Installing Fedora 8 on a ThinkPad T61

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Fedora 8 on Thinkpad T61

I got my Thinkpad T61 November 7. Fedora 8 was released on November 8. Sounds to me like they were destined to work together.

I also want to give special thanks for the Fedora 7 installation notes. They were very helpful.

Summary

Here's a brief intro into what works and what doesn't. As I fix things, I'll update this page.

Component Status
Processor Works
Memory Works
Hard disk Works
Graphics Works (partially)
Audio Broken
PC card Slot (PCMCIA)  ?
Express Card Slot  ?
Trackpoint Mostly Works
Touchpad Works
Bluetooth  ?
WiFi Works
Ethernet Works
Firewire  ?
USB  ?
Fingerprint Reader  ?
Suspend to RAM  ?
Suspend to Disk  ?

Preperation

Partially because this is a laptop for an office with a mostly Windows IT crowd, and partially because I'm chicken, I changed the default installation as little as possible. This setup will use the pre-installed Lenovo/Windows bootloader which chain-loads into Fedora 8.

I downloaded and burned a DVD for Fedora 8 x86_64. I also burned a Knoppix 5.1.1 live CD.

Backup

First, I made a full backup to a USB drive using IBM's Rescue and Recovery tool. I made the USB drive bootable for easier recovery; just in case things went very wrong.

Making Room

Next, I booted into Knoppix and started qtparted. I resized the NTFS partition to something more reasonable for the light usage it will get with me (~35 GB).

  • From a Konsole:
    1. xhost +localhost
    2. su -
    3. qtparted
  • In qtparted
    1. on the left, select /dev/sda
    2. in the browser on the top right, right click on /dev/sda1 and select Resize
      • You'll want to create a test ext3 partition to check for gaps. It's likely the size you choose will create a small gap between the NTFS partition and your Linux partitions. These gaps should be small, so you can ignore if you want.

Reboot into Windows and let it scan the newly shrunk disk for errors.

Installation

Boot the Fedora 8 installation CD. For most screens, you can go with defaults or decide for yourself what you want.

  • Partitioning
    1. I selected 'User free space on selected drives and create default layout'. I also selected 'Review and modify partitioning layout', but didn't change the defaults.
  • Bootloader
    1. Select 'The GRUB boot loader will be installed on /dev/sda.'
    2. Select 'Configure advanced boot loader options'
      • On the next screen, for 'Install Boot Loader record on:' select '/dev/sda3 First sector of boot partition'

Chainloading from Windows

To get the Lenovo/Windows bootloader to chainload into Window, I booted into Knoppix again. I used dd to capture the bootloader from /dev/sda3, placed that file on the NTFS filesystem, and configured boot.ini to chain load into this boot sector.

  • From a Konsole:
    1. su -
    2. dd if=/dev/sda3 of=bootpart-t61.f8 bs=512 count=1
    3. Copy this file somewhere that's accessible from Windows (flash drive, FTP server, SSH server, etc.)
  • Reboot into Windows
    1. Copy bootpart-t61.f8 to C:\
    2. Edit boot.ini; append the following line: C:\bootpart-t61.f8="Fedora"

Reboot. You should have 30 seconds in which to chose to boot into Fedora. Congratulations :-)

Making it work

For the first-boot configuration, I opened up the Samba ports in the firewall, and left SELinux as Enforcing. I also enabled NTP. All pretty standard.

Processor

Works out of the box. Both processors appear functional. Either hyperthreading no longer doubles the number of apparent cores, or it's not working. Windows Task Manager also only shows two cores.

As a point of reference, a make defconfig bzImage on the 2.6.23.1 kernel takes a bit under a minute and a half.  :-)

Memory

Works out of the box. All 2GB available and functional.

Hard disk

Works out of the box. Thankfully the issues with Fedora 7 requiring the use of 'compatibility mode' have been resolved.

Graphics

Mostly works out of the box. It autodetected the monitor as being 1280x800, and works fine. However, when attached to the docking station I have yet to get extended desktop to work. But it does autodetect my LCD as being 1280x1024, so things are functional.

I have not tried any 3D rendering.

Audio

Does not work. I have yet to try debugging the problem, but it may be similar to the problems with Fedora 7.

PC card Slot (PCMCIA)

Have not tried.

Express Card Slot

Have not tried.

Trackpoint

Mostly works out of the box. The middle auto-scroll button actually works as a middle-click, which is fine by me.

Touchpad

Works out of the box. Even tap and double-tap work for click. However it doesn't have the seem to have to sort of sensitivity threshold the Lenovo Windows driver has, so it will register an occasional erroneous tap as you bump it using the keyboard.

Bluetooth

Have not tried. But the Bluetooth icon shows up in the notification area. That's at least a good sign :-)

WiFi

Mostly works out of the box. The default Fedora 8 configuration isn't exactly ideal, especially for someone who wants configuration to be simple and secure. The basically required manually starting up the NetworkManager daemons, logging out and logging back in. Network will now appear in the notification area, and you can _left click_ to access available wireless networks.

As root, enable the NetworkManager services to run at system startup:

  1. chkconfig NetworkManager on
  2. chkconfig NetworkManagerDispatcher on

You can then either reboot, or start manually:

  1. service NetworkManager start
  2. service NetworkManagerDispatcher start

Ethernet

Works out of the box.

Firewire

Have not tried.

USB

Have not tried.

Fingerprint Reader

Have not tried.

Suspend to RAM

Have not tried.

Suspend to Disk

Have not tried.