Ubuntu Hardy 8.04 on the IBM T23 Thinkpad

Over a year ago I wrote a review at OSNews for the IBM T23 Thinkpad. Back then, Ubuntu had severe bugs with this (ultra popular in its time) laptop model. But as I have promised that laptop to my little brother, I cleanly upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04 last night. The default Ubuntu installation is now better than ever, as I had to change very few things to make it more usable (e.g. font sizes always irked me as to how big they are by default).

Anyways, all the severe bugs I had found with 7.04 are now fixed: including two suspend bugs, ethernet and USB bugs, and four S3 Savage ones. The laptop works perfectly by default (except the Lucent Winmodem). Overall speed is good too. Within an hour I had setup and configured 5 user accounts for myself, JBQ, my brother, his wife and a guest one.

The trouble started when I needed to make my old Prism54 WG511 PCMCIA card to work with the laptop. Apparently Ubuntu has both the drivers and firmware for this old ISL3890 chipset, but it didn’t work. Following advice from UbuntuForums, I had to blacklist the default 4 related drivers, download the Windows firmware and use Ndiswrapper instead. It then worked, but it was a pain.

The Lucent winmodem worked for the first time on this laptop too (my bro uses mostly dial-up). It works after you download the “-full” version of the “martian” driver: compile and install as per instructions the driver and then do a “modprobe martian_dev” and then a “martian_modem --daemon --mode 0666“. I then put these two commands on the /etc/rc.local file to force the modem to get started on each reboot. If someone upgrades the kernel the driver will have to get recompiled, which is why I made my brother a normal user and not an admin. Unless Ubuntu adds the martian driver to their -restricted kernel modules package, no one should touch the Ubuntu update manager…

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