Installing SuSE 10.0 on Thinkpad T40p

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This is work in progress. Do not consider it as a guide - in fact, it really is a page draft filled with notes from running project


For many years, I was pretty happy with my 600E; it is a excellent laptop, which performs very well running MS Windows OS as well as any UNIX-like I put on it (there were three FreeBSD versions and several Linuxes). However, during my recent trip to Florida I discovered that this machine is not good for long travels:

  • it doesn't play DVDs very well
  • it eats batteries - two hours is not enough for the four-hour flight from Denver to Ft.Lauderdale
  • modern image editing applications such as Canon Digital Photo Professional take too long to execute

Immediately after returning home I started looking around and after careful considerations bought this T40p. There is not much difference between machines in T40-T42 range, especially if you are good with screwdriver; however, T40s are substantially cheaper on eBay.

I'm trying to make a machine with good performance and power consumption; luckily, with Pentium-M we can get both. The machine would have both Windows and Linux on it.

First steps

BIOS Setup

One thing needs to be done here - in order to Linux powersaving to work BIOS powersaving must be disabled. AC and battery profiles should be set to "custom", all other settings should be set to "disabled". Also, some people found out that changing IRQ in PCI setup from "11" to "automatic" helps the wireless card.

Hardware setup

The original 40Gb drive was replaced with 100Gb. I didn't care much about losing recovery partition - with recently introduced Software Installer IBM-specific Windows drivers and tools could be installed automagcally.

The rest of the upgades that I'm planning (memory, CPU, wireless "g" mini-PCI card) could wait for now.

I then installed Windows XP, asking it to delete all partitions from the disk, make 32Gb (32768Mb) primary "C:" partition, and another 32Gb primary "D:" partition. We want Windows to be on FAT32 in order to be able to write to it from Linux and 32G is the maximum allowable size for FAT32. I formatted "C:" and "D:" with FAT32, and put Windows on "C:".

The next step was to get updates, install IBM drivers, and update BIOS and embedded controller firmware.

After that I installed SuSE from DVD. I did it many times, actually, playing with various settings, breaking the system with the wrong updates and so on. It didn' affect Windows, though.

Installing SuSE

Initial installation went pretty well - all worked except for wireless card. Bluetooth, infrared, modem, and parallel port was disabled so I don't know yet if they work. I'm planning to enable and use bluetooth and modem in the future.

Basic Setup

Installation from DVD went more or less smoothly. I used Ethernet for my network connection. Sound and basic power management worked out of the box,

Part 3