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Xubuntu 6.06 on ThinkPad 770E

Installing Xubuntu 6.06 on IBM Thinkpad 770E

Last updated: 9 / 2006 by Szabolcs Galambosi

The specifications and the status of my Thinkpad 770E

Hardware Components
Status under Linux
Pentium II , 266 MHz  Works
14.1  TFT Display Works
Display controller,  Trident Microsystems Cyber 9397 4Mb Works
External Floppy Drive Works add floppy=thinkpad to the grub menu
Internal 56k Modem Not tested
CD-ROM Drive Works
CS4237B audio controller Works after some tuning see text
USB Works
Irda Not tested
Wireless PCMCIA card, Dlink DWL-650+ Works

About the TP 770E

I bought this laptop second hand for 80 euros. While it is quite ancient compared to the current lines of laptops, it is very well built. Moreover this piece had a good set of batteries, giving me roughly two hours of surfing. The laptop still has the original 5 Gb hard drive, but I upgraded the memory to 224 Mb.

The 266 MHz P2, however, has its limitations. I needed something lightweight in the X department. Damn Small Linux works very well, but a quite new kernel in the 2.6 line is needed to support the DWL-650+ wlan card.  Also tested Debian (Sarge) with Xfce as the desktop environment, but settled finally with Xubuntu.

Installing Xubuntu 6.06

No special procedures in the installation. The laptop had some windows version pre-installed, which I mercyfully wiped. Later on I noticed, that other Thinkpad users leave a small DOS partition for ps2.exe utility. However, I've managed well without it.

With to current kernel version of 2.6.15-26-386 even the notorious wireless card works out of the box. Very nice!

Additional setup needed


The CS4237B audio controller remained silent after the initial installation. The necessary modules and options has to be supplied by hand.  After reading info on the 770E on ThinkWiki, and quite a bit of googling, I managed to get the sound working (listening to music even as I now write using xmms). The first thing is to install pnpbios-tools. It supplies lspnp and setpnp tools.

Using lspnp gives the following information:

0e CSC0000 Crystal PnP audio system CODEC
0f CSC0010 Crystal PnP audio system control registers
10 CSC0001 Crystal PnP audio system joystick
11 CSC0003 Crystal PnP audio system MPU-401 compatible

Running lspnp -v shows, that the io and irq are disabled. So, I first used setpnp 0e on; setpnp 0f on; setpnp 11 on. Of course you probably need root priviledges for this.  This time the relevant part of  lspnp -v | less shows
0e CSC0000 Crystal PnP audio system CODEC
        io 0x0530-0x0537
        io 0x0388-0x038b
        io 0x0220-0x0233
        irq 5
        dma 1
        dma 0

0f CSC0010 Crystal PnP audio system control registers
        io 0x0538-0x053f

10 CSC0001 Crystal PnP audio system joystick
        io 0x0200-0x0207

11 CSC0003 Crystal PnP audio system MPU-401 compatible
        io disabled
        irq disabled

So apparently the relevant parameters are port=0x530, cport=0x538, dma1=1, dma2=0, irq=5. I made a script which is placed in /etc/init.d/ibm-sound and is run on boot. Here it is:

setpnp 0e on
setpnp 0f on
setpnp 11 on
modprobe snd-pcm
modprobe snd-cs4236 index=0 port=0x530 cport=0x538 dma1=1 dma2=0 irq=5 isapnp=0


Partly works.  Activated by Fn + F4. The wireless card does not work after waking up. Removing and inserting the acx module however fixes it.


Works out of the box.


Xubuntu with its up to date kernel has apparently a very good hardware support. If not counting the sound system, the install is very straightforward. The xfce environment is light enough to be run on the 770E. While surfing (firefox, opera), mailing (thunderbird), photo-editing (gimp) and even working might not be lightning speed, the system is very usable. And thats really not bad for 80 euros.

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