RichardNeill.org

Update: There is now a Mandrake 9.1 page here. This page is left as an archive.


Installing Linux-Mandrake 8.1 on an IBM Thinkpad A22p

Introduction
I'm now a not-quite-so-newbie to Linux having been enjoying it since August 2001. Here's how I installed it on my new laptop. Fortunately, it was a little less scary (disc partitioning etc) because it was a totally new machine. [And I had my old Windows 98 770Z as a backup too!] Actually, the process was far less scary than I thought it would be, and basically, everything worked first time. I'd highly recommend the change - Linux is so much better than Windows 98...
Please read to the end - this is chronological and there are some things that are now superfluous for 8.1

The Hardware
IBM make some wonderful laptops - I'd highly recommend the Thinkpad series. It's well designed, powerful, feels solid, is reliable, and has the trackpoint "mouse" which I prefer to touchpads. A quick review of this machine's specifications is thus:

  • Type: A22p, precise model is TA2USUK
  • 1 GHz Intel Pentium 3
  • 384 MB of RAM (128 supplied, upgraded to 384 by me)
  • 15" LCD display at 1600x1200 UXGA resolution with an ATI Rage Mobility 128 Graphics Chip
  • 32 GB Hard Disc, supplied with Windows 98
  • Internal Floppy Drive
  • Internal CD-RW drive
  • Sound card is Crystal Sound Fusion
  • Modem/Ethernet combo "mini pci card" - Intel PRO/100 SP Mobile Combo Adapter with Lucent Win Modem
  • Other: Thinklight; Camera port on top of monitor, USB, IrDa, Parallel, Serial, Monitor ports, S-video in/out.

Initial Reading
I did do a lot of reading/web browsing before taking the plunge. The magazines "Linux Format" and "linux Magazine" were helpful, as were various books especially "Linux for Windows Users - a 12 step program for addicts". I purchased the Mandrake 8.0 Deluxe pack, and read the two very useful manuals therein. Also very helpful was the linux-thinkpad mailing list at http://www.linux-thinkpad.org. There is a lot of information out there somewhere! The major things to note are:
1)AVOID THE LM_SENSORS PACKAGE - it can break the EEPROM on the motherboard - never run it, or GLMS
2) Mandrake 8.0 has a strange bug that means it does not install with the trackpoint working.

Time to take the plunge!

  1. I purchased the Mandrake 8.0 PowerPack, containing 7 CDs, of which 5 were "software", and 2 were "source".
  2. Initial install - no problems, except the trackpoint - *a serial or USB mouse is required for the install*.
  3. Partitioning - worked fine on "Automatic". I kept 15 GB for Windows, and allocated 4 GB for / and 10 GB for /home.
  4. Installing software - just check for sure that lm_sensors and glms are NOT going to be installed.
  5. XFree86 4.03 with monitor as generic LCD panel 1600 x 1200, 24 bit colour, ATI Rage 128 Mobility graphics.
  6. Sound - worked straight away.
  7. Ethernet - auto detected, worked straight off.
  8. CD and CD-RW worked straight off as well.
  9. Modem - this is the Lucent "Winmodem". A driver can be found from www.heby.de. This was a simple case of installing a pre-compiled rpm, and using kppp. [Note that the Lucent/Intel modem/ethernet mini pci card works well with Linux. But the 3com card is not yet supported.]
  10. I've not yet tried to use the S-video In/out, nor the USB.

Fixing irritating things
So much for the install; now to improve it!

  1. To make the trackpoint work, I had to install a new kernel. This was covered fully in the manual, even for a newbie such as myself, and was just a case of buying a CD with Mandrake Freq (4 from The Linux Emporium) Lo and behold, a working trackpoint. Sadly, I can't use the middle-button-to-scroll feature, and it isn't quite as sensitive as I'd like it to be, but basically it's good. (I set KDE for 11x pointer acceleration with threshold 4 pixels.

  2. Fonts were not as large as I'd like! The antialiased , high-res display is fabulous, but initially, there are some very small fonts. I tried to change resolution in X to no avail (although in Windows, it does work, but with a horrible, smudgy effect). It's easily fixed in KDE, but sadly, not in Gnome, which doesn't allow one to globally set fonts. I use KDE anyway :-) Actually, by using fonts of about 16 point, at 137 (or so) dpi, the screen looks brilliant!

