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Installing Sidux (Debian Sid) on Lenovo/IBM Thinkpad X61s

Last updated: 10 April 2008

General Hardware Specifications of X61s:

Hardware Components
Status under Linux
Notes
Core2Duo L7300, 1.4 Ghz. Works No special procedure required during installation.
12.1 XGA TFT Display Works Select Generic LCD Display in Installer
Intel onboard X3100 Works Select vesa or intel driver
1Gb, DDR2 PC2-5300 Works No special procedure required during installation
120 GB SATA Hard Drive Works No special procedure required during installation
Integrated Network Card Works Standard e1000 driver
Internal modem Does not work
Bluetooth device Works Standard bluetooth drivers
Intel 3945 Wireless Networking (Wi-Fi Certified), 802.11a/b/g Works Use either ipw3945d or the new iwl3945 driver; with the last one, the wireless led doesn't work up until version 1.2.25 of the driver; there it works
28 WHr Lithium-Ion Battery Works No special procedure required during installation
Intel HDA, with AD1984 codec Works

Not part of the current alsa driver (1.0.14); a built of the HG (development version) is needed to get this working

This laptop is operating under Kernel version 2.6.21-smp

This laptop is operating under Kernel version 2.6.22.1-smp

This laptop is operating under Kernel version 2.6.22.3-smp. Use this instead of earlier 2.6.22 kernels, it will do wonders for your battery time!

This laptop is operating under Kernel version 2.6.24.4-smp

Basic Installation of Sidux:
I chose Sidux as I wanted to have a nice current distro (also because of the current hardware), but I wanted some more support and testing done on it than just plain Debian Sid. Besides that, Sidux is probably one of the quickest booting and running distro's available at the moment. Package management is easy and updates are frequently available/

To obtain Sidux, go to: http://sidux.com and download the latest ISO of your choice. I chose conservatively, and went for a 32-bit large install with OpenOffice.

The system was booted on an external USB DVDrw drive, with an additional "noapic" setting as otherwise the DVD device would not get properly initialised.
Installing was a breeze. I just emptied out the whole disk. Yes, no more Vista (hurray!!!). After that I repartitioned. Keep one thing in mind with partitioning: you have to keep the first 1Mb of your harddisk unpartitioned as that is used by the BIOS!!!
Next I just followed the installers pointers and that was it.

After installing I added the wireless driver from the non-free sources (so a network cable is needed during this part of the install).
Setting up additional features for Sidux
Unresolved issues

Some more info on ACPI/suspend and buttons

Getting suspend, hibernate and power to work correctly unfortunatly still is not as straight foreward as it should be. Partly because of the many tools available and the ever changing kernel, but also partly because of the acpi implementation itself.
I made some changes myself to make acpi run smoothly and to bring back power usage to below 10W on batteries.
First: make sure you don't run modules you don't need! Use powertop.
Next, implement some power-saving features. This unfortunatly is not completely straight forward. You need to add some parameters on the right places. The easiest way to get started is to download the scripts I added and changed in the acpi daemon. You can download them here: the acpid addditions.

You also need to add the package that contains s2ram and s2disk to you system, as these 2 are used for sleep and hibernate. As an extra explanation: it seems that "s2ram -f -a1 -m" gives the best results for S2Ram.

Also, to make the video brightness buttons work, the module video does not work. Blacklist this module to prevent issues. (in /etc/modules.d/blacklist) Next, add the following to /etc/modprobe.d/thinkpad_acpi: options thinkpad_acpi brightness_enable=1 fan_control=1 brightness_mode=1 hotkey=enable,0xffffbf load the module with the above settings. This also enables fan control.

A word of warning!!! The current fan setting as implemented above completely shuts down the fan when running on batteries!!!
I personally have no problems with this (the system does not run hot on batteries) But Do this only at your own risk!

Contact Information (Optional)
Links:

In general the X61s is a great machine. Almost everything works out of the box and is supported. Besides that it's light, quick and has a long battery life. The case is sturdy and there are enough ways to connect it to other devices. The only thing that is sort of missing, is a cd/dvd drive, but to be honest, I'd have no idea where to put that, it's just too small.