Linux in Government: You Can Use the Desktop on a Laptop Now

Desktop Linux has open-source developers' attention.

The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

---Samuel Clemens, also know as Mark Twain

Many variations of this "reports of my death" quote exist. The original note was written May 1897 in the author's hand. He wrote, "James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London. The report of my illness grew out of his illness, the report of my death was an exaggeration".

Similarly, depending on the writer, many variations exist about the usefulness of Linux on desktops and laptops. In some ways, I understand the confusion and the various conclusions people draw. Recently, I had the opportunity to install Linux on an IBM ThinkPad, and both ingenuity and a commitment to complete the job were required. That's not what I expected at the start. I found Linux useful immediately. Later, I found the software I needed to make it work the way one would expect from a manufacturer.

As you read this article, keep this Samuel Clemens quote in mind. The majority of us have a tendency to avoid details and jump on the first generalization that comes around. I'm reminded of statement attributed to Al Gore that he "invented the Internet". In fact, he said, "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet". And, if you look at his history, he did take the initiative and helped create the Internet. The media, on the other hand, ran with the quote attributed to him. Don't fall into that trap if you can avoid it.

Desktop Linux on a Laptop

Recently, I bought a laptop. I consulted several friends to get a consensus as to which one would work best with Linux. Tallying the results, I decided to go with an IBM ThinkPad. I chose a barely used model T21 with a Pentium III 800, a 20GB hard drive, 256MB of RAM and a DVD-ROM. Prices ranged all over the place, but I found a one for less than $300.

Once the laptop arrived, I began searching around on Google to see which Linux distributions people used on ThinkPads. I even found a ThinkPad mailing list and some distribution-oriented laptop ones. Then, I found a tutorial that convinced me to go with Fedora Core 3.

Laptop or Portable Computer?

Reading through the archives of the mailing lists, I started to conclude that most people used Linux on laptops as portable computers. Seeing comments referring to the battery as a UPS gave it away. Then, I started asking some hard questions and the answers convinced me that an information void exists. You certainly can use a laptop as a portable computer, but that's not how I intended to use it.

I went back to my friends and began asking how they used the function keys and buttons on their ThinkPads. As you might guess, they didn't use them. They also thought that the battery life seemed short. Of course, having all laptop functions fully operational at all times reduces the battery life.

As I continued to research Linux on the laptop, I found a scarcity of new material. Furthermore, many of the items I did find seemed less than useful. But, I did find nuggets of gold that allowed me to use my ThinkPad the way I wanted.

Finding the Best Distribution

Although the Fedora tutorial gave me many of hints on how to configure tools to take advantage of the ThinkPad's built-in functionality, Fedora did not work for me. I decided to stay with 256MB of RAM, primarily so I could help Linux users who could not afford to add the memory needed to get to 512MB. Perhaps if I upgraded to a higher level of memory, I could use Fedora. At 256MB of RAM, however, Fedora creeped. I felt like I was using a memory-starved Microsoft Windows machine.

Call it a challenge, but many postings exist on the mailing lists I follow from international users who simply can't afford to upgrade their memory. To an American, it doesn't seem so unrealistic simply to upgrade. To friends in Hungary, the costs seem high.

I spent the better part of two days trying a variety of distributions. Before people start writing comments about how much better their distributions run than the one I chose, let me say I played no favorites. I wanted performance and I got it with Ubuntu. Contrary to what some of you might believe, it's not my favorite Linux distro. It simply performed the best in this case.

Making the ThinkPad Act Like a Laptop

Later this month, I will cross the globe. The first leg of my journey will take 24 hours, and I have a speaking engagement about 12 hours after I arrive. So, preserving battery life and connecting wirelessly seem important. I also want to use the time to work.

I believe a manufacturer should do the things I did to get Ubuntu working on the ThinkPad. In a way, it helps prove up my argument that if Linux were bundled on HP, Lenovo, Dell, Gateway and so on, it would be as acceptable to users as is OS X or Windows. More on that a little later.

Once I installed Ubuntu on the ThinkPad, I had to add packages from various repositories, including Universe and Multiverse. The first packages I added include linux-image- 2.6.10-5-686, linux-source-2.10.10 and linux-headers-2.6.10-5. Ubuntu calls their kernel packages linux-images instead of kernel-image. Once I added the packages, I rebooted into the Linux 686 environment.

