Installing Fedora Core 5 on a ThinkPad T30

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Installation of Fedora Core 5 (Bordeaux) on a ThinkPad T30 (2366-97U). These notes cover an upgrade (not a fresh install) from a successful working FC3 installation.

As of 6/19/2006, I am finding FC5 unuseable on my T30, due to the problems with ATI drivers and dual-head display (which I depend on for my work). Bugs against this issue are filed at Fedora and (see below). Sadly, I am going to revert to FC4 for the time being.


What works out of the box

  • 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

  • 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

  • Bluetooth
  • Modem
  • DVD / CD-R
  • Controlling the fan and system LEDs
  • What else?


Getting the system booted

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

Although presented in the System Tools menu, the Red Hat Network and Red Hat Network Alert Icon utilities appear to have been deprecated. They don't seem to work at all.

Instead, you can now use 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 This will take quite a while the first time you do it (the DVD is already quite out of date).

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 you can simply enter

$ sudo rpm -ivh

This adds a number of pre-built packages to yum and enables auto-update.

What needs to be fixed post-install

Problems with network

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.

Dual-Head Mode

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.

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:

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.

NTFS volume mounting

Seems to work properly. 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 [ ], 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 [ ] 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.

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

Automounting of inserted CF cards

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.

Can anybody suggest a way to reenable true automount?

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 Menu -> Accessories -> Terminal.

This can be restored by using yum to add the package "nautilus-open-terminal":

  yum install nautilus-open-terminal

Additional screen savers

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

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.

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

Suspend, Sleep, and other FN+ keys

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

IBM Thinkpad T30 Series