Installing Fedora 12 on a ThinkPad T400

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T400 This page is very new and needs YOUR help! Please create an account and help this poor little page :( Please note that this page is not yet at completion, and any help is appreciated! For any missing information, parts of the Fedora 10 guide may be relevant. MAY. Here's the link:

Finally, apologies from the author if this documentation isn't that great. Nobody had written anything, and the author wanted to help, but has never done this before.

BIOS Issues To Deal With Before Installation

If you have a t400 (or T500 for that matter) that has the Switchable Graphics there are some things you need to know about

  • The switchable graphics doesn't really "work" so much under Linux. This is unfortunate, but there are plenty of discussion as to the why's and hows of this. So as a Linux user you get a choice at boot as to which one you want.
      • Go into the BIOS on boot (F1) go into Config -> Display -> Graphics Device
    • Either way you are going to want to DISABLE OS detection of switchable graphics. Don't ask me why, but the BIOS has a tendency to switch the actual display adapter out from under you.
    • You must now choose either the EXTERNAL display (I.E. the ATI/AMD graphics card) or the INTERNAL (I.E. the on board Intel graphics)

This step really needs to be done before you try to do the install or setup Linux. Now you can change this at any time, but keep in mind that you will likely need to make changes to your xorg.conf file to have it switch decently. You can take a look at and try something like this blog post but this is left to the user to try / experiment with.

(Thanks to the Fedora 10 article for this information; it applies to Fedora 12 too!)

What Works "Out of the Box"

Here's what works:

  • Intel 5100 agn
    • Works flawlessly on NetworkManager. WEP, WPA, WPA2, it all works, even monitor mode.
  • Discrete (Mobile Radeon) Graphics
    • 2-D is perfect with radeon driver. 3-D has a few minor bugs, but is disabled by default. NOT RECOMMENDED WITH FGLRX/CATALYST PROPRIETARY DRIVER!To enable it, run:
      • yum install mesa-dri-drivers-experimental
        • Please note that this is EXPERIMENTAL, hence the name. It is relatively stable, and will improve over time. The author of this statement has only encountered a few minor bugs, and one big, fat kernel oops. Do not use if you don't need KMS/3D acceleration.
  • Mouse, keyboard, and track pad
  • Webcam
  • Everything the author has tried with a few exceptions. We'll get to those...
  • Microphone
  • ThinkLight
    • BIOS controlled, no worries!


  • Card reader
    • The Author usually just uses a USB one, and isn't sure how to work the one on the laptop...
  • Intel/Integrated Graphics
    • Probably works, I'd bet on it.
  • Fingerprint reader
    • Author's didn't come w/ one
  • Bluetooth
    • Author's didn't come w/ one

What DOESN'T work "Out of the Box"

  • Sound (Works fine with vanilla)
    • Doesn't work by default. Author will tinker later.
  • Fglrx/catalyst
    • Always a bad idea with Fedora. Especially when you can install mesa-dri-drivers-experimental!


Seriously, DO NOT use Catalyst! Catalyst is the ATi propretary driver for the Mobile Radeon in the T400. It usually will break your XServer! (has happened to author 4 times...) This is probably because:

  • Fedora Kernel is fairly new
  • Fedora Kernel has some funky patches (not always bad)
  • Fedora XOrg is newer
  • ATI doesn't like Linux very much
  • The Fedora Project provides _no_ support for this driver.

The Catalyst driver is only for you IF:

  • You like pain
    • And lots of it...
  • You know what you're doing
    • And you'd better know a lot
  • You've checked out to make sure the driver will work at the moment
  • You REALLY like pain
  • You enjoy the login manager being replaced by a new, totally unusable mod stripes background, and your mouse cursor becoming one, big, smelly graphics artifact
  • You like video tearing
  • You didn't just read any of this.

Kernel Issues

Fedora 12 can be very unstable on this laptop. If you encounter lots of crashes that ABRT attributes to "package: kernel" then you probably have this problem. Among the most notable problems are those with radeon_blit.c. These problems occur frequently and just get nasty.

The solution is to build a vanilla kernel. It will fix sound and all those other problems. The author recommends, but other versions are probably acceptable. HOWTO MAY BE POSTED LATER If you still encouter problems, try building libdrm and mesa along with the radeon driver from their git versions. This means new software that will fix Fedora for this laptop!

Sorry if this paragraph has little useful information or how-to's, those may come later.

Additional Notes

You may be unable to update your system after installing by graphical manager because of this irritating bug. Symptoms are:

  • Cannot update by graphical tool
  • Cannot access packages
  • Gets a backtrace to ""

This is easily fixed. Simply run "yum update" as root from the terminal. You should be good from here.

PLEASE make at least a small addition to this article if you have useful information. We all really want it, and we all really need it!