Next, I searched, found and installed the tpb package through Ubuntu's Synaptic application. According to the tpb Web site:

TPB is a little program that enables you to use the IBM ThinkPad(tm) special keys.

With TPB it is possible to bind a program to the ThinkPad, Mail, Home and Search button. TPB can also run a callback program on each state change with the changed state and the new state as options. So it is possible to trigger several actions on different events. TPB has a on-screen display (OSD) to show volume, mute, brightness and some other informations. Furthermore TPB supports a software mixer, as the R series ThinkPads have no hardware mixer to change the volume.

I noticed the ability to change the volume and use other keys immediately.

Next, using Synaptic, I searched for "thinkpad" and found thinkpad-base and thinkpad-source. I marked those for installation and clicked apply. They installed.

According to the maintainer's Web site:

This package contains the source code for the loadable driver modules used by the tpctl utility for configuring IBM ThinkPad laptop computers. Included are the sources for drivers of the Super I/O and RT/CMOS RAM chips, for an interface to the IBM ThinkPad SMAPI BIOS, and for an interface to the ThinkPad APM subsystem.

As the Web page refers to tpctl, I searched for that package in Synaptic and also installed it.

According to the tpctl Web site at Sourceforge:

tpctl is a package of configuration tools for Linux.

The centerpiece of the package is tpctl, a program that does some of what PS2.EXE does under DOS and the ThinkPad Configuration program does under Windows...

tpctl gives the user access to all the functions of the SMAPI BIOS that are documented in the various ThinkPad Technical Reference manuals. It can also control the resources used by the parallel and serial ports. The USAGE output and the README file should give a rough idea of what the program can do...

Packages included in tpctl include:

  • tpctl -- command line ThinkPad control program

  • ntpctl -- ncurses ThinkPad control program

  • tpctlir -- a utility that enables or disables the infrared subsystem on ThinkPads with Programmable Option Select

  • apmiser -- a daemon that automatically controls power expenditure mode (using tpctl) according to CPU usage

Finally, I discovered configure-thinkpad, a GNOME GUI tool for tpctl. According to the Web site: "configure-thinkpad is a GNOME ThinkPad configuration tool written by Cheuksan Edward Wang. The purpose of this tool is to make configuring ThinkPad easier. This GUI application uses GNOME 2 and is based on tpctl and ntpctl."

Unfortunately, I didn't find configure-thinkpad in the Ubuntu repositories. You can download the tarball from the tpctl site, though, and configure it using these steps, once you satisfy all the dependencies.

  1. Uncompress the tar.gz file

  2. cd into the uncompressed file directory

  3. Run the ./configure command as user

  4. Run sudo make

  5. Run sudo make install

Figure 1. Screenshot of configure-thinkpad

Here, you need to do some command-line work to get Ubuntu to work with the packages you downloaded. Let's take them one at a time. First, you need to provide the Linux kernel source. When you installed linux-source, it downloaded linux-source-2.6.10.tar.bz2 into the directory /usr/src. Move to that directory, and you will see it. To unpack it, use the command

sudo tar jxvf linux-source-2.6.10.tar.bz2

Now, your sources are available.

Earlier we referred to thinkpad-base and thinkpad-source. thinkpad-source contains the source code for the drivers. The package is set up so that make-kpkg compiles the correct driver sources for the kernel you are running.

tpctl contains everything but the drivers. For this, you need the thinkpad-modules package, which can be built from the thinkpad-source package.

David Tansey, a Ubuntu user and contributor who has written HOWTOs for the community, provided us with some commands through the ThinkPad mailing list. He suggested going to /usr/src/ and running tar -xzf thinkpad.tar.gz. Then:

cd modules/thinkpad/2.6/drivers
sudo make install

This creates the /dev/think device needed to run tpctl.

Next, run ./ You need to install the following dependencies so you can build configure-thinkpad:




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Linux Laptop and Notebook Installation Survey

Werner Heuser's picture

This installation report is included in the TuxMobil Linux Laptop and Notebook Installation Survey.

I had the same problem with windows

Anonymous's picture

I did the same thing with windows to figure out a problem to help a friend and I found it very frustrating - download this driver download this anti-something program. very frustrating.

