Installing Debian Sid (September 2004) on a ThinkPad R50

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by Didrik Pinte (dpinte at itae dot be ) Please correct or update this page !

The computer is delivered with a preinstalled Windows XP. A "secret" partition is hidden in your harddrive. It took approximately 7Gb on my 40 Gb disk...

First step : remove everything

The first think i've done is to call the IBM support to get a CD of Windows XP. They have sent it to me for free in 3 days. I've also created a backup copy of the DRIVERS and TOOLS and SUPPORT directories from the preinstalled XP. If you want, you can also create a functionnal CD of windows XP using the I386 directory.

After that, i've disabled the predesktop area from IBM using the BIOS. After this, when you push the "Access IBM" button, you have a simple black and white screen with the ability to enter the setup or choose a boot option (no more menu with mouse support, etc.).

See :

Second step : installing Sarge

Booting with the new beta 3 Sarge installer, i've then followed the basic installation procedure.

Here is the partition i've made :

/dev/hda1 1,5Gb swap /dev/hda2 10Gb ext3 / (bootable) /dev/hda3 5Gb vfat /windows /dev/hda4 23,5Gb vfat /shared (in a logical partition)

(it could be interested to create a little partition for hibernation, see lphdisk).

Starting with that, my e1000 network card was detected without any problem. After installing x-window-system and gnome, my ATI Radeon 9000 card was recognized. The sound card seems to work too (module intel8x0).

Without any modification, when I close the lid, the computer goes into supsend mode, waking up perfectly well when opening it. The power management is done by APM (i've tried acpi successfully but commands where not easyer ...).

Upgrading to Sid

Changing the sources.list, and doing a "apt-get dist-upgrade", i've update my Sarge sytem to Sid.

At this step, i'm running a 2.4.25 kernel. I'm running a Sid system (Debian/unstable).

Installing the Synaptics driver, i've got the touchpad working with tapping, etc. (see deb ./, package synaptics : simply install the package and change in your XF86Config-4 the driver of the mouse using the /dev/psaux device to "synaptics", then restart your X server).


The ATI Radeon 9000 is supported by the radeon driver. The touchpad and ultranav work out of the box (but not completely well). Using the synaptics driver for XFree, you will have all the functionnality (see before). I've configure my XFree with the ultranav, the touchpad and a USB mouse. The screen resolution is 1400*1050. 3D is activated too.

See my XF86Config file.

Edit: I recommend you to upgrade to server, Since most of the distros has moving towards it.But Xorg has not entered the debian mirrors .By this time it would have entered Unstable . Get the Xorg server source Here and try to compile. Also Dont worry about screwing your system. Steve has got a way here.Try this.

Customizing the kernel

With the kernel 2.6.10 (kernel-image-2.6.10-1-686), everything is correctly detected.

You just need to install the ipw2100-source package and use the module-assistant to add it to you kernel.

MPPE patch needs the kernel to be compiled


Install the ipw2100-source package, see the README.Debian file for information about using the module-assistant to compile it.

Then, you need to install the firmware (see the ipw2100 page). For a 2.6 kernel, just copy the firmware in /usr/lib/hotplug/firmware.

Then modprobe ipw2100. See in your log to what interface it has been bound.

Add to /etc/hotplug/blacklist the name of the module if you do not want it to be loaded at boot time.


A simple apt-get install udev worked perfectly well. Do not forget to add your user in all the required groups (video, audio, cdrom, etc.)

! it is safe to try it. It wont delete your old /dev, only mounting a new filesystems over it.


By default apm is functionnal. The only problem seems to be the usb support on resuming from suspend.

For the Fn-F12 : use the tphdisk (, based on lphdisk) to create a save2dsk.bin file on one of your FAT partition. Then it will be completely usable.

13/05/2004 : it seems that my fan is always on... Big problem with the fan on R50 --> see the newsgroup. Use fglrx to arrange this.

10/12/2004 : using the 2.6.9 kernel, i'm back on the radeon module because too much problem with fglrx when suspending. The fan is not so noisy with the radeon module !

15/03/2005 : running a 2.6.10 kernel, using radeonfb, with APM. I have tested successfully ACPI but the high power drain problem is very annoying.


At the moment i'm using the cpufreqd to manage the processor. It seems that powernowd is better with 2.6.x kernels. I've not tested it.

Updated : i've compiled the cpufreq-userspace module to make powernowd work. It's nice, seems to be better than cpufreqd that only lowers the cpu when the AC is off. Powernowd does it even with AC on.

15/03/2005 : all the modules are available in the official Sid kernel (2.6.10) cpufreq_userspace, cpufreq_powersave, speedstep_centrino, etc.


Enabling the infrared in the BIOS and adding some info in the kernel, it is automatically bound to /dev/ttyS0. (The infrared's SIR mode is being emulated by the serial port driver as a serial port.) when you use the command,

debian:~# dmesg | grep tty
ttyS0 at I/O 0x3e8 (irq = 3) is a 16550A ##i get this meaning that infrared is detected as serial.

You get similar to the one above, but the I/O and irq may vary.


debian:-#irattach /dev/ttyS0

Finished., Now u can use your Sony ericcson or Nokia Ir Mobiles .

we've tested it with our Nokia 6210 using the gnokii software and sony ericsson K700i . It works well.

I'm now using my Nokia 6610i to surf by GPRS. I'm using gammu for backup and monitoring of the mobile.

Last things

Install apt-listchanges
Install gphoto2 - gtkam - gthumb

Changed the default radeon driver to the fglx driver ( ).The fan is now more silent. But have a problem with the change resolution tool from gnome. Is it related with this ( )

16 october 2004 : i've switched back to the radeon driver. I had updated to the last fglrx (3.14) but resume doesn't work anymore. With the 3.9, it was ok. I'm now back with the radeon driver and the fan is nearly always on ... I need to fix the fglrx problem.

External Sources