RedHat Linux on the HP OmniBook 500

[top half, open] The ultraportable HP OmniBook 500 notebook PC runs Linux well. Install is a snap with RedHat 7.1, just review the following instructions. With this machine you can install Redhat 7.1, and have a working machine in a few minutes. I give this laptop an acceptable rating for Linux compatibility.

This page was last modified: 23-Jan-2002 For more laptops, see

Status with RedHat 7.1 (With standard 2.4.2 Kernel / XFree86 4.0.3)
Feature Status Setup Notes
Display OK Easy Video ram size is not probed, you need to enter the value for your model. Select monitor type "Generic Laptop 1024x768". Use the supplied XF86Config file to get USB mouse support & other goodies. If your screen is off by 10 pixels, press "function-F5", and send me email so we can debug this problem! There is a report that with XFree86 4.2 this gap does not happen.
3 Button trackpoint Good Automatic  
Ethernet NIC Good Automatic  
USB Good Automatic  
USB Floppy Good Manual USB floppies are pain under Linux, but it's not HP's fault. You must manually mount device "/dev/sda". Use "cdrecord --scanbus" to show the floppy (which is supported under SCSI emulation).
Sound OK Automatic There is a distinct click as the audio device is closed (after, but not during, each playback session)
CardBus PCMCIA OK Automatic As the root user, enter "cardctl reset" if card not automatically detected. The same problem is present under Windows.
CD/DVD/Docking base Good ? Optional - I did not purchase them. Reported to work by others, though DMA mode can't be enabled.
Power: Screen Saver Good Automatic Note RedHat 7.1 bugs. The laptop can blank just fine.
Power: Battery Status Good Automatic  
Power: Throttle CPU Speed Good ? I don't know how to test if the Intel SpeedStep CPU is stepping. On other laptops, the CPU stays at the speed it was set during boot (slow for battery, fast for AC).
Power: Suspend to ram Good Manual Just press the sleep button, or use "apm -s". Unfortunately the network card may stop working. See the tricks section for the solution.
Power: Hibernate to disk Good ? Reported to work by others, if you leave a partition available.
Power: Power off/reboot Fails - You often must manually shut machine down. Booting machine with lid closed also results in unhappiness in both Windows & Linux.
Modem No driver - It's a 3Com Winmodem. See
Extra Keys No driver - The machine has 4 extra keys "Vol+ Vol- HELP Presentation". No keyboard events show up in "xev", so nothing can be done with the keys.

Specification & Equipment Details

Vendor specifcations Nice OmniBook 500 model guide from HP.
Link to HP OmniBook 500 Sales
Link to HP Linux Policy.
Version Extact model tested: F2164KT. BIOS as shipped & tested: FA.M1.10. Hard Drive: IBM DJSA-210
Hard drive Standard 9mm height drive. Vendor-specific bracket. It's easy to move a new drive in to the old bracket. The HP part number for the bracket is F2157-60902, they are $7.50.
RAM PC133 144 pin SODIMM SDRAM. Easy to install, lots of vendors selling it..
Noise You can work in silence if you like. There is a CPU fan, but it runs only if something keeps the laptop unusually warm. A slight whine comes from the battery circuit, but it is not a problem when fully charged.
Strengths Small, light, stable, reliable. Cool blue LED's. No troublesome gimmicky features. A great travel laptop.
Weakneses The audio device is weak, offering insufficient record and playback levels (at least from the main unit). There is a playback click each time the audio device is closed (usually after each clip is played).
You have only one set of power saving mode choices in the BIOS (other machines offer switching among two or three sets). Floppy drive is too fragile to travel with.
Notes This is designed as a two-part laptop. You can buy only the upper half and do fine, as long as you have a network, and can remote mount CD's.

Hardware component information
bryce> lspci
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 440BX/ZX - 82443BX/ZX Host bridge (rev 03)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 440BX/ZX - 82443BX/ZX AGP bridge (rev 03)
00:07.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82371AB PIIX4 ISA (rev 02)
00:07.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82371AB PIIX4 IDE (rev 01)
00:07.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82371AB PIIX4 USB (rev 01)
00:07.3 Bridge: Intel Corporation 82371AB PIIX4 ACPI (rev 03)
00:0a.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI1410 PC card Cardbus Controller (rev 01)
00:0b.0 Ethernet controller: 3Com Corporation 3c556 Laptop Tornado (rev 10)
00:0b.1 Communication controller: 3Com Corporation: Unknown device 1007 (rev 10)
00:0d.0 Multimedia audio controller: ESS Technology ES1983S Maestro-3i PCI Audio Accelerator
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Rage Mobility P/M AGP 2x (rev 64)

bryce> startx
(II) ATI(0): Using Mach64 accelerator CRTC.
(--) ATI(0): 1024x768 panel (ID 29) detected.
(--) ATI(0): Panel model Sharp LQ121X1LH22.
(--) ATI(0): Panel clock is 65.146 MHz.
(II) ATI(0): Using digital flat panel interface.

bryce> cat /proc/cpuinfo
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
model name      : Pentium III (Coppermine)
stepping        : 6
cpu MHz         : 597.412
cache size      : 256 KB
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse
36 mmx fxsr sse
bogomips        : 1192.75

bryce> hdparm-tT /dev/hda
 Timing buffer-cache reads:   128 MB in  0.98 seconds =130.61 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads:   64 MB in  4.36 seconds = 14.68 MB/sec



[unit cradled in bottom half]


OmniBook Specific Tricks, Tips & Details


General Tricks, Tips & Details


History of this document

Valid HTML 4.01! 22-Jun-2001: Created this document to show how easy RedHat is to set up on this machine. Email "bryce2" at machine "".

25-Jul-2001: Minor updates all over. Note PCMCIA problems. Add USB Mouse/Wheel support to XF86Config. Note OmniBook mailing list. Note 10 pixel problem.

23-Jan-2002: Fix links, update problems that also happen under Windows.

09-Mar-2004: Update on 10 pixel gap from user Jez.