At work, I'm a manager, and I often have a need for a laptop. I have an IBM Thinkpad R40 laptop with this configuration:

Here's some more detail:

  # cat /proc/meminfo |head -1
  MemTotal:       775280 kB
  # cat /proc/cpuinfo |head -5
  processor       : 0
  vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
  cpu family      : 15
  model           : 2
  model name      : Mobile Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 - M CPU 2.00GHz
  # fdisk -l /dev/hda |head -5
  Disk /dev/hda: 36.7 GB, 36757301760 bytes
  240 heads, 63 sectors/track, 4748 cylinders
  Units = cylinders of 15120 * 512 = 7741440 bytes

I also have a FPM and dock at work, but I won't go into that here.


This laptop was previously installed with Fedora Core 1, and I went through all the pain then of getting it to be dual-boot. Note that I did not update to Fedora Core 2 when that was available, due to a problem that many people reported about not being able to dual-boot, if Windows was already installed. It comes down to a disk geometry problem.

When I re-installed this laptop with Fedora Core 3, I was curious if I'd have the same problem. So, I wrote down my hda= parameters for my laptop, in case I'd need them later, but I let the install proceed on its own. To my (happy) surprise, I was able to dual-boot afterwards. So either the problem has been fixed in FC3, or my laptop hard drive is not one of those configurations that causes it to break.

Here's my mounted filesystems:

  # df -h
  Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
  /dev/hda5              14G  5.2G  7.6G  41% /
  /dev/hda2             101M  8.2M   87M   9% /boot
  none                  379M     0  379M   0% /dev/shm
  /dev/hda3             2.0G   40M  2.0G   3% /winshare

Note that /winshare is a VFAT filesystem. I originally used this to share files between Windows and Linux, when I would boot between the two operating systems at work. However, I haven't had to boot into Windows in a very long time, so for now this is a "backup" area.


Under FC1, sound works great. The installer correctly detected the i810 audio chipset and loaded the snd_intel8x0 kernel module. Sound works correctly.

X Windows

The installer did recognize the video card as an ATI Radeon Mobility 7500. However, it did not detect the display during install, but that's easily set to a "Generic Laptop Display 1024x768". X Windows works fine, and fills the entire screen. The ATI Radeon is working as a 3D-accelerated video card.


I used the standard components for a "Workstation" installation, including GNOME, office software, and tools. I did add a few components during the install, which "normal" users may not need. For example, we use Oracle Collaboration Suite at work, and I had heard that OCS could mimic Microsoft Exchange. I am interested to see if Ximian Evolution will connect to OCS using the Exchange Connector, so I made sure the connector was installed (it isn't by default.)

If you are new to FC3, but have used FC1, note that the default desktop has changed. (I have no idea how this changed relative to FC2, since I didn't install that.) Specifically, the single Panel at the bottom of the screen has been split into two Panels - a small one at the top with your program launchers, and a small one at bottom with your desktop switcher and running applications. I describe this as "things you can do" (top) and "things you are doing" (bottom).

I honestly tried to learn how to use the two separate Panels, but I just couldn't get used to it. After using GNOME for many years, I've gotten used to looking for the time in the lower-right, and looking for my "start" button and launchers in the lower-left. So I dragged the top Panel down to the bottom, so now both Panels are stacked.

This creates a nice effect, and still provides separation for "things you can do" vs. "things you are doing", but both are together where I can find them easily.

Another thing to note is that Mozilla has been deprecated in this release. It's still installed, but you can't do email with it. Instead, you can use Mozilla Firefox (installed by default) to do web stuff, and Mozilla Thunderbird (not installed by default) to do email. It's easy to convert from Mozilla to Firebird/Thunderbird, and it looks about the same. Sure, you also get Evolution by default, but I wasn't ready to convert all my mail (yet).


I don't use dial-up Internet access, so it didn't matter to me if the modem was supported or not. However - S.J. Fwu of DataGuardz, Inc. found a page on IBM's site where you can download the Agere modem driver for Linux, for the R40 and other IBM laptop models. I haven't tried it.


The internal network card is recognized by Linux, and I was able to set up my laptop for DHCP connectivity to my network. Also, I have an ORiNOCO Gold wireless card, and that was simple to set up for wireless networking. Just put in the pcmcia card, go to Network setup, and add a new wireless device. Done!

Other stuff to do

This laptop has a DVD drive, but I haven't re-installed the VideoLan Client (VLC) for Linux yet. I had used this in FC1, and it was great. Fedora Core 3 includes the Helix Player (same as RealPlayer) and the Totem Movie Player, but I haven't tried either of them yet with any movie files or DVDs.

The default fonts work well in Fedora Core 3, but I've noticed that Penny-Arcade shows up in a serif font, instead of Arial (or whatever they use.) That's bad web design, but still something I need to work around. I installed the Microsoft TrueType core fonts. Note that you'll also need the cabextract program to extract files from the cab EXE files. They look great!

You can install fonts either by putting them in someplace like /opt/msfonts and editing the files /etc/fonts/local.conf and /etc/X11/fs/config to reference them. Or, you can take the easy path and just drop the TTF files into a directory ~/.fonts. The second way is much easier, and you can have each user load their own fonts.

Update: (11/21/04) I installed StarOffice7 today. You may ask why, since FC3 includes OpenOffice by default. However, there are a few documents that people send me at work that OpenOffice has a few issues with. More than a few times, someone sends me an RTF document, and it's an empty document for OpenOffice, but it's perfectly readable in StarOffice7. So, I'll switch (back) to StarOffice7 on Linux. It's fine, but I did turn off font anti-aliasing so the menus would be readable.

StarOffice7 uses a now-outdated method to add desktop icons (used to be in ~/.gnome2/vfolders/applications) and an obsolete mechanism to modify MIME types. So I had to add the launcher icons myself.

Also note that StarOffice7 does see my Microsoft fonts (installed in /opt/msfonts .. make sure you add this path to both /etc/X11/fs/config and /etc/fonts/local.conf). However, the rest of my system fonts are only visible from /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Type1 (but I'm not sure why.) For example, 'Bitstream Charter' is visible, but 'Bitstream Vera' is not. I suspect this is because /usr/share/fonts only contains subdirectories, but not the fonts themselves, and StarOffice7 probably expects the TTF files to be in whatever path it reads from the system.

Update: Yup, that's why!

Update: I've stopped using StarOffice7. Turns out that the "empty RTF document" problem I had was from a single user's Microsoft Office configuration. I've asked her to send me Microsoft Word documents from now on, which I can open just fine. Also, StarOffice7 has an annoying font issue in Fedora Core 3, where all the menus are in tiny text. I couldn't figure out how to fix it, so I just dropped it.

Update: (12/5/04) Damn, I accidentally blew away the file where I was keeping a log of changes to my system. So I can't record for you what services I turned off at bootup to make things run a little faster. Sorry 'bout that. I'll start keeping a log here, and I can point to the Fedora Core 3 tips & tricks page for help on how to (easily) install MP3 support. (This makes it much easier to get things working the way you want it.)

Installing NCPFS: I need to access our Novell LAN at work. NCPFS used to be installed with Red Hat Linux, but is not included with Fedora Core. You can install it yourself using yum. If you've added the repository mentioned in the 'Fedora Core 3 tips & tricks' page, you can just do this:

 # yum -y install ncpfs

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