  3. Get Windows Fonts - yes, W98 has its uses, and Mandrake Control Center allows one to get all the familiar Windows fonts, after testing them automatically. This is helpful.

Upgrade to Mandrake 8.1
This was a simple case of buying the "download edition" 3 CDROM set from the Mandrake Store, and rebooting with the CDROM in the drive. It really was painless. RPM handled upgrades of everything, so it took me about an hour, and the pc another hour on its own. I did have to manually change kernel as specified in LILO, and also to re-install different drivers for the modem (also available from www.heby.de).

A few weirdnesses (but see "Latest"):

** Supermount does not work as per default install. I've resorted to manually mounting/unmounting, but this has no doubt been fixed by now.

**I also had to fudge the CDROM for some audio applications. This is because my actual CDROM is under /dev/cdroms/cdrom0, but the applications look at /dev/cdrom.

There is a symlink which should fix this in /dev, which ought to link /dev/cdrom -> /dev/cdroms/cdrom0.
Unfortunately, it actually links /dev/cdrom -> /dev/../cdroms/cdrom0 . This is broken, and oddly, cannot be changed, (not even by root).

My fudge was to create a new directory, /cdroms and put a symlink in there named cdrom0 and pointing to /dev/cdroms/cdrom0

So, in the end, I have:
/dev/cdrom -> /dev/../cdroms/cdrom0 and
/cdroms/cdrom0 -> /dev/cdroms/cdrom0
(There's almost certainly a "real" fix for this, but the fudge works ok!)

** The Modem needed to have its module manually inserted at boot time, always. This, again is a fudge (due to one who knows more than I) that was necessary with the new kernel and Mandrake 8.1

Mandrake 8.1 vs 8.0

  • Mandrake 8.1 is by far the better version - I'd strongly advise anyone contemplating an install to go with it. Although Mandrake 8.0 is very good, it does have a fair number of bugs in the included software; these seem to have disappeared in 8.1 (However, I may be being unfair on 8.0, since when I installed Mandrake Freq, to fix the trackpoint with a new kernel, I ended up installing beta software all over the place, including KDE. So perhaps I'm being unfair on 8.0.)

  • Mandrake 8.1 has the benefit of being the latest, and benefits from the new Mandrake Control Center, and Package Manager which are easier to use. Also KDE, Mozilla, XMMS, Grip, GCombust, TuxRacer ... work better, to name but a few.

Some other notes

  • Even with 384 MB of RAM, I notice that I sometimes run short on memory. I do like to keep lots of GUI applications open at once, though. 512 MB would be worthwhile!

  • Suspend-Resume works as it should on Mandrake 8.1. The following are equivalences, which are NOT necessarily as might be expected: {apm-s, suspend-to-RAM, "Suspend" in KDE->Power Control->Laptop Power Control} These all cause the machine to go completely silent, and the green "crescent" LED to come on. Pressing "Fn" on its own will wake up the PC. Using {apm-S or Fn-F4 or shutting the lid} do NOT cause a suspend - the laptop awakens again after a few minutes!
    Actually, using Fn-F4 does seem to work IF /usr/bin/apm is setuid root.

  • To Hibernate (aka Suspend-to-disk), Fn-F12 works as it should, IF (and only if) the mains supply is disconnected. (A hibernating Thinkpad uses no power, and can be re-awakened via the power button). If Fn-F12 is pressed with mains power on, all you get is a beep.

  • I personally dislike Caps-Lock. Kill it by issuing the command xmodmap -e "remove Lock = Caps_Lock" This is only temporary (until logout).

Latest Happenings:
I did something rather stupid and accidentally overwrote /usr/bin. While irritating, fortunately, I could still do a backup of /home to CDR (tar, then gzip, then cp to /mnt/win, then boot to windows98, then use CD-R). It did give me a chance to fix lots of things, and try out the install of 8.1 from scratch.

