Installing Fedora Core 6 on a ThinkPad T30

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Installation of Fedora Core 6 (Zod) on a ThinkPad T30 (2366-97U). These notes cover a fresh install (not an upgrade)) on a brand-new (blank) drive.

ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, this article is under construction. My installation is in-progress and many sections (marked by these ATTENTION banners) are placeholders while I proceed with installation and checkout.


Summary

What works out of the box

ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD this section -- work in progress.
  • Onboard display (1400x1050)
  • Wireless
  • Trackpad & TrackPoint (except center button)
  • External PS/2 keyboard
  • External USB mouse including scroll wheel

What needs to be fixed post-install

ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD this section -- work in progress.
  • Problems with network
  • Dual-Head Mode
  • NTFS volume mounting
  • Automounting of inserted CF cards
  • Fast access to terminals
  • Additional screen savers
  • Better wireless support
  • Suspend, Sleep, and other FN+ keys

Not tested

ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD this section -- work in progress.
  • Bluetooth
  • Modem
  • DVD / CD-R
  • Controlling the fan and system LEDs
  • What else?

Details

ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD this section -- work in progress.

Getting the system booted

ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD this section -- work in progress.

I simply inserted the FC5 DVD into the drive and booted into it, and selected a few items to take me into an upgrade-in-place.

When the upgrade completed it booted immediately into FC5.

My system was configured for dual-boot using GRUB (not NT) as the primarly bootloader (MBR) and chainloading back to Windows when necessary. This makes linux installation easier. Returning from the NT bootloader back to linux requires copying the grub boot block into NT, which can be done using commonly-available instructions.

System Updates

Your DVD install will already be quite out of date, so as soon as possible, you should update your system. There are two important steps.

The first step is to get your baseline FC6 up-to-date. To do this, select Applications : System Tools : Software Updater to download and install the latest updates for Fedora. This will take quite a while the first time you do it, so plan to take a break. NOTE: I found that the first time I did this, it refused to run. Apparently it quietly starts a system update process in the background, and then offers the system updates via a menu bar alert. This should be fine as well.

Many web sites also suggest adding external repositories so yum has additional places to look. FreshRPMs and Livna seem to be the most common, with conflicting opinions as to which should be chosen. For various reasons I selected Livna. Installation instructions can be found here or here or you can simply enter

$ sudo rpm -ivh http://rpm.livna.org/livna-release-6.rpm

This adds a number of pre-built packages to yum and enables auto-update. Some of the packages listed below require livna.

What needs to be fixed post-install

Fast access to terminals

The gnome folks seem to have removed the ability to open a terminal (shell) window from desktop right-click. I'm finding this very annoying as I open terminal windows all the time and now they're buried in Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal.

There are two workarounds (you might want them both).

  • Select Menu -> Accessories, right-click Terminal, and select Add this launcher to panel. You may have to shuffle things around to put it exactly where you want it.
  • Select Menu -> Add/Remove Software. Select Browse tab, Desktop Environments, Gnome Desktop Environment. Click <Optional Packages>. Scroll down and check "nautilus-open-terminal". Close and Apply. You'll have to log out and log back in to see the results.

Easier access to admin tools

Two fixes to make commands easier to run.

  1. Edit .bash_profile and change PATH=$PATH:$HOME/bin to PATH=$PATH:$HOME/bin:/sbin:/usr/sbin
  2. Give yourself sudo access:
    1. $ sudo -
    2. # vi /etc/sudoers
    3. Insert at end: username ALL=(ALL) ALL where username is replaced by your login name.

Wrong Kernel!

Apparently, a bug in the FC6 Anaconda (installer) causes the i586 kernel to be installed on many i686 machines (including the ThinkPad T30). This issue affects some of the fixes/updates listed below, so I am fixing it first. I found instructions here. Please check that site for any updates, but as of this writing, the fix is:

  1. Confirm you have a problem:
    1. $ rpm -qa --queryformat "%{NAME}-%{VERSION}-%{RELEASE}.%{ARCH}\n"
    2. Find the highest-numbered kernel, e.g. kernel-2.6.18-1.2849.fc6.i586" (this number will change as newer kernels are released).
    3. If you see i586, you have the wrong architecture.
  2. Fix the problem. In the following commands, replace xxxx with the version number of your highest-numbered kernel (as discovered above):
    1. # cp /boot/grub/grub.conf /boot/grub/grub.conf.bak
    2. # yum install yum-utils
    3. $ yumdownloader kernel-2.6.18-1.xxxx.fc6.i686
    4. # rpm -Uvh --replacefiles --replacepkgs kernel-2.6.18-1.xxxx.fc6.i686.rpm
    5. You may see "grubby fatal error: unable to find a suitable template." It appears to be benign, and the system reboots properly.
    6. Confirm that you have the correct kernel by repeating $ rpm -qa --queryformat "%{NAME}-%{VERSION}-%{RELEASE}.%{ARCH}\n"

Problems with network

I'm finding that every startup, one of two problems occurs:

  • It hangs up (for about 30 seconds) saying "Detemining IP information for eth1"
  • It gets really confused, fails to bring up eth0 at all, and the boot fails.
ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD the rest of this section -- work in progress.

