How do you rate this laptop with Linux?
Excellent
 
16% (3)
Good
 
42% (8)
Fair
 
26% (5)
Poor
 
5% (1)
Unusable
 
11% (2)

Toshiba Satellite A215

Introduction

This is a guide to running Linux with the Toshiba Satellite A215 laptop. This is an AMD based laptop with components which are not very common place with laptops.

This guide is intended to provide you details on how well this laptop works with Linux and which modules you need to configure. For details on how to actually install and configure the required modules have a look at our guides section for distribution specific instructions.

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Specifications

NameToshiba Satellite A215-S????
ProcessorAMD Turion64 X2 TL-56 1.8GHz
Screen15.4“ WXGA
RAM2GB
HDD250GB
Optical DriveDVD+-RW
GraphicsATI Mobility Radeon X1200
Network10/100 Ethernet, Atheros AR5007EG 802.11g or Realtek RTL8187 Wireless
Other4 x USB2.0, 1 x Firewire, VGA, S-Video, ExpressCard 34/54, 5-in-1 memory card reader

Linux Compatibility

DeviceCompatibilityComments
ProcessorYes
ScreenYes
HDDYesCONFIG_SATA_AHCI=m
Optical DriveYes
GraphicsYesSee notes below
SoundYesCONFIG_SND_HDA_INTEL=m (stable as of 2.6.24+)
EthernetYesCONFIG_R8169=m
WirelessPartialSee notes below
56K ModemNot Tested
USBYes
FirewireNot Tested
Card ReaderYes
PCMCIANot Tested
ExpressCard SlotNot Tested

Notes

The ATI Mobility Radeon X1200 found in the Satellite A215 are both supported by Radeon and RadeonHD. See below for a guide. Change driver to “radeonhd” in xorg.conf for RadeonHD setup.

This Atheros wireless controller needs the ndiswrapper module to function. You can read the below guide for installation instructions for this. The Windows driver for the card is available here.

The RTL8187B device is a USB device and shows the ID as 0x8197 instead of 0x8189. This is fixed mentioned in the 2nd comment. Patched driver/fix for >=2.6.24 can be found here.

Summary

The Toshiba Satellite A215 is not the easiest laptop to get working with Linux. The major issue is the need to use the ndiswrapper module or compiling your own native patched driver to get functional wireless.


Discussion

Christopher, 2011/11/21 20:01

I have a Toshiba A215-S5824 laptop running Linux Mint 11, and have also been struggling with the overheating issue. My laptop has an ATI X1200 graphics card using the open source Radeon graphics driver. After researching several articles I believe I have found a solution that works for me. I do not guarantee this will work for everyone, but it may be worth trying.

Using the terminal and editor of your choice, create this directory: /etc/modprobe.d/radeon-kms.conf
Enter the following text: radeon.dynclks=1
Click Save.
Modify ”/etc/modules” and enter “radeon”, without the quotes, at the end of the list.
Click Save and reboot your computer.

It would seem the default KMS configuration using “dynpm” does not work for me. I have been using this configuration for several weeks now and my system runs much cooler and no loss in performance.

Matt K., 2010/01/27 16:07

My toshiba a215-s4757 is running lenny. Madwifi solved wireless problem. My problem is that the system won't reboot from suspend. The screen remains blank. Any links to a solution to this problem? Thanks!

sascha, 2009/12/28 11:16

Got it working like a charm.
Installed LINUX MINT 8.
Only trouble I have with this laptop is the overheating. *drive goes to 55 c!!!
Does anybody else have this situation with this laptop.

NerdyJustin, 2009/12/29 21:38

yes, I have the overheating issue as well. I bought a cooling pad for it, and it helps, but the overheating keeps it from rebooting properly. I select reboot, it tries, and doesn't start back up. I have to manually shut it down (hold the power button down) and let it cool off for about a minute before it will start back up.

Andy T., 2010/06/01 08:25

I have a Toshiba A215-S6804 and it is very prone to overheating, not to mention when I opened it up it had lots of dust too, so it can stand routine cleaning. It'll act really strange if it gets super hot.

The laptop would sometimes completely shut off and not start for ~30mins. I had to call Toshiba support, and found out the CPU has to be set to (in Vista anyways) both min/max CPU speed == 100%. Weird.

Clean, default installation of Ubuntu 10.04 had wifi and graphics working great – though my client for the MMO Second Life has graphics glitches bad enough to not be able to play the game. Oddly enough, installing the ATI Catalyst Control Center totally screwed up the graphics altogether (uninstalling it fixed it, too).

Thedark, 2009/12/21 21:37

I've installed the ubuntu 9.10 version in the toshiba satellite A215-SP4057, and I want to configure the keyboard commands of screen bright, and others.

How could I do that?,

Yo instalé el ubuntu 9.10 en la toshiba satellite A215-SP4057, y quiero comfigurar los comandos del brillo de la pantalla. ¿Como le hago?

Ryan Gandy, 2009/07/08 23:57

I'm trying out the Fedora 11 KDE Live CD with this lappy (S215-A5818) and am within two inches of installing it. The only real problems I've had with it so far are one hang before I get to the KDE splash screen and sporadic refusal of the CD to reboot after hitting bottom runlevel. The SysRq key doesn't seem to work either.

Other than that, wireless works, touchpad works, both types of suspend work, and it runs very well.

