Wednesday, June 25, 2008

OpenSUSE 11.0 GM on a Lenovo ThinkPad T61

Hardware Specifications :

Lenovo ThinkPad T61
Model : 7662CTO
CPU : Intel Core 2 DUO T7300 2.0 GHZ
Display : 14.1" 1440x900 NVIDIA Quadro NVS 140M
Hard disk : 120 GB Hitachi HTS54161 5400 rpm
CD ROM : Matsushita CD ROM UJ-852
Memory : 4GB
Wireless : Atheros AR5BXB6 a/b/g
with Bluetooth, Express Card and PCMCIA slot
No fingerprint scanner and no SD/MMC card reader

Software :

OpenSUSE 11.0 Gold DVD downloaded from

OpenSUSE was downloaded via bittorrent and burned into a DVD. Clean installation thru the DVD took about 45 minutes to an hour excluding tweaking and other setup as outlined below.

I chose to install KDE 3.5.9.

Video :

Installation detected the resolution, size and color depth of the laptop. Other users could probably leave it as is but I decided to install the NVIDIA drivers thru one click install from the CyberOrg Blog

Wireless :

The installation detected the wireless card on the T61 and used the newer arth5k driver but for some reason it couldn't detect any available access points. Research reveals that the wireless card is suppose to be supported.

I decided to checkout where I got the drivers for the card when I installed OpenSUSE 10.3 but as of install time, hasn't released their wireless drivers for OpenSUSE 11 final. Only the drivers compiled against OpenSUSE 11 Beta are available.

I had no choice but to download, compile and install from source. I followed instructions from this page up to the "Installaing MadWifi" section.

I then reboot, logged in as root and launched YAST. I went to the Network Settings interface to edit the wireless card and changed the module name from ath5k to ath_pci.

Update 7/2/08 : I revisited and found that they have released packages for OpenSUSE 11 GM.

Sound :

Worked out of the box but I had to right click on the kmix mixer applet, click on Select Master Channel and choose PCM.

Update 6/29/08: I just noticed that the built in mute and the volume up and volume down buttons are working. Back when I was using OpenSUSE 10.3, they weren't working too well.

Bluetooth :

The Fn+F5 key that activates bluetooth wasn't working after install so I had to go to Yast Software Management to install "hotkey". After installation the function key now works and can be used to activate or deactivate bluetooth on the laptop.

Suspend to Disk and Memory :

This is probably the most compelling reason for installing OpenSUSE 11 on my ThinkPad, at least for me. Both work after install with no tweaks or changes what so ever. I just got a bit confused because the Suspend options were not available in the menu. I had to suspend to disk and/or suspend to memory by right clicking the kpowersave applet.

Update 6/29/08: It seems suspend to memory was not working after all but there was an easy fix. It seems you need to have S2RAM_OPTS="-f -a3" in /usr/lib/pm-utils/defaults. Also it seems the suspend options were not in my menu because I was reusing an older home directory.

DeskTop Effects :

Unlike OpenSUSE 10.3 where you have to make a couple of modifications and symlinks, in OpenSUSE 11 Compiz is now better integrated. From the menu, search for "Desktop Effects", launch it and check the checkbox to enable.

First Impressions and Notes:

  • Boot up and shutdown time are noticeably faster for me
  • YAST is speedier, specially the Software Management module.
  • Network Manager doesn't seem to be working too well for me. When I was using OpenSUSE 10.3 it detects if I'm on a wired network and automatically turns off wireless connections. It doesn't do that on OpenSUSE 11, instead it keeps both connections, the wired and the wireless, on.