Introduction: How to Turn a Fujitsu LT C500 Tablet PC Into an IPad (sorta)

About: I am an artist, educator, tinkerer, and repurposer, err, recycler.
Want an iPad that plays Flash, has a USB port and you can use a wireless keyboard with it? Get yourself a Fujitsu LT c500 Tablet PC instead and install Ubuntu on it. These tablet PCs were first introduced in 2000. Ahead of its time, the LT c500 came with a 8.4" touchscreen and loaded with Windows 2000. Today they can be picked up for about $50 on ebay. You could keep Windows 2000 on it, but why run such an old distro when you can put Linux on it instead? Plus if you're saving up for that iPad, this will make you forget all about buying one. ;-)

There is some information online about how to do this, but it is scattered about and not all of it pertains to this model or OS. Yet, I owe much to those who have posted their findings and experiences. I found this linkto be invaluable as well as this one and this one.
My model has the maximum supported RAM at 256 and a 6GB hard drive, more than enough for an older linux OS. After a lot of trial and error, I can only recommend Ubuntu or Xubuntu 8.10 for this model.
So first up, you'll need to download and burn an ISO file of Ubuntu 8.10. This is the site for the ISO file. Here are some instructions for burning the disk.

UPDATE: As of April 30th Intrepid 8.10 will no longer be supported or updated by Ubuntu. But for the moment you can still download the ISO image and do an initial update once the system has been installed to your computer. If you want to play encrypted media the Medibuntu repositories can still be added by using an older version of Ubuntu Tweak.

Step 1: The Adapter Cable and CD/DVD Drive

The LT c500 will not boot from a USB device nor an external optical drive (CD or DVD drive). So to install a new OS you'll need to remove the hard drive and temporarily connect it to another computer.

To connect the drive to another computer you'll need a USB 2.0 to IDE SATA for 2.5" 3.5" HDD Adapter Cable. I bought mine from ebay for under $10.00.

An external CD/DVD drive can be bought at any big box electronics store for about $50.00

Step 2: Removing the Hard Drive

To remove the hard drive first remove the battery, then lay the unit face down and remove the panel on the far right side of the back. It is secured with 2 screws.  In these shots the battery is still attached because I forgot to remove it. (oops!)

Slide and lift the panel and you should see your hard drive and a brown connector ribbon.

The ribbon is connected to the motherboard on the left side. Gently lift this end and unplug it. You should now be able to remove the hard drive. Remove the sleeve and put it somewhere safe. 

The next step is to remove the ribbon connector from the hard drive. This is the hardest part of the process. The ribbon could easily damaged and it is very snugly attached to the hard drive. I used a razor blade to pry a space between the connector and the hard drive and then I used a small screw driver to continue lifting the ribbon until I could lift it completely off the drive.

Step 3: Install Ubuntu Onto the Hard Drive Part 1

Although the photos show an Eee Pc 701, I actually used an Eee Pc 900. Either would work and of course, any other laptop would work as well. It has been suggested that the computer you choose have a similar processor to the Fujitsu. Whether that makes a difference or not I don't know. Both the 701 and 900 have Celeron Processors and that is why I used them. I also removed the hard drive from the Eee Pc so that there would be no boot issues later. The Eee Pcs have SSD drives and are pretty easy to remove.

The photos below show the steps to remove the Eee Pc hard drive. Just reverse the steps to re-install.

Step 4: Install Ubuntu Part 2

Make sure the cd is loaded into the drive. Plug it in to the laptop. Also plug the Fujitsu's hard drive into the laptop using the USB 2.0 to IDE SATA for 2.5" 3.5" HDD Adapter Cable. Boot your laptop and it should boot into the Ubuntu menu. Choose Install Ubuntu and follow the on screen prompts.

When you get to the partitioning window you can let Ubuntu do it for you or you can choose manual.
If you choose manual partitioning, select about 500 MB for swap and the rest as /.  Continue to the next window and at the bottom choose the automatic login option.

Step 5: Putting Everything Back Together

Once the installation is finished, it will ask you to reboot. Follow the prompts to shut down and remove the disk but then turn OFF your laptop rather than letting it reboot with the hard drive attached.

Re-install the hard drive in the LT c500. Reattach the ribbon connector, put the drive back in its sleeve, and plug the other end into the back of the computer. Finally, screw the panel back on and attach the battery. Plug in your Fujitsu and it should boot right up with your new OS!

There are of course a few tweaks to be made to get the touchscreen working, but they are pretty easy to fix.

Step 6: Getting the Touchscreen to Work

Most everything worked on my Fujitsu when I first booted it up. Wifi works, sound is great. The only thing to fix is the touchscreen. Not hard just a couple of things to install and a file or 2 modify.

To get to the terminal go to Applications --> Accessories --> Terminal

In a terminal run
sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-input-fpit
sudo apt-get install setserial

sudo dpkg-reconfigure setserial

From there set the configuration to manual. Exit.

Then type
setserial -g /dev/ttyS*

That should give you a read out like this
/dev/ttyS0, UART, 16550A, Port: 0x03f8, IRQ:4
/dev/ttyS1, UART, 16550A, Port: 0xfd68, IRQ:5(this is your touchscreen)
/dev/ttyS2, UART, unknown, Port: 0x03e8, IRQ:4
/dev/ttyS3, UART, 16550A, Port: 0x02e8, IRQ:3

Now enter
sudo gedit/var/lib/setserial/autoserial.conf

In this file comment out all the lines. Add # in front of each.
Then at the bottom of this file add the line
/dev/ttyS1 uart 16450 port 0xfd68 irq 5

Save and close.

Now finally modify your xorg.conf file.
From terminal type
sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Replace that file with this one:

# /etc/X11/xorg.conf (xorg X Window System server configuration file)

Section "Module"
Load "bitmap"
Load "ddc"
Load "int10"
Load "vbe"

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Generic Keyboard"
Driver "kbd"
Option "CoreKeyboard"
Option "XkbRules" "xorg"
Option "XkbModel" "pc105"
Option "XkbLayout" "hu"

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Configured Mouse"
Driver "mouse"
Option "CorePointer"
Option "Device" "/dev/input/mice"
# Option "Device" "/dev/psaux"

Save and reboot.
You should now have a working touchscreen!

Step 7: Giving Your Fujitsu LT C500 the IPad Look

Okay, so it's not an iPad but it is a small, portable touchscreen device that costs less than $100.

To play flash you'll have to download the player from here. Choose .deb for Ubuntu 8.04+. Save the file to downloads. From the downloads, right click on the flash file and select Open with GDebi Package Installer. Install package.

From the top panel select Places -->Home Folder-->Edit-->Preferences-->Behavior-->Single click to open items.

Right click top and bottom panel and select Properties. The check Show hide buttons. That way you can hide the panels when you don't need them

From the menu, you can drag icons of your choice to the desktop. Right click on the icon and choose stretch icon. It's easiest to use a mouse for this part. Align the icons and Voila! you have an iPad! (sorta)