Installing Ubuntu on a Travelmate 230: X Issues

By | August 5, 2006

I was asked to install Ubuntu Linux on someone’s Acer Travelmate 230 laptop, and I ran into a problem that was very easily fixed, once I knew what it was. However it wasn’t documented anywhere under the laptop model, which made finding the solution hard.

The problem was that X would start with only a 640×480 resolution, and no amount of xorg.conf tweaking would make it behave otherwise (well, it also often came up with a completly black screen. I have no idea what that was about). The installer correctly detected that it needed the i810 driver, and that was set up. However, the video card (I can’t remember the exact chipset name, but it’s an Intel) has no RAM of its own, and instead relies on taking over part of the system RAM to work. By default, this is set at 1Mb, which isn’t enough for any kind of decent resolution. I think that the Windows drivers must override that, but it seems the Linux ones don’t. To make it work, all you have to do is go into the BIOS settings, go to Advanced and change the setting, which (IIRC) it calls ‘UMA’, from 1Mb to 8Mb. All of a sudden, the Linux drivers report that it can happily go up to 1024×768, and it works well. If I’d known that from the start, the install would have been quite seamless.

I haven’t tested the other parts of the hardware, such as the modem, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that they work well too.

3 thoughts on “Installing Ubuntu on a Travelmate 230: X Issues

  1. Bosse Öhman

    Thank you for this. I had the same problem and I tryed to install from many different issues of Ubuntu and Kubuntu and it was allways the same. I also tryed to install WinXP again but no. When I change the UMA to 8Mb all is working. Thank you once again! Bosse

  2. Andries du Plessi


    I tried what you explaind above. On ubuntu 11.04 I still get an ‘unknown’ monitor on my old Acer Travelmate 230

    Any other suggestions? Im new to Ubuntu and for the most of it a regular user of Windows


  3. Robin Post author

    That post of mine was from 2006, I have no idea what’s changed since then I’m afraid.

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