Linux PCMCIA and the ThinkPad 390E

Linux PCMCIA Card Services

Linux PCMCIA Card Services is a series of applications and kernel modules that should be built along with any kernel you compile or install. In stock Redhat Linux, there is a pcmcia-cs package that complements the stock kernels. However, as you will probably want to build your own (presumbly more recent) kernel for APM support, you will need to build PCMCIA modules for any kernel you build yourself. Mercifully, this is as simple as untarring the sources obtained from the Linux PCMCIA Home Page and typing make config, answering a few questions, then make all and make install. Really!

Regardless of whether you roll your own PCMCIA Card Services or use the stock ones provided in the Redhat distribution, you will want to make the following modifications to ensure that it works correctly on your ThinkPad 390E:

16-bit and 32-bit CardBus Support

The Linux PCMCIA Home Page contains a very large list of supported cards for each stable release of the software. If you want to purchase a PCMCIA card for you laptop, make sure it's on this list. Most 16-bit cards work right out of the box, with the exception of a few flakey combo cards and PCMCIA Winmodems. An increasing number of 32-bit CardBus cards are now being supported actively as well.

My CardBus experiences: I purchased a 3Com MegaHertz 10/100 Mbps 32-bit CardBus ethernet card with XJack connector, model 3CXFE575BT. At the time, support for this card was "experimental", but even so, I was able to get it working admirably in both 10 and 100 Mbps modes, set to IRQ 3. 32-bit CardBus cards are really necessary to get the high throughput needed for high-speed SCSI and 100 Mbps ethernet cards. There are 100 Mbps cards in 16-bit format; however, few perform faster than 20 Mbps or so because of the bottleneck over the slow 16-bit PCMCIA bus. Support in Linux for Cardbus devices is immature but usable, and rapidly improving. Take note that as of version 3.0.14 of Card Services, only the 3c575_cb Cardbus driver supports suspend and resume cycles -- you will need to eject other Cardbus cards before suspending.

Notes about particular PCMCIA cards in the ThinkPad 390E

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Craig Kulesa
Last modified: Fri Aug 27 03:24:58 MST 1999