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#1 2007-03-14 17:33:23

Dusty
Schwag Merchant
From: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Registered: 2004-01-18
Posts: 5,986
Website

Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

Hey all,

I just got an IBM Thinkpad X60, and the USB CDROM drive should be coming sometime this afternoon. I've managed to streamline the windows default install to the point where I'm not thoroughly dissatisfied with it, and all my hardware works nicely in that (P)OS.With the drive coming, its maybe time to think about installing a Linux distro, eh? I haven't had a Windows computer for this long (one day) in a long long time.

The thing is, I'm a bit scared to start mucking with Linux on a laptop. I've never had one before, and I've heard all those horror stories about how difficult it is to get all the little things working, since they have custom hardware and such. In that light, I'd like a little reassurance.

More difficult to deal with is the fact that I don't really feel like learning about all this new hardware and how to make it work properly under Linux. I seem to have gotten lazy or something, I used to love that kind of stuff and setting up a new desktop under Arch is so easy for me because I know which configs I have to edit. But it took me a long time to get to that point, and I'm going to be dealing with a whole new set of configs now for power management, wireless networking, dual core, and so on. The truth is, I just want that stuff to kind of work for me the way it does on Windows.... only I want it to work properly. I logged onto Windows today and there was a random error box WITH NO ERROR MESSAGE and the buttons "yes" and "no". I clicked no, but I have no idea what I told the system to do.

I've been googling and such and seen quite a bit of documentation on installing Linux on laptops and on this model in particular. It looks like even Ubuntu doesn't work out of the box for everything. Its going to take a bit of work. The truth is, the last day has been a bit of work to get Windows to its current 'tolerable' level, but at least things worked.

I know there's no real question here so far, but I'm a little concerned as to whether I should start this game with Arch or wait until I'm more in the mood for it. I'm thinking of installing Ubuntu and living with a dual boot for a while until I get pissed off enough to actually want to learn how to do everything KISS style.

As for real questions, my primary concern is battery life. I haven't drained the battery on this thing yet, so I don't know how well it lasts under Windows. Regardless, I want it to last longer under Linux, if for no other reason than bragging rights. I understand that power management is non-trivial, you have to turn a lot of different things on separately, and managing/tweaking/testing the changes could take quite a bit of time. How much work is it to get that stuff (lcd brightness, suspend, dual core cpu scaling, things I haven't thought of yet...) set up, and what are my chances of success?

Thanks for any good cheer.

Dusty

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#2 2007-03-14 17:51:20

tom5760
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From: Philadelphia, PA, USA
Registered: 2006-02-05
Posts: 283
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Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

You may find these pages interesting:
http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Category:X60
http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Installin … inkPad_X60

For my Acer Aspire 3000, everything worked fine out-of-the-box in Arch, except for the wireless card.  Ndiswrapper took care of that easily.

For battery life, I dont know about suspend, but cpu scaling is very easy.  Just install cpufreq, use the 'ondemand', or 'powersave' governors, and let the kernel worry about it.
For LCD brightness, arn't there usually buttons on the keyboard to do that?  Usually those work out-of-the-box.

I havn't had too much success with suspend, but I barley spent any time with it.  I know other people have gotten it to work.

I'd say give it a shot, you might be surprised with how well it works.  By the look of that thinkwiki article, most everything seems to work fine.

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#3 2007-03-14 18:50:28

phrakture
Arch Overlord
From: behind you
Registered: 2003-10-29
Posts: 7,879
Website

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

My thinkpad T60 was mostly a snap.  The only issues I had:

* snd-intel-hda was goofed a few kernels back so I had no sound (fixed now)
* wireless (as usual) is a pain... what card do you have?  I opted out of the intel one for political reasons

Notes:
DO NOT turn off the modem in your bios.  It shuts off audio too (go figure, eh?)
I'm currently using ndiswrapper, even though the wireless supports madwifi.  It seems madwifi shows about a 50% signal strength when ndiswrapper shows 100%.  madwifi also randomly drops the connection.

