October 1, 2008

Linux Mint on Thinkpad T43, part 1/2

Filed under: iotal,linux — SiKing @ 12:00 pm

I got me a new play-toy; a hand-me-down IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad T43, and her name is iotal. It’s the perfect opportunity to try out a few distros…

What I started out with was a dual-boot machine; on one partition I would install something quick that just works, and I would have a second partition for experimentation. Being a long-time K-fanboy (and totally by coincidence living in Ireland at the time) I thought I’d give Linux Mint KDE a try. Unfortunately, Daryna (version 4 – latest available at the time) did not put out for me, and the installer crashed half way through. No big deal, it’s only temporary I thought, I’ll go with standard Mint-GNOME (which was already up to version 5r1, Elysa). Next came the sampling of others. I tried everything from DesktopBSD to Dreamlinux, and several in between. I had tried D-BSD before.; however I could not get wireless to work, which is an immediate KO criteria on a laptop. Dream I would agree with the reviews, has an installer that still needs a lot of work; the attraction, at least for me, was that my daughter’s school is getting outfitted with Macs, and I wanted her to get used to the interface, as well as give myself a chance to play around with it. Unfortunately, the installed system would not boot.

Over the trial period of two months, I found that whenever I actually wanted to get anything done I kept returning to Mint. In the end Linux Mint Elysa is the primary and only distro on my komp!

Hardware: What worked and what didn’t

Very big majority of things worked right out of the box. I suspect that a lot of this comes from upstream Ubuntu 8.04; similar experience should be achieved with that distro and possibly any of the derivatives. As with everything else: your mileage may vary!

Following is a copy-paste from the Lenovo website of the Detailed specifications, edited to cut down on the marketing BS and redundancy, with my own comments / hints / rants added. I know there is significantly more information here than what anyone will ever need, but I am hoping that anyone will find exactly what they need.


  • Analog Devices AD1981B AC’97 Soft Audio (Full-duplex)
  • AC’97 2.2 compatible
  • Stereo speakers
  • Two audio jacks:
    • One for external stereo speakers or headphone
    • One for external microphone

:mrgreen: Worked out of the box.


  • 86 key keyboard with embedded numeric keypad and integrated UltraNav dual-pointing system.
  • ThinkLight keyboard light
  • Volume up, down, and mute buttons
  • The keyboard has a Fn key which is a special key and is located in the lower left corner.

:mrgreen: Out of the box.

Update 08/12/25: In order to get Keyboard Shortcuts to work properly, you have to define the keyboard model (in System > Preferences > Keyboard > Layouts) as “IBM Thinkpad 560Z/600/600E/A22E”.

The available Fn-key functions are:

  • Fn-F3 – lock screen
  • Fn-F4 – suspend
  • Fn-F5 – toggle wireless and infra-red on/off
  • Fn-F7 – switch between LCD – External Monitor (I do not have a monitor to try this out)
  • Fn-12 – hibernate
  • Fn-Home / Fn-End – brightness up / down (works, but screwy)
  • Fn-PgUp – keyboard light
  • Fn-Space – magnification (does not work; under the other OS, it required special software driver)

➡ Observation: Full shutdown (from desktop) = 18 seconds, full startup (to gdm) = 60 seconds; hibernate (from desktop) = 41 seconds, wakeup (to password prompt) = 59 seconds.


  • 2 x 1GB PC2-4200 CL4 Non-Parity (NP) Double Data Rate Two (DDR2) Synchronous DRAM (SDRAM) SO-DIMM memory
  • 200-pin SO-DIMM with gold-plated leads

:mrgreen: no comment


  • UltraNav dual-pointing system, featuring TrackPoint and customized touch pad. The TrackPoint features Press-to-Select, Internet scroll.

:mrgreen: All working: both pointing devices, touch pad tapping, touch pad 2D scrolling, both sets of the mouse buttons plus one third button. All right out of the box!


  • Intel Mobile Pentium M 750 / 1.8GHz
  • Enhanced Intel SpeedStep technology
  • Intel Mobile Pentium M have 2 MB of L2 cache memory

:mrgreen: Mint reports it as 1.86GHz.

Communications – Infrared (IR)

  • IR transceiver for wireless file and data transfer and printing.
  • Speeds up to 4Mbps.
  • Compatible with the Infrared Data Association (IrDA) IR data link specification

😕 I don’t currently have anything to test this against.

Communications – Modem

  • Modem communication daughter card (CDC)
  • K56Flex v.92

😕 don’t know, don’t care

Communications – Network

  • 1Gb Ethernet (LOM) installed on systems via the system board
  • Intel 802.11a/b/g Mini PCI wireless adapter

:mrgreen: Mint worked right out of the box! The wireless chipset is Intel PRO/Wireless 2915ABG.

Expansion – Bays

  • One integrated, easy-loading modular Ultrabay Slim
  • One Mini PCI IIIb slot (not a customer replaceable unit (CRU))
  • One CDC slot (not a CRU)

:mrgreen: The Ultrabay contains the CD/DVD, which works right out of the box.

❗ Update 09/02/24: Ejecting the CD bay, and plugging it back in, completely freezes the entire system.

😕 The other two I have no way to test.

