Moblin 2.1 on a Thinkpad X200s

Submitted by dag on Fri, 2009/11/13 - 19:07

This is marvelous !

While during the 1st Japan Linux Symposium Moblin wouldn't work on my X200s laptop, this weeks Moblin 2.1 release booted fine (unlike 2.0) and didn't freeze during initial usage (unlike the late October development releases) !

And I like what I experienced, in fact I was already convinced when I saw Greg KH use it for his presentation. A clean and concise interface, simple and convenient for those tasks that most people use computers for.

Here's a small list of what I noticed:

  • It boots under 20 secs from an SD card !
  • Suspend and resume worked out of the box
  • ACPI events (like lid close, power button, backlight) all worked fine
  • Bluetooth worked out of the box (connecting to Nokia E71 instantly)
  • Wireless worked out of the box
  • It felt very snappy and was well integrated
  • Lots of applications are available with a single click

So time to buy that cheap netbook I always wanted, and test Moblin on something that it was designed for. Unfortunately I first have to decide what to buy and clear up the issues with the Linux Foundation hardware discounts (which seems to be US centric).

On the downside, the things that didn't work that well:

  • Although WPA2 password worked well, it did not accept a WEP passphrase (16 chars) ?
  • Power usage was less than expected (see below)
  • Clock shows AM/PM format, not 24-hour format (when are we finally going to get rid of this in default installations ??)
  • I could not install anything from the LiveUSB image, even though it was a 16GB SD card :-/

I was disappointed about the power usage, with everything enable I was still drawing 15mw and could only get to below 10mw by disabling bluetooth, wireless and lowest backlight setting. Compare this to my RHEL/CentOS (kernel 2.6.18) 18mw power drain during normal usage and the difference is less than I had hoped for.

I am able to bring that 18mw down to only 8mw on CentOS by disabling almost everything (unloading most modules), which is great when you're on a plane though. It buys me more than 8h of battery time with a 9-cell battery. So RHEL/CentOS is not doing that bad, or Moblin is not doing the best it can ?

I really had hoped that a more recent kernel with all the power management improvements would do much better :-/ And while Windows powers off USB ports, I don't think Linux can do that already.

Now what I would like to see (before I believe Moblin is ready for mass consumption) is support for commonly used applications, eg. Google Picasa, Google Earth, etc... Adobe already provides Acrobat Reader from its own channel, so I hope Google and other vendors are willing to participate in the Moblin initiative.

Unfortunately my system's disk is one big physical LVM volume (Moblin does not have LVM support) so there's no room to install it on the internal SSD disk. I would like to install it properly to see how fast it would boot from SSD and to show it to others. I will have to see if there is an alternative way of installing it.

LVM migration

If your LV's don't take up all the SSD PV space yet: connect a USB disk, make a partition on it and use is as a LVM PV, then add it to your volume group, and pvmove everything from the SSD PV. Remove the SSD PV from the volume group, make the SSD partition smaller, add it to the VG again, and pvmove everything from the usb disk. Remove the USB PV from the volume group, and you're done. The operation won't be incredibly fast I'm afraid, but it'll free up some space on your SSD.