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#4 2007-03-14 19:08:38

junglepeanut
Member
From: California
Registered: 2007-01-24
Posts: 145
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Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

I have done most of my installs on laptops (not just my own over and over again) mostly ATI also. I think there is almost no difference to me between laptop installs and the hulking monstrosities installs, things just work. You may have to learn little things specific to your hardware, but I don't think it will be anything major as switching to any new hardware you may have to do a little tweaking as well.

As far as battery life:
My laptop on windows running itunes same playlist etc. would die at 55 or so minutes. Under linux with amarok it lasted 1hr 5 minutes or so, these are rough times as I did it while commuting, switching back and forth for a week and quite some time ago. But from numerous posts on this it appears to be back and forth some laptops are more efficient others are not. Or some programs are more efficient and other are not...

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#5 2007-03-14 23:09:25

phrakture
Arch Overlord
From: behind you
Registered: 2003-10-29
Posts: 7,879
Website

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

Yeah, it really depends.  I mean laptop-mode-tools helps a decent amount (maybe 15-20 minutes here, never gathered empirical data), but it causes some funky lag every so often as it delays the HDD syncs... it annoyed me too much to save 15 minutes.

My laptop also has hardware controls to control the monitor brightness and the wireless signal can be shut off - these two will give you a significant jump in battery life.

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#6 2007-03-14 23:17:24

fk
Member
From: Germany
Registered: 2006-04-29
Posts: 524

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

I have an X60s and have all working only the Monitor Switch with FN won't work..

The intel IPW3954 Wlan card works fine, and in Kernell 2.6.22 the new open source driver from intel will included,without deamon.

My Battery live is  ~6h with Windows and 5:30 with Linux, depend on what you doing;), but in the kernel 2.6.21 the Dynticks  will give a little bit more lifetime, I hope...

I don't use lapptop mode, its a crap.... only use speedstepping, the Kernel ondemand works fine.


Have you tried to turn it off and on again?

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#7 2007-03-14 23:17:46

cactus
Taco Eater
From: t͈̫̹ͨa͖͕͎̱͈ͨ͆ć̥̖̝o̫̫̼s͈̭̱̞͍̃!̰
Registered: 2004-05-25
Posts: 4,615
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Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

I feel your pain dusty.
I run ubuntu on my laptop for that very reason.. I have been too lazy to fiddle with the knobs that I need, to get the laptop working under Arch....or any other leaner distros for that matter.


"Be conservative in what you send; be liberal in what you accept." -- Postel's Law
"tacos" -- Cactus' Law
"t̥͍͎̪̪͗a̴̻̩͈͚ͨc̠o̩̙͈ͫͅs͙͎̙͊ ͔͇̫̜t͎̳̀a̜̞̗ͩc̗͍͚o̲̯̿s̖̣̤̙͌ ̖̜̈ț̰̫͓ạ̪͖̳c̲͎͕̰̯̃̈o͉ͅs̪ͪ ̜̻̖̜͕" -- -̖͚̫̙̓-̺̠͇ͤ̃ ̜̪̜ͯZ͔̗̭̞ͪA̝͈̙͖̩L͉̠̺͓G̙̞̦͖O̳̗͍

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#8 2007-03-14 23:52:07

sash
Member
Registered: 2005-10-16
Posts: 155

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

I got Arch on a Dell Latitude C510/C610 laptop without too much fuss. Everything worked right away. It took me a bit of time to configure Beryl, but only because it was my 1st time running it. Only special thing hw-wize I remember is configuring the synaptic driver for the touchpad. And maybe ndiswrapper, but I just followed the Wiki on that one.

