Ramblings of a Techno-Viking

New Laptop: Thinkpad x120e

My travels the last few days have not been to anywhere new. I spent a few days at Tumco, then spent today in Algodones and am staying the night at Quechen Casino.

Since I never described my new computer due to network problems, I figured now would be a good time to do so. I purchased a discontinued Lenovo Thinkpad x120e laptop. It has 2gb ram, a 320gb hard drive, dual-core AMD processor, and no optical drive. The first thing I did was wipe windows off of it and install Debian Squeeze (stable), then attempt to upgrade to Debian Wheezy (testing). (Squeeze lacked the drivers for some hardware.) Wheezy lacked the drivers for the display, so during the boot sequence it would switch to an unreadable screen. I eventually found that Sid (unstable) had the driver for the display in non-free. (To install it I needed to boot with the Squeeze kernel.) The most significant thing I have not yet debugged is hibernate mode.

One thing I really like about this system is the 4-6 hour battery life. This is enough that I can charge during the day when my solar is in absorption mode (meaning the panels are producing more power than the house battery can safely take) and use it at night and in the morning when there is no spare solar power without depleting the house battery. The 12v charger that I had purchased for my old Thinkpad (which died, prompting the replacement) works fine on my new one.

I purchased a USB powered DVD writer to give me optical capability when I need it. This uses two of the three USB ports.

The network problem I had this summer was the Millenicom 3g USB stick glitched and needed to be reset with their proprietary software that is only available for Windows and Mac. Lacking access to a Windows system that I could install software on, this meant that I was without my network connection. I used the Sandy Library (fast, free wifi) 30 miles from my worksite and occasionally wifi at a closer coffee shop or cafe which were both unreliable.

Hi, I'm just curious; you mention that you needed a driver from sid/non-free to get graphics working. Exactly which driver/package was that? Is this for an ATI/AMD Radeon HD 6310M graphics chipset? Maybe there should be a bug filed somewhere with the aim of getting this fixed in the free driver. Thanks!
Comment by Steven C Tuesday 13 November 2012 14:17 UTC

Yes, lspci shows 00:01.0 VGA compatible controller: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] nee ATI Wrestler [Radeon HD 6310]

To get the display working past the font-switch in the boot sequence I needed to install fglrx-driver and run aticonfig --initial . This is basicly a difficult to debug problem, IIRC the newer kernel was required for wifi, and I did not find an option to the new kernel not to font-switch. (and I didn't have time and reliable net access at the time to do the debugging.)

Comment by blarson Tuesday 13 November 2012 22:43 UTC
I had an X-series laptop as my main machine before this one; X40, I think, but I'd have to check. It was a fine, tough little machine tht traveled internationally with me and also thousands of miles by motorcycle, and IIRC the only thing that went wrong with it was the display. We've replaced displays before so might revive it as a backup some day.
Comment by Linda Wednesday 14 November 2012 05:28 UTC