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NEC Versa 4050H Linux

This page has information on running the NEC Versa 4050H laptop (PC-6110-71602 or PC-6110-71602-R) under linux. Most of this information will also apply to other NEC Versa 4000 series laptops including the NEC Versa 4080H (bigger HD, faster CPU), the NEC Versa 4050C (lower 640x480 screen resolution). I don't know how similar the NEC Versa 4200 series laptops are. It also has information on battery replacement.

Chips

Kudos to NEC for actually providing a chip list in their hardware reference.

Hardware Support

LCD

Worked at 640x480 in Redhat 4.0. The screen works in 800x600 mode with Xfree86 3.3.2 (did not work with older version) and the options "fix_panel_size" and "use_modeline" are required for proper operation.

Here are some key exceprts from my XF86Config. They do not make a complete XF86Config but you can see the whole XF86Config .


Section "Pointer"
    Protocol    "PS/2"
    Device      "/dev/mouse"
 
Emulate3Buttons

EndSection

Section "Monitor"
 
    Identifier  "C&T Laptop"
    VendorName  "C&T"
    ModelName   "Cirrus Vision"
    Bandwidth   110
    HorizSync   20-64
    VertRefresh 25-140
 
    Modeline "800x600"     40   800 848 1000 1056   600 605  607 633
EndSection

Section "Device"
    Identifier  "Laptop"
    VendorName  "Chips & Technology"
    BoardName   "Cirrus Vision"
    Chipset     "ct65545"
 
    VideoRam    1024
    Option "fix_panel_size"
    Option "use_modeline"
 
EndSection
Section "Screen"
    Driver      "vga2"
    Device      "Generic VGA"
    Monitor     "C&T Laptop"
    Subsection "Display"
        Modes       "640x480" "800x600"
        ViewPort    0 0
        Virtual     800 600
    EndSubsection
EndSection

 
Section "Screen"
    Driver      "svga"
    # Use Device "Generic VGA" for Standard VGA 320x200x256
    Device      "Laptop"
    Monitor     "C&T Laptop"
    Subsection "Display"
        Depth       8
        # Omit the Modes line for the "Generic VGA" device
        Modes       "1024x768" "800+600" "800x600" "704x600" "640x480"
        ViewPort    0 0
        # Use Virtual 320 200 for Generic VGA
        Virtual     0 0
    EndSubsection
EndSection

Glidepoint Mouse

Works. /etc/sysconfig/mouse:

MOUSETYPE="PS/2"
XEMU3=yes

Sound

The ESS chips are well supported. Works. I have sound working on this machine.

Suspend

I do not use suspend modes, normally and my memory of what happened when I played with them is vague. Note that the BIOS save-to-disk feature requires an appropriately named image file to be created on a DOS partition.

APM (Auto Power Management)

Kernel recompilation was required to enable APM. At least basic functionalty (such as power off) worked.

Docking Station

Hard drives/CD-ROMs in docking station work. No support for software (pushbutton) initiated undock. Use manual doc. Note that since suspend/resume may be risky, you should power down entirely. I have used the docking station (including built in SCSI host adapter) with appropriate boot options. I used an NE2000 clone ethernet card in the docking station to do a NFS install. I do not know how to make warm-docking work or get the docking station to eject the laptop.

Suspend/Resume

Not recommended.

IRDA

Not tested, should probably work with Linux IRDA at least at normal IRDA speeds.

USB

This laptop does not have USB. PCMCIA USB host adapter cards are availible for around a $100.

Battery Information

Clock Battery

This battery is located under the right wrist wrest. Disassembly required. Sanyo CR2430 with Leads added. MnO2-Li cell 3V.
$12 @ www.baber.com
$13.63 @ www.notebookdepot.com

If you take your old battery in to Batteries Plus, they can weld your existing connector onto a new cell for about $5.

Bridge Battery (Resume Battery)

This battery powers the system for up to 5 minutes while in suspend mode so you can swap main batteries without an AC connection. If you don't plan to do this, you may be able to function with this battery dead. Disassembly required for replacement.

