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Thinkpads For Penguin Lovers: Q3 2000 129

MikeFM writes: "It looks like IBM is set to release Linux Thinkpads! This is great news to my ears. I am just holding out for a Transmeta powered Linux Thinkpad and then I can be happy. I do hope these Thinkpads are compatible with other versions of Linux though. I always use either Debian or Mandrake. Being that these would have limited use as a server I'd probably go w/ Mandrake." Question is, why so long? Thinkpads have been running Linux for a long time, after all.
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Thinkpads For Penguin Lovers: Q3 2000

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  • Why bother with a thinkpad when Dell has a very nice 1400x1050 SXGA+ display available on their Inspiron 5000 (I have one - runs linux just fine and the display works great with the patches from on-5000.html [])
  • The subject was even mentioned briefly [] on DR [], one of the major TV stations in Denmark []. :-)

    // Mutende

  • Its a big deal, if you look at why it is important. Sure, you've been able to run linux on IBM laptops for a while now, but the real story is that a major manufacturer is coming out and not only saying 'Yes, you can run linux on these laptops.', but is also saying 'Not only that, but we'll install AND support it for you as fully as we would Windows.'

    Choice is good. I can see people ordering it with linux on it 'just to try'. This is a nice-sized step towards getting more linux out there... even if it IS Caldera. :)

    I wonder how long until other companies follow IBM's example?
  • Fascinating and quite entertaining.
  • These damn prudish machines are starting to piss me off. For instance, on my FreeBSD boxen:

    % make love;
    STDERR: don't know how to make love. Stop.

    I mean, wtf? I was hoping to get some daemon lovin' [] before 5.0! Oh well, at least Solaris will always be my slut. >:)

    This [] looks promising, though... though not the level of Stile's Linux stuff [].


  • This is about 2 years out of date but is useful. It says the wattage of various chips. A Powermac G3 chip uses 4-5 watts also.
  • This is just another example of IBMs avowed support for Linux. You can bet that IBM sees this as a huge opportunity. One thing I'm wondering is if we will be seeing Thinkpads with multiple operating systems on sale? There are a lot of consumers who would love the chance to try Linux while having Windows as a crutch to use in the meantime.
  • Does IBM still make PowerPC-based laptops? I remember they did have a few models available a while back,but I've never found anything on IBM's site.
  • Wine wont be a major player till it reaches 2.0 (short of Never) with 1.0 finaly comming along.
    I use wine all the time for most of my games (just got Tribes working) but it is far from being the holy grail.
    I like it alot but I'm sorry to say we wont get to see wine/linux come to be a major enduser OS till linux 3.0
  • My circa-1996 90Mhz ThinkPad runs Slack just fine, too. Agreed re: winmodem. I have a PCMCIA modem and ethernet card (one of each), and both work like a charm.
  • You can read about installing BeOS, [] Windows NT [] and Slackware Linux [] on my Compaq Presario 1800T at: []

    Note that the machine came with Windows 98 installed and doesn't support NT; NT was the most difficult installation and still doesn't work very well.

    On the other hand I've been testing the 2.4.0-test1-ac* kernels every few days and generally they work pretty well. The only serious problem I had was that my Adaptec 1480 SlimSCSI card didn't work; that wasn't a problem with the laptop itself but some problem in the Linux PCI drivers as well as a temporary bug in the SCSI driver. Recent 2.4.0 kernel patches work great and I can burn CD's off my laptop through SCSI.

    If you're considering buying a laptop, I encourage you to read my page on my laptop, as I think the information I give could improve the wisdom of your choice.

    Generally I've been happy with how it works, but I'm afraid I'm not so happy with the mechanical design of the thing; there's a ribbon cable in the DVD drive that gets tangled when I close it if it's been opened too far, and the most serious problem right now is that the power adapter doesn't always make good contact so the battery drains even when it's plugged in. Sometimes if I leave the house with Linux running it will power down while I'm away. Note that I've only had the unit for 7 months; if they could have the same electrical design but built for more rugged use I think I'd be happy.

  • I'd think they'd only have to pay an OEM price to the Linux distro if the distro itself was going to handle support. It'd be impossible for the distro to charge a per-seat price if they weren't offering some additional service above what you get from a free download of the software.

    As far as the Microsoft tax goes, many OEM's actually have to pay more to Microsoft if they don't include Windows on the machines. Though after thinking it over this may be a winning plan, I'd gladly pay money not to have Windows on my machine. Anyone else willing to send Microsoft $50/yr not to write software or otherwise interfere with decent computers everywhere? :)
  • I wonder if they'll be significantly cheaper than their propriety-software-running counterparts?

    They will probably be the same as Win98/2000 notebooks. Dell's notebooks that come with Linux as an option are the same price. They come with the "full" version of Red Hat with the support, manual, etc. Plus it's pre-installed and configured for the hardware.

    andy j.
  • I think you may be right about the MHz speed being an albatross. MHz is a weird rating. I think non-techies might believe that clock speed is roughly the same has a combustion engine's horsepower rating.

    AMD was certainly bitten by this same confusion in the consumer's mind.

    Anyway, I currently run redhat 6.2 on my IMB thinkpad 390x. Installation was a dream. It found the sound card, the Xircom card (which is not official supported) and X worked at 16-bit, 1024x768.

  • The day major hardware/software makers DON'T support a major release for Linux and that story makes it to /., you know Tux has become a 500 pound gorilla. :-)

  • MS charges for its software in several ways:

    1. Retail (most expensive)
    2. Volume/OEM discount ($$ per system shipped w/MS software)
    3. model license (least expensive, includes "kickback" advertising money - ever wonder why Toshiba proudly announces their new laptop runs Win?? Cause MS helped pay for the advertisement!)
    Retail is obvious, highest cost per seat.

