Installing Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) on a ThinkPad T43

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Worked right out of the box

  • ATI Mobility Radeon X300 graphics card
  • Battery Management (but see battery life notes in GPU clockspeed section)
  • CPU power management
  • Ultra Nav (Trackpoint and synaptic touchpad) middle button scroll did not work
  • Wi-Fi
  • Hibernate and Standby (Hibernate slower than reboot, though)
  • ThinkLight
  • Generic external USB Bluetooth adapter (internal Bluetooth not tested)

Required extra work

  • Volume up/down/mute buttons
  • Active Protection System (APS)
  • GPU power management (ATI Mobility Radeon X300)
  • Fan control
  • Middle button trackpoint scroll

Not working or working with bugs

  • External 1680x1050 display in spanning mode has issues (both DVI and VGA) unless Compiz effects are switched off.


  • Battery charge controls (e.g. charge/discharge threshold settings)
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Modem
  • IrDA
  • Fingerprint reader


Volume Up/Down/Mute Buttons

The volume up/down/mute keys are disabled by default. To enable them (discussion):

$ sudo cp /sys/devices/platform/thinkpad_acpi/hotkey_all_mask /sys/devices/platform/thinkpad_acpi/hotkey_mask

Add the above line (minus the "sudo") to /etc/rc.local to enable sound keys at boot. Note that sound control with the volume keys is coarser in Ubuntu than in Windows XP.

Active Protection System

The accelerometer-controlled Active Protection System (APS) that parks the hard drive when the computer is bumped or dropped is not enabled by default. Refer to How to protect the harddisk through APS for more general and detailed notes.

The preferred method of interfacing with the accelerometer seems to be through the Tp_smapi module. Download Tp smapi from [1]. Install using:

$ tar xvzf tp_smapi-0.40.tgz
$ sudo make HDAPS=1 install

Reboot the system. Test by nudging the laptop or lifting the base. You should hear the drive's heads park immediately. Some drives do not correctly report that they support instant head parking (e.g. Fujitsu MHV2040AH). In that case, try adding the "force" parking option to the hdapsd configuration script:

$ sudo gedit /etc/default/hdapsd

Add -f to the $OPTIONS variable, and save and close the file. Then, restart the hdaps daemon:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/hdapsd restart

This has fixed the issue on some drives (Fujitsu MHV2040AH).

For further troubleshooting, the follwing command will print acceleroemter data and parking messages in real-time:

$ sudo hdapsd -d sda -s 15 -a -v -y

Move the computer, and check that the values change. Bump the laptop, and there should be a message about parking the drive heads.

USB autosuspend

USB autosuspend is disabled in the default configuration. This seems to prevent the processor from entering the lowest power (C4) state when running on battery power, at least in practice. This feature can be enabled per session using the powertop application (by accepting the suggestion to enable). To enable at startup, follow the instructions from [2]. Power savings are significant, and no negative side effects have been observed with stock hardware.

GPU Power Management (ATI Mobility Radeon X300)

The default installation uses the open-source Radeon driver. Compared with the ATI drivers under Windows XP, GPU temperature was about 6 degrees celsius higher and overall power consumption at idle was about 4w (20w v 16w) greater running on battery. The open-source driver defaults to maximum GPU clockspeed (300MHz) in all situations. You can check the current clock speeds with:

$ cat /sys/kernel/debug/dri/0/radeon_pm_info

Reduce clock speed with the following commands issued as root (detailed documentation, but note error in config paths "card-0" instead of "card0"):

$ echo profile > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_method
$ echo low > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_profile 

Return to max clock speed with:

$ echo high > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_profile 

Automatically switch to low when on battery power with:

$echo profile > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_method
$echo auto > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_profile

Running on low considerably reduces the GPU temperature and power draw.

Cooling Fan

The cooling fan exhibits the documented Problem with fan noise. To improve it (but at risk of overheating), run one of the Fan control scripts.

Middle Button Trackpoint Scroll

This is disabled by default but is easily configured with the GUI tool gpointing-device-settings, available in the Ubuntu Software Center.


External Display in Spanning Mode

There seems to be an issue with external displays in spanning mode when Compiz effects are enabled. With the ATI Mobility Radeon X300 card and an external 1680x1050 display (internal 1024x768), the rightmost area of the extended desktop is corrupted. The corruption is the same whether the internal LCD screen or the external display is in the righthand position. This occurs using built-in VGA out, ThinkPad Mini-Dock VGA out, or ThinkPad Mini-Dock DVI out. The solution is to disable all Compiz effects (Preferences->Appearance->Visual Effects).


See also

External Sources