CT with a LAN Port Replicator

Both computers were connected to the Actiontec modem through Ethernet cables. My DSL set up is usually running through Static IP so I left it as is. I followed craigusoz’s tips and changed the DHCP beginning IP address to on the modem. Tftpd32 was set up like the picture above. I reboot the laptop to the BIOS and told it to go through the Net. Then magic happened. Note that the only instructions posted on Ubuntu Forums I followed at this point were the sections titled, “Extract & Configure Ubuntu Image” and “Running the Ubuntu Install”. And I downloaded the Feisty version of netboot.tar.gz. The contents of my tftpd32 folder looks like this:

Tftpd32 folder contents

Note that the initrd WinZip file was extracted into that 16+MB file and this part wasn’t in the instructions. I just thought the file wouldn’t work in its compressed format.

Install part 1: Before starting Tftpd32, I turned off the firewall on the Wintel desktop. I read in the responses on Ubuntu Forums that it could be a problem. I left the firewall on the modem at the “Basic” setting. I think my DSL has a download speed of 1.5 Mbps and the installation process took about an hour. When I reboot, the Ubuntu desktop didn’t magically appear. I got passed logging in and then I was stuck at the command line.

Install part 2: I searched the net a little and found out other people have the same problem with the desktop not loading but seems like theirs are more about hardware. I tried a few different commands including startx and nothing worked. Then I found a post on the blog Ubuntu Geek which said run the command apt-get install ubuntu-desktop and it didn’t quite work for me at first. I dig around some more and found another post on Ubuntu Forum about how to get the machine to connect to the web. I typed in the command sudo ifup eth0 and a few lines of text showed up that told me the laptop was given an IP address. Then I typed in sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop and that did it. It started downloading a bunch of packages off the net. That took over 45 minutes. What didn’t make sense to me about having to do this extra step is that I remember selecting “Ubuntu Desktop” as the application during Install part 1. Anyhow, downloading packages was followed by unpacking and the system set up. All of this happened on its own. This part took about an hour and a half.

I was then back to the command line again. I typed in startx and wah laa, Ubuntu finally appeared in front of me. I am so proud of myself. Thank you, craigusoz, I wouldn’t have done it without you. If you think this post is reading kind of rough, it’s because I wrote it on the laptop in Ubuntu. I don’t have an ergonomic set up for the laptop at the moment so I must now go feed myself and stretch my back. Good luck to the rest of you, Ubuntu explorers, and I hope someone will find this post useful.

BTW, I have the Microsoft Wheel Mouse plugged in to the laptop and it works instantly. It must be luck.


18 thoughts on “I did it! I installed Ubuntu Linux onto the Toshiba Portege 3490CT

  1. Excellent. I’m pleased to have been of some assistance.

    I think the information that you’ve posted here will help out others who seek to do the same thing, particularly the screen captures.


  2. Hi, i did it with your way and it worked.
    But when the time came to select which components to install i was always (cause i did this many times!!) choose DNS server and Ubuntu desktop.Then the status stacked at 6% for over 2 hours.
    Any suggestion??

    thanx in advance


  3. I am afraid I won’t be much help because I am still a newbie to Linux. And I don’t understand what you mean by DNS server. Are you using the Actiontec modem like me? Something to consider is whether you have other hardware connected to the modem. I guess it’s probably best to unplug the other stuff except for the Wintel PC and the laptop. And if you are using another kind of modem, look up its user manual or setup screens to check on the LAN IP Address of the modem. If it’s not, you need to use your set of numbers in Tftpd32. But it doesn’t seem to me this is the real problem.

    I think your other problem with choosing Ubuntu Desktop is somewhat similar to my problem where I seemed to have installed Ubuntu but Ubuntu Desktop didn’t load during my first startup. Unfortunately, you got stuck during the installation. I would recommend writing down everything you saw on screen and post your experience on Ubuntu Forum. Good luck.

  4. I have installed Ubuntu on my 3480CT & 3490CT (Both of which were given to me with parts missing which I then bought) over a dozen times without hassles. In fact, just 2 days ago I installed the latest Hardy Heron release. I normally use my docking station with a Netboot server, as you did here.

    An alternative is to download and run the Windows version of UNetBootIn which preps your machine to install Ubuntu over the Internet when you reboot (whilst still leaving Windows intact, just in case you actually want to keep it around for some reason).

    One thing to be wary of with the current Gutsy & Hardy kernels is that the ACPI support is not working properly, and it causes the system to run at half speed. The solution is to disable acpi by specifying the ‘acpi=off’ parameter when booting, or to compile your own ‘vanilla’ kernel from source (the ACPI problem seems to be an Ubuntu-specific problem).

  5. hi,

    i recently bought a toshiba 3480ct and i’ve been searching all over the web trying to learn how to install linux on my laptop which as win98se on it. fortunately, i stumbled onto your site so i know that there is hope. however, i do not have a port replicator and i really don’t want to spend another $60-80 on it (price i saw on ebay). can i use a pcmcia nic for this installation? i’m tech proficient but by now means a tech expert. any guidance or suggestions would be appreciated. thanks!

