Installing Fedora on a ThinkPad T60

From ThinkWiki
Revision as of 00:42, 9 June 2009 by Whizkid (Talk | contribs) (Verizon EVDO)
Jump to: navigation, search

Creation timestamp: Whizkid 05:00, 6 February 2008 (CET)

This document is meant to be the definitive resource to getting the latest current release of Fedora running on a ThinkPad T60. I welcome improvements to the page, especially for hardware I don't have (video chips, WiFi cards, WWAN devices).

This document is mostly current for Fedora 10. Fedora 11 pre-release has just been released, in a little under a month it will go gold.

Installation Methods

Every T60 has a drive that can read DVDs. Nothing else is needed during the install, and it's the method I'm documenting first. Other methods of installation are detailed on the Fedora web site. For a smaller download, you can use the LiveCD, but fewer packages are available until you connect to the Internet.


Fedora 10 supports shrinking NTFS partitions during installation. But be aware that windows needs to have done a clean shutdown, and cannot be in hibernation mode as otherwise you cannot shrink the filesystem.

Installation tips:

  • Set the optical drive mode to High Performance during the installation to speed it up a little. To do that: Get into the BIOS. Select Config->Power->CDROM Speed->High.

Installation Steps

For any disc, I recommend completing the media test at least once on each disc you burn. Anaconda is the name of Fedora's installer program.

Installation DVD

  • Boot the DVD. Skip ahead to Anaconda.

Live CD

  • Boot the CD. After some initialization, you are eventually presented with the login screen. Click Fedora Live or wait 60 seconds. You are presented with the GNOME desktop. Double-click the icon titled Install to Hard Drive. Continue to the next section.


  • You are presented with a title screen and no instructions. (That's what we're here for!) Click Next.
  • Select the installation language. Click Next. (Not presented if using LiveCD. It uses the current language.)
  • Select your keyboard language. Click Next. The installer looks for existing installations. You are prompted to choose a clean installation or upgrade. I'm documenting a clean install. Click Next.
  • You are asked how to partition your drive. The default is to remove existing Linux partitions. That's a fine choice. Turn on the Review check box to see how it will partition the drive if you're curious. Click Next.
  • Confirm that you want to delete partitions.

If you checked the Review box above, you are presented with the new disk layout. Edit as you please then click Next.

  • The installer looks for other installed operating systems. You are asked where the boot loader will be installed. If you want to keep ThinkVantage functionality, check Configure advanced boot loader options. You can change the label of the other operating systems on the drive and select a default OS. Click Next.

If you selected advanced option configuration, you are asked where the boot loader should be installed. Select the first sector of the boot partition, not the MBR, if you want ThinkVantage to work at startup, or if you want another OS to manage the boot process. Click Next.

  • You are asked whether the wired Ethernet controller should be active on boot. Since I use mine with WiFi most of the time, I turn that off and set the hostname manually. Click Next. Click Continue to confirm no network devices at boot if asked.
  • Select your time zone, choose whether or not the clock uses UTC and click Next.
  • Enter your root password. Do it again. Click Next.
  • If using the DVD, the installer looks for common installation packages. Since everything is out of date already, I turn off all options and customize later. Click Next. The installer checks dependencies.
  • You are asked one last time to confirm installation. Nothing has yet been written to the disk and this is the last point you can abort installation without changing anything on the drive. Click Next.

The partition table is written, partitions are formatted, the install image is copied and packages are installed. The disc is ejected and you are asked to reboot the machine. The process took 17 minutes on my T60 with a 2.0GHz Core Duo and 5400RPM hard drive with the DVD, or about 6 minutes using the LiveCD.

First Boot

  • A welcome screen is presented. Your screen should now be in its native resolution. Click Forward.
  • A license information screen is presented. Click Forward.
  • Set your local date and time. Click Forward.
  • Your hardware profile is shown. If you opt in and send your profile, your machine is counted by the Fedora team to get an idea of the population on which Fedora runs. Consider opting in to let them know we have these machines and want Fedora to run well on them. Click Forward.
  • Create a user. Click Finish. Done!

Get Updates

Get a network connection going and get all recent updates. Reboot if a new kernel is installed. I like to use NetworkManager.

Configuring NetworkManager

NetworkManager is not perfect, but it's a convenient way to connect to different networks, especially wireless networks.

Your wired network will automatically connect (if there is link) and your wireless networks should now be visible. To connect to a wireless network, click the NetworkManager notification icon and click the network to join.

Shortly after you connect to the internet, you should be notified that there are updates available. If you are asked for the install media, you can disable that repository.

Device Configuration


The Intel 82801G HDA (ICH7 chipset) High Definition Audio Controller is identified and enabled automatically. The AD198x Analog PCM device works for audio. The Digital PCM device does not seem to work. Could it be that it only works in a dock?