  • Upgraded RAM to 512MB - nice to have, and cheap prices at the moment.
  • Installed Mandrake 8.1 3-CD version. Totally uneventful, and worked pefectly. Took the chance to move over to ReiserFS, and resize partitions (I now have 8GB for Win98, 8GB for /, 1GB for swap, and the rest for /home).
  • Installed the latest RPM for the lucent modem driver from http://www.heby.de
    I did have a problem here with symptoms being:
    • kppp failed with erroneous error messages.
    • as root, I could only dial out using ifup ppp0, and only then if I verified that there was the symlink /dev/modem --> /dev/tts/LT0.
    This was cured by doing the following (thanks to http://linmodems.org/cgi-bin/ezmlm-cgi?1:mss:6746:200112:lhhldlkbdnajhfaamgap)
    1. Check for the following in /etc/devfsd.conf . Add them in if not present:

      # maintenance of symbolic links /dev/modem and /dev/ttySLT0 --> /dev/tts/LT0
      REGISTER ^tts/LT0$ CFUNCTION GLOBAL symlink $devname modem
      UNREGISTER ^tts/LT0$ CFUNCTION GLOBAL unlink modem

    2. Restart devfsd by issuing killall -HUP devfsd

  • Fixed a problem with the cdrom where /dev/cdrom --> /dev/../cdroms/cdrom0 instead of to /dev/cdroms/cdrom0
    This was done thanks to http://www.linux.ie/pipermail/ilug/2001-October/038506.html who advised the following fix for devfs:
    1. Do ls -l /dev/cdrom* and if you see /dev/cdrom0 is a link to ../cdroms/cdrom0 then you can fix it thus:
    2. Edit /etc/devfsd.conf and change

      LOOKUP ^cdrom$ CFUNCTION GLOBAL symlink cdroms/cdrom0 $devpath
      to
      LOOKUP ^cdrom$ CFUNCTION GLOBAL symlink cdroms/cdrom0 cdrom

    3. Then do rm /dev/cdrom and restart devfsd by issuing killall -HUP devfsd

  • Upgraded Mozilla to 0.97 (very nice!)
  • Permanently killed CapsLock within GUI by adding this script to ~/.kde/Autostart :

    #!/bin/bash
    #Get rid of Caps Lock
    xmodmap -e "remove Lock = Caps_Lock"

    The script is named "startup.sh" and chmoded 700.


Using TP4D to improve the trackpoint sensitivity.

Tp4d is a wonderful little daemon available from http://www-hft.ee.tu-berlin.de/~strauman/tp4utils/. It allows the IBM trackpoint to be configured properly - just like in Windows! It gives improved sensitivity/speed, and also "Press to Select". (Although, sadly, there is no 3rd button scroll.)

Basically, follow the instructions in the README. The aim is to:

  1. Install it.
  2. Check you can run it as root.
  3. Use xtp4 (GUI setup/test) to actually configure it how you like. Play with the settings, and then write them down.
  4. I run tp4d with the options: tp4d -z -b -S 0xff -V 0xaf
  5. Where necessary during testing, "killall -HUP tp4d"
  6. Once it's all working, make it run every time the computer starts.
NOTE: there are some prerequisites for a successful install. As well as the various libraries, which are mentioned in the README, you need to install the following header files. This is must be so "obvious" that it wasn't in the documentation! You need:
  • apm.h
  • XawInit.h
  • ThreeDP.h
  • LibXpm-devel

Having made sure it works, I then added the following lines to the end of /etc/rc.d/rc.local. (This is to make tp4d start up automatically every time I restart the Thinkpad. It is a perfectly good place to put it given that the trackpoint preferences are the same for all the users, namely myself_as_user and myself_as_root):

#Now sort out the mouse by starting tp4d
echo "Starting tp4d Trackpoint daemon"
tp4d -z -b -S 0xff -V 0xaf

These are the settings I personally like, namely maximum sensitivity to touch, and z-axis disabled (otherwise, I accidentally click it when typing). I now have a perfectly working trackpoint which is lovely and sensitive, and where the settings survive suspends or reboots. (Note that it is perfectly normal for the trackpoint to drift a little in the opposite direction if you have pushed it hard - it will re-calibrate if released for a second). I also have the following settings in KDE->Mouse:

Pointer Acceleration: 3x
Pointer Threshold: 2 pixels


Useful Links


I'd be more than happy to help anyone else if I can. Please do contact me if I can help.

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