I agree with the article if time was spent in configuring a linux laptop instead of a windows one it would be superior in all aspects. The user would just do their work and have no adminstration tasks. But I guess the vendors would rather download all these anti-programs and give the customer crap software with otherwise outstanding hardware.

Re: Windows Drivers

Marc Macke's picture

Well - as long you have an internet-connection, the driver-installation is extremely painless (in Windows-XP), as the latest drivers are downloaded from the MS-Database. Most of the times you don't even need the driver-cd. That's really cool 8-)

Looking for IBM T21 Win/Lin.Modem under Linux 2.6 /Suse 9.3

Anonymous's picture

Hello dear IBM, Linux and Suse, users or experts,

This article seems very interesting and perhaps around it, you could give me some helpfull advices about Linux T21 modem software customization.

I have an IBM Thinkpad T21 on which I have installed Linux 2.6 within Suse 9.3, and
unlucky, there was a winmodem installed on, combined with an ethernet connection.

When it was only under Windows, that seems to be ok.
Now launching it under Linux, it's not the same thing.

When I go out of my home and have to connect me under Linux on Internet through a basic
or standard phone line ... I need that there was a running modem or LinModem
to surf above Internet and retrieve informations or mails outside !

That is very important for me.

Have you already meet a similar issue or matter, or did you know what to do
in that case !?

Thanks a lot for any help and advices ...

PS : I have made some investigations resumed below

> -------------------------------------------------------
> "hwinfo --modem" ==> give a big result file
> with "hwinfo --pci" ==> I've a light file from which I have extracted the following lines:
> The problem is about the modem config with Hardware Class Unknown and not associated with an appli !?
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ...
> 14: PCI 03.0: 0200 Ethernet controller
> [Created at pci.273]
> Unique ID: ...
> SysFS ID: /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:03.0
> SysFS BusID: 0000:00:03.0
> Hardware Class: network
> Model: "Intel EtherExpress PRO/100+ MiniPCI"
> Vendor: pci 0x8086 "Intel Corporation"
> Device: pci 0x1229 "82557/8/9 [Ethernet Pro 100]"
> SubVendor: pci 0x8086 "Intel Corporation"
> SubDevice: pci 0x2408 "EtherExpress PRO/100+ MiniPCI"
> Revision: 0x09
> Driver: "e100"
> Device File: eth0
> Memory Range: 0xe8120000-0xe8120fff (rw,non-prefetchable)
> I/O Ports: ......... (rw)
> Memory Range: 0xe8100000-0xe811ffff (rw,non-prefetchable)
> Memory Range: 0x00000000-0x000fffff (ro,prefetchable,disabled)
> IRQ: 11 (9824 events)
> HW Address: 00:10:a4:84:8e:68
> Link detected: no
> Driver Info #0:
> Driver Status: e100 is active
> Driver Activation Cmd: "modprobe e100"
> Driver Info #1:
> Driver Status: eepro100 is not active
> Driver Activation Cmd: "modprobe eepro100"
> Config Status: cfg=no, avail=yes, need=no, active=unknown
> 15: PCI 03.1: 0700 Serial controller (16550)
> [Created at pci.273]
> Unique ID: ...
> SysFS ID: /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:03.1
> SysFS BusID: 0000:00:03.1
> Hardware Class: unknown
> Model: "Intel Mini-PCI V.90 56k Modem"
> Vendor: pci 0x115d "Xircom"
> Device: pci 0x000c "Mini-PCI V.90 56k Modem"
> SubVendor: pci 0x8086 "Intel Corporation"
> SubDevice: pci 0x2408
> Driver: "serial"
> I/O Ports: ....... (rw)
> Memory Range: 0xe8121000-0xe8121fff (rw,non-prefetchable)
> IRQ: 11 (9824 events)
> Config Status: cfg=new, avail=yes, need=no, active=unknown
> ...
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> These lines are they enough to decide which package or customization
> I should prepare ?
> Could you advice me on the right way ?
> Last new, I just arrived to configure and connect through wvdial and Kinternet,
> but the DNS connection and lookup failed to view any internet site...
> Thanks a lot for your help,
> Best regards,

Marc / Paris - France

Laptop / Portable Computer Concept:

Martin's picture

Great article. Thanks for taking the time and making the effort.

