Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thinkpad SL400 review part 2 (Vista, and installing Linux)


We left off with me being generally more positive than negative about my new laptop, the Thinkpad SL400 from Lenovo. So anyways, I ended up using Vista for about an hour. I mean I'll give it a fair try.

It was a total pain in the ass I can tell you. It was a PRETTY total pain in the ass, but I'm not a masochist who will sacrifice functionality for good looks. All of the hardware worked flawlessly with Vista upon first boot, but of course, why shouldn't it, it was designed for this machine. The Vista dashboard widgets were nice, but I know KDE 4 has a few (and more in the future) coming anyways. Plus they don't give you a boot CD or DVD. There was no obvious way to backup to a disk. I did a painstakingly slow backup of the default install, to its own separate partition on the hard disk, thinking I could maybe copy it to CD. By the end of it, I figured, who the hell cares I'll never use it anyways and decided to jump right into the deep end with Kubuntu Linux, my distro of choice lately.

I used the 64 bit version, as I paid for a 64 bit computer I figured I should make the most of it. Plus I had the last stable 64 bit release sitting around as I had recently reinstalled it on my desktop PC, which was a far easier process. Anyways, I ended up using that disk to repartition the hard drive, which the latest Kubuntu Intrepid alpha release (release 4 I believe) stalled on. Granted Intrepid is not supposed to be stable. I decided to use the alpha release as I knew the drivers were too new to work with any older distro, x-win, or kernel. Which was correct, as the live CD did not have access to wireless. Neither did the alpha release, but I have an old 802.11g USB plug from office depot I got on sale a year ago with a zd1211 chipset that always comes in handy. It's always good to have one of these things just in case. I use it in my desktop as well as the PCMCIA card I have does not yet have the Ralink drivers to support it either. Or at least, last time I checked it didn't, I haven't bothered checking that in a while already. Yes, I have a PCMCIA card in my desktop PC, I use a PCI - cardbus adapter. I figured its easier and cheaper than buying a desktop card. And it was.

So anyways, I repartitioned the hard drive, and after some initial worries Kubuntu Intrepid Ibex installed without much problem. I still couldn't make use of the build in Intel Wireless, but like I said I had the USB adapter and after it booted I used that. Granted it didn't give me a screen at first and I had to use Safe Mode/Vesa at first. But Kubuntu told me it needed tons of updated packages and I let it go to work getting them (After I had installed a few more packages to keep me entertained. You would think that the Kubuntu live CD would throw in Solitaire and Tetris or something to keep you occupied as you installed. KDiamond/Gweled. I think Gweled is the better realised version even though it's a Gnome program and I suppose doesn't fit into the whole purpose of a KDE based distro.. still, Ubuntu people, throw a couple puzzle games on there please!)

After updating, and installing a million programs that I wanted, I rebooted, though wireless still didn't work. Well, technically it did, but Kwifimanager or whatever the name of the kde wifi program is, did not work at all. Luckily I had experienced problems with wifi in linux enough times to know to install wicd, which almost always works where the others do not, and can be set to automatically run at bootup to auto-connect you to your wireless router. so with that working, I was ready to check the video.

At first I was still in Vesa video mode, but after a few reboots and messing around a bit, eventually the intel integrated graphics worked at 1200x800.

anyways, my lspci

matr1x@Panteleimon:~$ lspci
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Cantiga Memory Controller Hub (rev 07)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Cantiga Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 07)
00:02.1 Display controller: Intel Corporation Cantiga Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 07)
00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #4 (rev 03)
00:1a.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #5 (rev 03)
00:1a.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #6 (rev 03)
00:1a.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #2 (rev 03)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) HD Audio Controller (rev 03)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 1 (rev 03)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 2 (rev 03)
00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 3 (rev 03)
00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 4 (rev 03)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #1 (rev 03)
00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #2 (rev 03)
00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #3 (rev 03)
00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #1 (rev 03)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev 93)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation ICH9M LPC Interface Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation ICH9M/M-E SATA AHCI Controller (rev 03)
02:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Device 4237
0c:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller (rev 02)
0d:00.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Ricoh Co Ltd R5C832 IEEE 1394 Controller (rev 05)
0d:00.1 SD Host controller: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Host Adapter (rev 22)
0d:00.2 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C843 MMC Host Controller (rev 12)
0d:00.3 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C592 Memory Stick Bus Host Adapter (rev 12)
0d:00.4 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd xD-Picture Card Controller (rev ff)

