Running Linux on the Compaq Presario 1275

This page gives my experiences running Linux on my Compaq Presario 1275. I used Mandrake 6.0 and 7.0 at first. Later I used various Debian versions. I used LILO and Grub to dual boot Linux and Windows 98.

This whole document is out of date. The machine is now being used by my brother, and I can't answer questions about it.


The 1275 is similar to the other 12xx models. The main details of it are:


This is Compaq's name for the D partition you will find on your hard drive. They claim this is a quick way to make backups(2). Also the provided QuickRestore CD will not be very usable without it. The only thing that works is the Full Restore which re-partitions the drive and formats it before re-installing Windows. I think you can avoid the re-partition, but have never tried it. It is possible to install individual parts (Except Windows) from CD 2 without the D partition, but the install files have names like E:\CPQDRV\151308\B2A\014\ The only way to find the one you want is to run each installer one at a time until you find the right one (This was said by a Compaq tech support person in one of their forums.)

Also just booting the CDROM will wipe out LILO even if you choose cancel at the first prompt. Have a Linux boot disk ready.

It is possible to make your own Windows 98 CDROM if you have a CD burner. Copy the contents of C:\WINDOWS\OPTIONS\CABS to a CDROM. Then find all the drivers you need on the second QuickRestore CD and put them on your CD too (Unzipped preferebly).You will also need a Windows bootdisk with CD drivers. The Win98 Emergency Boot Disk (Created in the Add/Remove Programs control panel or during installation) is a good start, but does not leave enough memory free. Remove the Ram Disk that it uses. You will need FDISK and FORMAT on it. I would recommend using the disk you make to create a bootable CD.


X was fairly easy to setup using Xconfigurator, though I had three minor problems. The '800x600 LCD panel' entry in the monitor list in Xconfigurator does not work and will not allow 800x600. Instead pick a suitable monitor (I used the settings for a monitor that is usually connected to it).

The second problem I had was that it does not seem possible to turn on Num Lock inside X. It works fine from the console, but X just beeps when I press Shift-ScrLk. This means I can't change video modes inside X (Ctrl-Alt-KP+/KP-). Xconfigurator puts 640x480 first in the list of modes. Change that around in the Screen section of XF86Config. BTW The Mandrake 7.0 installer got the resolution correct. Debian has never been a problem.

BTW I can change modes using an external keyboard, but that is not a complete solution.

I have now figured out how to change modes. The number pad is available by holding Fn. This will give you the arrow functions of the number pad. Hold Shift as well for the numbers. To change screen modes use Fn-Ctrl-Alt-; and Fn-Ctrl-Alt-P.

Also the X server seems to ignore the Int/Ext monitor button (Fn-F3) or do strange things when you press it. Edit XF86Config and in the device section uncomment the lines that read:

    Option   "intern_disp"
    Option   "extern_disp"

This will enable both the LCD and a CRT. If you want to use 1280x768 you will have to comment out the "intern_disp" option and restart the X server.

Here is a link to one of the XF86Configs I used.


The sound took me a few tries to get working. I used sndconfig to set it up. The correct settings are:
IO 0x220
MPU IO 0x330

You can confirm these in the Windows System control panel or in the BIOS setup screen.

The volume buttons on the front work as well as programs like kmixer and aumix.


The modem is a Lucent Win Modem. A binary only driver exists that works fine with this modem, but only with kernels 2.2.12 and 2.2.14. Some people claim it works with 2.2.16 using a patched ppp.o, but I had nothing but crashes with it, especially when I have a network card installed.

These are the steps to get the modem working:

More information about this modem, including the latest Windows drivers, is available from Update: This was a great wite. Now you need to pay to download anything...

An attempt at an open source driver has been started. I have had no luck woth it, but if tyou want to try it look at


The built-in touchpad is a PS/2 device. It has two buttons. The scroll button under the buttons can be a middle button in Windows, but doesn't work in Linux. If you don't like the Tap to Click feature (I hate it) a program exists to change it. You can get it from I also can't get the side-scroll feature of the tablet to work. The keyboard is nice to type on, but the layout is somewhat weird. DEL, Home, PgUp,PgDn and End are in a row down the right side. Ins is to the right of the spacebar. For some reason they provided two backslash keys (One at the top right and one to the left of the spacebar). The one near the spacebar produces < and > in Linux but would probably be simple to remap if you want to use it. NumLock is activated by pressing Shift-ScrollLock.

The Instant Internet buttons and CD player controls do not do anything. The volume buttons do work as well as the Sleep button, monitor switch (Console only) and brightness and contrast controls. External mice and keyboards work fine. I have used a Logitech WheelMouse (Serial and PS/2), a generic serial mouse and a PS/2 keyboard. In Windows I also tried an Apple USB keyboard and Mouse (The ugly iMac ones).


The CD-ROM is a normal 24x IDE CD-ROM. It is at /dev/hdc.


Power management works great. Both sleep and hibernate mode work perfectly. I have never had Linux crash coming out of hibernate, something I can't say about Windows. Hibernate mode needs a file on the C: partition to save memory contents to. A program run in the Compaq AUTOEXEC.BAT creates it if it is missing or damaged. You may have problems if you want a Linux only machine.

The only problem I have had is that apmd sometimes losses track of the battery state. This usually occurs if the AC cord is attached or disconnected while the laptop is sleeping or hibernating. Apmd will continue to report the previous power and battery status. The BIOS low battery warning (beeps and flashing battery light) will still work even in this case.


Use the usb-ohci.o module. You will also need the modules for whatever devices you need. Check for wether the device you are interested in is supported.

My USB Zip250 drive works fine in 2.2.16 with the latest backport. I have had no problems with a MicroSoft SideWinder Pulg & Play Game Pad using the USB backport to 2.2.14 available from Use the hid and joydev modules. Then create the device special file if you don't already have it (mknod /dev/js0 c 15 0).

Using 2.4 kernels USB works great


I am using a Network EveryWhere NP100 10/100BaseT ethernet card to connect to my LAN. It worked perfectly with the PCMCIA package included with Mandrake 7.0.


I use a Micro-Solutions Backpack parallel port 4x4x20x CD-RW. It works reliably at 2x using the binary only module available from It is for kernel 2.2.14 but works fine when force loaded on 2.2.16.

Support for this drive is now available in the current parport drivers


1. About 1.25GB is taken by the Compaq SystemSave partition.

2. Interesting to have a backup on the same drive. Every time I have had massive loss of data it has been due to drive failure. Also a laptop is more prone to theft or damage than a desktop and it seems that a back up on the same disk is little more than a waste of space.

Comments or Questions? Email me at

Last modified: Mon Jul 12 10:23:50 EDT 2004

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