Linux and the Toshiba NB10

I’ve recently bought a Toshiba NB10 (nb10-a-101) 11.6″ netbook.

 

This is a “modern” device which uses an Intel Bay Trail-M CPU, the Celeron N2810. These are quite new and there is not a lot of documentation yet about using them with Linux. I’m only really interested in using Debian Linux, but these notes may also be useful for Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based distributions such as Mint

The NB10 ships with Windows 8. UEFI Secure Boot is enabled, and there is no support for legacy BIOS (CSM). 

The first hurdle to overcome is booting a Linux installer. Accessing the BIOS is done by holding F12 down before pressing the power button, until the BIOS splash screen is displayed. Choosing an alternative boot device is done by holding down the escape key before pressing the power button similarly.

 

The left-hand USB port does not seem to be reliable for booting. Use one of the ones on the right.

Once secure boot is disabled in the BIOS, the NB10 will boot the Debian installer happily. It seems to only be able to boot from a file on the EFI partition named boot/bootx64.efi – which is how the Debian and Ubuntu installers ship.

Issues with older kernels and the new Bay Trail-M chip lead to a crash either immediately after loading the kernel, or a couple of seconds after booting.

The wheezy (Debian stable) installer would boot and run via use of the ‘noapic’ and ‘nolapic’ commandline options, but could not successfully bring up the built-in ethernet interface (r8169), nor detect the wireless interface.

The jessie (Debian testing) installer would boot and run via use of the ‘noapic’ option at the kernel commandline. It could successfully use both network interfaces.

It’s best to remove the ‘quiet’ option from the commandline as well, so that the state of the system when it crashes is visible.

Having successfully installed jessie (Debian testing), a couple of further steps were necessary in order to render the installed system bootable.

The first was (as above) to rename /boot/efi/EFI/debian/grubx64.efi to /boot/efi/EFI/boot/bootx64.efi in the installed system.

The second was to replace the kernel; although the installed kernel was identical to the one used by the installer, it would crash during boot. I replaced it with the 3.14 from Debian experimental, which will boot the system successfully without the use of any extra commandline options. This can be done from the installer either before rebooting, or in rescue mode if you forget.

Things which I have confirmed to work in Debian jessie:

  • USB support.
  • Webcam.
  • Trackpad including multi-touch gestures.
  • Suspend to RAM and resume.
  • Sound output.
  • Wireless.
  • Wired networking – but it appears to fail after a resume from suspend.
  • Battery charging..
  • Internal monitor.
  • Touch sensors on internal monitor (unsure if multi-touch is supported).

Things which I have not tested:

  • Suspend-to-disk (hibernate)..
  • VGA output.
  • HDMI output

Things which do not work:

  • SD card reader (nothing happens when I insert a card).
  • Fan control (no fans detected by lm-sensors, no fan heard operating)

I’m not sure what the state of the fan is. “acpi” and “lm-sensors” don’t detect one, and I can’t hear one operating. Running multiple “stress” instances to keep both CPU cores busy resulted in a peak temperature for me of 49C – which may not be enough to need the fan to run.

  • Odd issue with screen blanking.

I’ve had a few instances of the screen blanking and then not coming back on when a key is touched. Suspending & resuming fixes it. It’s definitely not a crash – ssh access continues to work when this happens.

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One Response to Linux and the Toshiba NB10

  1. mentalnirex says:

    I’ve started a new blog for Toshiba NB10 issues at http://unofficialnb10.wordpress.com/

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