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#9 2007-03-15 01:11:59

Snarkout
Member
Registered: 2005-11-13
Posts: 542

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

Here's my step-by-step for the install I did on my t43.  I no longer run arch on my lappy for a variety of reasons (most of which have to do with my wife deciding to run linux on my old t42 rather than buy a macbook, and I need to run the same distro she does to simplify my life):

uncomment community in /etc/pacman.conf
install ipw2200-fw (pacman -S ipw2200-fw)
install beyond kernel (pacman -S kernel26beyond)
edit /boot/grub/menu.lst
install xorg (pacman -S xorg)
install all xorg drivers (pacman -S xorg-input-drivers xorg-video-drivers)
install kde stuff (pacman -S kdebase kdeutils kdemultimedia kdeartwork)
install xorg fonts, 100dpi (pacman -S xorg-fonts-100dpi)
install fonts (pacman -S ttf-bitstream-vera ttf-dejavu ttf-ms-fonts)
install networkmanager and knetworkmanager, etc (pacman -S knetworkmanager)
install synaptics and libsynaptics (pacman -S synaptics libsynaptics)
install yakuake (pacman -S yakuake)
install fakeroot, python and versionpkg for aurbuild (pacman -S fakeroot versionpkg python)
install aurbuild (pull down from AUR and makepkg)
install katapult from AUR (aurbuild -s katapult)
install ksynaptics from AUR (aurbuild -s ksynaptics)
install cpufreqd and cpufrequtils (pacman -S cpufreqd cpufrequtils)
install hibernate script (pacman -S hibernate-script)

make group thinkpad (or whatever)
change the nvram line in /etv/udev/rules.d/udev.rules:
    KERNEL=="nvram", NAME="misc/%k", SYMLINK+="%k", GROUP="thinkpad", MODE="0664"
add user to groups audio optical storage network thinkpad
run regionset on the drive to enable DVD viewing

This got me a system which had the minimum of things I'd need/want to run on a lappy.


Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
-Albert Einstein

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#10 2007-03-15 11:06:40

T-Dawg
Forum Fellow
From: Wilmington, NC
Registered: 2005-01-29
Posts: 2,734

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

Maann, sheeeit! Your making this too complicated.

Why do you need power management? Those thinkpads last forever. I run a crappy gateway 64bit with a three (?) cell battery that last 3 hours plus. The biggest factor in battery life that I've found is keeping the brightness of your LCD screen down. There should be controls on your keyboard for that. To suspend to disk just do:

echo "disk" >/sys/power/state

and to suspend to ram:

echo "standby" >/sys/power/state

Wireless is not difficult either. If you don't have a kernel module for it you'll have to use ndiswrapper which is a matter of finding the .inf file on your windows install. Usually manufacturers have all the drivers in one directory somewhere in the root. Once you find the drivers its just a few simple commands to ndiswrapper and you're on your way.  The biggest thing with it is that it must be built against each kernel update you get. I've had kernel panics because I forgot to update ndiswrapper after a kernel update, watch out for that. You'll also need wireless-tools for using iwconfig and iwlist but arch has configs that do all that for you.
Not sure what you mean by configs for dual core. The kernel should handle all that fine. As far as makepkg is concerned I think you'll need to change -j2 to -j3.

Grab life by the balls and Just do it!

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#11 2007-03-15 15:39:12

Mr Green
Forum Fellow
From: U.K.
Registered: 2003-12-21
Posts: 5,751

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

Ubuntu works out of the box on my laptop .... dual boot is the way to go best of both Arch + XP if not whack Ubuntu in not a big deal Frisky Ferret should be out soon anyway ....

At the very least the partitions will be set up ready for a sweet Arch 0.8 install ;-)

Go for it....


Mr Green

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#12 2007-03-15 16:25:22

Dusty
Schwag Merchant
From: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Registered: 2004-01-18
Posts: 5,986
Website

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

Thatks, all, I appreciate the advice (especially T-Dawg, that's classic smile). I had a big disappointment yesterday when Lenovo shipped me a SATA DVD drive instead of USB external... SATA isn't much use to me on this thing. So it'll be a couple weeks for the return to be processed. By then I'm sure I"ll be more comfortable with the machine and less comfortable with windows. I'll install Ubuntu for a month or so, then once my thesis defense and job interviews are over, hopefully I'll have time and inclination to 'grab life by the balls'. :-) I do feel a lot more comfortable with the process now though, so thanks very much.

Dusty

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#13 2007-03-22 18:06:06

pilt
Member
Registered: 2006-09-08
Posts: 12

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

I recently managed to install Arch Linux on my X60 using only an USB memory stick.

I will try to summarize the procedure here.

