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Toshiba Libretto 110CT

How to get it to run Windows 98 & 2000 Pro, OS/2 Warp Connect and Mandrake Linux 9.0/9.1


This page Copyright (c) 2003-2008 P.R. Nienhuis, Amsterdam
Last updated 25 July 2008

Welcome to my Libretto 110CT pages. 

As the Libretto line is a bit outdated now, chances are that some links don't work anymore (but try, while some pages are still not finished yet. Sorry.

These pages are still on-line for back-up, for those people who still own & use a Libretto, and as documentation for myself how I got various things together.


(General stuff:)
Hardware     Why multiple operating systems?

(Relevant for all operating systems, 60 GB harddisk:)
Wish list,     How to boot it all,     Installation order,   Cross-OS issues  

(Operating system specific, 60 GB harddisk:)
Windows 98 & 2000 Pro   OS/2 Warp Connect    Linux (Mandrake 9.0/9.1/9.2)

Running Windows 2000 Professional

I bought my Toshiba Libretto 110CT in 1998 and still like the little beast very much. I know of no other portable which combines so much computing power in such a small volume (about the size of a VHS-tape). As you can guess, nowadays there has evolved a sort of cult around Librettos. Although the model is by contemporary standards more or less outdated, many people are still fiddling around to try to improve its features and performance.

The main purpose of this web page is to show how to get a variety of operating systems (OS-es) installed and how to get them to cooperate to a maximum extent on the Libretto. In addition, I'll outline a few tricks which made using my Libretto easier for me.
In addition, to me it serves as a reminder on how I accomplished things.



The Libretto 110CT came out around the end of 1998. Including peripherals like the external PCMCIA floppy drive (350 gr.), port replicator (150 gr.), power supply (100 gr.), power cord and other stuff it weighs almost 2 kilograms (the thing itself about 1.2 kilograms). It comes equipped with a 4.3 Gb harddisk partitioned into two FAT16 partitions of about 2 Gb each. Unless one takes care of saving the installation files somewhere, one must make a choice between Windows 98 and Windows 95. The selected operating system will be installed and the other option deleted forever (again, unless...). As both partitions are FAT16 and the second partition of 2000 Mb is only used for scratch, considerable space is wasted.
Later Libretto 110CT models featured only Windows 98. Optionally Windows NT could be installed.

It does feature a reset button (or rather, a reset "hole"). Many standard VESA modes and "Libretto" VESA-like modes 126, 127 & 128 hex (800x480 in 8, 16 and 24 color bits per pixel) are supplied. I found out that the included high-capacity battery lasts at least 31/2 hours, probably 4, and maybe even more if energy consumption is set to "low" (I use "intermediate" on the road) and maybe even much more Windows is bypassed (but then again, maybe not because the whole APM is interwoven with Windows). Charging an empty battery takes some 5-6 hours.

The Libretto does not seem to have a built in or emulated numeric keypad. But it's there for sure. Xin Feng found out that <Fn><F10> and <Fn><F11> can be used to toggle the numeric keypad on and off. Check out his site for a key-remapping picture and many other useful Libretto stuff (a.o. a Windows utility for controlling the mouse cursor and buttons with arrow keys - very handy on bumpy railroads!).

Further details can be found on the Toshiba web site and on the Adorable Toshiba Libretto website.

BTW 1: sifting out the various newsgroup archives accessible through links on the latter site (e.g., this one) may yield much valuable info.

BTW 2: Toshiba has a download site for drivers - click on Tech Support Center and select Libretto.

Although I suspected that the non-standard screen resolution (800x480) might prove challenging one day, I simply fell in love with the Libretto.

Concerning prices: I bought my 110CT just before Christmas 1998; I paid a hefty fl. 5800,- (Dutch guilders, incl. VAT). Ofcourse, two weeks later I saw it advertised for just under fl. 5000,-. A few months later I saw it priced at just fl. 2800... (well, that's life these days.)

Toshiba has dropped the Libretto line altogether, save for some Japanese models (Libretto 1100 etc). Some stores may have one left on a shelf, but new ones are generally out of stock :-( But you might be able to get a second-hand one through the Internet - have a look on Ebay. I think current (2008) prices still lie around 350 - 400 US $.

To be able to work a bit efficiently, I got myself some upgrades and extensions. Where applicable I'll describe how I got them up and running:

On the web some Lib100/110 service manuals can be found. I'll put one up here - it's for the Libretto 100CT but that's the same except for a slower CPU and smaller hard disk.

Why multiple operating systems on such a small computer?

An obvious question: "Why multiple operating systems? Isn't Windows good enough?"
Indeed, many people do think Windows is one big heap of junk. To me it's just another OS, not necessarily much worse than other OS-es.
I try to avoid the trails of zealous proponents or opponents of the various operating systems around - to me an OS is just a tool to get work done. Some tools are better suited for carrying out job "A", some do better on job "1". Nevertheless, the various testimonials against or in favor of specific OS-es make for entertaining reading.
Especially MS-Windows is prone to attacks from e.g. OS/2 users (have a taste of it in the comp.os.os2.* newsgroups) or Linux users (comp.os.linux.*) - to compensate for that, have a look at the Unix haters Handbook.

First of all, there is just the fun of getting several OS-es to work on a Libretto. One must be a computer hobbyist for that, and I am one.