Mitchell Velasquez, 2009/06/11 03:55

With Ubuntu 8.10, ATI fglrx 8.592 from Catalyst 9.3 (the latest driver that will support the ATI x1200)→ its necessary install first the fglrx version from the ubuntu repos and then upgrade to this one, otherwise will experiment some issues with power management. Wifi driver from Atheros, using madwifi-free branch or latest snapshot from madwifi trunk. All the others functionalities work well, despite some issues with graphics performance after recovering from supend/hibernate. Ubuntu 9.04 is unusable in stable mode since fglrx is not supported for this card in jaunty (since it changed the xserver version and fglrx doesn't support it) and xorg-radeon and xorg-radeonhd drivers supplied in jaunty have both poor performance. Testing latest versions of mesa radeon-rewrite branch with latest git of radeon driver the performance improves a lot, but will experiment some xserver crashes since they are not stable yet. Now it's a good decision to keep ubuntu intrepid (8.10) and wait for the next Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) where will be more improvements in graphics (the radeon rewrite will be stable then and of course will be merged into mesa trunk) and if we are lucky Karmic will bring the 2.6.31 kernel where KMS for ATI cards will be supported, Also lots of improvements in performance, updated software, boot experience, etc etc.

Paul, 2009/01/16 22:14

I have A215 S7472 Ubuntu 8.10 did a clean install. Full wireless connectivity without any effort. Having some issues with the local and external display. I'd like to have them both running so I have a 2nd monitor. New to Linux, so I'm researching this. :)

Second monitor and tv out, 2009/06/12 00:37

definitely the video driver is the major weakness using linux with this laptop. As I commented, radeon and radeonhd driver doesn't have a good support for this x1200 (RS690) Ati card. But actually the latest stable version of xorg-radeon driver support S-Video for this card through AtomTVOut, you can research this on xorg-radeon web page or google. Also a second monitor should not be a problem.

Sebastian, 2009/01/14 22:29

I´ve got a A215-S7428 using openSuSE 10.3 with wireless with the cuervo modified native driver since April.works perfectly, with some tweaks (fglrx, audio from the Realtek ftp site, etc..) similar comments to VINdsl ones. I can`t only see the YouTube or Flash nor Firefox. nor Konqueror, but I download them with yougrabber, and voilà!
greetings from Argentina
Seb

VinDSL, 2008/12/29 07:22

As stated above, the Toshiba A215 isn't the easiest laptop to get working with Linux, but…

After trying several distros, I've had total success installing openSUSE 11.1 KDE 4.

To my shock and amazement, everything works without any fiddling around, including the WiFi card, which was the bane of all other distros I tried. No wrapper is required with openSUSE 11.1, like all the other flavors of Linux.

For the first time in 10 years, I haven't felt compelled to use Microsoft Windows for the last 3 days. That's how successful the openSUSE 11.1 install has been for me.

openSUSE 11.1 is loaded with apps. I haven't found it lacking anything that I use on a daily basis in Windows Vista. The Linux applications just take a little getting used to, because they able things in a slightly different - the same as switching proggies in Windows.

Truthfully, while I've been using Linux as server software for years (I currently maintain Slackware and CentOS web servers) I've always considered Linux on the desktop/laptop to be irrelevant and irritating - until I installed openSUSE 11.1 on my Toshiba A215.

Simply put, openSUSE 11.1 rawks on the Toshiba A215. Highly recommended!

cafm, 2008/12/17 04:19

Ubuntu 8.10 does a clean install….just some issues with hibernate…

david, 2008/12/01 20:00

I use the mad-wifi svn trunk and it works very well (for wireless)

Mitchell Velasquez, 2008/11/19 08:34

Almost done
by Mitchell Velasquez, Wednesday 19 November 2008 03:34:15
A215-S4767, Debian Etch r5 for AMD64, wireless ok, building the latest hald as solution from the ticket #1192. sound good, but still trying to make microphone work, still ATI at 1024×768 with vesa driver. Recently I've upgrade to Debian Lenny and the radeon driver but Im preparing to try the fglrx driver instead of radeon, Ill post the results later.

Czestmyr, 2008/05/24 13:58

Fixing sound issues

On my A215-S7472 I was unable to get headphones working correctly with Gutsy. The sound was comming from the speakers as well. I wanted to fix this in alsamixer, but it showed only two outputs - PCM and Mixer.

To fix this, add this line to your /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base file:
options snd-hda-intel model=3stack

Now you'll be able to cut off the speaker output in alsamixer independently of the headphones.

Michal, 2008/03/26 09:48

Mostly suessful

Debian 4.0 with a backported kernel and backported FGLRX.

X dosn't crash every day anymore. 3d works. Processor scaling works

Wicked, 2008/03/09 12:36

WIFI will with native driver

Download the rtl8187b-modified-dist.tar.gz from http://datanorth.net/~cuervo/rtl8187b/

Then run 'sudo ./makedrv' then go to http://datanorth.net/~cuervo/rtl8187b/README and follow the instructions. Your WIFI will work in ad-hoc and managed networks.

Although I have yet to get sound working except using the Alpha Ubuntu 8.04. FC9 alpha simply bombs on this machine.

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toshiba_satellite_a215.txt · Last modified: 2010/10/11 14:02 (external edit)
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