Linux on a Ricoh Magio laptop



This is a great little laptop (disclaimer -- I work for Ricoh, though not in the part that makes or sells computers). It runs Linux with no problems that I can detect so far, weighs 2.7 pounds, and fits in a (large) fanny pack.

One of the best things about it is that all the ports are on the case: there's no need to carry a port replicator around. Another is that the batteries are separately hot-swappable. I discovered recently that it seems to be set up to take physically larger batteries, though this would probably require new covers for the battery compartments.

I spent a week at a conference during which I learned how to touch-type on it. The key spacing is 15mm, which is marginal but possible. I wouldn't want to use it full time, but for a week's worth of note-taking and hotel-room hacking it's eminently useable.

My main gripes are that the audio input is monophonic (no line in), and that there aren't any USB drivers for Linux yet.

I used RedHat 5.1, which had some challenges in the install process; 5.2 should be a piece of cake. With 5.1 I had to rebuild the kernel to recognize the PCMCIA controller chip.


This was a little tricky:

The full install involved:

  1. Use Partion Magic to partition the disk; 1Gb each for Linux and Windows.
  2. Run Samba on my desktop machine, and copy the RedHat CD to the DOS partition.
  3. Obtain the all-in-one RedHat installer initrd only to discover that it won't install from a FAT32 partition. This may just be a directory-name problem.
  4. Obtain Tom's Root-Boot (indespensible) and format the Linux root and swap partitions. Tar the RedHat CD's contents to /RedHat .
  5. Reboot in DOS mode and run the RedHat installer using loadlin .
  6. Obtain the latest PCMCIA drivers. Rebuild the kernel; also required to configure it with APM support.
  7. Enjoy having a real computer that's roughly the same size as Knuth Volume 1.

I am told that recent versions of TurboLinux have all the correct drivers. Use any PCMCIA-card ATAPI CD-ROM drive and it just up and installs, including the kernel with APM support. This is probably true of any distribution that boots from a single floppy and has the right PCMCIA drivers.


The X configuration is the only really tricky part:

Section "Pointer"

  Protocol	"ps/2"
  Device	"/dev/psaux"


Section "Monitor"

  HorizSync	31.5-36
  VertRefresh	55-60

Section "Device"
  Identifier	"65555"
  Option	"sw_cursor"
  Option	"use_vclk1"
  Option	"suspend_hack"

The "use_vclk1" option was the trickiest to find.

$Id: magio.html,v 1.5 1999/07/10 05:38:11 steve Exp $
Stephen R. Savitzky <>