"You certainly can use a laptop as a portable computer, but that's not how I intended to use it."

Tom; could you expand on this a little more? I've always had one or the other. Right now I have both (a laptop and a beefy tower), but the tower is more of a server than a workstation. I think it would be interesting to hear your take on the function of both, and how you "... intended to use it [the laptop]."

Thanks, Martin

Laptop / Portable Computer Concept

tadelste's picture


I'm glad to expand on the concept.

The first laptops were actually portable computers. They didn't have batteries. The first one I used was an Osbourne. It had two floppies and a small screen plus free software and sold for less than $2000. The next one was a Compaq and finally I bought an IBM portable. None of these had batteries.

In my view, a laptop is a battery powered computer that I can take with me when I board a plane and use it to do work or watch a DVD. It doubles as the computer I use to make presentations.

I have typically used Thinkpads in the past and so I am familiar with them. I did have an iBook a couple of years ago and it was OK but didn't work that well with Linux. I have also had Toshibas and Compaqs. I only used those for presentation purposes.

My partner bought a Thinkpad T21 and has liked it a lot. He also has an iBook. I checked around and other friends were using Thinkpads. So, I just went to eBay and bought one. It turned out to have very little use and the price was fine.

I have a lab with a number of different computers I use for testing and I have many different distributions of Linux running in the lab. Right now, I'm running my primary desktop system and it has Fedora Core 4 running at the moment.

Last week, I took my recently acquired laptop to the Middle East with me and it worked fine. When I got home, I copied my files to this desktop and now I'm set to work again in the US. I may have two trips and three presentations between now and early September and I'll take the laptop with me and use it for both presentation purposes and to work while I'm away.

I found Ubuntu to work best on my particular laptop. It's gnome based and easy to sync directories when I return.

As far as my home computer, I prefer to work on a tower based system because it allows me to use a large LCD monitor, runs much faster and simply performs better than the laptop. That doesn't mean the laptop isn't a great tool for traveling or for heading over to a Starbucks and working wirelessly.

My next adventure will include installing FreeNX on the laptop to see if I can sync my directories while on the road.

To sum up, I suppose that I consider laptops necessary to consultants and sales people. But for doing IT work, I prefer working on a fast and more powerful PC.

I hope that answers your question.


Laptop's Purpose:

Martin's picture

Hi Tom;

Nice. As a developer, I made a conscious choice to do my development on my laptop, as opposed to a desktop, so that I could do it "anywhere."

It's nice to know that that are reasonable non-Windows, non-Mac mobile solutions for professionals; thanks for putting another stone on the path that paves the way.


A bit dated here aren't we.

Anonymous's picture

With all do honesty I began to worry when I saw the all to popular "I've got this old piece of junk that won't run XP right ..... "Let's install Linux!" Followed by all of the usual "problems" usually caused by poor research and not paying attention to details.

1. KDE includes the tools for Viao Toshiba and IBM laptops by default. Once configured there.. the configs hold for Gnome.

2. Before running around like crazy being leet and cool and grabbing software left and right ..... check out what is already there in your distro. Fedora and Ubunto both include tools for IBM laptops. (For example tpctl is part of the Ubunto distro!)

I've been running desktop Linux for over 6 years. (not dual boot either uless you count having more than one OSS OS) On laptops for the last 4, exculsively. (I just replaced my Armada 500mhz .... hardware failure beyond repair.) In fact I've got a couple of old 233mhz Thinkpads running as semi-thin clients. (more like super PDA's) You really did manage to take something as simple as installing Linux and turn it into a problem. BTW 256MB is more than enough.

Linux is (should be) perfect

Anonymous's picture

Linux is (should be) perfect to utilize older hardware because it isn't as bloated as new OSs in order to get more modern functionality. The renown stability of Linux implies being able to go for weeks on a desktop without a reboot by simply doing a quick s3 suspend and resume as we've done with the older Windows OSs. However, it is absolutely maddening to get an IBM T20 (once one of THE most popular laptops) under Linux to do something Windows 95 can do!! - suspend and resume. To a newb, all the hype and promise of Linux evaporates rapidly when faced with that. Every relative newb who tries this thinks there must be something simple they are overlooking to get something so basic to work, hence the newb questions, expecting not a complete set of instructions (which is needed) but a quick one line "just hit this switch or run this one command" - not expecting that to get it to do that is as complicated as it is for them. I get the thing about printer drivers and winmodems and I accept that. But that Linux has such a hard time with suspend and resume IN GENERAL "implies" (I understand why but to newbs this is what it seems like) either someone is asleep at the wheel, or there is some underlying stick in the spokes of the whole Linux OS preventing it from smoothly implementing such a basic function as a suspend/resume. No free Linux distro will suspend/resume out of the box on a T20 except for possibly SUSE, which is almost too big for it.

