Kerouac - IBM Thinkpad R40

I picked up this ThinkPad (my second) in 2004 on eBay after winning a bid, which I never thought would go through, for £500. According to the original auction notes, the hard drive may have been dead, and it wouldn't boot XP. I figured I could pick up a new drive if the current one was dead, and besides I had NO intention of putting XP within 100 meters to my laptop ;).

After receiving the laptop, I booted it up, and sure enough it wouldn't boot. Knowing ThinkPads quite well (we use a few R40s at work), I booted into the integrated IBM tools, and went to the system restore, and started it. Sure enough it was happy to reinstall XP on there itself. I promptly told it not to bother, and dug out my various Linux CDs. I installed Mepis, 2003.10 (an old CD I had around), and ran a scan of the drive, and it was fine.

Originally I had put Mepis Linux on it, but found I didn't really like it, so eventually (after a year or so of putting up with Mepis) reformatted and put Debian proper on (3.1r1), with a 2.6.10 kernel.

Kernel wise, I am happy to report no additional drivers are needed (as of 2.6.10). You can take a look at my .config for IPW2100 drivers are now included, as are the ibm-acpi drivers, which give access to the various IBM ACPI functions, including the wondrous ThinkLight, and the VGA switching.

I use Xorg for X (take a look at my xorg.conf), and fluxbox as a window manager, with conky giving me system stats, and root-tail giving me a quick view of /var/log/messages. There's not a great deal more to say about this, it just works. Other regularly used applications are:

I've recently decided to "pimp" my Thinkpad, so am upgrading various components to the max she'll take. The original CPU was a 1.3G Pentium M SL6N4, which is the Banias core - according to the IBM Maintenance Manual for the R40, it will take up to a 1.7G Pentium M (SL6N5), but will only take the Banias core (this is only a BIOS issue, not hardware, so theoretically it could take a 2G Dothan core). The Maintenance Manual only listed one cooling unit, so obviously that would be able to cope with the bigger processor. The upgrade is rather simple, just take out the battery, remove the 2 keyboard screws on the base, remove the keyboard, then just remove the cooling unit (this may take some yanking), and replace the processor. You should pop some thermal compound on the cooling unit before replacing it - I prefer Arctic Cooling Ceramique.

I've also upgraded the HD to a nice fast model. The original 40GB 4200rpm did very well for 4 years, but is showing its age now, and is slowly filling up with all my photos, so I have upgraded to a nice new Seagate Momentus 7200.8 80GB 7200rpm 2.5" HD. It is certainly very noticeably faster than the 4200 drive, however isn't really all I hoped for - perhaps becuase this is now the fastest I can make the laptop so I was hoping for a little more from the old girl!

Again the upgrade was simple, just once screw from the bottom left and the drive pulls right out, then it's just a matter of freeing it from the "caddy" and popping the new one in its place. I decided to do a fresh install of Debian etch, as the old install is now almost 4 years old, so had a lot of dead packages, etc. The install would have been simple but my onboard NIC had died, so I dug out a USB one, and used that. The wireless was very slow after the rebuild, but I switched back to an older kernel (2.6.19), and that seemed to fix it (perhaps an older driver...), I now have everything running nice a smooth, just like before. Don't forget to keep those old backups though - you never know when they will come in handy ;).

Other than the upgraded CPU and HD,I've also stuffed 1.5GB RAM in there (it will take up to 2GB, but I think 1.5 is adequate). The optical drive could be upgraded to a DVD burner, but that is low priority for now (no performance upgrades there).