Installing Debian 3.1 (Sarge) on a ThinkPad T42

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My specs

I've just got a Thinkpad T42 (2373-9VG) with the following specs:

  • Pentium M745 (1.8GHz, 2Mb L2 Cahce)
  • 1 Gb RAM
  • 80GB 5400rpm HDD
  • 14.1 SXGA+(1400x1050) TFT LCD
  • 64MB ATI Radeon 9600
  • 24x24x24x/8x CD-RW/DVD
  • Intel 802.11b/g wireless(MPCI)
  • Bluetooth/Modem(CDC)
  • 1Gb Ethernet(LOM)


First I had to start up Windows and check that everything worked out well. It did. Next step was to go into BIOS and disable the restore-partition on the harddrive. I also changed the IRQ settings in BIOS from 11 to Auto. Not sure if you have to, but I read that you should somewhere.

Then I repartitioned the disc (one small windows partition, one swap and one ext3 partition).

Installing Debian/Sarge

Boot up the Debian Installation CD. Remember to boot the CD up with "linux26" to get the 2.6.x kernel directly. Everything worked just fine. Remember to chokkkose the radeon display-driver for X though.

Extra packages I installed:

  • acpid
  • alsa
  • ipw2200-source
  • module-assistant
  • laptop-mode-tools (spins down your hd when on battery)
  • hibernate

2.6.10 kernel

Then a downloaded the source for the 2.6.10 kernel. I stole a 2.6.9-config file and did a "make oldconfig". I didn't use any patch, it's simply not needed with kernel 2.6.10.

Display drivers

I chose to stick with the opensource driver radeon since there were reports on problems with hibernation with the driver ATI drivers. However it should be pointed out that the opensource driver is much slower, so if that bugs you...


Some people have reported that the SmartLink drivers (sl-modem) worked. However, for me they did not (I did get AT-commands to work, but not the dialing out). Instead the Linuxant driver (hsfmodem) worked just fine (the 14.4kbps is free but you'll have to pay a rather small amount for the full version of the driver). I had to put the snd_intel8x0m modules into /etc/hotplug/blacklist so that hotplug wouldn't load this faulty (?) module on boot. Otherwise the installation was straight forward.


I did a "apt-get install bluez-utils" and, voila, the bluetooth worked. I use the multisync package to sync my SonyEricsson T610 with Evolution and it works great.

To get gprs working I had to do a bit of work. I followed the instructions on this page and got it working in the end.


Not yet tested but shouldn't be a problem with the [Ipw2200 | ipw2200] driver.


I decided not to care about standby-mode (when do you really use that?) since the ACPI standby-mode needs quite a lot of battery-power. However I wanted the hibernation mode. Coming up...

Cpufreq speedstepping

The cpufreq speedstepping in the 2.6.10 kernel works fine (without any patch). However it boots up with the "userspace cpufreq-govenor" which means that it does not take command over the setting the cpu frequencies itself. A "echo ondemand > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor" on boot fixes this (I made a small init.d-script for this). You can check the current cpu-freq with "cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/cpuinfo_cur_freq" (or "cat /proc/cpuinfo")and you can tweak the ondemand governor by setting the values in /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/ondemand (I haven't though).

Special keys

I didn't bother with those. Volume, light, bluetooth and backlight works fine out of the box. The others I don't want (I especially don't want the standby button (Fn-F4) to work since Ctrl-F4 means switching to workspace 4 and I'm using that a lot (and my Ctrl on my desktop computer is where the Fn key is on the thinkpad)).

I installed the tpb package:

  apt-get install tpb
  chmod a+rw /dev/nvram

To start it I use this script:

  exec tpb

I have a script with those lines in my .kde/Autostart folder.

External Sources