Debian GNU/Linux (sid) on the IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad T60

Specification

IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad T60
  • Intel Core Duo processor T2500 (2.0 GHz)
  • Mobile Intel 945PM Express Chipset
  • 2 GB RAM (PC2-5300 667 MHz DDR2)
  • 100 GB SATA 5400 rpm hard disc (Fujitsu MHV2100BH)
  • ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 M54 128 MB
  • 14.1" SXGA+ (1400x1050) TFT color
  • DVD burner / Super Multi-Burner
  • PC Card Slot
  • Gigabit Ethernet (Intel 82573L)
  • 3 USB 2.0 ports
  • 56K V.90 (V.92 designed) modem
  • High Definition (HD) Audio AD1981HD
  • Infrared port
  • Bluetooth
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG
  • Fingerprint reader

First Impressions

The build quality of the T60 is extraordinary. Compared to the HP Omnibook XT1000 which I own as well and which isn't bad quality at all, the ThinkPad T60 is even better. Everything feels rock solid, you cannot bend the notebook, it sits in front of you like a black beautiful monolith. Regarding the opinions on the net that the T60 doesn't look as good as its predecessors, I have to disagree. I think the T60 looks much more "finished" and business-like than even the T43.

Installation Preparation

The ThinkPad comes preinstalled with Windows XP Professional. There's an additional partition on the hard disc which contains "Rescue and Recovery" tools in case something goes wrong. This is a hidden partition, accessible via the "ThinkVantage" button during booting.
As I didn't want to lose either Windows XP itself nor the recovery partition, some investigations were necessary. The Master Boot Record (MBR) seems to be a special one that checks for the "ThinkVantage" button. So, installing GRUB in the MBR will render the button useless. Installing GRUB into the GNU/Linux root partition and making it bootable, is a nice idea but doesn't work with this MBR either.
The installation procedure I took is this:

Once you know how to do it, it's not very hard. ;-)

Framebuffer Booting

If you want to see your two Tuxes when booting, add the following option to your kernel options when booting:
vga=0x323

Kernel

I'm using Linux kernel 2.6.24 on the T60. The most important configuation option I had to change after the installation was multi-processing. If the machine has two processors, we would be stupid not to use both! Here's my config-2.6.24 in case you want to have a look at it.

X11

The ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 is supported by either the open source radeonhd driver or the binary-only fglrx driver. Both drivers are included in Debian and the latter comes with source for a kernel module which you should compile as well in order to get 3D support.
If you think the fonts are too small, have a look whether your X server is started with the -dpi 96 option. If so, remove it and enter the dimensions of your screen in the xorg.conf as DisplaySize in the Monitor section. Then X calculates the DPI setting and the fonts get larger. In order to make most of the touchpad, use the Synaptics driver which is supplied with Xorg. My xorg.conf is here as a reference.
Especially interesing is the Generic Mouse section as this enables middle mouse button scrolling of the UltraNav.

Sound

For sound, just compile ALSA into the kernel and especially the snd-hda-intel module (configuration option CONFIG_SND_HDA_INTEL). That was enough to make it work for me.

Network

The Gigabit Ethernet in the T60 is supported by the e1000 driver (configuration option CONFIG_E1000) and just works.

WLAN

From kernel 2.6.24 onwards, using iwl3945 is the way to go instead of the older ipw3945. Therefore, just enable the kernel configuration options CONFIG_IWLWIFI and cousins. The necessary firmware is available in a Debian package firmware-iwlwifi.

USB

Configure USB support in your kernel and install udev then hotplugging should just work as well.

Mouse

The internal touchpad and TrackPoint are on /dev/psaux. In order to make USB mice work, configure your kernel in a way that mice are enabled in the HID section of USB. In my xorg.conf I have defined the touchpad and the TrackPoint as CorePointer and have set up an additional input device that sends core events as soon as an USB mouse is plugged in.

Fingerprint reader

There's an excellent guide of how to enable the fingerprint scanner which I followed to the letter. Afterwards you can log into your account using the fingerprint scanner like you can on Windows. Cool!

Modem

I haven't spent any time in configuring it as I don't need it, but the kernel module is there.

IrDA

I have not yet spent any time getting it to work.

Bluetooth

Works straight out of the box with the Linux bluetooth support.

ACPI

I have all ACPI modules enabled, especially thinkpad-acpi.

ThinkPad keys

Using either tpb or hotkey-setup makes the additional buttons emit key codes which you can map to actions.

Problems

The only thing that is worrying me a little is the fact that the fan is constantly spinning. I had hoped the T60 would be a machine near quiet. But due to the spinning fan this is not the case. That's the only disappointment for me.

Related pages

Debian Linux on an IBM Thinkpad T43p

Linux on Laptops

Serbo-Croatian translation by Jovana Milutinovich

Click here to go back to the index page.


Valid HTML 4.01!
Stefan Bellon (), 28-Apr-2008