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» Dag Wieers » Howtos » Thinkpads » Linux on an IBM Thinkpad 770 
Linux on an IBM Thinkpad 770
IBM is a big Linux-supporter and most of their hardware is supported. That's why thinkpads are probably the best choice for running Linux on a laptop. Let's go through it in detail.
For suggestions, improvements or if you just want to talk to somebody, please mail to: Dag Wieërs <dag@wieers.com> IBM Thinkpad 770

Model number: 9548-300

List of hardware: Installation of Red Hat 7.1 didn't give me any unusual problems, the sound card didn't run off the shelf but it was really easy to get to work (read on...).

Please note that if a graphical installation with your distribution does not work, you can always try to install it text-based if possible. To avoid problems with booting large harddisks, please use a recent version of LILO that supports LBA with large hard drives and that doesn't have the 1024 cilinder limitation for kernel-images. The nice thing about Linux is that you can configure your kernel exactly to fit your hardware and since kernels improve very fast, you can keep up with the latest features of the kernel as soon as they arrive.

The general rule of thumb is to use the latest stable kernel. The 2.4-series work fine and the stock Red Hat kernel has everything you need.

To compile a kernel for your system, you should check the Kernel HOWTO, but for your convenience we've put specific a config-file online that works great with the Thinkpad 770. The configuration of X works automaticaly for several distributions. If you have troubles, remember that the 2Mb of memory on the card only allows you to use 1024x768 with 16bit colors. On these types of thinkpads the key-combination Fn-F7 allows you to switch from your LCD to an external monitor or both. (Three phases) This however leaves your X in the same resolution as on your LCD, which is lower than the capablities of your external monitor. At this time however, you need to restart your X-server to change the resolution. Work is in progress to overcome this problem.

Beware: the BIOS allows you to boot with an external monitor by default. The drivers you need to load are: cs4232 and opl3. APM seems to work without problems.

You can suspend your laptop by pressing Fn-F4.

Beware: check your BIOS for additional configuration.

PCMCIA is supported and will most probably work off the shelf with your distribution. But if you have build your own kernel you need the right drivers for your PCMCIA-devices. To get more information about PCMCIA-drivers and how to configure them, check the PCMCIA HOWTO The laptop comes with an ACP (MWave) modem. (A WinModem avant la lettre) Fortunately, IBM is working on an Open Source driver, which already works. At the time of writing it isn't included with the kernel yet, but only time will change this minor problem.

You can find the module and more information about winmodems on the MWave website. Not yet. If you used the kernel-config above, you're able to use the VESA framebuffer driver by adding the following lines to your /etc/lilo.conf: Here's a list of different modes: If you want to use the faster text-mode with smaller fonts (80x60) then you can simply use: If you used the kernel-config mentioned above, just link /dev/mouse to /dev/input/mouse0 and load the following modules usb-uhci, usbmouse and mousedev. I'm using journaling filesystems on most of my systems nowadays. I use ext3 because at this moment I don't trust neither reiserfs and XFS nor JFS or included in the kernel. And Red Hat comes by default with all the tools to use ext3 (although I've build a newer e2fsprogs package myself).

You don't really need a journaling filesystem, but occasionaly you find your machine locked up because it ran out of power or because you were experimenting a bit too much. And then you will enjoy a journaling filesystem more than ever.

Some settings allow to use both your trackpoint and an external mouse at the same time without a problem. TODO

There is an alternative to configure your BIOS (much like tpctl under DOS). TODO IBM released some BIOS updates, unfortunately these updates are distributed as DOS or Windows executables which is a pain for Linux users. It would be nice of IBM to just distribute the images created by these disks so users of other platforms can upgrade their BIOS without needing DOS or Windows.

For your convenience we've put the image online: Only update your BIOS if you really need to.

Here's my /etc/modules.conf file, Here are some pointers to more information about these thinkpads and other laptops.