My notebook computer

2004-11-14: Updated to FC3

Since big children also have to play I bought a IBM Thinkpad - and it's a wonderful toy: a T41, the model number is 2379DJU. Using the (optional) high-capacity battery it does offer a quite impressive battery life.

With Fedora Core 3 and the current Linux kernel 2.6.9 (with a few patches) everything runs quite satisfactory. The FC3 installation was very smooth, and most things worked straight out of the box. Of course I did some customizations...

all work nicely, quite some progress over the old 2.4 kernel series.

There only really troublesome ACPI problem left is the power consumption during suspend to ram, this is currently unusable. If you have any information concerning this, please discuss in my Bugzilla entry.

The Predesktop Area

The original HDD (which I swapped for the new Hitachi 7k60 drive) contains a hidden space at the end, the Predesktop area. Apparently a boot CD/DVD is too expensive to send with a 2k$ computer, oh well. Of course I would not want to restore the Win XP pro if there were a way to flash the BIOS from Linux, or to administrate my P.O.S. 3Com *cough* access point.

Anyways, I played with the Predesktop area a bit and the following may be a useful observation for somebody else: If the harddisk is already partitioned and the partitions contain valid (FAT32/Ext3) filesystems then the recovery process does not clobber the partitions, it just installs its XP pro into the first primary partition (/dev/hda1). The rest seems to survive - but needless to say, anyone trying this without a backup is insane.

And another thing which cost me 2 hours to roll back again: If you restore to factory defaults without the Ultrabay CDRW/DVDrom inserted, then it will not install the CD recording software. Makes sense, somehow.

Yet another observation that cost me even more time: If XP sits on a FAT32 partition then the braindead bootloader will die if you resize the partition (NTLDR missing - Press any key. Woo-hoo). Together with the fact that there is not yet a 100% useful tool to resize NTFS partitions this just made my day. The best tool is ntfsresize, but it cannot relocate files and all defrag programs I tried could not move the fixed NTFS-internal sectors that are littered over my installation.

Running Memtest86 v3.0

Just to be sure I wanted to run memtest86 for a night - occasional problems have been reported with RAM and I wanted to be sure that my 767MB work correctly.

Starting memtest86 v3.0 directly from the Fedora Core 1 CD crashes & reboots after memtest writes a few characters on the screen. Apparently this (newest) release of memtest has a problem with the Pentium M's cache. Fabrice Bellet has written a patch to detect the cache correctly, and with the patch memtest runs perfectly.

Update: Had some problems with random crashes whenever the T41 was cold. That is, cold as in "I had it switched off over night", not cold as on the North pole. Some programs would keep crashing during the first 10 minutes or so, afterwards everything was rock-solid. Really drove me mad. Memtest did not find a thing.

Finally I removed the original 256 MB ram module (I added an extra 512 MB fairly early on). Opening the notebook to access the inner module is quite frightening, but I was able to reassemble it. And it has not crashed ever since, so I am a happy camper again.

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