John Heidemann / Other Stuff / Free Unix / Free Unix on Gateway 9100

We have several Gateway 2000 Solo 9100’s at ISI. They seem to run Free Unixes reasonably well.

Machine stats: Pentium-MMX, 166MHz. BIOS is CHIPS 65554 PCI Accelerated VGA BIOS, Video BIOS version 184.A# by Chips and Tech, and PhoenixBIOS 4.0 Release 5.1 resale version Q3B11 build time 5/13/97 20:35:15.

(More recent versions of the same model number have different characteristics and a couple of letters after 9100. I don’t have experience with those models, but I’ve heard that they have faster CPUs and different graphics and PCCard chips. Your milage may vary.)


RedHat Linux 4.2 (kernel 2.0.30) boots and installs out of the box. If you enable ``boot from CD-ROM’’ in the setup window you don’t even need to make boot floppies. RedHat 5.0 also works great although I haven’t done a from-scratch install.

Power management now works, provided you have the 8.12 BIOS. With the 8.03 BIOS, calls to get_power_status cause a general protection fault. (If you have an older BIOS, a work-around is to disable get_power_status with a patch to apm_bios.c. A better solution is to get the BIOS upgrade from Gateway’s web site.)

Sound now sort-of works (as of 9-Feb-98). Configure the kernel for YM3812/OPL-3, generic OPL, MPU-401, and MSS support (see the config file below). Make sure the MSS IRQ matches what you have set in BIOS (strangely, the IO-base won’t match what BIOS says). Playing sounds (cat >/dev/audio) works but can be choppy. Recording (cat Stephen Balukoff reported some success with the OSS drivers (as of 23-Apr-98). He says that playing works very well, but recording is very noisy.

Another sound option is what’s in the recent 2.1.x kernels. Experiences here are welcome.

Most other normal features work well (PCCard, the CD-ROM, external video). I haven’t tried some of the newer features (USB, video output) and some things that I just don’t use (Joystick).

My linux-2.0.31 .config for download.


We also have FreeBSD 2.2.1 working on these boxes. See our configuration file for FreeBSD+PAO.


XFree86 configures fairly easily for the C&T 65554 in these boxes (at 1024x768!). Here’s the XF86Config that I settled on (based on an earlier version by Ted Faber).

NEW: RedHat 5.1 and XFree86-3.3.2’s XF86_SVGA breaks 16-bpp mode (each line appears to be doubled so you only see half the screen but the mouse is OK and thinks it’s using the whole screen). One option is to fall back to an 8-bpp XF86Config. Another is to simply run the RedHat 5.0/XFree86-3.3.1 SVGA X server. (Thanks to Jonathan Owen for trying out this work-around.)

More recent Gateway 9100’s have different screens and graphics chips than mine did. Steve Berson has an XF86Config file for a very recent box (14.1” display).

Copyright © 1995-2016 by John Heidemann