New laptop: IBM T23

I am writing a review about running Linux on cheaper, older laptops and so I was sent this IBM T23 laptop over today. It is in very good condition and it seems to run Ubuntu Linux pretty well (I am doing a dist-upgrade to 7.04 right now). The laptop seems to be fast enough with its 1.13 GHz PIII-M CPU and I specifically asked for an extra 256 MBs of RAM, although its DVD drive took ages to install the distro. Other than that and the S3 Savage somewhat buggy DRI driver, seems to be a real winner for just $330. Only a freeware non-Free Lucent driver for the 56k winmodem is required, everything else works out of the box. Impressive.

Update: The laptop does not always wake up successfully from sleep (don’t give me that “it works for me” crap, please). Bug reports here, here, here and here. Mostly S3-related.

Update 2: The savage driver is really badly supported under Linux, too many bugs, and the Vesa driver doesn’t do what I want (I need good Xv support to use with HD video, couldn’t care less about 3D). I am going with XP on that laptop because I know it works 100% (my husband uses the same model for work, never had a single problem with XP).

Update 3: Many suspend-to-ram wake-up issues and today, major WiFi issues (I tried 3 different PCMCIA cards none worked — no, I won’t go stealing firmware files) Verdict: “Linux is ready for the desktop. But it’s not ready for the laptop” — JBQ

14 Comments »

Tom Dison wrote on March 30th, 2007 at 9:38 AM PST:

I have a whole house full of used laptops. They make good email-checking, OSNews-commenting machines:

P-90 48MB Ram – vanilla debian. I use blackbox and Links 2

P-233 64MB Ram – OpenBSD, blackbox and Links2 (also VNC)

PII-266 192MB Ram – OpenBSD, Fvwm and Firefox

PII-366 192MB Ram – Sam Linux, Firefox

Duron 1.1 256 MB – Mepis and Firefox. This box may soon become a Solaris machine when my Solaris Developer Kit comes. I want to see how far Solaris has evolved in Laptop support (that was one of the stated benefits of the Express edition that came on the CD).

My main laptop is an Athlon 2800+ (1 GB Ram) that I dual-boot with XP and Ubuntu. It’s a pretty good laptop, but it’s starting to feel a little old.

Maybe my next one will be a Dell Linux laptop!


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Eugenia wrote on March 30th, 2007 at 9:52 AM PST:

Would you sell them, or you are actually using them?

I am sending one to my brother and I will try to sell the other one. I will only keep one x86 laptop and my G4 Powerbook around. I am also thinking of cleaning up my 4 old desktop machines and sell them too (I’ll only keep my current P4 3Ghz desktop).


Tom Dison wrote on March 30th, 2007 at 10:36 AM PST:

I’m going to have to sell some of them, or my wife is going to hit me on the head with them! I just hate to part with them. I think I get too attached to them. I tried starting a small business selling open-source used laptops, but it went nowhere. I’ll probably either sell them on Ebay (AKA, sacrifice them!). Or else I will find some friends and give them a good home!


blag wrote on March 31st, 2007 at 12:04 PM PST:

Eugenia, are you doing an actual dist-upgrade or the upgrade-manager’s upgrade (gksu “upgrade-manager -c”)

The reason I ask is because I’ve heard that just changing the dist names in sources.list and then dist-upgrade’ing doesn’t do all the changes that upgrade manager does and can cause issues. (Matt Zimmerman on this)


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Eugenia wrote on March 31st, 2007 at 12:25 PM PST:

Blag, please use HTML to represent links. I really don’t like URLs like that. I am deleting that sentence.

I am upgrading from a previous Feisty beta, not from Edgy. So don’t worry, all files will be in tact.

There is a major bug with the Savage DRI driver though, it doesn’t work at all in 3D mode and it has Xv 2D bugs too. I will file a bug report later.


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Eugenia wrote on April 1st, 2007 at 5:34 AM PST:

I have a SuperSavage IX/IC or something. It is supported by Linux’s driver. It’s just buggy as hell.


l3v1 wrote on April 1st, 2007 at 5:56 AM PST:

“don’t give me that “it works for me” crap, please”

Uhmm… but it does.

I have here a T23, I bought it really cheap around november last year, practically unused (4 (!) battery charges, still working 3 hours straight, with 512 megs of mem and a dvd drive), I was very happy that I found it. I just put a Linksys wpc11v4 pcmicia wifi card in it and that’s it.

I installed Debian testing on it the day I got it. Wifi works with ndiswrapper, but funnily not with the driver shipped on the card’s disk, but that’s ok with me.

Wifi even works every time when getting up from suspend, though it doesn’t work if you pull out the pcmcia card and then put it back in. Wierd.