  6. @nerdmojo: I don’t know what pcmcia nic is. I am definitely not as tech proficient as you. Do you mean using a PC card type adapter? I have seen a variety of Ethernet adapters online, through PC card or USB. I guess it doesn’t hurt to try one of those. You can return it if it doesn’t work out. Have you done a search on Ubuntu Forum? Sorry, I couldn’t be of any help. Good luck anyway.

  7. Hi – I found these instructions very helpful. Had a small error when booting up via the LAN Port Replicator whereby TFTP process errored peer returns ERROR . There is a setting in the TFTP application called “compatability mode” or something similar. As soon as I enable this it worked fine. Hope this helps someone. Thanks for the posts, these laptops are hard to let go of so i might be able to get another year out of this one !

  8. Hi YS,

    I have the same laptop (except for a 128M memory) you succeeded with here. But I’m having some trouble here hoping you can give some tips.

    I ran the Tftpd32 on a Vista-64bit desktop. Thought it would be similar as long as network setting was well configured (correct me if I’m wrong). I followed your steps downloading and configuring the Tftpd32.

    These are the information that showed up on the laptop:
    Intel UNDI. PXE-2.0 (build 077)
    cOPYRIGHT (c) 1997,1998,1999 iNTEL cORPORATION

    Client MAC ADDR: 00 00 39 A6 03 85 GUID: BCA80B00-360A-11D5-8008-C82141012406
    PXE-E51: No DHCP or BOOTP offers received

    PXE-MOF: Exiting Intel PXE ROM.

    The laptop kept running with the hard drive light flashing. Same information repeated several times until I shut it down.

    In the same time the information showed up in the Log Viewer of the Tftpd32 on my desktop were:
    Rcvd DHCP Discover Msg for IP, Mac 00:00:39:A6:03:85 [06/09 20:54:22.361]
    DHCP: proposed address [06/09 20:54:34.033]
    Rcvd DHCP Discover Msg for IP, Mac 00:00:39:A6:03:85 [06/09 20:54:34.035]
    DHCP: proposed address [06/09 20:54:46.032]
    Rcvd DHCP Discover Msg for IP, Mac 00:00:39:A6:03:85 [06/09 20:54:46.040]

    It seemed the laptop kept trying the same thing without success.

    Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

  9. @YAYAQAY: I used Tftpd32 in Windows XP. I don’t know if it would be different in VISTA. It may have something to do with your modem. I think Ubuntu Forums would be the most likely place where you can get the help you need.

  10. @YAYAQAY

    You problem is caused by firewall in Windows Vista which is blocking TFTP/DHCP servers communication with client(s).

    Go to Control Panel and disable firewall in Windows Vista.
    You may enable it later when setup is completed.

    By the way: if you are running modern Linux distro, you may have firewall acgtivated by default as well.
    In Mandriva Linux 2009.0 –
    1) go to Mandriva Linux COntrol Center
    2) select Security tab – Setup your personal firewall
    3) Which services would you like to allow the Internet to connect to?
    Select checkmark [x] Everything (no firewall)
    3a) alternatively – go to Advanced tab
    and select (enter) in dialog Other ports:
    67:69/udp 67:/68/tcp

    BTW: you may try to do similar operation in Windows Vista.
    Not sure if Windows Firewall is flexible enough to allow it.
    I would recommend to turn it off during install process and later turn on again.

  11. Do you know if it’s possible to do the same thing with Debian Netinst?

    Also, do you know if it’s possible to install (X)(U)buntu on the 3490 using wubi?(with 128Mb of ram)

    My girlfriend has that laptop and when I tried to install it using wubi it “installed” ok, but when one boots to ubuntu it just stays doing nothing with the wallpaper and the mouse pointer for a while and then it freezes, I even left it for an hour or so and didnt do anything else.

    Also, how could I partition the hard drive so she can have buntu/XP dual boot?

    • @kernel_panic: I am afraid I cannot answer your questions. I am new to Ubuntu and Linux. I posted my experience here so that other newbies might be able to replicate the same process and that’s all.

  12. @YAYAQAY

    I had to disable the “ping address before assignation” option in the DHCP settings in TFTPD to get it to work. I had the same symptoms as you.

  13. Very helpful posts, joanne! Thanks for them! My only problem is the same as nerdmojo: I too don’t own a port replicator, all I have is an old 3Com PCMCIA LAN adapter, and it appears it’s not possible to do the PXE thing on it. The 3480ct user manual seems to mention one has to use the replicator LAN adapter, but it’s not clear, it doesn’t say other adapters won’t work, but this appear to be the case. Anyway, I’ll keep looking around for info! I also want to try upgrading it’s RAM over the official limits. I don’t know if it’s possible, but I’m looking onto it.

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