I'm finding that a certain percentage of startups fail to activate networking. The following clues are seen:

  • all network-oriented applications fail (e.g. FireFox)
  • ifconfig reports no address assigned to eth0
  • attempting to activate the network, either via sudo ifup eth0 or system-config-network fails

The most interesting clue lies within system-config-network. If you click the hardware tab and look carefully, you'll see that the hardware types are reversed: eth0 shows Wireless, and eth1 shows Ethernet. I am continuing to investigate this. One proposed fix will be to edit /etc/modprobe.conf and insert or move

alias eth0 e100

To the top (first line) of the file.


NTFS volume mounting

There are two ways to mount your NTFS volumes under Linux. There is a package called "ntfs-kmod" available from livna, which is primarily intended for R/O support, and there is a new package called ntfs-3g, which also support read/write. I'll include directions here for both. So far, I have only tried kmod-ntfs.

kmod-ntfs

  1. Before using this, confirm that you don't have ntfs support already enabled.
  2. Download & install NTFS module
    1. Configure system for use of the [ http://rpm.livna.org ] repository (see above).
    2. Confirm you have an i686 kernel (see above).
    3. Use # yum install kmod-ntfs ntfs-kmod-common to install it (may also require # modprobe).
  3. Build mount points (I used # mkdir /mnt/c and # mkdir /mnt/d to mimic the volume names under Windows)
  4. Mount manually using # mount
  5. Setup to mount automatically by editing /etc/fstab
ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD the rest of this section -- work in progress.

ntfs-3g

The basic roadmap is:

  1. Download & install NTFS module
  2. Build mount points (I used /mnt/c and /mnt/d to mimic the volume names under Windows)
  3. Mount manually using # mount
  4. Setup to mount automatically by editing /etc/fstab

I have, however, found conflicting instructions as to the best way to download/install.

  • At [ http://www.linux-ntfs.org ], the installation instructions lead one to select and download the appropriate version of kernel-module-ntfs and then use # rpm -ihv to install it.
  • Other sources suggest configuring for use of the [ http://rpm.livna.org ] repository and then use # yum install kmod-ntfs ntfs-kmod-common to install it (may also require # modprobe).

I have tried both and both work.

TODO
Which installation method is preferred?
TODO
The NTFS module defaults to read-only for safest operation. Try enabling full read-write mode.

Dual-Head Mode

ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD this section -- work in progress.

This was very important for me as I use an external Dell 2000FP monitor (1600x1200) as my primary programming monitor. When I configured dual-head mode, the screen layed out properly for two pages (spanning mode) but the external monitor never activated.

An experimental ATI driver update can be downloaded here. I followed the directions suggested here and my external monitor works now in spanning mode with 1600x1200 resolution. Hopefully this note can be removed or updated when this newer driver is promoted into the regular FC5 updates system.

ATTENTION!
Some users have reported system hangs using this updated driver. I have experienced them myself. As of this time the system does not appear to be useable in dual-head mode.

Bugs against useability of dual-head mode are filed at:

TODO
Performance, especially on 3d screen savers, seems quite a bit slower than under FC3. This implies that some form(s) of HW acceleration are not properly enabled. Need to figure out how to do that.

Automounting of inserted CF cards

ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD this section -- work in progress.

I use a lot of CF memory cards (with a PCMCIA adapter) and on FC3, these would reliably automount when inserted. On FC5 this seems to be broken. For now, I have simply created mount points in /media/, e.g.

$ sudo mkdir /media/cf1

$ sudo mkdir /media/cf2

And when I need access to a card, I insert it and mount it manually, e.g.

$ sudo mount /dev/hde1 /media/cf1

Your device names and mount points may vary based on number of mounted volumes and your preferences.

TODO
Can anybody suggest a way to reenable true automount?

Additional screen savers

ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD this section -- work in progress.

They've also removed lots of fun screensavers from the default installation. There are two options to bring them back. To simply add more screensavers, enter:

$ sudo yum install xscreensaver-gl-extras

However, the screensaver control panel GUI has been (somewhat controversially) simplified - most notably, you can no longer edit the settings of individual screen savers. The situation is described here and one option presented is to return to the old screensaver system (I have not tested this):

$ sudo yum install xscreensaver-base xscreensaver-extras xscreensaver-gl-extras

$ sudo yum remove gnome-screensaver

Better wireless support

ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD this section -- work in progress.

My system included the device (as reported by $ lspci) called Intersil Corporation Prism 2.5 Wavelan chipset (rev 01). While this card seems to be useable with the FC5 drivers, the basic wireless support does not support any sort of network discovery. You have to know the name and password of the base station you wish to connect to, and enter them manually using $ system-config-network.

TODO
I'd like to investigate the use of more advanced wireless tools with this system

Suspend, Sleep, and other FN+ keys

ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD this section -- work in progress.
  • Add setup info for OSD.

I tried the following keys. None of them really worked.

  • FnF3 Darkened the built-in LCD, but didn't really suspend the system.
  • FnF4 Darkened the built-in LCD, but didn't really suspend the system.

In both cases, the system was clearly still running because you could move the mouse into the external monitor, click and drag icons, etc. The screen was reactivated by typing any key (e.g. Shift or Enter).

  • FnF7 The OSD showed various combinations of LCD & CRT on/off states, but there was no actual change to the display configuration.
  • FnF12 No response.
  • FnHome / FnEnd Correct adjustment of brightness.
  • FnPgUp Correct activation of ThinkLight.

External Sources

ATTENTION!
As of 11/25/2006, PLEASE DISREGARD this section -- work in progress.