look at all that crazy stuff! the only thing that doesn't seem to work is the Ricoh SD Host controller. Granted, I haven't tried the FireWire or external HDMI/VGA yet, I'll let you know about those in part 3 or 4.

for those curious, the error I get with the SD card slot is:

[ 7032.611354] mmc0: card b368 removed
[ 7043.339062] mmc0: new high speed SD card at address b368
[ 7043.340823] mmcblk0: mmc0:b368 SD 1960448KiB
[ 7043.342138] mmcblk0:<3>mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.343207] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.343216] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.343760] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.343771] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.343776] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.344374] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.344384] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.344390] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.344958] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.344969] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.344974] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.345552] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.345570] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.345575] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.345598] ldm_validate_partition_table(): Disk read failed.
[ 7043.346332] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.346342] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.346348] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.346900] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.346910] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.346915] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.347481] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.347490] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.347496] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.349071] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.349083] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.349090] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.349591] Dev mmcblk0: unable to read RDB block 0
[ 7043.352164] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.352174] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.352180] Buffer I/O error on device mmcblk0, logical block 0
[ 7043.352635] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.352640] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.353344] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.353350] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 24
[ 7043.354188] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.354196] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 24
[ 7043.355205] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.355216] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.355721] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.355733] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.355792] unable to read partition table
[ 7043.966314] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.966328] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7043.966343] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 8
[ 7043.966350] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 16
[ 7043.966356] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 24
[ 7043.966843] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7043.966848] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7044.030438] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7044.030452] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0
[ 7044.030468] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 8
[ 7044.030474] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 16
[ 7044.030480] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 24
[ 7044.030967] mmcblk0: error -84 transferring data
[ 7044.030973] end_request: I/O error, dev mmcblk0, sector 0

which seems to be a problem recognizing the SD card itself. I know it works, because its worked in other devices, even a USB/SD adapter card. I'll chalk it up to something temporary and hopefully its just a bug in the latest drivers for this piece of hardware. Maybe I'll do some more research on it but its not a particularly pressing issue.

Other things that didn't work at first was the screen brightness plugged in was at the lowest possible setting, but I ran the new kde 4 battery monitor tool and it allowed me to fix that, and things are working much nicer and brighter. However the "thinkpad" keys do not currently seem to work, but I have faith that the people who work on that will get around to it eventually. Also function+print screen did not bring up the screenshot program, which was annoying. Another annoyance was I had no way of setting the middle trackpoint button to work as a scroll device. The Ubuntu people changed how Xorg works and I have no idea what they did. I'td be nice if someone were able to add a little "Middle button to scroll" option in the KDE 4 mouse config.

Another thing, which is probably only a personal preference, is I wish KDE used control + Tab to move between virtual desktops. I have to manually set it every time and its a pain. Control + Tab to cycle desktops, Control + shift + tab to go backwards.

So in any case with OpenGL AND xvideo working, I was free to play around in KDE 4.1 and try out various things. Of course first I set up Compiz under KDE. Which works nice except for a little bit of fuzziness and artifacts that quickly dissappear, but its there all the same. I'll get a couple more gigs of ram just to see if that helps, as I only have one gig on this thing (I found it cheaper to buy the memory locally, plus I like to support local businesses occasionally)

I still have to setup a bunch of programs and copy over some stuff from my old laptop, and then I can play around a bit more with KDE 4.1. Still, I hate the Oxygen desktop theme and switched it right away, same with the new panel/taskbar. I hope someone comes up with a MacOS X style panel widget for plasma soon.

Next time I will give my review of Kubuntu Intrepid (Alpha) on my SL400.

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