Installing FreeBSD on a Toshiba Portege P3500

At work there had been a Toshiba Portege P3500 (a tablet PC) sitting unused for nearly two years. Normally, something like this would have been snapped up, but the problem was the Toshiba ran a German version of Windows XP.

When we first acquired the laptop, I figured it would be relatively easy to convert it to English. While this was true for the hardware (a UK keyboard cost around 35 pounds), I was unable to persuade Toshiba to give me an English version of Windows XP - nope, we had to buy a completely new version. The other problem was the laptop didn't arrive with a CD reader, so I'd have to buy one of those. Well, I didn't have a need that compelling, so the laptop sat in a cupboard for a while.

Time passes...

I forgot completely about the Toshiba, until I stumbled over it in the cupboard one day. It seemed to be a waste to leave it lying unused, so I thought I would try putting FreeBSD on it. At least it would be good for something, even if it was just another backup machine.

The install would have to be over a network. Luckily, I had a USB disk drive I could connect to the Toshiba, which allowed me to boot off a floppy. Initially, I tried with some FreeBSD 5.4 install floppies I had, but the kernel hung on probing devices, whether or not ACPI was activated. I downloaded the FreeBSD 6.0 floppy install images and tried those. Ah ha! Success. Very soon, I had a working FreeBSD installation. Even the onboard wireless worked (as wi0).

The system details (as revealed by the boot messages) are presented via dmesg. The key elements of X11 configuration are shown below:

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier   "Monitor0"
    VendorName   "Monitor Vendor"
    ModelName    "Monitor Model"
    DisplaySize  250 190
    HorizSync    30-90
    VertRefresh  50-100

Section "Device"
    Identifier  "Card0"
    Driver      "trident"
    VendorName  "Trident Microsystems"
    BoardName   "CyberBlade XPAi1"
    BusID       "PCI:1:0:0"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier "Screen0"
    Device     "Card0"
    Monitor    "Monitor0"
    DefaultDepth 24
    SubSection "Display"
        Depth     24
        Modes     "1280x1024" "1024x768"

The only problem I experienced (due to my own stupidity, naturally) related to setting up sendmail. I used the sendmail configuration from my other FreeBSD machine, which understood the difference between sending mail within the local domain, and sending mail to outside of it. This refused to work properly on the newly installed FreeBSD. All mail, even that to a machine on the local network, was being sent to the relay mailer (as defined by SMART_HOST).

It took me a while to figure out what I had done wrong. It wasn't until I used sendmail -bt -d21.12 that I had enough information. The -d21.12 option provides lots of details on the rules processing within sendmail. From this I could see that sendmail thought the local domain was called my.domain. Where the hell was it getting that? There was nothing in the sendmail configuration files and ... Hang on a minute, what's in the /etc/hosts file. Oh yes:   localhost topaz

Yes, some idiot (and that idiot would be me) had not replaced the example domain name. With my.domain replaced by, sendmail now worked as expected.