RedHat Linux on IBM Thinkpad A31p (model 2653-R6G)

Image of Thinkpad a31p Around mid November 2002 I bought a new IBM Thinkpad A31p to replace my trustworthy HP Omnibook 6000. Originally I was going to buy Thinkpad T30, but the model (w/1400x1050 screen) wasn't available anymore so I went for the A31p and fortunately I haven't regretted my decision. BTW can you recognize the sites in the picture :-)


Installing RedHat 7.3

Installing RedHat was easy. Everything except 802.11b is detected and configured correctly. My machine came with W2K preinstalled (on one huge 50+GB FAT32 partition) + the 1GB IBM rescue partition.

I booted the RedHat installation CD into rescue mode and used GNU Parted to shrink the W2K partition to 5GB (I'm planning on wiping the W2K partition and installing OpenBSD, because I have no use for Windows (other than playing games)).


Bluetooth ?
Display: 15inch Flexview 1600x1200Perfect :-)
Embedded Security Subsystem?
Ethernet: Intel PRO/100 VEOK
Firewire: Ricoh R5C552 IEEE 1394 ControllerOK
Graphics: ATI Mobility FireGL 7800OK
Irda OK
Keyboard Good
Modem: Intel Corp. 82801CA/CAM AC'97 Modem?
Sound: Intel AC'97OK
USB: Intel 82801CA/CAM USBOK
802.11b: Prism 2.5OK


Suspend kind of works, but sometimes I have to use Fn+F7 after resume to get X back. Hibernation needs extra work (needs partition+file), I don't need hibernation so I'm not going to spend any time on it.


I have no bluetooth devices so I have no idea if this works or not.


The display is excellent. Definitely the best laptop screen I've had the pleasure to use. Tom's Hardware has a review. About the only problem is that it's hard to find good/large fonts for Xterm. Currently I'm using: -misc-fixed-medium-r-normal-*-*-200-*-*-c-*-*-15 if you can think of a better font for 15" (1600x1200) screen then let me know.

To get TVoutput working just follow Steven's instructions (Boot with S-VHS cable plugged in and set resolution to 800x600 and use atitvout to switch on TVout).


Burning CDR(W)s works perfectly and mplayer displays DVD's nicely. Cdrecord -scanbus output:

        0,0,0     0) 'HL-DT-ST' 'RW/DVD GCC-4160N' '0012' Removable CD-ROM

Embedded Security Subsystem

IBM has released GPL drivers for the ESS chip. The driver is available here. (Windows software is available here).


No problems here. Both the Intel e100.o and eepro100.o drivers work. RedHat defaults to eepro100 driver.


I have an Apple 20G Ipod. I can access the Ipod harddrive with these commands:

modprobe sbp2
modprobe ieee1394
modprobe ohci1394
mount -t vfat /dev/sda2 /mnt/ipod
(More detailed instructions for using the Ipod are here).


RedHat XFree seems to have the required patch for this chip so X works out of the box. Another option might be the drivers from Xig.


Irda works with my Siemens S35 GSM phone (for better instructions see the Infrared HOWTO). First I put these in /etc/modules.conf:

# Irda
alias char-major-161 ircomm-tty
alias tty-ldisc-11   irtty

Then I modified /etc/sysconfig/irda and changed the device to /dev/ttyS1. Now when I need Irda I modprobe the drivers with modprobe ircomm ; modprobe ircomm-tty and start Irda (/etc/init.d/irda start). Now /dev/ircomm0 works like a (slow) modem... (if I have enabled Irda on the S35 and it's next to the laptop :-)


The keyboard is good for a laptop. Compared to the Omnibook 6000 keyboard the Thinkpad's keyboard feels more like a "real" keyboard (and for my taste the Omnibook had really good keyboard). The keyboard has no Windows keys, but instead has several extra "Internet" keys on the left side. For utilizing these keys you might find Stephen's instructions useful.


AFAIK the modem is one of those useless winmodems (no Linux drivers), but then again I haven't needed a modem in years so it's not a big deal if it works or not.


sndconfig recognizes the sound card correctly and sound seems to work correctly. One thing to keep in mind is: after you've pressed mute you'll have to press volume up/down to unmute. Here are the corresponding lines from /etc/modules.conf:

alias sound-slot-0 i810_audio
post-install sound-slot-0 /bin/aumix-minimal -f /etc/.aumixrc -L >/dev/null 2>&1 || :
pre-remove sound-slot-0 /bin/aumix-minimal -f /etc/.aumixrc -S >/dev/null 2>&1 || :


I recently bought a Canon Ixus 400 digital camera. With Ben's instructions it was easy to get it working with gphoto2.

Another USB device I have is a Kingston 64MB USB-memory. It works just by plugging in the memory and mounting /dev/sda1. I have the following in /etc/modules.conf:

alias usb-controller usb-uhci


The internal 802.11b adapter works with the hostap driver (I'm using: hostap-0.0.4.tar.gz). (At first I tried with linux wlan driver but after transferring few megabytes the driver hanged). I installed the modules with:

make pci
make install_pci

I have the following lines in /etc/modules.conf so the driver initializes to "managed" mode:

alias wlan0 hostap_pci
options hostap_pci iw_mode=2
post-install hostap_pci /sbin/iwconfig wlan0 essid any

The internal antenna on the thinkpad seems pretty good because it receives stronger signal than my PCMCIA Lucent Silver card. I have tested kismet (3.0.1) very briefly with the hostap_pci driver and it seems to work. I used source=prism2_hostap,wlan0,prism as capture device. So far I haven't had the time to test airsnort but I guess it should work (at least with the Lucent card).


Last updated on: $Date: 2004/04/25 14:52:10 $

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