Install Mandriva 2009.0 on a ThinkPad W500

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W500 this is work under progress

BIOS Issues

Linux (ie Xorg) currently lacks the support for on-the-fly switching of GPUs. It not only does not support switching, you also have to expicically turn off switching in BIOS. Go to Config->Display->Graphics Device and DISABLE OS detection of switchable graphics.

If you don't disable OS detection, linux will see two graphic adapters (try it with lspci) and will be confused on which one to use, leading to random weird side effects such as hangs and worse.

  • AHCI

I also had to turn off AHCI in Config->SATA and used Compatibility Mode instead, otherwise the kernel would not boot occasionally.

  • Intel Virtualization

The T9400 and up CPUs also support advanced Intel Virtualization technologies. Just don't turn on VT-d (disk I/O virtualization) in BIOS, otherwise WLAN any a couple of other things will not work and even freeze your system, see

Things not working/issues

As I've found most of the components are just working out of the box, I will only list the issues I have found so far:

  • booting with "vga=788" not working
    • the Mandriva installer added the "vga=788" parameter to my kernel boot line. That prevented the laptop from booting quite frequently, not always though. Still to be investigated, but removing "vga=788" from the kernel boot line solved the issue for now.
  • Active Protection System
  • Suspend/Resume
    • while suspending works fine, resuming always ended with a blank screen, workaround below
  • muted audio not shown in alsa mixer
    • when you use the built in "mute audio" button on the ThinkPad keyboard, this is not show in any audio mixer I've tried. So if you don't hear a sound, give the "mute audio" button a try :-)
  • 3D and radeonhd
    • the radeonhd driver (still) does not support 3D acceleration
  • 2D and fglrx
    • see below

Suspend/Resume problem

If resuming just leaves you with a blank black display, try the following:

 echo "ADD_PARAMETERS='--quirk-vbe-post'" > /etc/pm/config.d/w500_vbe_post

Display / Xorg

The laptop comes with Switchable Graphics, so you can choose on your own which GPU to use:

  • radeonhd
    • consumes the most energy
    • lack of 3D support
  • fglrx
    • changing runlevel to 3 (init 3) leaves you with X eating 100% CPU
    • huge performance issues when switching between virtual desktops, switching can take a couple of seconds with 100% CPU again

So if battery life and 3D are important for you, you should probably use the intel driver, but I am fine with the radeonhd driver for now. And fglrx is nothing but proprietary nonsense, IMHO ... for a commercial driver this is ridiculous.