Having said that, I am using linux on every computer in my house and still believe in it.

Bad Breath in Trolls

Anonymous's picture

Hey Troll, you didn't read the article. Did you. He didn't say anything about a piece of junk that wouldn't run XP so let's try Linux. You said that. He said, the Linux desktop works. If you've been running a Linux desktop since 1999, what were you running? What web browser? What word processor?

You're full of it. You know it, I know it and whoever cares to read this post knows it.

BTW, I've run Linux long before you and we didn't have no stinking desktop.

.. and you weren't reading

Anonymous's picture

.. and you weren't reading too carefully either mate .. not to mention that you appear to have missed the punctuation and spelling lessons in school ..

and why so angry? have you been grounded by your parents perhaps?


Anonymous's picture

That's you. Let's see I've run SuSE since 6.2, RedHat first started about 4.2 (Along with Afterstep) Heavily into Mandrake since 6.0 came out. (Yes I've had more than one computer at a time ... I also know how to multi-Boot.... ooooooooooooo..... first distro I tried was ygdrassil... but slackware was the first one I was comfortable with.) Currently I run mostly Debian.

browsers. Netscape since 3.1 Konqueror... (Ok up until 3.0 not so useful) Opera ... it's Ok but I'm not much of a fan. Links ... when you really need to be fast and light.

Wordprocessors. Most of the time (as in 99.9%) I don't need to create non ascii documents. But reading them is needed. Star office has supplied that for ages. Not to mention a number of "readers" available. OOo is my current office suite. Abiword has always been a better reader than writer up until they finally got it to 1.0. Gnumeric rocks with excel, and has for a long time.

Congrats on not having a desktop. I find that utterly useless to know. I also doubt that you've used computers or Unix before me. Linux... Maybe ... If you know what bootstraping is. If you have who cares. My OS background has been mainly Linux BSD Xenix Unix Amiga, OS/2 and Some DOS (very little pre 3.0) And a number of "unique to the system" OS's in the early 80's. (ok there was a bit of time with a TI-99....)

A bit dated here aren't we.

Anonymous's picture

Who cares about KDE in the first place and whose running around crazy other than you? All this material helped me and I'm obviously not as brillant and charismatic as you. So, I have the same damn laptop and it runs XP and pretty well. But, I prefer running Linux on it and now I'm dual booting with Ubuntu and I like it - what is that some kind of sacred sin?

I hate you Linux people. I find a useful article and it's all creeped out with your mouthy comments. You flame it no matter what it says. It takes a a thick hide to hang around this community.

Flawed comment.

Anonymous's picture

If you plan to write comments, you could at least use proper English and correct your typos. You used the term "hide" when you obviously meant "hyde".

So, if you have a problem with using proper English on a "blog" (Linux Journal's Web site uses blogging software) then please don't comment. It creates a bad experience for the rest of us.

"Hide" is proper (unless you'

Carlos B's picture

"Hide" is proper (unless you're talking about Mr. Hyde).

The poster had a legitimate comment. The information in the article was useful. The added commentary was also useful but it was presented in an adversarial fashion. The author was ignorant of these inclusions (he was running Gnome afterall and many of the "included" configurators were in KDE) and it would have been great to say, "Hey, good info, but did you know that blah, blah, blah....?"

Making people feel like a twit in order to appear superior is a small-minded tactic and does the community no favors. For others to jump on top of that with bogus pedantic rantings merely cements the misconceptions about the community.


Ygdrassil's picture

flame flame flame.. don't you have something better to do? The person who created this page did do this with the intent to share information. I only can say: good work, and let those lamers who have nothing better to do then to flame, be what they are: lamers. Keep up the good work buddie.


