IBM Thinkpad 240x


Updated 15 March 2001


I wrote this page originally to document my experiences with installing and using RedHat 6.2 on my new Thinkpad 240X.  Recently, I got tired of waiting for RedHat to release 7.1 (with all of the issues surrounding the GCC packages in RedHat 7.0, I decided not to touch it) and defected to Mandrake 7.2  Since this page mostly discusses hardware and drivers, it's still relevant, regardless of which distribution you use.

Of course, this page is still under construction.  There are a lot of unanswered questions, questions that need more detailed answers, and, overall, I need to clean up the grammar.  My goal for right now was just to get some information out there quickly.

There are several web pages (found on Kenneth E. Harker's  excelent Linux on Laptops page)  about installing various Linux distributions on Thinkpad 240's, but the 240 and 240x have some subtle differences.  Below, is a listing of of the major subsystems and their levels of support within Linux.  (Note that this is how *my* 240x was configured - check yours carefully to make sure you have the same things.)

Since the 240x doesn't come with a CD-ROM, I planned to do the installation via NFS, using one of my other Linux boxes to serve up the RedHat CD.   With the exception of some problems with the PCMCIA network drivers (see below for my rant on that subject) the install went quite smoothly.  The only glitch was that I had to specify a text install because the install program choked when it tried to switch to graphical mode.  This was no great inconvienience, and except for the problems with the network card, everything went smoothly.  Once the installation was complete, there were a few tricks required to get everything up and running and I've tried to document those below.

Note:  If you're interested in using Mandrake 7.2, see below for a brief synopsis of my experiences installing it.

Video:  Silicon Motion LynxEM+


Sound:  Crystal Sound 4281

APM: Modem: Lucent LTModem

I was visiting my family over the holidays and had a chance use the modem pretty extensively for a couple of weeks (ie: I had to leave my cable modem behind and use my Dad's dial-in account....) and here's what I found out:


With the release of the source code version of the driver, the following pretty much obsolete:

IrDA:  The findchip util reports an NSC PC87338 USB:  Haven't tried this yet....




Wish List  (in rough order of importance): If anyone figures out a solution to any of these things, I'd love to hear about it.  You can email me at the address below.


Carrying Case:
 If you're looking for a minimalistic carrying case for your 240, check out the Case Logic PSC1.  It's designed to carry a Sony Playstation, and is just the right size for a 240.  It doesn't offer a lot of protection, and you won't be able to carry much other than the computer, but if you don't want to lug around a traditional computer briefcase (which is probably too big to hold a 240 securely anyway...) then this is case is perfect.  There's some pictures of it at Case  Logic's   website.   The front pocket is large enough for a spare battery, but I'd be careful putting a floppy or cd drive in there as it has almost no padding.

Another reader has also reported that the Day Traveler Wanderer (made by Eagle Creek) is also a good fit.  More details about this bag are available here.



A word on network cards:  If your time is at all valuable to you, go with 3Com cards!!!  I speak from experience: 3Com cards install and work more smoothly and reliably than cards from any other manufacturer.  (Not just with Linux, or laptops, but in general...)  Case in point:  When I ordered my 240x, I also ordered a Linksys Etherfast 10/100 cardbus PCMCIA card.  Since the 240 lacks a CDROM, I planned on doing an NFS install.  Not only did the PCMCIA drivers not recognize the Linksys card, they hung the computer!  After much gnashing of teeth, I went to the local CompUSA and purchased a D-Link 10/100 card (non-cardbus).  It didn't work either.  Finally, I managed to disassemble the RedHat install disk, compile new PCMCIA drivers from the latest version of the source code and build a new, custom PCMCIA install disk.  The Linksys card *still* didn't work, though the D-Link card did.  (In fact, I never did get that card to do anything except crash my system;  I finally just returned it.)

A few days later, I borrowed a 3Com 10/100 cardbus card from a friend, stuck it in, booted up using the standard 6.2 PCMCIA install disk, and everything went great.  (This was just a test - by this time, I'd already installed RedHat using the D-Link card...)

The moral of the story:  For ease of use and painless installation, go with 3Com.  If, however, you feel you computing experience isn't complete without stress, frustration and several reboots, then by all means, buy another manufacturer's card......



Mandrake Users:
I recently decided to replace RedHat 6.2 with Mandrake 7.2.  Since I have another computer, the easiest thing to do was copy all of my important files onto its drive, then reformat my laptop's drive and to a fresh install.  The install went very easily and the only problem I had was with X.  Mandrake 7.2 comes with XFree86 4.0.1, which doesn't work with the LynxEM+ video chipset.  I decided to skip the X setup during the install and deal with it later.

Installing XFree86 4.0.2 turned out to be a bit of a challenge - the source RPM that I got failed to build, and the precompiled RPM's wanted me to upgrade to GLIBC 2.2  Upgrading to GLIBC 2.2 unfortunately caused some other problems with the C++ libraries.  In the end, I found that the easiest thing to do was to not upgrade any RPMS, but to download part of 4.0.2 precompiled from the XFree86.org site.  Specifically, I downloaded the Xxserv.tgz and Xmod.tgz files.  After I unpacked those in the correct directories, and copied my old XF86Config file back to /etc/X11  (and renamed it XF86Config-4, which is appearantly what XFree86 defaults to now), I had a working XFree86 4.0.2 server.

I don't like bypassing the RPM system like this,  since it means that my RPM database is probably no longer accurate.  But, this method works and when Mandrake 8.0 comes out (it should include XFree86 4.0.2),  I'll upgrade everything, and my RPM database will be accurate again.

A few other Mandrake specific tidbits:



Questions, comments and (especially) fixes, solutions and tips can be mailed to Ross_Miller@baylor.edu


Note:  The Thinkpad images used on this page were snagged from IBM's web site.  I hope they don't mind....