Installing Debian 7.0 (Wheezy) on a ThinkPad Edge E135

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This is a short guide to installing Debian 7.0 (wheezy, currently testing, installer beta 4) on a ThinkPad Edge E135. Please note that the E135 comes in subtle variations (eg. a BCM43142 wifi adapter instead of a BCM4313); if your experience differs from what is described here, please contribute your findings.

This description is sufficient to get the base system running; several subsystems have not yet been tested.

Contents

BIOS update

If your BIOS version is smaller than 2.07 (eg. 1.05; versions between have not yet been tested; can be seen in the first screen of the BIOS setup tool or as -core / -firmware / version in `lshw` output), install the BIOS upgrade Lenovo provides. The version linked is a ISO image that has to be burnt and booted from via an external CD drive; an alternative version can be installed from Windows.

A too old BIOS version will cause you trouble with suspending; in particular, a first suspend cycle will work but break wifi, and the machine won't come up from a second one again.

Installation

Debian can be installed from a USB device (the E135 does not have an optical drive). The installer asks for firmware for the ethernet and (for BCM4313) wifi interfaces; those requests can safely be ignored. Wired ethernet will work without the firmware as well. For the BCM4313 modesl, if a firmware-brcm80211 package is provided on an additional USB stick, the module can be loaded and wifi can be used.

Graphics

When the installer has completed and the system reboots, the graphical user interface will not come up. Press Ctrl-Alt-F1, log in, and execute the following lines to install the firmware the graphics card needs from Debian's non-free repositories:

# echo "deb http://cdn.debian.net/debian/ wheezy non-free" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/nonfree.list
# sed "s/^deb cdrom/# &/" -i /etc/apt/sources.list
# apt-get update
# apt-get install firmware-linux-nonfree
# reboot

After rebooting, you should be able to log in graphically.

WIFI

You can determine which wifi adapter is in use by issuing

$ lspci |grep BCM

BCM4313 models

There is a free driver for these cards called `brcmsmac` -- if things work for you out of the box, you are fine. Otherwise (eg. if you have signal strength issues), install the non-free `broadcom-sta-dkms` and `linux-headers-amd64` packages. The proprietary broadcom driver from the former package will be linked against the kernel in the latter, and wifi can be used regularly.

BCM43142 models

The BCM43142 chip is not supported by the free drivers, and neither by the nonfree drivers' version in wheezy.

A newer Ubuntu package can be used instead:

$ wget http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/pool/restricted/b/bcmwl/bcmwl-kernel-source_6.20.155.1+bdcom-0ubuntu6_amd64.deb
# apt-get install dkms libc6-dev linux-libc-dev
# dpkg -i bcmwl-kernel-source_6.20.155.1+bdcom-0ubuntu6_amd64.deb

(While it is not generally advisable to install packages from different distributions, "it is ok" here as there are no versioned dependencies, and it works.)

As with the BCM4313 approach, the proprietary broadcom driver will be linked against the kernel, and wifi can just be used.

Hardware status

(none thereof tested in detail, eg if they operate at nominal speeds)

  • Webcam: works
  • Card reader: works with SD cards (no others tested)
  • Touch pad, track point: work
  • wifi: works
  • Ethernet: works
  • Regular USB: works
  • Untested:
    • USB 3
    • Video connection
    • Audio jack
    • Bluetooth (might depend on wifi chip)

Tweaks required

Volume keys

Multiple ALSA cards are detected, confusing xfce4-volumed. (In other words, volume buttons don't work). Can be fixed by installing gstreamer0.10-pulseaudio, and possibly setting the pulse audio sound card in the XFCE4 settings. Reported.

WiFi

The wifi card is soft blocked at bootup (meaning that the OS thinks that something in the hardware is suggesting that wifi better be off). It can be explicitly unblocked with the rfkill utility, but in practice, installing the urfkill package is recommended, which makes the toggle-wifi (Fn-F9) hardware button work.

network-manager seems to be able to unlock cards too.

Further references

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