Secondly, I have worked with much more operating systems than just Windows. To me there is no superior OS - all OS-es have their pros and cons.
I still run OS/2 but more as a hobby. I used to run it often when I did assembly programming for DOS program development; e.g., forgetting to POP function arguments from the stack could leave Windows 9x completely stuck; OS/2 just gave a message and closed the relevant DOS window, just two seconds later work could continue in a new DOS window. OS/2's connectivity is very good - never had any problem accessing data on other computers save for one (long filenames on FAT32 partitions on Win9x/ME, and this is caused my MS behaviour). Moreover, booting Warp Connect on the Libretto takes a mere 50 seconds whereas booting Win2K or Win98 takes > 4 minutes (including software needed for day-to-day operation like antivirus stuff, firewalls, silently started IE stubs etc.); even Linux needs altogether 2,5 minutes just to get into IceWM - KDE takes almost forever to start.
Linux is remarkably flexible, much less demanding with respect to hardware, very polite to other software platforms and with modern distros it's easy to set up. When I was a student and later when I worked at university, I did a lot of work on Unix systems. It still strikes me that so many things like system maintenance but also e.g., preliminary data analysis can be done using just relatively simple shell commands, tasks which would need full-blown compiled programs on Windows platforms. And yes, Linux /and/ most Linux software is free - when you don't like it, nothing is lost apart from time, while Windows and OS/2 and software for it cost quite a few bucks which means you'll stick by them if only for avoiding the feeling of having wasted your money.
The main reason I run Windows is that there are so many programs written for Windows, and because many customers and colleagues require Microsoft formats for documents etc. In addition, many web sites need IE to be able to be viewed, and my bank allows electronic access only through a Windows program (BTW one of the worst-written programs I've ever encountered). OK, Windows needed a bit of adaptation, but after that I have been quite content with its performance, especially Win2K.

The question of "why" touches a bit upon a related issue:

These days many people have never seen another OS than Windows. Even worse, the majority of them simply can't even imagine a computer running other software than Windows, and as such cannot imagine either that other platforms may be much better suited for carrying out specific tasks. It seems these days *everything* should to be carried out by GUI programs while many simple things can be done much better and more quickly using command line tools.

During my career (I am a hydrogeologist) I have used a variety of computers and operating systems, each with their pros and cons: an HP41CX "handheld computer" (ahem - terminology by HP), Control Data Corporation Cyber 170 mainframes, CDC Cyber 205 and Cray vector computers, and the in university environments unavoidable PDP's and VAXes running Unix or VMS. When I first touched a keyboard around 1982, PC's were no issue: they simply could not beat (and are probably only recently be able to beat) Control Data's Fortran 77 compilers (at least regarding speed). In contrast to today's 32 bit operating systems, in the early eighties CDC Cybers already used 60 or even 64 bit "words" - and that is without taking into account 6 or 8 parity bits.

Those old-fashioned, super-fast but user-hostile mainframe operating systems forced one to learn to think ahead: You had to think about how to set up a proper batch job with optimized program options, taking into account limited resources. One mistake could often mean a spoiled day, considering that many large batch jobs could only be ran at night time when "interactive" sessions on remote dumb terminals would not dominate CPU and memory resources of the mainframes. After you sent your batch jobs, you went back to your desk to get other useful work done. Next day by noon, hopefully the output of your jobs would have been printed at the computer office some buildings away, so you would use your daily after-lunch stroll to pick it up there. If you were unlucky, job output would comprise the first page stating "fatal error" and "job aborted" somewhere, and the next 100 or so pages would consist of the then inevitable "post-mortem memory dump" (in octal, probably only legible for Martians).

Now consider today's Windows. In particular many Windows programs not only discourage thinking ahead, they even really stupify computer users, like so:

Do you want to do ...?
" <click> "
Do you really want to do ...?
" <click> "
Are you sure?"
" <click> "
Are you really sure?
" <click> "
(......gazing at a silly animated cursor.......)

I have done it all!
" <click> "
" <click!> "
Don't forget to backup!
!" <CLICK!!!> "
" <CLICK!!!!> "
Program 'X' running for 25 minutes 18 seconds" <CLICK!!!!!!>...etc. etc

Such programs very effectively turn a multi-user operating system into a single-user game. Most of the time one is waiting for an arrow cursor to reappear, or forced to watch silly animated pictures.
True, putting a running program in the background has never been easier, but many morons who call themselves programmers (or worse: software developers) deem it necessary to display dialog boxes which grab focus whenever just any small step of the background program has been finished. And ofcourse the program you were working with is suspended until you click those irritating pop-ups away.
Few GUI programs offer alternative control options like (function) keys (have you ever suffered from RSI?) and/or put the next button to be clicked at the lower left of the screen while your last mouse click was in the upper right. If keystrokes can be used at all, you must often press 3 simultaneously (piano players have an advantage here.) And worse, many useful Windows programs can ONLY be run interactively, thus monopolizing one's attention.
Admittedly this is not so much a complaint about Windows but more towards OS GUIs in the first place, but IMO especially Windows strongly encouraged this Spielerei. Windows installed all this sillyness by default, making many people think that unneeded animations, obtrusive sounds and other junk are the native running mode for computers.

Now you might remark: "What do you want then? Command prompts?"
Well, command prompts, batch jobs and function keys are not the ultimate heaven, but IMHO batch scripts and less mouse dependence might add some efficiency to many GUI operating systems. Windows offers the least options for this, OS/2 with its REXX batch language is already much better, and Linux (being a Unix clone) probably offers the most in the form of programmable shells and the like.