The first step was to shrink the Vista partition, since there was no free space at all on the hard drive when I got it. I read somewhere that Vista uses a new version of NTFS, and that it would be a bad idea to try to use ntfstools/ntfsresize to shrink it. Instead, I used the tools available in the Control panel -> Administration. (Notice: I have a Swedish version of Vista and don't know what the tools are called in other versions.)

After that, it was time to prepare the pendrive. I used a formatting program from hp.com (using FORMAT in cmd did not work, maybe I missed something, and I could not find where to make it bootable in Control panel -> Administration). Then, I tried a lot of different live distros but ran into problems because of old kernels or other stuff on all of them. The savior was Knoppix. I put in syslinux + Knoppix 5.1 on the pendrive and it worked great.
Inside Knoppix, I followed a guide on the Arch wiki on installing Arch from inside another distro. I got some warnings/errors when installing and using pacman but they were not critical.

The final step was to make the system able to boot both Arch and Vista. I stumbled upon a tool called EasyBCD, and used it to set up my environment. EasyBCD uses Vista's boot manager and is very easy to configure. (Note: EasyBCD is not open source, but free as in free beer.)
I tried to set up NeoGrub that comes with EasyBCD for booting Arch, but I could not make it work. However, EasyBCD support both Grub and LILO, and making it work was just a matter of installing Grub on my Arch partition and pointing an EasyBCD entry to it. (Note: boot sector that is, not MBR, as it would overwrite the Vista boot loader!)
It would have been possible to use a pure Grub or LILO environment, but I felt a little uncomfortable messing with the MBR.

After this, it's only a matter of getting all hardware up and running.

I hope this can be of interest to someone. I'll try to keep an eye on this thread, but feel free to contact me at pilten at gmail dot com if there is any problems.

Last edited by pilt (2007-03-22 18:24:34)

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#14 2007-03-26 01:37:48

skale
Member
From: Atlanta, GA
Registered: 2006-08-04
Posts: 146

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

Actually, it works pretty nice.  I have a Dell, there were a few hiccups with the broadcom wireless and with fglrx (I am happy with the radeon one, though).  My battery can't last eight minutes not plugged in, so I did not think too much about ACPI.  Speed-step works great, with the wiki instructions.

I am very comfortable messing with the MBR.  Everything works fine.

Edit:  Oh yeah, the touchpad was a pain, because I had to switch to Synaptics-whatever to turn off the tap-click, and the settings were awful, and it wasn't fun restarting X just to test out the new sensitivity settings.  It still isn't perfect, but good enough.

Last edited by skale (2007-03-27 21:43:55)

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#15 2007-03-26 02:00:55

mutlu_inek
Member
From: all over the place
Registered: 2006-11-18
Posts: 676
Website

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

I am running Arch on an X60 (with a Core Duo) for a couple of months now. It was not a big deal to set it up. And it works perfectly. (Well, I never tried the card reader, but it is supposed to work, too.) If you have any questions, just post them here. Or send me an email. I am willing to help, but I would not like to spend time reproducing all kinds of possible steps if you are installing in a month or maybe never.

Edit: Actually, I had started working on a HOWTO site for Arch on this machine. I have collected some random info I could recall, but there were quite some things lacking, therefore I never put it up.

Last edited by mutlu_inek (2007-03-26 02:06:15)

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#16 2007-05-06 18:00:26

mutlu_inek
Member
From: all over the place
Registered: 2006-11-18
Posts: 676
Website

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

I had to reinstall Arch thanks to hard drive failure. I documented the installation process on this site:

http://archlinux.atspace.com/

Since I have little time at hand these days one or two things may still have to be tweaked. However, everything works very well. I hope this is helpful.

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#17 2007-05-18 03:59:35

nikron
Member
Registered: 2007-05-15
Posts: 130

Re: Feel like a first-time linux user: Linux on Laptop

Dunno, I was kinda worried about it, but I got mostly everything working on a Dell E1505.  The only things I haven't got working are sleep/hibernate while beryl is running.  Also, my 4965AGN card is a bit flaky under ndiswrapper.  You should be fine, powersave was my savoir.

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