Debian GNU/Linux installation on an Airis Laptop with SiS chipset.

Manuel Romero Velázquez
Spanish edition
IMLUG "Grupo de Usuarios de Linux de Alcalá del Río "
ADALA " Asociación para el Desarrollo y el Avance del Software Libre en Andalucía"
Alcalá del Río, Sevilla, Andalucía, Spain

October 22nd 2002
Version 1.0, 10/22/2002

This document is free. You can copy, distribute and/or modify under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) version 1.1 published by the Free Software Foundation.

I have a new laptop, Toshiba A80-131, I'm writing other howto

Debian GNU/Linux on a Toshiba Satellite A80 131


This HOWTO is about installation of Debian GNU/Linux on a Airis Laptop, based on SiS (Silicom Integrated Systems) chipset. You can use it to install another distributions.


This paper explains some steps to do a full installation of Debian GNU/Linux on an Airis notebook which is based on SiS chipset. You can use this for installing another distribution or configuring another notebook, different from Airis but based on SiS.

The are a lot of documentation about Linux with SiS, but only a piece was useful for me.

This paper will explain how to install and configure each device of the notebook. You can use all this information, or a part; it depends from your hardware.

Product Specifications

I use an Airis notebook, a Spanish trade mark. This notebook uses a Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) chipset.

Graphics Card
Dual Head
Sound capabilities
LAN adapter
PCMCIA controller
Operating System

Software requirements

First installation was Debian GNU/Linux 2.2r5 "Potato" . Here net is supported by the kernel: Network device support -> Ethernet (10 or 100Mbit) -> EISA, VLB, PCI and on board controllers -> SiS 900/7016 PCI Fast Ethernet Adapter support. And you will have a powerfull computer with multiple console applications.

For a complete management of the laptop I use Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 "Woody" with kernel 2.4.19-pre5 and Thomas X driver, available here ThomaSite.

At least you need:

How to process

Here I explain the process to install and configure the laptop.

Install the distribution

The first step is install a Linux distribution. If you want another distribution like as Hurd, *BSD or Darwin this document is valid with the exception of some kernel issues. I use Debian, if you use another one, go to the next section.

The standard process to install Debian is taking the installation manual and, of course, read it. There is an important item at the installation process . If you want to install the X-window system, you have to select xserver-sis.

In standard installation, you have control over the net (ethernet card) and maybe sound. Then you can start X using Vesa driver, but I don't recommend it, you'll spend your time.

Improving the system

For a complete management of the system you need to make some additional changes.

Download a new kernel release, al least 2.4.19-pre5, compile it with your options. Furthermore:

Download the X driver and DRI driver for SIS at ThomaSite. The files are:

You can use the compiled or source files. When you have the files compiled, replace the original from the xserver-sis package. Locations needed:

Other improvements

PCMCIA, IrDA, USB and modem are issues that I don't use yet, but I have some comments.

PCMCIA, USB and IrDA are standards with full support in the kernel, no problem except with USB 2 devices.

Internal modem is full compatible with another which are very popular. Visit

Last comment

With this information you can use the computer in 90% (it's my opinion), only rest control for modem. Other issues are covered by these comments and kernel configuration. Maybe the configuration process for PCMCIA or IrDA seems difficult, but something is as funny as difficult it's.

When I have time I will test these devices and put here their results.


My first words are for Thomas, because his great work on Sis drivers. I only can say THANKS.

Thanks Winnetou, my partner in IMLUG and expert on IrDA and sensors control.

Thanks Javier Carranza for the Spanish translation and corrections of this English edition.

Thanks all the people that support The Free Software Community and help to do a better world.