Linux on HP Pavilion zt1170 Laptop

I recently purchased an HP Pavilion laptop and put RedHat 7.2 on it. Things worked pretty well. This page should help others who try to do the same thing (and also with other Linux distributions) or at least inspire some confidence that the hardware should work under Linux :-).

Getting it to run the installer

My zt1170 came with Windows XP pre-installed. HP helpfully configures the laptop to boot off the hard drive first, so putting the RedHat install disk in the CD-ROM drive didn't do anything. You can change the boot sequence by pressing F2 when the laptop powers up. You've got less than 2 seconds to do this, but when you do, you'll get a menu that lets you select the boot order. I changed things to look at the CD-ROM first, then rebooted. All was well as the RedHat install disk got to run.


I selected the 'Laptop' installation choice and wiped Windows XP from the disk. I picked GRUB as my bootloader. The only hitch was that the RedHat installer didn't recognize the video card. HP ships with full chip specifications in the manual that comes with the laptop, so I checked there and selected "S3 Savage4" with 16MB RAM as my graphics chip. It works, so this is probably correct. I picked generic laptop display panel, 1024x768 for my monitor.

The laptop ships without a floppy, so I skipped the step to make a floppy boot disk. You can order a USB floppy and I did so (details later).

Hardware compatibility

Keyboard Works just fine with the RedHat installer choice of generic 105-key'.
Mousepad Works just fine with the RedHat installer choice of 3 button mouse (PS/2). However, I hate the way that the mousepad works, so I purchased a Kensington USB optical mouse.
LCD Monitor Works just fine at 1024x768.
Internal Hard Drive Works just fine.
DVD-ROM, CD-ROM, CD-Writer The laptop comes with a combination CD-ROM, DVD player, CD writer. The CD-ROM and CD-writer work just fine (and RedHat installed the necessary mkisofs and cdrecord software). I haven't tried the DVD player functionality.

It is probably worth mentioning that the CD writer mounts as a SCSI drive and the 'magic' burning sequence for me is:

cdrecord -v speed=2 dev=0,0,0 cdimage.raw

Sound The sound card was auto-detected and works, but the sound is very soft. I'm guessing that there is some sort of configuration problem, but the card does work ...
Network Card Works just fine.
Graphics Card Works just fine, once I told it what to be. NOTE: The driver that ships with RedHat 7.2 has a know bug (that shows up when you try to install OpenOffice!), so you'll want to upgrage the savage driver.
External USB Mouse This was neat. I didn't have this when I was installing, and when I plugged it in and rebooted the laptop, the mouse was detected at boot time. I was asked if I wanted to autoconfigure, I said yes, and it just worked. Cool
External USB Floppy This works. The USB floppy appears as a SCSI drive. For me, the 'magic' sequence to get it mounted is:

mount -t vfat /dev/sda /mnt/floppy

I haven't tried to automount it, yet.
Firewire port I don't know if this works or not.