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Debian install on IBM/Lenovo T43
24 October 2007 @ 14:56 BST
by Paul

My T23 died and I managed to get a T43. Of course, the first thing to do was to install a real operating system on it: GNU/Linux.

Partitioning the Hard disk

The laptop came with Windows XP. I wanted to keep it for the few occassions where I need to run a Windows-only program. So I needed to shrink the partition.

My favourite way of doing this is the Gparted "live" CD. Initially, gparted just wouldn't shrink Windows XP's NTFS partition. The answer was to boot back into Windows and defragment the hard disk. I did this twice, just to be sure, and because I read on some website somewhere that it was a good idea.

After this, I used gparted to partition the hard disk.

/dev/sda1   	      10GB Windows XP
/dev/sda2   	      IBM recovery partition
/dev/sda3             788M  /
/dev/sda8              29G  /home
/dev/sda6             190M  /tmp
/dev/sda5             4.9G  /usr
/dev/sda7             3.9G  /var

The installation

My favoured system is Debian. I usually use 'unstable' on desktops and laptops because I get the latest software and the bugs and issues are not so serious that they prevent me from getting on with work.

I used the Debian Net install CD to install a base system, which brings me to a little rant against the Debian installer.

If you already have a partitioning scheme set up, the Debian installer doesn't believe you and forces you to use its partitioning program and follow the installation in the steps that it deems are necessary rather than the ones that you know are needed. This is nonsense.

You should be allowed to set up a partitioning system anyway you want and then reboot with the Debian installer and just assign the partitions to mount points. The Debian installer won't let you do this. Fortunately, the operation called "write partition table to disk" is not destructive to data already there.

Also, the wireless network card did not work out of the box. This was a problem as I did not have a wired connection point available for a while. In Windows I was able to download, across the wireless connection, the live CDs for Knoppix, Gnoppix and Ubuntu. Knoppix is my favourite of these, but only in Ubuntu did the wireless network come up.

If I had been thinking properly I would have mounted the various hard disk partitions at appropriate mount points and chroot-ed to the root partition and install Debian that way, while running the Ubuntu live CD.

Instead, I examined the hardware, found that my T43 had the atheros wifi chip not the Intel Pro/Wirelss one that everyone else seems to have. I waited again until a wired connection was available and was able to download the non-free madwifi package and compile it for the kernel. Once the madwifi drivers were installed the wireless network came up flawlessly.

In summary:

Wired Network
Works out of the box.
Wireless Network
Requires the non-free madwifi drivers, because this T43, unlike many others uses the atheros chip.
Thinkpad buttons
I have not yet tried the 'tpb' package .
Alsa works out of the box, but all the sliders were set to zero so I couldn't hear anything. Run alsamixer to set them higher.
Worked out of the box, but the installer chose the "vesa" driver. With this, I had no Xvideo extensions and could not scale mplayer movies. The correct thing was to use the "ati" driver.
CDROM drive
Touchpad and Trackpoint work after install.
Works. Some function keys don't yet work "suspend ot disk" Fn12 and "blank screen" Fn3
Suspend to RAM
Works out of the box.
Suspend to disk (hibernate)
Works out of the box with Debian kernel 2.6.22 by calling 'hibernate' from the command line.

Posted by Guest User on 2008-02-10 12:41:37.

From where do I know, which wireless chip my T43 uses?


Posted by Guest User on 2008-02-15 22:07:35.
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