Monday, November 17, 2008

Ubuntu on the Toshiba Satellite L305: Howto

EDIT: If you are having the problem with the omnibook module starting up your computer after shutdown, install the latest version of Ubuntu (9.04) and follow the directions in my newer post here.

I decided to upgrade from Ubuntu 8.10 32-bit to the 64-bit version on my Toshiba Satellite L305. While going with the 64-bit version came with its own set of difficulties, the need to reinstall made me realize one important thing about installing 8.10 (rather than the beta I did before) on this laptop: it no longer comes with the kernel modules needed to run the fan or the brightness buttons.

This is extremely important because if the fan doesn't work, the processor will overheat.

The problem stems from the fact that without the module, the fan will not change speeds as the computer heats up. When the computer first boots, the fan does not turn on immediately, causing the fan to never turn on. If you run the computer for a while and reboot, you will notice the fan running at full speed nonstop.

The following is a guide to installing what is needed to get your Ubuntu install running as it should on the Satellite L305.
Step 1: Download and install.

Download and install your desired flavor of Ubuntu (Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu) in the 32 bit or 64 bit version (the 64 bit version takes a bit of work to get set up, so only use the 64 bit version if you are prepared for a little work,) EDIT: After beating my head against it for quite a while I would suggest against installing the 64 bit version. I ended up going back to the 32 bit version. If you have installed Ubuntu before you know the drill, if not, follow the prompts the installation gives you. And though it is less pretty, I recommend the alternate (non-graphical) install, because I have had less luck with the live cd install.

Step 2: Install omnibook module.

Older Toshiba laptops use their own proprietary bios that required the toshiba_acpi module to be compiled with the kernel. Toshiba now uses the Phoenix bios, which means that this has to be done another way, which is a bit deceptive. You have to download the omnibook module (Omnibook is actually an HP model laptop) which will allow these functions. You can download the module source package here: Edit: The omnibook-source package has been updated, which broke the link. Updated versions of the omnibook-source can be found at
Install the source, extract it, install dependencies, and install the module in the terminal:

sudo dpkg -i omnibook-source_2.20070211+svn20071217-1_all.deb
cd /usr/src
tar -xvf omnibook-source_2.20070211+svn20071217-1_all.tar.bz2
cd modules/omnibook
sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-`uname -r`
sudo make install

The install may say it lacks a few other dependencies which can be installed with apt-get. Once the source is installed, the module should be able to be loaded, however it needs a special argument when it is loaded or else it won't work.

sudo depmod -a
sudo modprobe omnibook ectype=11

If everything was set up correctly, you will most likely hear your fan kick on and the screen brightness change. You can now change the brightness with the function keys, and the fan will start up when you turn on the laptop. Make sure the module loads when you boot by adding "omnibook ectype=11" to the bottom of your /etc/modules file.

Step 3: Wireless
If you have the Atheros wireless card (I am not sure what other options the L305 can have) you can go about wireless two ways, madwifi drivers or ndiswrapper. Ndiswrapper is the required method if you go with 64 bit, so that is the method I went with, though I would recommend either madwifi for the 32 bit install. Install ndiswrapper:
sudo apt-get install ndiswrapper-common ndiswrapper-utils-1.9 ndisgtk

Ndiswrapper is a wrapper application for windows networking drivers so that they can be used on Linux. This means that for it to work, you need to also get the windows drivers. The 64 bit drivers can be found at, or the 32 bit version can be found at Unzip the files from the file and start ndisgtk from the terminal (open the terminal and type "sudo ndisgtk"). Click on "install new driver" and navigate to the folder where you unzipped the drivers. Select the file ending in .inf and then install it. Make sure ndiswrapper is loaded:

sudo modprobe ndiswrapper

You should also blacklist the module that tries to load for the wireless drivers by adding the following to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklst

blacklist ath_pci

You should now have wireless internet access. One caveat is that for reasons that are unknown to me, the module has trouble connecting sometimes on boot. If it keeps saying it is getting disconnected, or if it keeps asking for the passphrase when you know it is right, you need to remove and reload the module:

sudo rmmod ndiswrapper
sudo modprobe ndiswrapper

This should cause the wireless device to play nice and allow you to connect. For now, it is the best solution I have as I have yet to find a permanent fix.