Linux on Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook C-6185/6555

Linux on Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebooks


This is a short How-To on using Linux on a Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook C-6185/6555. The good news at the beginning: all hardware is supported.

However, I won't take any responsibility if something won't work, or your notebook gets damaged...


Intel Celeron 550MHz (C-6185)/Pentium III 650MHz (C-6555)
Intel 82371AB PIIX4 IDE
  • TOSHIBA MK1016GAP, ATA DISK drive, 9590MB w/0kB Cache, CHS=1222/255/64
  • TOSHIBA DVD-ROM SD-C2402, ATAPI CDROM drive, 24X DVD-ROM drive, 128kB Cache
National Semiconductor PC87306L (1.44MB)
Lucent (ex-AT&T) Microelectronics LT WinModem 56k
Intel 82557 (Ethernet Pro 100)
Cirrus Logic Crystal CS4281 PCI Audio
ALPS Glidepad
ATI Technologies Inc 3D Rage P/M Mobility AGP 2x (rev 64)
Intel 82371AB PIIX4 USB
Intel 82371AB PIIX4 ACPI
National Semiconductors NS97338
Texas Instruments PCI1420
Application Panel
Proprietary invention by Fujitsu-Siemens


Most hardware is supported by standard drivers that should come with every up-to-date Linux distribution. I've seen working configurations for SuSE, RedHat, Debian, and Gentoo.

You can upgrade the microcode of your CPU using the microcode device of 2.4.x kernels. A utility including latest microcode is available from
The Pentium III CPU supports Speed Stepping, but I don't know whether you can control this using Linux.
If you have a laptop with a Pentium3, you should be able to use speedstep with the speedstep-smi module.
Load the module with the following options:
# modprobe speedstep-smi smi_port=0xb2 smi_cmd=0x82 smi_sig=1
You can use the cpufreqd to dynamically control the CPU frequency.
Make sure you are using at least 2.2.18 since kernels prior to this won't support the sound chip. From there on all (working) kernels including 2.4.x and 2.5.x should be ok.
Lucent released a driver for their modem, it works with all kernel series from 2.2.x on. It's available from
Note that SuSE's kernel has problems with this driver due to their overloaded buggy kernel. To fix this make sure that the /etc/rc.d/serial script doesn't initialize any serial port but ttyS00 and ttyS03. Furthermore it may be necessary to unload the module after using it. This is true at least for SuSE 7.0 to 7.3, I haven't tested this with 8.x yet.
The infrared chip can either be used in the SIR mode (which provides 128kbps) or with a modified nsc-ircc driver you can get from my kernel patches page. The modified driver allows you to use the FIR mode providing up to 4mbps. This mode needs to be activated in your BIOS.
The needed driver (irda) is part of the standard kernel.
Again, SuSE has problems with it - same fix as above...
Parallel Port
Even if enabled in the BIOS, the ECP/EPP support of the parallel port is not auto detected. However, if you pass the correct IO ports, IRQ, and DMA settings as parameters to the parport_pc module, these modes are detected and work.
IDE disks
Both the harddisk and the CD/DVD work in DMA mode. However, the DVD has its problem with this: to mount a previously unmounted medium, you sometimes have to open and close the tray... sounds stupid, but it works. Fujitsu-Siemens recommends to disable DMA on the DVD drive, but then a DVD movie resembles a poor excuse for a slideshow...
Contrary to what the Fujitsu-Siemens support hotline tries to make you believe, the motherboard supports harddisks with more than 20GB capacity. I have also exchanged the DVD drive with a CD-RW/DVD combo drive, which works flawlessly (you cannot use the blind of the original drive, but that's actually an advantage)
Here you have the choice between the good eepro100 driver and the very good e100 driver. The first is included in all kernels, the later being a vendor suplied kernel is available for 2.2.x and 2.4.x as a module and included into 2.5.x. Both work fine with the card, the e100 of course includes far more options to play with and Intel claims their driver performs better on heavy traffic. The e100 can be found here.
The sound chip is supported by the snd-card-cs4281 module of the alsa-project and the cs4281 module of the OSS/Free include in the kernel.
The ALSA 0.5 driver version works fine up to the first 2.5.x kernels. The ALSA 0.9 driver sounds like crap, however they dropped the cs4281 module anyway. The OSS/Free driver also works fine, however it has problems with suspend. You need to unload the driver before suspending your laptop or else it will freeze.
The KDE sound server appears to have problems with all drivers, either disable it or increase the audio buffer to maximum size.
The touchpad is a normal PS/2 device, so use /dev/psaux. Whether the touch or an external mouse or both should be used can be controlled in the BIOS.
For X11 there is a special driver available which lets you configure a lot of parameters of the touchpad, and what is best, it detects when you are sliding on the edges and translates these movements to scroll wheel events. The driver is available at For configuring the driver, see the file README.alps
Don't use the framebuffer device, since it does not support any acceleration and is therefor slow. For text mode use vga=ext or whetever resolution you prefer and enable "Compensation" in the BIOS.
For XFree86 3.x use the mach64 driver, for 4.x use the ati driver. There are also xv drivers available fromgatos which add some overlay support (and I can only recommend).
Switching to a secondary monitor works fine using the Fn+F10 key. With atitvout you can also activate the TV out.
UPDATE: the new server has improvied support for this chipset, including XVidiX extensions. The server also supports DRI for this graphic card, if enabled (the mach64 DRI driver is marked as insecure and has to be explicitly enabled - see the DRI homepage for details) You will also need experimental DRM drivers for your kernel, get them also from the DRI homepage.
Due to the limited video memory of the graphic board, you can use the acceleration only at 640x480 pixels or less at 24bpp or at 800x600 at 16bpp.
The USB controller is supported by the standard kernel drivers, whether the devices you connect to it are supported is another question...
Current kernels only support APM which is also supported by the laptop, but you have to enable and tune this in the BIOS. Problems have been reported with the option "Make CPU Idle calls when idle" was enabled.
Basically the 2.4.x kernel series supports ACPI as well, but the last time I tried it it wasn't really usefull compared to APM.
PCMCIA support works with the i82365 module. This module is included in late 2.4.x and 2.5.x kernels and in the pcmcia-cs package.
Application Panel
This "Application Panel" are four keys and one LED located on the front of the laptop labelled "A", "B", "Internet", and "E-mail". With a driver written by me you can turn the LED on and off and query the
The driver is available at


The Lifebook C-6185 is a very elegant and nice laptop. It works fine with linux and I haven't experienced any problems so far which couldn't be solved.

However, Fujitsu-Siemens' support is the opposite. In contrast to their good reputation you can forget their support. I already noted this in the first revision of this documenation. Now, one year later, it got even worse. Despite of the good hardware they sell, I'm not sure whether I could recommend buying something from them. Anyway, this is still only my personal opinion - this time based on even more experiences.

Be also warned that replacement parts will probably cost more than a new computer... 900€ in my case for a replacement DVD drive. Thanks a lot, Fujitsu-Siemens... (UPDATE: luckily any other slimline ATAPI compatible drive fits into the lifebook, so I'm now a proud owner of a 24x CD-RW/DVD Combo at the price of about 80€)

The notebook comes with a slot for the Kensignton MicroSaver. Information is available at



If you have questions, comments, bug reports, suggestions, or if you just wish to send me some nice greetings, feel free to contact me: