Installation of SuSE 9.1 on IBM Thinkpad R50
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.
- They don't deliver recovery CDs: IBM relinquished to deliver CDs to reinstall the original system. They prefer the hidden recovery partition.
With this it is possible to recreate the system just with a mouse click. This is a great feature for Windows user, but it wastes imported disk space.
Also it is more difficult and dangerous to install Linux.
- The fan starts to early: This is a problem most of the newer Thinkpads have in common. In different groups they discuss about this. IBM seems
not be interested to give an answer. The problem seems not to be the temperature of the CPU, but of the graphic controller (see below). But at least this is
only a mere nothing.
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
Some features are currently only with APM available. The software for the Thinkpad buttons behaves different too.
what still makes problems or doesn't work:
- X-Server with 1400x1050 and 3D
- Dual Head (external display / beamer) without 3D
- TV-Out (with 'atitvout')
- Intel PRO/Wireless LAN 2100 3B
- IBM Ethernet
- Trackpoint (without scrolling)
- Touchpad (with scrolling)
- Thinkpad-Buttons (volume control, bluetooth, ThinkLight, ...)
- external USB-Mouse
- APM (ich verwende jedoch ACPI)
- DVD-R/RW multi burner
- PCMCIA (tested with ISDN Fritzcard)
- External printer
- ACPI is still not supported completly (suspend to disk, fan control, etc.)
- IBM FireWire (IEEE 1394) (should work)
- Infrared (should work)
You can find detail for the Thinkpad R50 on IBM.
For general informations about hardware support for linux you should have a look at: http://www.linux-tested.com/.
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 Links.
If you want to conserve your original system too, you can follow these steps:
Start your installation of Linux directly after the first start of Windows XP
Some Windows applications write their data in the rear part of the harddisk, which could not be defragmented. There for you should start after your first
Windows start the defragmentation process. Then start your Linux installation.
Because Linux needs to resize the Windows partition there must not be any data in this area of the harddisk. During the Linux installation you can
easily resize your harddisk without any loss of data. I was able to halve my harddisk.
Make the hidden partion visible for Linux
SuSE is not able to consider the hidden partition and it is a little bit dangerous to change the partition table. Either you memorize the number of
cylinders and set your partition limits, or you make the hidden area visible. There for you enter the BIOS and set the security properties from
"normal" to "unsafe". With that the invisibility is abolished. After the installation you should not forget to reset the security settings. Otherwise
normal Windows application are able to change or destroy the recovery data.
More informations to the hidden protrected area can be found at the White Paper from IBM.
The partitioning and installation of SuSE Linux
You can install SuSE directly from CD/DVD. At the boot screen you can set the resolution of your display with F2 to 1400x1050. Then you can follow
the normal guided installation. Only the proposal for the partitioning should be changed. At this point you should be act carefully!
Here is my partition table:
Disk /dev/hda: 40.0 GByte, 40007761920 Byte
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 7299 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 15120 * 512 = 7741440 Bytes
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/hda1 * 1 2399 18136408+ 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/hda2 4653 4694 317520 1c Hidden W95 FAT32 (LBA)
/dev/hda3 2400 4652 17032680 f W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/hda5 2400 2466 506488+ 83 Linux (ext2)
/dev/hda6 2467 2605 1050808+ 82 Linux Swap
/dev/hda7 2606 4652 15475288+ 83 Linux (ReiserFS)
Attention: the boot partition must not be a journaling filesystem.
Optimize package selection
With the SuSE CD you got much more software then you ever will need. And it is very difficult for beginners to get a great selection.
For the installation of the Thinkpad i make the following recommendation: if you have enough space left, install the developer packages (compiler,
libraries, sources). Special addons for your notebook will often be only as source code available. Then it is very laborious to get them run.
But with this release of SuSE there are most importend tools already on the CDs. It is a good idea to search for tools with the name "notebook",
"laptop", "thinkpad", "tp" or "mobile". Include the descriptions into the search. All this optimizing can be done later, too. First you should
finish your installation at this point and configure it later.
Change the ATI graphic controller driver
During the installation SuSE choosed the "radeon" graphic controller driver for you. This work fine. You have a great resolution, 3D support
and you are able to configure the dual head mode. The main problem is the usage of this driver. This driver is not able to control the power
throttle mode of your controller. As a consequence the card runs allways with 100% and gets soon hot!
You will recognize this by the fan. It starts running after a few minutes and will never stop. If you use the original driver from ATI you can
solve this problem. If you do so, you have the same behaviour of your fan like with Windows (who wonder?).
To stay compatible with SuSE, i decided at last to follow their instructions of the installation. The guide is easy to understand a has no need
of compiling the complete kernel. On the SuSE FTP Server you can download the latest driver files and an good readme.
At the moment there is a little bug in the rpm files (fglrx-3.9.0-2.1) and you make a little intermediate step in the instructions:
After you called depmod -a, you have to copy the files /usr/lib/fglrx/lib/libGL.so.1 and /usr/lib/fglrx/lib/libGL.so.1.2 to
/usr/X11R6/lib. At last you you may create your own configuration files with fglrxconfig or you use mine.
After a complete reboot of the system, everything should be fine. (Attention: if the folder "/etc/X11" contains a file
"XF86Config-4" it will be used instead of your old "XF86Config"). If you are interested in my configuration with good R50 support, please look
After an kernel update, it could be necessary to remove the fglrx packages an repeat the installation process.
Multimedia and other usefull tools
If you want to install more multimedia packages you should have a look at this side: http://packman.links2linux.de.
This guys make special SuSE packages from different projects which SuSE cannot offer. Most packages are already available as RPM for SuSE 9.1.
If you once need a pending package you can't find here, take a look on your CDs. Unfortunately SuSE choosed to install "unrar" without "rar".
If you ever need "rar" you will get conflicts. So just install "unrar" and take your full "rar" package.
To avoid an unstable system, you should use for the installation of RPM files the option "--test" to check for conflics!
Thinkpad-Buttons: automatical startup
To get it run for users, you have to give write access to /dev/nvram (e.g. with chmod a+rw). Please
be carfully with this. It is potentially dangerous.
To start the Thinkpad button control software automatically you should add this line
to the file /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.
Though you need to install the tpb package. You can find my configuration at Configuration.
Just compare this one with yours in the folder /etc/.
Mouse: configure TrackPoint and Touchpad
The configuration can since SuSE 9.1 be easily be done with YaST. Just choose at "hardware/graphic controller and display" a PS/2 mouse as your first
device. For the touchpad choose the synaptics driver for your second device. To get scrolling work just select all checkboxes at the properties.
If you are discontent with the motions of the mouse you can alter some values in the XF86Config by hand:
Option "MinSpeed" "0.07"
Option "MaxSpeed" "0.15"
Option "AccelFactor" "0.0007"
This values satisfy me :-)
The speed and acceleration of the TrackPoint can also be configured (see USB-Mouse).
External USB-Mouse: Configuration of the Speed
With my X configuration the external USB mouse works out of the box. The only disadvantage is the slow behavior, because i optimized the mouse
settings for the Touchpad. Together with the option Resolution and the command xset you can better this.
This changes the behavior of the TrackPoint too, because they use the same configuration.
The command xset m 2 3 make the mouse work pretty well. To start this command automatically when the x session is started, i call my
script /usr/local/bin/xsession from the file /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc (~/.xsession makes problems with that).
You can find my configuration and the script at Configuration.
Wireless LAN: configuration of the Intel PRO/Wireless LAN
Configuration with 'ipw2100'
The best and easiest way to use this WLAN with Linux is the module http://ipw2100.sourceforge.net.
At the beginning some imported features were not available, so i described the usage of the ndiswrapper (see below).
But now WEP encryption is completely supported by this module. The installation an configuration can be done easily with YaST.
Configuration with 'ndiswrapper'
Alternativly you can use the windows driver managed by the module ndiswrapper.
There for you can go on like this:
- install NDIS-Warpper vith YaST
- download the Windows driver at Intel PRO/Wireless Lan 2100 3B and unzip them
- load the driver ndiswrapper -i ./PROW7100_XP_v126.96.36.199_logo/w70n51.inf
- check with ndiswrapper -l if the driver is loaded succesfully
- load the module with modprobe ndiswrapper (if something like wlan0: ndiswrapper ethernet device xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx can be read with dmesg it seems to be ok)
- configure the interface with iwconfig wlan0 mode Managed
- configure the WEP-Key (128Bit) with iwconfig wlan0 key open YourHEXKeyCode
- configure the network name iwconfig wlan0 essid YourNetworkName
- with iwconfig you can check the results
- configure with YaST a not detected network card (not the detected WLAN card!)
- set the typ to wireless and the interface to 0 (becomes wlan0)
- set the mode to managed (for AccessPoint)
- enter the name of the network
- enter the WEP key
- enter ndiswrapper as kernel module
- configure IP and routing to your needs
- poss. you have to edit the file /etc/sysconfig/network/ifcfg-wlan0 and set WIRELESS_KEY='xxx' to WIRELESS_KEY='open xxx'
- if after /etc/init.d/network restart everything works fine you can store your settings with ndiswrapper -m
More information at Links
Keybord: activision of the NUM-Lock, back und forward keys
If you want to activate your special keys or the NUM-Lock key (it didn't run out of the box), you should use the following Xmodmaps:
(unfortunately they don't work with the "/etc/X11/Xmodmap")
keycode 77 = Num_Lock
keycode 234 = Prior
keycode 233 = Next
You can change this to get your favourite functions. If you use this settings you will have the "next page" and "previous page" functions active.
You can map this special functions then with your window manager.
Since XFree 4.3 or KDE have problems using the files ~/.xsession and /etc/X11/Xmodmap, i have edited my /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.
Now this file calls a little script (/usr/local/bin/xsession) which executes these commands after the window manager is started
(uses a little sleep).
You can find my configuration and the script at Configuration.
Bluetooth: works like described in the handbook
I have no usefull needing for bluetooth (printer, etc.), but i was able to copy images from my Siemens-S55 mobile phone to the notebook.
ISDN: an ISDN connection via PCMCIA works without any problems
The configuration of the PCMCIA-ISDN-Fritz-Card was easily be done with YaST. If you want to use an ehternet connection parallel, you will get
problems with the default route (the dial in connection stands, but your can't reach any hosts). For that you should have a look at the YaST
Additionally i wrote for each interface an own ifroute- file. If you start one interface, this route will be set for this device.
Modem: with SuSE 9.1 the modem works out of the box
If you start to configure your right detected modem, SuSE automatically installs the required software package (smartlink-softmodem). The configuration
is no problem not even with the parallel ISDN dial in configuration. Both can be used with kinternet.
Network: several network devices
If you want to use your notebook in several different networks you should use the SuSE profile manager. This manager starts only the just configured devices
and let you store different configurations. To use different gateways, depending on the device, you can manually create for each device it's own route
configuration file. You just have to create for the interface a file in the folder /etc/sysconfig/network. If you want a special route for the wireless
LAN device wlan0 you create the file ifroute-wlan0 with this content:
default 192.168.1.254 - -
The name of the interface has to be exact the same! You should deactivate the option (secure 0700). It makes the file /etc/resolv.conf not readable for
users. This makes the DNS service only work for root. If this still doesn't work, you can also edit the resource network and remove this file.
CD-RW burner or DVD-R/RW multi burner:
My model only has an DVD-RAM CD-RW Device. This was automatically detected and is full supported. There was no need of special configurations.
If you own a model with a multi burner device you should notice this:
Although the multi burner is an DVD-R/RW and DVD-RAM device, it would be detected by the system as an simple DVD-RAM device.
