Installing OpenSuSE 10.1 on a ThinkPad X41 Tablet

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Success Chart

Item Working Notes
Installation Network Installation Yes
USB Installation Yes (DVD)
Display Laptop Screen Yes i810 driver
CRT / Projector Yes
Screen Rotation Yes (see discussion)
Stylus Yes wacom serial driver.
Power Management Software Suspend (hibernate) not tested Software Suspend 2
Suspend to Memory (ACPI sleep) not tested Software Suspend 2
Audio Yes ALSA intel8x0 driver
Wireless 802.11b/g Yes
Bluetooth Yes
Extra Buttons Keyboard Section Yes ibm-acpi driver
Tablet buttons Yes (see discussion) setkeycodes
Middle Mouse button Yes
Fingerprint Scanner not working yet bioapi
Harddisk Active Protection not tested kernel 2.6.16, hdapsd


As you will realise quickly, I've taken the installation tipps from the (by the way very good) site Installation of Fedora Core 5 on a ThinkPad X41 Tablet. I've been a windows user for quite a long time so I decided to go with OpenSuSE because I've already had contact with this distro some years ago and found it very good, looking at usability, settings, installation, etc. Many things of your Thinkpad will work out of the box.Later in this article I'd like to show some software I'm currently using and that I find very handy on a Tablet.


Download the OpenSuSE iso-Image and burn it either on CD's or DVD (if you go with DVD there's no need to swap media). An external drive should be recognized automatically. Installing OpenSuSE 10.1 is just as simple as with every other Linux distro. Adjust your local settings and choose your packages (see Helpful software for detailed information). After a reboot you're ready to run with the chameleon;-)

Personally, I logged on as user although you have some administration work to do, but the good graphical user interfaces like YAST or SAX make it easy.



For the graphics setup you can either edit your preferences the "Linux"-way or you go with the "Windows"-method. I've chosen the second one and so made my preferences with SAX2 that you should find in System > Configuration > SaX2.

Change the settings of the monitor, like resoltuion or color depth like you want but make sure you TEST your settings before SAVING them. Switching monitors with the FN-F7 combination should work out of the box.


To enable the stylus simply go to the submenu "Touchscreen" in SAX2 and activate it. Choose "Wacom" and then "PenabledTablet". Save your settings and restart your computer and we're done here;-)

For information about enabling the stylus by editing the xorg.conf go to Installation of Fedora Core 5 on a ThinkPad X41 Tablet.

Screen rotation

Definitly a feature that would come in handy for use with a tablet. For information about updating your X-Server take a look at the discussion. After updating the X-Server you can rotate the screen using xrandr.

 xrandr -o right

should rotate the screen 90 degrees to the right. You can add this command to a starter on the desktop or the panel.

 xrandr -o normal

will flip back the screen to normal position.

Although the screen rotates, the axis of the mouse and the stylus stay the same. So to avoid problems I changed the stylus settings as following:

1. Got to SaX2 to the submenu "tablet"

2. select "activate this tablet" and select "WACOM/ISDV4 TABLET PC(serial)"

3. select the register "electronic stylus"

4. select both stylus and eraser and click on "configure"

5. scroll down to the point "ROTATE" and select there "CW" do this twice

6. save the settings and restart the computer

Now, if you have the convertible like a normal laptop the mouse works fine but the axis of the stylus are different (no great deal because normally you use the mouse) but when you swivel the screen to tablet mode you can rotate the screen and use the stylus and it works fine!

Power Management

It sounds weird, but I actually don't care about Power Management because I just shut down my Laptop or look for the next power supply, but I'm sure that some may be interested in this so once again I recommend you to visit the Fedora Core site.


This feature works out of the box with no problems or any differences to Windows. You can even control the volume with the Thinkpad buttons but you don't get a graphical feedback.


No great thing there, both, wlan and bluetooth work properly and without any problems. Make sure you install the NetworkManager if you go with GNOME it's very useful.

Extra buttons

If you haven't installed "tpb" with OpenSuSE, please install it now. You will need it for this chapter.

Keyboard section

The FN-Combinations should work properly without any changes just as the volume up/down and mute key. I wonder why tcb doesn't give a graphical feedback but maybe someone can figure this out.

Tablet Buttons

I don't know hox to execute a command on startup so I've created a little starter that runs the following command:

 sudo setkeycodes 6e 109 6d 104 69 28 6b 1 6c 120

You just have to enter Root's password and you're done but somehow this setting gets lost on reboot.

Take a look at the discussion. There's a possibility to activate the tablet buttons permanently

Middle Mouse button

You can activate the middle mouse button using SAX2 again. Enter your administration password and go to the submenu "mouse". There activate the option "Emulate Mouse Wheel" and change the number besides to "2". Restart your Laptop and it works.

Enabling the middle mouse button under Linux gives you more freedom than under Windows because the use of scrolling isn't anymore limited. You can scroll in every application that allows scrolling (exception: horizontal scrolling -> specific settings)

As I use Opera I also changed my Opera settings according to How to configure the TrackPoint

If you're interessted in enabling the middle mouse button NOT graphical visit How to configure the TrackPoint

Fingerprint reader

I loved this one under Windows. It always gives this "magic"-effect when everyone types his password and you just swipe your finger, but I'm very unhappy not to get this running. I'm having problems with the BioApi because OpenSuSE 10.1 uses a newer GCC and the hint on the site How to enable the fingerprint reader it didn't work

Harddisk Active Protection

I'm not interested in this feature because I don't treat my laptop like a cocktail (shaken not stired;-))

Helpful software

Getting at least some of the features of a tablet PC working will offer you new possibilities of working.

  • Xournal: handy program for taking handwritten notes (no recognition like OneNote). It has also the skill to annotate PDF's, very useful. Sources can be found here.
Installation is even for people who are scared of the terminal (like me;-)) easy, because there's an install script
  • VYM: If you ever need to create mind-maps (by the way a very good method for projects) "View Your Mind" is the right thing. You can select it on OpenSuSE Installation or get it via Internet or YAST.
  • Scribus: useful to create flyers or other DTP-stuff. You can get an rpm-Package here.
  • JMathNotes: Transforms handwritten formula into LaTeX. For Packages click here
  • MPlayer:for some strange reason SuSE doesn't provide support for the libraries neede to view DVD's. This is where you're gonna need MPlayer. For details go here

External Sources