XFree86 on a lunchbox... not a good idea ???

XFree86 on a lunchbox... not a good idea ???

Post by Jean-Louis Thiro » Tue, 16 Jul 1996 04:00:00



I got a pentium 90MHz, portable lunchbox computer. One should argue against
lunchboxes versus notebooks, or even against desktop. But this is not my point
here. For many good and bad reason, I don't like/want notebook and need a
portable computer AND need Xwindow... This does not seems unreasonable, but...

Lunch box has a big problem with the video hardware. It has to reconcile LCD
and SVGA graphic output as a notebook on a standard motherboard. This would be
easy at first sight but the market of lunchboxes is so small that very few
graphic cards have been made available. To the best of my knowledge, the only
one is the (poor) cl-gd6420 (the best of my knowledge may be not accurate, but
I wrote to cirrus logic/westermdigital, I ask to several spare parts/repair
shops, and nobody can tell me what card could replace my poor but existing
cl6420). Well, this is not a too strong limitation. This card is not
accelerated but support 1Mb of memory, and up to 1024x768x8 resolution, quite
reasonable, and is supported by XFree863.1.x; It looks good. So I went to my
retailer and bought the lunchbox of my dreams....

Do you think I'm a happy man... sure. But wait a moment, this cl-gd6420 is set
on an ISA slot in my lunchbox... and the linux driver seems not to be prepared
to this (I imagine that this is the reason, or any other customisation done to
adapt this card for direct connection on the ISA slot, what else ?), so the
cl6420 does not work. And no other card can be used... dear, may I sell (and
waste so much money) my lunchbox and switch (horror!) to a notebook ? May I try
to improve the cl6420 driver ? (this could be a good idea if I want to get rid
of my screen and graphic card).

Before this, let's try other drivers, especially the generic one. Unexpectedly,
IT WORKS, and this has to be taken as an example for anybody else who
encounters problems with the *theoreticaly* right driver... TRY GENERIC!
It works... with VGA16 server. With SVGA also, but... this generic driver in
SVGA server use only the default built-in 480x300 resolution... let's go to 16
colors. But it's better than nothing. Then, try in CRT only (it works in all
modes, CRT/SIMULSCAN/LCD only) to go to 800x600 and 1024x768... Oh dear, the
nigthmare continue, this generic driver, not supposed to work properly on the
card, in fact does not find the memory... Then I stay with a limitation of
about 520000 pixels on the screen, with only 16 colors. My old friend RasterOps
20" external monitor is laughing at me. it was used to handle a bit more of
information than I ask now...

the question then is:
Is XFree out of reach of lunchboxes ?

I imagine I am not the first one to face this problem... please, let me know. I
also was wondering something that could be of great help for many other:

Since dosemu seems to work quite well on many application, could it be used
(may be this is stupid, then forget it!!!) to emulate the window driver for my
(or any other) card ? Has anybody already tried something like this ? Beyond
dosemu, could this idea be used in another way: is there any possibility to
write a program which could allow to use windows driver for cards which have no
linux drivers (there are plenty of these... unfortunately, and in many case,
there wont be never any driver) or for configuration in which the linux driver
fails to work ?

Any comment on all this staff ???

        have a nice day, better than here, as this *y rain is still making on my

Jean-Louis.