Analog audio seems to work fine in F10. I have a dock, but no digital audio devices to test if it works

Video Chip

ATI X1300 and ATI X1400

Updated for F10

Fedora includes the radeon driver that works with this card. Accelerated 2D works, including desktop effects. 3D works, but can exhibit artifacts with some software. Once Fedora is installed, add "nomodeset" to the end of your kernel line in grub.conf. Here's an example:

kernel /vmlinuz- ro root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 rhgb quiet nomodeset

The RadeonHD driver is recommended by Fedora team members are only useful for testing.

This section is current for F8. Please update if you have more recent knowledge.

ATI's proprietary fglrx driver now works very well for the T60. The easiest way to get the driver and have automatic updates is to use the Livna repository.

  • Click the Fedora 8 repository from the front page of [1].
  • Let the Fedora package installer install the RPM package.
  • Select Applications->Add/Remove Software.
  • Under RPM Fusion - Nonfree, check Hardware Support.
  • Click Optional packages.
  • Check xorg-x11-drv-fglrx, close and Apply.
  • Reboot the machine and log in. (Logging out is not sufficient.)

At this point, you should have 2D and 3D acceleration working. This is while using the vesa driver:

$glxinfo | grep direct
direct rendering: No (...)
OpenGL renderer string: Mesa GLX Indirect

And while using the fglrx driver:

$glxinfo | grep direct
direct rendering: Yes

To disable the fglrx driver and use vesa:

/usr/sbin/fglrx-config-display disable

and reboot. Use enable to switch back to the fglrx driver. Fedora does not install any 3D software by default, but several titles are available in the repositories. Other third-party applications work well too, including Google Earth. To get desktop effects (transparent titles, wobbly windows, etc.) to work, install and run a 3D application such as Neverputt. Then select System -> Preferences -> Look and Feel -> Desktop Effects and click Enable Desktop Effects.

Intel video

on T60 models with Intel video (i945), F10 detects the chip and ThinkPad display fine. And after updating to the latest RPM updates it automatically enabled clone mode on my external DVI display (connected through the Dock). I have not tested VGA.

What not works is extended desktop as the virtual display size cannot exceed 2048x2048 (HW limitation on Intel chips before the i965). This is a known problem [2]. Specifying a larger virtual desktop in xorg.conf just causes the Xserver to lockup.

Also the gnome display manager gets confused when you boot with external (only DVI tested) display attached. Clone mode is automatically enabled, but it cannot be disabled in display manager and it puts the location tag for the external display (Samsung 21" in my case) on both displays.


Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG

The Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Mini-PCI Express Adapter is detected and enabled automatically. The activity indicator LED now works with the standard driver.

Atheros WiFi

The integrated WiFi gets automatically detected by the ath5k driver. However the driver is unstable, and I could only maintain network connectivity for ~15min before loosing the connection after which a reboot is required to get the driver working again (unload/reload of the driver does not work as the chip is locked up). This is a known problem [3] and might be resolved by using the latest compat-wireless package, but I have not tested it yet.

Pointing Devices


The TrackPoint pointing device works automatically. Information on getting the middle button to act as a scroll wheel goes here.

Touch Pad

The touch pad is enabled and works automatically. Press-to-select is enabled by default.


Bluetooth works automatically

Fingerprint Reader


Verizon EVDO

The Verizon EVDO card appears in NetworkManager as "Auto CDMA network connection". Please edit if you have tested this further


I was able to remove the DVD drive, and the icon vanished from the desktop. After plugging it back in it re-appeared automatically.

Active Protection System

Embedded Security Subsystem

Special Keys

Fn+F2 Lock Screen

Fn+F3 Sleep

Fn+F4 Suspend to RAM (Standby)

Suspend to RAM works automatically. Closing the lid also put the machine into the same standby mode.

Fn+F5 Radio Control

Fn+F7 Display Selection

Fn+F8 Pointing Devices

Fn+F9 Eject

Fn+F12 Suspend to Disk (Hibernate)

Suspend to disk works automatically.

Fn+Home/End Brightness

Brightness control works automatically. GNOME's on-screen display for brightness works. When on AC, brightness is dimmed by default. To disable this, click System->Preferences->System->Power Management. Click the On Battery Power tab, and set the Dim display brightness by: slider to the desired amount.


Volume up, volume down and volume mute work automatically, as does the on-screen display.


This button doesn't do anything by default, and it's not obvious what it should do when running Linux, if anything.


Infrared gets automatically detected by the nsc-ircc driver, including the dongle type. Not tested however.


This section details how to tune your system for performance or battery life.


Powertop is a program from Intel that monitors interrupts and shows how much time the CPU spends in each of its power states. It can suggest ways to keep the CPU idle unless necessary, which can save a lot of energy and increase your battery life. These two commands will get you started. Use visudoers to add accounts to the sudoers file.

sudo yum install powertop
sudo powertop