T61 Ubuntu Upgrade from 7.10 to 8.04

Ubuntu and Vista on my T61

My T61 (model 7664-18G, NVidia NVS 140M, 14.1″ with 1440×900 Display, Core2 Duo 2GHz, 3GB RAM, Intel Pro/Wireless 4965AGN etc. – see IBM specs and Hardware 4 Linux for further details) came with Windows Vista Business 32Bit and of course it did not take me long to give Linux it’s place on my hard disk. Ubuntu is my favorite flavor because of its ease of installation and use, the clean GUI (Knoppix menus are loaded with too many tools and OpenSUSE … well, just have been happy for too long with Debian) and of course the awesome documentation and support sites. First off I installed 7.10 in 32Bit in parallel to Vista and later on the 64Bit as well. Everything basic worked fine, so from now on I will stick to my 64Bit system, even though it gives me some trouble from time to time, e.g. with Eclipse and Skype installation. But found solutions and workarounds in forums and am happy bunny.

Upgrade to 8.04

Since a couple of days the newest stable release 8.04 is available as Long Term Support (LTS) Edition. So, I started the Update Manager (from Administration menu) and pressed the Upgrade button that was there since the stable release has been available. Sweet! That pretty much was all I needed to do to upgrade. So I went to back as I watched installations before and it does not show funny pics or other easter eggs in between. Well, that was fine, the next morning it was mostly done, just some further and final clicks.

Trouble

So, now the big moment, will everything work as before or even better. And shock, the screen resolution after reboot is limted to a maximum of 800×600. Definitely not an option, especially this hasn’t been an issue before. Brightness controls though do work now. Well, lucky enough, the restricted drivers that were installed before are still there, I just had to tick them enabled again. And Ubuntu tells me on restart that my resolution is pretty low and if I want to reconfigure. Sure I want to! So into the screens tab and the proper resolution LCD Panel selected (LCD Panel 1440×900 instead of ‘Plug’n Play’) and saved. But still not the 1440×900 resolution as option available. The reason for that is actually fairly logical and solution therefore straightforward: I simply had forgotten to manually check the Widescreen check box in the screen selection. After that I can finally select the proper resolution and enjoy my lovely display. To my surprise it still does not run that resolution. Sigh! That annoys me quite a bit, as I want to use the system, not configure it. Anyway, I open the xorg.conf (sudo vi /etc/X11/xorg.conf) and add the following to the Screen section:

SubSection “Display”:
Depth 3224
Modes “1440×900″
EndSubSection

But no, still not there. And I realized that the upgrade changed my keyboard layout from german to us as well. And where is the Gnome Control Center gone? Luckily they just removed it from the System menu, you still can start it with gnome-control-center. But no luck, nothing in here to help.

Last tweaks on the road to proper screen resolution

So I checked the xorg.conf again and changed the Depth from 32 to 24. Tried a ‘sudo gdm restart‘ that gave my system some trouble a x Server was running already, therefore it waited and tried to start, gave me the same messagen again and so on. This could have been gone forever, so I decided to shutdown. Changed to another console (Alt+Ctl+F2) and typed ‘sudo shutdown now‘ which brought me three options on restart:

  1. resume normal boot
  2. root (forgot the details but not an option right now)
  3. fix (try to fix xserver)

I gave the third option a try and it did a hardware check and returne to the options again. Ok, let’s resume the normal boot. Imagine my surprise when it presented me my beloved and proper screen resolution! I am not really sure what it did, but I assume the color depth of 32bit gave it some trouble as well as the wrong sequence of changes probably.

Resume on screen resolution solution approach

If I would have to do it again, I would make sure the NVidia driver are selected (they actually should be found in the xorg.conf as well) and than add the resolution subsection shown above to the xorg.conf.

Comparison

Now that works, here is a quick overview of things that are more the less important for me and whether they work or not in 7.10 or 8.04 for me. Have a look at ThinkWiki for T61p installation and a fairly comprehensive and generic T61 article for some workarounds and solutions specific to Ubuntu 7.10 installation. Read this one if you want to install 8.04 on T61 from scratch or as an upgrade from 7.10.

In general, the 8.04 does support nearly every feature of the T61 out of the box. That was to be expected since it is now on the market for a while and drivers widely available.

  • Brightness control: did not work in 7.10 but does now. Quite important to me as I only have a 4-Cell battery that lasts just for a bit longer than one hour
  • Bluetooth: I haven’t tested that one, but rumors (other blogs) are that it works perfectly out of the box
  • Wireless: not an issue at all with 7.10 nor 8.04, it works
  • Wifi LED: does not work even though you can toggle wireless on/off with Fn+F5
  • Suspend: Seems to be an issue, can’t comment as my battery would be empty before anyway. Energy saving will be a topic I have to have look onto at some stage soon
  • Fingerprint-Reader: I love that feature, but to have it work under Ubuntu, you need to install additional packages: see this tutorial about the ThinkFinger installation, configuration and usage on Ubuntu
  • NVidia Quattro and dual screen: You read my hazzle above, but works well now and even for attached second LCD in extended Desktop mode
  • Multimedia Keys: work totally fine. For an overview of the available functions look at the previously mentioned 8.04 installation guide

I have had enough fuzzing around for tonight, but will continue using and perfecting it. There is also a Mythbuntu installation waiting for an upgrade, so a lot more to tell for sure. Besides these little trouble makers I do like my T61 with Ubuntu. Especially some neat ways to share data between Vista and it (e.g. Thunderbird Mail folders and address book), I may create a report on how to do that as well as I haven’t yet created that in my 64Bit environment. That reminds me that I should find ways to get rid of my 32Bit installation of Ubuntu without destroying everything due to loosing my grub boot loader. Mh, guess I’m busy for a while and won’t have time to work on that nutrition database…

Update: Read this ‘disappointment‘ about 22 successful upgrades/installations and my follow-up with happy Linux and dark Windows thoughts.

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3 Responses

  1. [...] 14.1??? with 1440?900 Display, Core2 Duo 2GHz, 3GB RAM, Intel Pro/Wireless 4965AGN etc. – see ibm shttp://atentia.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/t61-ubuntu-upgrade-from-710-to-804/Hot topics : IT ManagementThe Top 75 Open Source Security Apps By Cynthia Harvey Security Article [...]

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