Bert Geens's picture

What about suspending your laptop? Either to disk or to RAM, I don't care, it's the one single thing I couldn't get working with Gentoo on my laptop (a Dell Lattitude D800) it does longer on batteries in Linux than in Windows, but not being able to suspend it really is a pain...

It works with gentoo and the ibm thinkpad t21

Anonymous's picture

I have had no problem, well thats maybe an understatement, sometimes after suspending the laptop Xwindow is kind of schrewed up, but this is how I do it.
I use the acpitool -s option, and my ibm thinkpad t21 suspends without problems. Maybe you'll need some extensions for you Dell.

Linux on Laptop

Stan's picture

I installed Mandrake 10.1 on my Toshiba Satellite (128mb ram, 20g hard drive) and it has been working GREAT for over 8 months. Worked right 'out of the box'.

Mandrake out of the box.

Anonymous's picture

All your laptops special function keys, suspend to disk, wake-up, etc work "out-of-the-box" with mandrake 10? Now there's a load of BS if I ever heard one.
Oh, didn't read the article.

Thinkpad and Mandriva - a fan-boy speaks out :-)

syd's picture

Hmmm... funny how people get so cross about mandriva... oh well, moving on...

I have been using mandrake and now mandriva on a standard Thinkpad T23 for two years. I don't use the internal modem and have a pcmcia wi-fi card i.e. it is not a model with built-in wireless card.

Can't speak for the parent poster but yes, I did read the article and yes, I can confirm that the volume and mute buttons and all the special key functions - i.e. reading light on/off, screen brightness, switch to external display, screen off - worked immediately 'out of the box' under mandriva 10.1 . In other words, everything except power-saving. Suspend-to-ram is easily enabled by clicking through a few menus although editing one config file may be necessary. A little extra work is needed pre-install if suspend-to-disk is required.

The trackpoint works too as does a usb mouse and external keyboard. Magic sys-request is enabled and Alt-Graphics is enabled as the Compose key for áccêntèd chðract€rs. Out of the box. I hope these things are not some kind of big deal.

On a slightly different but related issue, tv-out may not work, nor does 3D graphics. AFAIK this is an Xorg issue which is the same for all distros although there is a proprietary free-beer driver available which apparently gives 3D graphics and may support tv-out. Never needed either of these so never tried it.

In 2005LE Fn-F3 (screen off) does not work for me - possibly another X issue - and I have had bigger problems with power-saving but every other button and Fn key again works (ahem) 'out of the box'. Specifically, apm does not work for me at all. ACPI works for suspend-to-ram but not suspend-to-disk. Everything else is perfect and overall it suits my needs but as always, it all depends what you want and what trade-offs you are willing to make.

Tom's article is OK as far as it goes but doesn't really say much except to advise you to install a few well-known Thinkpad utilities. I don't find them necessary and never installed them in 10.1 although they are available without needing any compiling etc. tpctl seems to be installed by default when the installer detects a thinkpad. Maybe the reason Tom's Suse-using friend didn't know they were there was for the same reason (i.e. maybe the laptop works fine with the standard install).

Hopefully Tom will post a follow-up that gives some more detail about exactly what works and what doesn't including installing and configuring the wireless networking which hopefully is as trivial a non-issue in Ubuntu as it was in mandriva. Especially useful are things like the way it automatically switches from using wireless to ethernet for example. Plug-in an ethernet cable and I have ethernet, unplug it and insert wi-fi card and I have wireless networking. Very handy sometimes. I use a couple of different wi-fi cards (SMC 2632W and Aironet 340) and also move seamlessly between home and a wi-fi hot-spot.

Again, hopfully this is not something unusual otherwise I'll start to understand why some people think desktop linux is so difficult. It is of course well-known that although he is a major pundit, Tom never mentions Mandriva in his articles for some reason. Of course, something that works easily doesn't offer much for a professional problem-solver to write about :-)

Ignoring the joky 'fan-boy' subject-line, I do use other distros and now there is a new version of Ubuntu I'll try it again when I have time and see if it now meets my needs, especially regarding the easy networking configuration and use. Like mandriva, it is a distro that supports the Free ethos and has a strong community around it with plenty of online-documentation/support, and it seems to 'just work' for a lot of people. I like that.

