Installing OpenSuse11.4 on a ThinkPad W520

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Revision as of 16:38, 20 July 2011 by Markwenzel (Talk | contribs)

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The W520 comes with an additional 80GB solid state disk (Intel 310) instead of internal umts-modem and a 500GB 2,5" sata disk with windows 7 on it preinstalled. This model has two graphics systems: Integrated graphics (intel) and discrete graphics (NVIDIA Quadro 2000M). In BIOS you can select which one to use and as a third option to use both, called NVidia Optimus. It has an Integrated camera and a Huey PRO Colorimeter.


I decided first to install the Linux system on the ssd disk and use the 500GB harddisk for data. For less power consumption I decided to use the Intel graphics and do some tests with NVidia Optimus later. This has to be configured in the BIOS. Installation runs out of the box in graphical mode with BIOS settings for internal graphics.


After the installation has finished the resolution of the internal display is automatically recognized.

Starting vmware workstation is no problem, but starting a virtual machine hangs the entire X server.

I found that there is some work in progress to get the possibility to switch between internal and discrete graphics called bumblebee. This should bring NVidia optiumus to linux. Therefor the display has to be switched in BIOS to OPTIMUS. Installing bumblebee from the openSuse repository and starting vmware with

$ optirun vmware

let vmware and the virtual machines run without problems.

The bad on the internal graphics is that the external display connector is wired to the nvidia graphics and there seems to be no way to run an external display at the moment with intel graphics activated.

I did not found out how to disable the discrete graphics when not in use, so the battery lifetime is smaller than when running on intel only.

As an alternative solution I tried to switch to discrete graphics in BIOS and to use the nvidia graphics with proprietary drivers from nvidia. After Installing the driver and generating an xorg.conf the nvidia logo is shown on X server startup. After that the external display connectors are usable.


Sound is very silent when running video dvd in integrated graphics mode. The only solution I found is to use xine as the player and modify the a52.level setting from 100 to 200 (maximum).



Wireless LAN connections are working without problems.


The ethernet port works out of the box.

Battery Lifetime

The battery lifetime depends on the display setting in the bios.

BIOS setting lifetime comment
integrated graphics 6.5h
optimus 3.5h nvidia not disabled
optimus 4.5h nvidia partly disabled
discrete graphics 2.5h

Suspend to Ram

Function-Key FN-F4 works out of the box. The System suspends and resumes without problems in all three graphic modes (intel only, optimus, discrete graphics only).

Suspend to Disk

Function-Key FN-F12 does not work out of the box. Manually suspend to disk from kde-menu works out of the box (tested in integrated graphics mode only). Resume afterwards has no problems. May be some manual configuring solves the problem.

Integrated Camera

not tested


not tested

Special Keys

Key works comment
Mute yes
Speaker+ yes
Speaker- yes
Display brighter yes
Display darker yes
Thinklight yes