Suspend worked each time I tried up to this day, that happens about 3-4 times a week, not much I know, still.

Video: the savage driver didn’t cause too much trouble for me, I use s3switch to switch easily between crt, lcd and svideo output, worked every time, and it’s been done a few times since I tend to keep presentations with it, and sometime watch videos from it output on the tv through the svideo.

I didn’t try to play hd videos on it though, yet.

So, about that “”it works for me” crap” … It’s just that crap I can give, sorry.


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Eugenia wrote on April 1st, 2007 at 6:17 AM PST:

Well, the laptop has problems on Feisty. I am not willing to try another distro because the other distros will eventually get the same bugs when they update their versions of apps. Check my long list of bug reports here, towards the end. Over here the S3 2D driver is _extremely_ buggy. JBQ can confirm because he saw with his own eyes the artifacts after a wake up that the Savage driver creates about once every 5-6 wake ups. The point of the matter is, the damn driver is unmaintained and Xorg evolves but the driver doesn’t. Hence, new bugs appear.


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Eugenia wrote on April 1st, 2007 at 7:16 AM PST:

Moulinneuf, there is nothing to “look” there. I have tried changing my xorg.conf and I RTFM, I tried the latest driver, and I know what is what. Bottom line is that the Savage driver is *buggy as hell* (prosavage IX) and unmaintainable, and that the latest kernel has a bug when used on the T23 and so it doesn’t wake up the USB stack, and that either networkmanager or acpid once every 5-6 wake-ups doesn’t wake up the ethernet card. There is nothing else to look. There are bugs that prevent me from using Linux on that laptop. End of story.

Even if everything might have worked better a year ago when this laptop was more current, right now, many things are broken. I am expecting that all the bugs will eventually be fixed, but NOT the savage driver which has 4-5 major bugs, because as I said, it’s unmaintainable. And because noone will fix that driver most likely (they would have years ago if they were going to), it’s a better bet for me to run XP on that laptop, not Linux. It’s just a sad fact.


thebluesgnr wrote on April 1st, 2007 at 8:42 AM PST:

“Linux is ready for the desktop. But it’s not ready for the laptop” — JBQ

Not true. Your experience simply means that this laptop model is not supported by Linux.

I bet it’s not well supported by Windows Vista (if at all) and I’m sure it’s not supported by Mac OS X. Doesn’t mean these two systems are not ready for “the laptop”.

When you buy a laptop or desktop computer you’d like to run an OS different than the one it came with a few minutes of Googling is essential.

For the record, I use a laptop as my primary computer and I run GNU/Linux exclusively. Couldn’t be happier with it. :)


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Eugenia wrote on April 1st, 2007 at 8:54 AM PST:

>that this laptop model is not supported by Linux

You are mistaken. About 6-10 months ago this laptop was 100% supported. Since then, new bugs were introduced that makes the usage of Linux on this laptop problematic. Many Linux users bought this laptop back in the day exactly because it was deemed “compatible”. XP works perfectly on it.


Moulinneuf wrote on April 1st, 2007 at 5:32 AM PST:

read this from Tim Roberts ?

read this ?

looked at this ?

““Linux is ready for the desktop. But it’s not ready for the laptop” — JBQ”

Then we will fight in the shade!!! Oups wrong time , wrong quote ;-)

Then we will change the rules , we will adapt the platform to our specs and we will make them ready , eventually.

One day the L in Laptop will mean Linux ;-) Or GNU/Linux for those who really care.

good day.


Moulinneuf wrote on April 1st, 2007 at 8:59 AM PST:

first link is broken , sorry , try this one

“prosavage IX”

I see Savage/IX or SuperSavage IX …

But then I read :

“Important Update!VIA has now replaced the Savage chips with a new and incompatible graphics engine which was initially called “CastleRock”. However, in a brilliant marketing move paralleling the “New Coke” fiasco, the marketing folks at VIA have decided to allow laptop makers to call this chip the “ProSavage-DDR400″. This is insanity on VIA’s part, and it’s going to cause me enormous grief, because of my optimistic statement that my driver supports every chip with “Savage” in the name.

So, here’s the new rule. My driver supports every chip with “Savage” in the name that has a PCI vendor ID of 5333 (which belongs to S3). If you have a Savage chip with VIA’s vendor ID (1106), then it is a CastleRock, not a Savage, and my driver does not support it.

VIA has submitted an XFree86 4.2 driver for the CastleRocks to XFree86, but I don’t think it has been integrated yet. ”

But Its probably unrelated and you surely read it.


karamvir wrote on April 7th, 2007 at 10:41 AM PST:

i want drivers for my note book it is very urgent for me. if any body know about this drivers plz help me to re-instalation i shall be thankfull for that person thanks

with request
karmvir


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