Installing Ubuntu on a ThinkPad X31

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Revision as of 20:29, 6 January 2017 by Parysto (Talk | contribs) (Installing Ubuntu 16.04 on a Thinkpad X31)
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The content of this page was originally geared toward Hoary (Ubuntu 5.04), but nearly everything here applies just as well to the Warty (4.10) and Breezy (5.10) releases.

See Henrik Brix Andersens page for a lot of useful background information.

Installing without cdrom or floppy

Look here or follow the Netboot remarks instructions at Ubuntu Wiki.

Enabling the Access IBM Button and on-screen display for volume buttons

Install the tpb package (use Synaptic or $sudo apt-get install tpb), then use the Users and Groups Administration tool to add your user account to the 'nvram' group. Now see Access IBM Button for configuration details.

Choosing between APM and ACPI for power management

I tested both, APM and ACPI but settled with ACPI which now works like a charm.

Since Ubuntu Dapper (6.06LTS) ACPI works out of the box, either in Standby Mode or Suspend to Disk Mode. ACPI will make your system use about 10% less power than with apm, which reduces my battery runtime from ~4:00h to 3:40h.

Please read "How to make use of Power Management features" for more in depth information.

Unfortunately, if ACPI is used, hibernate and standby modes might not work with a CompactFlash card inserted. Read the X31 Talk Page for further info.

Disabling ACPI and using APM

Simply disabling ACPI at boottime activates APM which works fine with suspend to ram and suspend to disk.

To disable ACPI boot your kernel with acpi=off

...describe how to edit /boot/grub/menu.lst...

APM based suspend to disk needs a save2disk.img hibernation file on FAT16. Use the tphdisk utility to create this file.

Use FnF4 to suspend-to-ram and FnF12 to suspend-to-disk.

Using ACPI

Get ubuntulinux, radeontool and this script (which goes in /etc/acpi), nothing more!

This procedure is not necessary with the Breezy Badger release, which already knows how to blank the radeon video. Just be sure you have the radeontool package installed.

$ cat


. /usr/share/acpi-support/power-funcs


grep -q closed /proc/acpi/button/lid/*/state
if [ $? = 0 ]
        . /usr/share/acpi-support/screenblank
        echo `fgconsole` > $LIDSTATE
        chvt 12

        # Unmount any NFS or SMB filesystems:
        echo "unmounting NFS and SMB filesystems"
        umount -a -r -t nfs,smbfs

        # remove modules
        echo "remove modules"
        #rmmod ipw2100    ## WLAN
        rmmod ehci-hcd   ## USB module
        rmmod uhci-hcd   ##  -||-

        # update the disk super block
        echo "sync"

        # wait a second
        sleep 1

        # turn the LCD off
        echo "backlight off"
        radeontool light off

        # suspend to ram
        echo "suspend to ram"
        echo -n mem > /sys/power/state

        # load modules
        modprobe ehci-hcd
        modprobe uhci-hcd

        # turn the LCD on
        echo "turn the LCD on"
        radeontool light on

        # go back to VT7 (X)
        echo "back to VT7"
        chvt 7

        grep -q off-line /proc/acpi/ac_adapter/*/state
        #if [ $? = 1 ]
                #su - $user -c "xscreensaver-command -unthrottle"
        chvt `cat $LIDSTATE`

Installing Ubuntu 10.04 on a Thinkpad X31

Ubuntu 10.04 out of the box has suspend/hibernate/resume failures and hard lockups. Fortunately, they can all be solved. For the suspend/hibernate problems, modify /etc/default/grub, add 'nomodeset' to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT. For networking problems with atheros, download a snapshot from, build and install it. For the problem with hard lockups, follow the steps on the ubuntu site for building a custom kernel. Set processor type to 'PENTIUM-M' and disable SMP.

Installing Ubuntu 16.04 on a Thinkpad X31

To be able to install and boot Ubuntu 16.04, add forcepae to the boot options.

As with the Ubuntu 10.04, resuming from standby will fail. Add nomodeset to the boot options to solve this. To do so permanently, open /etc/default/grub and modify GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="forcepae nomodeset"

With nomodeset, Ubuntu will now resume from standby properly. However, it will not turn off the display's backlight when it goes into standby. To solve this, install radeontool from the official PPA and hook two scripts into systemd:


External Sources