Expansion – External ports

  • Two USB ports version 2.0
  • One parallel (EPP, ECP) compatible
  • Additional connector supports the optional Port Replicator and dock
  • S-Video out
  • CRT port for external monitor
  • Built-in RJ-11 and RJ-45 connectors for telephony and LAN connections

:mrgreen: Working out of the box: USBs, RJ-45.

😕 Unconfirmed / Unknown: Parallel, Port Replicator, CRT, S-Video, RJ-11. I would however expect all these to work without a problem.

Update 08/12/25: Tried to test the CRT (under Felicia) using a non-brand television set. Although it did detect the monitor, it completely screwed up the X-server settings, and the system never properly recovered after that.

Expansion – PC Card

  • One PCMCIA type II slot
    • Conforms to the PC Card Standard 95
    • Accommodates either one Type I, one Type II
    • 16-bit and 32-bit cards are supported
    • PCMCIA 2.1 standard
    • No zoom video support
  • One Express card slot

😕 Currently have no way to test these.

Power – AC Adapter

  • The AC adapter also charges the battery pack when it is installed in the computer.

:mrgreen: The power indicators in Mint can tell the difference between charging / discharging / running on AC, all right out of the box.

Power – Battery

  • Li-Ion battery pack: nine cell, 10.8V, 6.6Ah

:mrgreen: Immediately after first boot, before the machine was even on the Internet, Elysa warned me that the battery may have been recalled and gave me a direct link to the Lenovo website. How the heck does it know that?

Security – System

  • Security Chip
  • Fingerprint reader offers users a convenient solution, authenticate at system startup and log on to Microsoft Windows with a swipe of your finger.

❗ Not happening under Linux…

Security – Password

  • A Power-on password (POP) protects the system from unauthorized use. If a POP is set, the password prompt appears:
    • Each time the system is turned on
    • When the system is returned to normal operation from suspend mode
  • A Supervisor Password provides a higher level of security than the POP. The Supervisor Password protects the system functions from being used by unauthorized users,and protects the hardware configuration from unauthorized modification. The Supervisor Password prompt appears:
    • When the BIOS setup screen is accessed.
  • A hard drive Password (HDP) protects hard drive data from unauthorized users. Once HDP is set, data on the hard drive cannot be accessed without the correct HDP. Because the HDP is stored in the hard drive, the data remains protected even if the hard drive is removed to another system. The HDP password prompt appears:
    • Each time the system is turned on

➡ This is really unrelated to Mint, as all three of these are BIOS-only security measures. I am not sure what all that “data remains protected even if the hard drive is removed to another system” bullshit is about; I booted up the Mint liveCD (on the same system), and was able to access all files on both my partitions, without ever being challenged by any password. This is protection only against the most naïve of MS-Winees.

Storage – Optical drive

  • 24x24x24x/8x CDRW/DVD Ultrabay slim drive
  • Bootable

:mrgreen: Out of the box.

Storage – Hard drive features

  • 60GB
  • S.M.A.R.T technology to issue an alert if a hardware failure is pending
  • ATA Bus Interface
  • 5400 rpm
  • The Ultrabay Slim hard drive adapter is designed to provide flexibility with a second hard drive in the Ultrabay Slim.
  • The Hard Drive Active Protection system protects your hard drive when the shock sensor inside your ThinkPad computer detects a situation that could potentially damage the hard drive.

:mrgreen: In BIOS I released the restore partition “IBM Predesktop Area” to be reclaimed by the OS. However, GParted reports the disk as 55.89GB, the Mint installer said 60.0GB, and Baobab (disk usage analyser) claims 78.2GB; I guess it all averages out in the end. ❓

😕 Do not have an Ultrabay drive.

➡ As for the Hard Drive Active Protection system: I once dropped the machine from (slightly) less than one meter, while a movie was playing (disk was at full spin); MS never recovered from this shock. I was able to use Linux to get all my data off the drive. Did not repeat the same test with Linux … yet.

Video – Display

  • 14.1inch, 16M colors, SXGA+ (1400 * 1050 resolution) TFT display

:mrgreen: Elysa drives it at 50Hz.

Video – Graphic Controller

  • ATI – 64 MB ATI Mobility Radeon X300
Resolution LCD Color depth
640×480 256, 64k, 16M
800×600 256, 64k, 16M
1024×768 256, 64k, 16M
1280×1024 256, 64k, 16M
1400×1050 256, 64k, 16M
1600×1200 256*, 64k*, 16M*
2048×1536 256*, 64k*, 16M*

* Supported only in panning mode on LCD

:mrgreen: I can get everything up to 1400×1050 to go. The higher ones are not even available from the menu.

➡ The drivers installed by EnvyNG hose the graphics; I uninstalled that thing PDQ. Use the Hardware Drivers update (under the Administration menu), which works like a charm. After that you can also turn on all the Compiz fancy stuff.

➡ When I tried to install Dreamlinux, something got hosed: the Mint graphical boot display got lost and all the text boot prompts were flashing by. One of them said something along the lines of: “Wrong chipset detected. 915resolution …” Another ballast that can be dropped.



  1. peppermint tea for gas relief

    Comment by nanoo — March 11, 2013 @ 12:52 am | Reply

  2. Thanks for the info. I have a Thinkpad X31 which is of similar spec to your T series, except the screen is of lower resolution. I shall look forward to eventually making Mint my main OS. Your tips have helped alot though, THANKS!

    Comment by Richard Smith — September 1, 2009 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

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