Force Feeding Ubuntu
I was unable to get a clean install with a default ThinkPad W500 configuration and a 32 bit Ubuntu 8.10 downloaded ISO burned to CD. I referenced this post from the ubuntu forums which allowed me to complete the Ubuntu installation.
Go into BIOS and change your display settings to:
- Default Primary Video Device = PCI Express
- Boot Display Device = ThinPad LCD
- Graphics Device = Discrete Graphics
- OS Detection for Switchable Graphics = Disabled
The W500 has switchable graphics and Ubuntu is unable to determine which graphics card to use without these BIOS settings to point the way.
- GUI: Yes
- Wireless: Yes
- My wireless did not work out of the box with a 64-bit 8.10 installation. I had to deactivate the default driver (by going to System->Administration->Hardware drivers and deactivating Support for Atheros 802.11 wireless cards). Then, it was only a matter of grabbing the madwifi sources, doing make, sudo make install and sudo modprobe ath_pci. Also, don't forget to place the ath_pci module on /etc/modules so it gets loaded everytime you boot up. -Compassnico
- W500 has multiple wireless options. The Intel AGN 5100 (and reportedly the AGN 5300, although I haven't tested) works out of the box with 32 bit and 64 bit Ubuntu 8.10 (kernel 2.6.27). It does not work with Ubuntu 8.04 (kernel 2.6.24) or earlier kernels. Don't know about kernels between 2.6.24 and 2.6.27, somewhere between the wi-fi for this card was implemented and/or fixed in the kernel. -gatman3
- wireless(as well as ethernet) support was added in 2.6.27 with the e1000e and iwlagn drivers. But beware, kernel versions before 2.6.27-r4 can brick the ethernet by overwriting the eeeprom -nils.schlupp
- Trackpad: No (Yes when I used TrackPoint under Ubuntu 8.10 using HAL)
Failures and Annoyances
- Skype: Isn't working. I believe its a microphone issue.
- The regular Skype build did not work at all (neither sound input nor output) for me, but I installed the skype-static-oss package from the medibuntu repository and now everything works, although my mic's volume is a bit low. -Compassnico
(User gatman3 reports being able to get an entirely clean out-of-the-box install on W500 model 4062 with Intel AGN 5100 wi-fi using the released Ubuntu 8.10, both 32 bit and 64 bit. Did not have to set Default Primary Video Device to PCI Express. Setting Graphics Device to Integrated (Intel) results in Xorg automatically using the Intel driver, although the default resolution was 1680x1050, not 1920x1200 as my model supports. Setting Graphics Device to Discrete (ATI) results in Xorg automatically using the Radeon driver. For ATI graphics, I recommend switching to the proprietary fglrx driver, which provides very good 3d acceleration, suspend/hibernate work IF Desktop Effects and Xv video playback are not used, and consumes significantly less power - although slightly more than the Intel graphics).