Running Linux on the Acer Travelmate 620 Portable Computer

This Document helps you to get Linux running on the Acer Travelmate620 Portable Computer.

Last modified: Tuesday, 2th of september 2003

TM620 - A linux-unfriendly machine?

For months I tried to get running Linux on my Acer Travelmate 620 - without success. I tried almost every Distribution: Suse, Mandrake, Redhat, Knoppix, even Slackware. Some of the Distributions crash already at Installation - Some PCMCIA device seems to be misidentified. Often there was a workaround to this using the "nopcmcia=yes" kernel parameter at boot. So it was possible to install most distros, but only without pcmcia. Next problem was the sound chip, which caused most configuration tools to freeze. Maybe this is is also caused by this pcmcia stuff. It is, however, not very cool to run a portable computer without sound and pcmcia at all - so I decided to keep looking on the web for someone who had the same problem.

Some Months later, I found the website of Steven Van Steenweghen ( that finally helped me to get Linux running on this machine.

Some technical Details..

For me, it now runs perfectly on Suse Linux 8.2. Probably it will run on other distros too, but Suse 8.2 seems to be the only Linux distro so far that does not freeze on installation and configures PCMCIA and sound just perfectly. But soon I experienced another problem: When I tried to kill the X-Server, or switching to console, or exiting from X to console, or even just restarting X, the screen remained black. As Steven Van Steenweghen showed me, this is because of a wrong framebuffer Mode that Suse configures by default. By changing the Kernel parameter "vga=0x314" (which is in fact the setting for a 800x600 screen, but this notebook uses a resolution of 1024x768) to "vga=0x317" I got rid of this nasty problem and can switch from console to X and vice versa as often as I want to. I shall remark here that I ran the "Yast online update" ("YOU"), a tool from Suse to get patches for the system from the internet. There I downloaded the patches "Xfree86-something" and "Standard-Kernel" (Together about 15 Megs). I don't know if this had an influence on the outcome at all, but to be sure it will work I recommend to download and setup these two patches.

Summary: what you need to do in order to get it running

  • Install Suse 8.2 (8.0 Didn't work)
  • Run the Suse online Update tool , download and install the two packages mentioned above (maybe not necessary)
  • change the bootloader kernel parameter setting as mentioned above (can be done in YAST -> Bootloader configuration)
  • Add the string "pci=acpi" to your bootloader kernel parameters (can be done in YAST -> Bootloader configuration)
  • Reboot your machine
Here you go. Happy Linuxing on TM620. I hope this document is useful to someone. Special thanks go to Steven Van Steenweghen who made a little dream come true :-) Im open to further research on how to get other versions of linux running on this machine. For comments, help, suggestions you can reach me at:

subceero [at] freesurf [dot] ch

Or you can visit my website (Opens in a new window)

This Document is freely available under the terms of the GNU free documentation license.