Syd Hancock
Norfolk UK

Finally, for the online record, here is an outline of what I had to do to enable power-saving in mandrake 10.1 . This involved making sure that acpi was off and apm on (lilo and services sections in the Control Center), using the laptop control in the configuration menu (I use KDE) to enable and configure the battery monitoring/power-saving and making a couple of changes to the config file /etc/sysconfig/suspend to fix screen corruption, avoid being asked for a password after resuming and choose services to stop/start. Suspend-to-ram then worked perfectly using the appropriate keys (Fn-F4).

To use suspend-to-disk you need to create the suspend partition first using a utility from the IBM Thinkpad support on the web.

After some false starts I learned to do this before doing the full installation (only needs to be done once, not every re-install etc). I used the partitioning tool in the mandriva installer to shrink the XP NTFS partition first (works very well and no data loss BTW but XP does seem to need a minimum of about 10Gigs space), exited the install, created the suspend partition then installed mandriva. Did the above config steps and Fn-F12 suspend-to-disk was functioning.


Anonymous's picture

What performace did you get from Ubuntu that you didn't from Fedora?

I don't think ubuuntu is part

Wookey's picture

I don't think ubuuntu is particularly faster, it's just that it installs a lot less by default so you don't have a pile of daemons using up your lovely memory and then making everything go v e r y s l o w l y when it starts to swap.

This comment made from a position of relative ignorance as I haven't actually tried either of these distros on my thinkpad (I used plain debian, which also works all the function keys and volume keys 'out of the box' so far as I can tell), but the above is what I have gleaned from postings on the thinkpad mailing list.

it's not the distro that gets you speed, it's the window manager

Anonymous's picture

If you want a snappy window manager on a low powered system, the easy trick is to use a lightweight window manager like Blackbox. The only "fast" distro is Gentoo, but you have to get a little dirty piecing it together.
And that one guy is right about having to be thick skinned to dare posting to a linux board. :)


Anonymous's picture

Hehe. I can answer that and if you don't know, you should kind out. Ever hear the term B L O A T W A R E?

> If the major manufacturers

James Dixon's picture

> If the major manufacturers put as much engineering into the Linux desktop as they put into Windows, they would produce a superior product for their customers.

I'd say if they put one tenth the effort into a Linux desktop they put into Windows they'd produce a superior product, but then I'm somewhat biased.

IBM is no longer in the PC business

Ed Glick's picture

I was pretty sure they kept t

Carlos B's picture

I was pretty sure they kept the laptop biz.

IBM is no longer in the PC business

Anonymous's picture

You're kidding. When did that happen? Oh, you didn't read the article.

Not only that but they got the name wrong...

Mark Twain's picture

Nice article, but the gentleman's name was spelled "Clemens." "Clemens!"

Not only that but they got the name wrong...

Anonymous's picture

I think you added enormous value to the experience by pointing that out. I don't think I could have survived another hour if I didn't know that. You should write the editor and find out who screwed up the article - was it the author? Maybe the copy editor? Could have been the webmaster?

We should find out and have them banned for life from Linux.

Some HP info

crysaz's picture

I have HP Omnibook X3 (?) and I just yesterday took it back to daily use. I had very old Gentoo release with outdated packages, so I didn't want't to recompile allmost every package I have. So I changed distro on the way. My choise was Debian without bigger investigations.

Your article is great, but it's bit ThinkPad oriented. So here are some links I found very helpfull.


including omnibook kernel module:

I have still ongoin project with laptop-net and I just started to recearch different powersaving methods...

Hope this info helps somebody.

Some are doing it already

Guest's picture

>I know I'm not the only one who has written this, but I'll do it again. If the major manufacturers put as much engineering into the Linux desktop as they put into Windows, they would produce a superior product for their customers.

Just have a look here:

you see, it is possible.....

Best regards

That's not what he meant, tha

Bert Geens's picture

That's not what he meant, that's support from the distro out, not support from the vendor itself. If you need to run ndiswrapper for something as common (we're talking laptops here) as a wireless card then your system is not well supported.

What he means is that manufacturers should use components with native Linux drivers available and give the option of obtaining the laptop with a Linux distro preloaded, or with no OS, but with the guarantee that every single feature works with Linux, and state that clearly on their sites.