So the following entry in the file /etc/resmgr.conf ist usefull to allow users to burn.
add /dev/dvdram desktop
The rights for cdreco, cdrdao (and growisofs) should be set correctly (set the SUID bit):
-rwsr-xr-x 1 root users 364570 2004-04-06 03:28 /usr/bin/cdrecord
-rwsr-xr-x 1 root users 666452 2004-04-07 08:28 /usr/bin/cdrdao
-rwsr-xr-x 1 root users 57660 2004-04-06 03:26 /usr/bin/growisofs
To avoid problems with growisofs you should modify your file /etcfstab like this:
/dev/dvdram /media/dvdram subfs
fs=cdfss,ro,users,procuid,nosuid,nodev,exec,iocharset=utf8 0 0
TV-OUT: usage of the tv output
If you have an old TV, you will have problems with the S-Video signal. Old Televisions could not manage this signals. They will only show a
black-white picture. This is caused by the way S-Video works: it seperates the information for color and images. If you want a colorfull output,
you need a little electrical connector, which overlays both signals. I used the S-Video-Chinch-Connector (HAMA 42737) and my old Chinch-SCART-Cable
to watch movies. Modern TVs should handle S-Video signals.
General procedure for TV-OUT with an ATI graphic controller:
- install atitvout with YaST
- connect TV and Notebook
- turn on TV
- restart notebook
- change resolution of your x-server to "800x600" (poss. with xvidtune)
- call atitvout -f detect to check, if the TV was detected successfully
- set the mode to PAL (or what ever you need in your country) with atitvout pal
- call atitvout -f t to start TV session
- call atitvout -f l to end TV session and return to the notebook display
- if you want to view videos, you migth use mplayer. The optionen -vm -fs makes a good full screen output
Because i don't want to change the resolution allways, i adjusted my X86Config, that i can start the x-server easily with startx -- -layout TV.
KDE: change the size of the k-menu icons
If you find the k-menu icons to large too, you can change their size in the file ".kde/share/config/kickerrc". Just set the value for "MenuEntryHeight"
to 32, 22 oder 16.
hw_random: system failed to load the module for the random number generation
This module fails on my system. Since i don't need this special random number generator, i switched it of. The error during the boot process disappears.
Just write install hw_random /bin/true to the file /etc/modprobe.conf and call once depmod -a - done.
You also can add hw_random into the file /etc/hotplug/blacklist, to stop loading this module. This is at least the official statement of SuSE.
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
At the moment my system runs well an is up to date.
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!
http://www.ibm.com (IBM - White Paper of the "Predesktop Area")
http://www.ibm.com (IBM Thinkpad R50(p) - software and driver)
http://portal.suse.com/PM/page/search.pm (SuSE support database)
ftp://ftp.suse.com/pub/suse/i386/supplementary/X/ATI/suse91/fglrx/ (ATI Treiber (fglrx) unter SuSE 9.1)
http://forum.dlink.de/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=21882 (Tutorial for the installation of an PCMCIA-WLAN card for SuSE)
http://www.linux-infopage.de/show.php?page=berichte-ndiswrappercentrino (Install Ndiswrapper for Centrino-WLAN with Linux)
http://ozzzy.dhis.org/ati_radeon.html (ATI Radeon HowTo)
http://www.4saad.com/WhatsNew/Fresh_XP_Install/index.htm (howto create a bootable recovery CD/DVD for Thinkpads)
http://www.tuxmobil.org (Tux on notebooks with a lot of documentation and tips)
http://www.linux-on-laptops.com (another importend Linux portal for notebook user)
http://forum.thinkpads.com/ (IBM ThinkPad support Open Forum)
http://www.ati.com/support/drivers/linux/radeon-linux.html (Informations for the configuration of the ATI graphic controller with Linux)
http://ipw2100.sourceforge.net (Module for Intel PRO/Wireless 2100)
http://ndiswrapper.sourceforge.net (Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 with Windows drivers)
http://mailman.linux-thinkpad.org/mailman/listinfo/linux-thinkpad (Mailing list for users of Linux on IBM Thinkpads)
http://tuxmobil.org/Mobile-Guide.db/Mobile-Guide.html (Linux-Laptop-HOWTO from Werner Heuser)
http://packman.links2linux.de (Lots of SuSE packages which could not be shipped with the CDs)
last changed 12.2004 by Sebastian Dierksmeier