NEC Corporation
BH072600-54
7.2V 60mAh NiMH
29601A
This is a shrink wrapped pack of 6 Varta V60H NiMH batteries with leads and connector.
$25 at BatteryWeb.com $25 at baber.com
Batteries plus does not have the V60H cell used in these batteries.
I think the V60H has been replaced with the V70H which appears to be the same dimensions but 16% more capacity.

Main Battery

NEC OP-570-61001
10.8V 25000mAh Lithum Ion

68 at Alan Computech, new, made by NEC, 6 mo warranty.
$229 at baber.com
$99 refurb at Laptops for Less.
Pricewatch

Used batteries availible on ebay.

PCMCIA

The PCMCIA works fine. It uses a Cirrus Logic PD6722 chip. Cards need to be listed /etc/pcmcia/config. On RH4.0, I recompiled the kernel to install the appropriate drivers. On a newer RH version (6.1.99 - a scratch disk image used for something else), manually insmod pcmcia_core, insmod i82365, and runing cardmgr did not work but editing /etc/sysconfig/pcmcia and rebooting did. If you did a normal redhat install with a newer version of redhat, the pcmcia should work out of the box. If you need a PCMCIA card to do the installation itself, you will need the PCMCIA installer boot floppy instead of the regular one.

/etc/sysconfig/pcmcia:
PCMCIA=yes
PCIC=i82365
PCIC_OPTS=
CORE_OPTS=

CD-ROM

Takes Versabay or Versabay II CD-ROM.

Availible on Ebay or from various vendors (use google).

Hard Drive Upgrade Information

The laptop uses a 12.5mm thick 2.5" IDE hard drives with a special removable carrier. The original drive was about 9.5mm thick. You can replace the hard drive in the carrier with a larger standard drive if you don't want the two drives to be swappable. If you want to be able to swap in the old drive, you need an extra carrier.

Redhat Linux 4.0 Installation

Since the floppy and the CD-ROM can't exist concurrently, installation can be a little tricky. AFAIK, the BIOS is to old to support CD-ROM boot. My PCMCIA ethernet/modem card was not listed in the PCMCIA configuration file on the redhat installation disk and therefore could not be used for installation on that version; it would probably work on newer versions. An IDE or SCSI CD-ROM or an IDE hard drive with the installation files in the docking station could also be used. I originally installed RH 4.0 over NFS using an ISA NE2000 ethernet card in the docking station.

Captains-log

Detailed information on what was done to install Redhat 4.0 can be found in the Captains Log

Redhat Linux 6.2 Installation

At some point, I installed a small 200MB subset of RH 6.2 on the old windows partition for the purposes of booting an iopener. This partition boots ok on the laptop. I did this by using a laptop IDE adapter and connecting the hard drive to my desktop and running the installer from there. Of course, the installer won't detect the appropriate hardware and build an appropriate initrd or set the configuration files properly, so you will have some work to do when you move to the target hardware. "anaconda --reconfig" might help on the reconfiguration.

Redhat Linux 7.1 Installation

I recently tried to install RH 7.1 via FTP.
It recognized my megahertz PCMCIA ethernet/modem automatically. "You do not have enough RAM to install Redhat Linux on this machine". The machine only has 24MB. The installer requires 32MB min.

Disassembly

Remove PCMCIA cards, CD/Floppy, Main Battery, Optional memory upgrade, and Hard drive and leave the covers off. Remove the 7 screws. Flip over again (right side up. There are 5 hidden plastic catches, located: near left shift key, one on each side of the CD Bay, near right arrow key, and near pgup key; you will need to pry gently in those areas while pushing in at those spots with a thin blade. Remove top of laptop carefully. The glidepoint, keyboard, power switch, and small LCD status display are loose and may stick to the top. There is one cable connecting to the top which drives the LCD display. Fold the top and LCD backward almost as if you were opening the LCD display.

NEC Support/H2>

Links

This file is maintained by Mark Whitis (whitis@freelabs.com).

Senior Engineer for hire
Software Development - Electronic Design - Embedded Systems - Device Drivers - System/Network Administration and Security - Motor Control, RobotCNC - Linux/Un*x - 25+ years experience
The author of these pages is looking for a new gig.
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Engineers and electronic hobbyists: The new Open Symbol Project is creating open schematic symbols and PCB footprints for a variety of different CAD packages.

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