390x IBM Thinkpad with Xubuntu Gutsy

390x IBM Thinkpad with Xubuntu Gutsy

Successfully installed Xubuntu 7.10 Gutsy on old IBM Thinkpad 390x laptop.

390x is old and has low specs. It has 128 MB RAM and 5 GB hard disk.

Parts of this description are written from memory.

This article is still under construcion.


Downloaded Xubuntu 7.10 i386 Desktop from xubuntu.org. (Live-CD use was extremely slow, should have considired the text mode alternative CD). Burnt CD.

Booted from Xubuntu Desktop CD “Start or Install Ubuntu” . Booting took ages.

Screen was misconfigured: display was sharp, but top and bottom were missing. Thus, I could not see panels and could not open menu. Command line was available by starting file browser from desktop, then choosing “Open in terminal” from right click context menu.

Started installation anyway (display will be fixed later). Started installation from desktop icon. Chose sensible defaults: English; TZ Europe/Helsinki; username: tkarvine (8 small characters a-z), complex password, simple computer name; partitioning guided erase all.


Fixed the display by running from x terminal “dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg” and answering the questions: autodetect for all but keyboard, keyboard fi, pc105; use defaults for most display things, including neomagic driver; resolutions 1024×768, 800×600, simple: 15”. A new xorg.conf was created.

Then restarted X with alt-ctrl-backspace. Logged in. Display was fixed and panels were visible.

Display was working correctly.

Easy fix for display

I did not use this easy fix. But you can use it instead of the dpkg-reconfigure step above to save time.

Download and use my thinkpad-390x-working-xorg.conf

$ wget http://www.iki.fi/karvinen/linux/doc/390x-thinkpad-ibm/thinkpad-390x-working-xorg.conf
$ cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf $HOME/old.xorg.conf
$ sudo cp thinkpad-390x-working-xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Restart X with alt-ctrl-backspace.

Your display is fixed, bottom and top panels are visible.

Not working: Sound

Sound did not work with the .ogg in ~/Examples. I did not try to fix it as I did not need it.

I did not test everything on the system, such as wired ethernet.

BIOS Sound Fix

Update 2008-12-14

Reboot: F1 BIOS Setup: Config: Advanced Setup: Power: PCI Bus Power Management: Disabled.

I have not tested this myself. Reported working by Kiss Marton on quick feedback; Mike Bate and Connellr on Ubuntu Forums article.

Sudo: timestamp too far in the future

I also found a software problem in Xubuntu. When trying to “sudo apt-get update”, I got an error: “Sudo: timestamp too far in the future: Mar 10 00:54:27 2008”.

Ubuntu bug clock is delayed by a constant amount when ntpd is enabled looks vaguely similar. It mentions the same error message.

Wireless D-link DWL-650

390x does not come with a wireless adapter, so installed a PC-Card (aka Cardbus, aka PCMCIA) wireless adapter.

I first tried a new A-link WL54PC card with no success.

To make it work, I decided to use the only decent D-link product I have, DWL-650. Some D-link products (cheap switches) are not good, but this old card is nice. I plugged it in (saw some lines in /var/log/dmesg and /var/log/syslog). It was configured automatically, so I choce an open network from network manager applet on the top right panel. I could browse the Internet with Firefox, so it worked. I also added an access point with WEP encryption. That worked too.

Weirdly enough, DWL-650 only works on the lower PCMCIA slot (but not higher).

Wireless network was working with D-link DWL-650.

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