Installation of SuSE 9.1 on IBM Thinkpad R50

german version

Annotations (IMHO)

Although most of you, who will read this, already will have a bought a Thinkpad, i would use this part to dwell on some advantages. The Thinkpad has an absolute ergonomical design. i mean it is not a great beauty, but with time you learn to like the details. The graphic controller is a little bit small, but it is enough to work with this notebook.
For the usage with Linux, this notebook is quite ideal: you have no diverting Windows keys with senseless functions. All Thinkpad buttons can be used optimal with Linux. In addition to this, IBM will intensify their efforts in Linux on desktops in the near future.
The hardware of the Thinkpad is a real attainment. The display ist brilliant and with it FlexView you have allways a great contrast. The keybord also is a good quality. All importend interfaces are integrated. The usage of an 2 mouse system is an great advantage. With Windows you can use a great pool of software, which can be used with the special buttons. It is to hope, that IBM will that make up for Linux!

Of course you can find details on every notebook, which are more or less problematic. The better a notebook is, the angrier details can be.


The models R50(p) are compareable with the models T41(p).
The models R51(p) however are more compareable with the models T42(p).

I am using a IBM Thinkpad R50 (Type 1829 7RG S/N99 - XL153 04/02) with SuSE Linux Professional 9.1. Unfortunately the original CD/DVD version from SuSE was from the start not free of problems. Possibly they released this version, caused by the pressure of the markted, to early (apache had problems to start up, bluetooth makes the laptop to crash, ...). The daily usage of the YaST Online Update (YOU) remedies this deficiencies.
Since i don't want to lose the Windows XP Professional license and installation (linux still has problems with ACPI), i decided to make a dual boot system. This also has advantages with things like the BIOS update etc. (this works with linux too, if you create a bootable CD with the disk version of the BIOS update files). Some features are currently only with APM available. The software for the Thinkpad buttons behaves different too.

what works:

what still makes problems or doesn't work:

Hardware Details

You can find detail for the Thinkpad R50 on IBM.
For general informations about hardware support for linux you should have a look at:

		max:~ # lspci 
		0000:00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corp. 82855PM Processor to I/O Controller (rev 03)
		0000:00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corp. 82855PM Processor to AGP Controller (rev 03)
		0000:00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB USB (Hub #1) (rev 01)
		0000:00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB USB (Hub #2) (rev 01)
		0000:00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB USB (Hub #3) (rev 01)
		0000:00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB USB2 (rev 01)
		0000:00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corp. 82801BAM/CAM PCI Bridge (rev 81)
		0000:00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corp. 82801DBM LPC Interface Controller (rev 01)
		0000:00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corp. 82801DBM Ultra ATA Storage Controller (rev 01)
		0000:00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corp. 82801DB/DBM SMBus Controller (rev 01)
		0000:00:1f.5 Multimedia audio controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB AC'97 Audio Controller (rev 01)
		0000:00:1f.6 Modem: Intel Corp. 82801DB AC'97 Modem Controller (rev 01)
		0000:01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Radeon R250 Lf [Radeon Mobility 9000 M9] (rev 02)
		0000:02:00.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments: Unknown device ac46 (rev 01)
		0000:02:00.2 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments: Unknown device 802a (rev 01)
		0000:02:01.0 Ethernet controller: Intel Corp. 82540EP Gigabit Ethernet Controller (Mobile) (rev 03)
		0000:02:02.0 Network controller: Intel Corp. PRO/Wireless LAN 2100 3B Mini PCI Adapter (rev 04)

Complete informations about my hardware and configuration generated with siga can be found at configuration.



ATTENTION: I can't give you any guarantee for my guide! Everybody should decide in his own responsibility how he goes ahead!
Cause i want to use Windows and Linux parallel, i had to be very cautious with partitioning. One mistake couldn't not only destroy the installation of Windows, but also the hidden IBM recovery partition. If you loose this partition, you cannot reinstall your system with Windows! (If you have own original Windows CDs you should be able to use them with your license). Tip: make a complete backup of the folders C:\IBMTools and C:\Drivers. Therewith you have allways the needed Windows driver on CD. If you ever have to reinstall your notebook with the recovery CDs, the Linux system won't be lost. The recovery process only overwrites the first primary partition. Then you only have to reinstall your boot loader in the MBR (i never tested this yet).
It should also be possible to create your own bootable recovery cd/DVD. I never tried this, but it is described at
If you want to conserve your original system too, you can follow these steps:



Updates (via YOU)

If you once have your system ready, you should be very carefully with updates (never change a running system).
You should of course patch you system for security reasons, but do this with time. An update of components for the X server (server or fglrx driver) could make problems with your system.
I allways have trouble, if i try to update this packeges. Once i got only a black screen, so i was forced to enter RC3 and set the driver manually to "radeon".
At the moment my system runs well an is up to date.

Configuration Files

In spite of all documentation, configuraton files are the greatest help. There for i copied some of the importend configuration files on this server. Please use them with care! A wrong XF86Config could damage your hardware!
If you need more configuration files, please mail me:

xinitrc (xsession my script, which is called by the xinitrc file)


This document and not at least my installation was not possible without the help of different people (not only Thinkpad user). I read a lot of online documentation, groups and guides and combined them to get my system run perfectly. I'm afraid that i don't know all the helpfull documents i read. A great part i got also from mailing-lists.
Nevertheless, i will try to list the most importend documentations below. Links to some resources for Thinkpad users i will add too.
Without the documentation of other users, i wouldn't be able to use my notebook as i do it now. I want to encourage all of you to write an own online document. Please share your experiences!
I want to thank all of you who made different online documentation!

Documentation (IBM - White Paper of the "Predesktop Area") (IBM Thinkpad R50(p) - software and driver) (SuSE support database) (ATI Treiber (fglrx) unter SuSE 9.1) (Tutorial for the installation of an PCMCIA-WLAN card for SuSE) (Install Ndiswrapper for Centrino-WLAN with Linux) (ATI Radeon HowTo) (howto create a bootable recovery CD/DVD for Thinkpads)

Resources (Tux on notebooks with a lot of documentation and tips) (another importend Linux portal for notebook user) (IBM ThinkPad support Open Forum) (Informations for the configuration of the ATI graphic controller with Linux) (Module for Intel PRO/Wireless 2100) (Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 with Windows drivers) (Mailing list for users of Linux on IBM Thinkpads) (Linux-Laptop-HOWTO from Werner Heuser) (Lots of SuSE packages which could not be shipped with the CDs)

last changed 12.2004 by Sebastian Dierksmeier
Sebastian Dierksmeier