    Volume/OEM discount is when a comapny pays a lower price for each actual shipping copy of MS software - this allows a Mfg. to sell servers without WinNT at a lower cost, but each copy of WinNT they do sell costs more than their competitors.

    Model License means the company agrees to pay MS for some pre-determined software collection based on the number of units of a particular model they sell (tecra 8100 laptop, for example). Now in order to get this cheapest software, the Mfg. agrees that *only* MS (OS) software will be installed, and the Mfg. will pay *per system* (meaning everyone gets the MS OS). The Mfg. take this deal because it lowers their cost for both software *and* advertising, since MS will subsidise advertising for 100% MS laptops/desktops/servers.

    For a Mfg. to sell a (in this case) laptop without MS software, they need to either create a new model, that is free of the MS model license and it's MS tax (and forgo the subsidised advertising) or "eat" the MS tax and not include the MS software that was paid for.

    I suspect IBM found a way to preserve the Thinkpad name and not mess up any pre-existing discounts on MS software for the other models.

  • I suspect people don't complain more just because the look and feel of the machine is so nice. The keyboard and trackpoint mouse are fantastic, the screen is nice and crisp, and the assembly quality is best in the business.

    There are tons of reasons to like the ThinkPad even though (as I said in another message) the X-Windows performance lags a bit.


  • ...than for an equivalently equipped Win98 box.

    My suggestion: buy it with with Windows (you're paying for it anyway with Dell) and install Linux yourself.
  • I recently bought an ultralight from TuxTops [], a small company out of California that sells a range of laptops running RedHat (and soon other distros, apparently). It works great out of the box, including the modem. (It uses the lucent linmodem.) Funnily enough, I've also had trouble with the power adapter making contact when you plug it in --- the plug is one of those teeny tiny ones and can be a little iffy.

    Anyway, if you're in the market for a very good linux laptop and (a) you want it next week and not in Q3 or whenever IBM ships, and (b) you have a life and can't waste your time configuring one yourself from scratch, then definitely check out these guys. They have a good product and are very friendly.

    I've found that other laptop users in coffeeshops will try to casually peek at your screen to see why your windows desktop looks so weird. :-)

  • Why would they? Dell gets by charging more for Linux loaded computers. Last I checked it was about $100 more for a Linux load on a machine than a Windows load on the same machine. Really sad.
  • by Racher ( 34432 )
    Has anyone thought of how they are going to handle to root password and setup?

    Are they going to leave it as a default password and let people like me tinker with other people thinkpads left unattended without changed passwords.

    Is there a way they are going to have it prompt them for a root password when they first start it up?

    I am just wondering, in all the Linux distro's I've used you had to set the root passwd on install...

    ...and I'm not sure we should trust this Kyle Sagan either.
  • I just got a Toshiba Satellite Pro 4200 series and it works fine (P3-450/128/6GB). I had to buy a NIC because that wasn't included. So I bought a Intel/100 Pro Cardbus32. BUT, there's no damn drivers for this NIC (PCMCIA). I also checked the 2.3.99-9 kernel. I have mailed Intel, but havn't got any response yet. Now days I run Win2000 instead and run VMware, which emulates an old fashion NIC, slow/expensive, but it works
  • They ship boxes with BSD on them, but when I called and asked for a windows free Thinkpad or a FreeBSD Thinkpad, I was told no go.

    No offer was made to ship it with Linux. (Not that I wanted that either)
  • I guess ThinkPads are OK, but all the ones I've seen are big and bulky and squarish. I've been contemplating buying a laptop to run Linux. (my company supplied Compaq has to run NT because I need the Nortel Extranet client and Outlook to access the intranet via VPN and get my work mail). I just can't see spending a bunch of money on a big short lived laptop though. I'm still hoping for Transmeta comes up with something more than vapourware. A low priced, light weight, long battery life Linux laptop would be great if it supported everything (including modem, sound, suspend/hibernation, and network). I don't need a superfast CPU or even tons of RAM or hard disc.
  • Probably because someone at Caldera, Inc. convinced somebody at IBM that Caldera's Linux was the easiest to install and configure and do tech-support for.

    Or maybe IBM got them to provide tech-support for the Linux laptop users.

  • install linux on any laptop (from my experience). Why do you need a seperate X server? the SVGA works just fine. Why seperate mouse drivers? A standard PS-2 mouse works.

    I think the only thing new with this article is the fact that IBM will officially support it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    No coincidence.

    #]mount pengiun
    mount: Only root can mount pengiun.
    #]root penguin

    See ?
  • by Sir_Winston ( 107378 ) on Sunday June 11, 2000 @07:51PM (#1009692)
    The only problem is, a 1 GHz Crusoe chip wouldn't perform as well as an equivalently clocked P!!! or Athlon. Of course, you're also not going to see 1 GHz P!!! or Athlon notebooks for a long time anyway, thanks to the huge power consumption issues, but I just wanted to remind of the "megahertz trap" too many people fall into, thinking that the clock speed of the processor has anything to do with its actual speed.

    Most Slashdot readers know the difference between performance and clockspeed, but I think this will be an issue that'll be important when Transmeta-powered equipment hits the mainstream notebook/PDA/appliance market: Joe Sixpack and Joe Marketing will get their Crusoe-powered notebooks, and realize, "Hey, what gives, this 1 GHz Crusoe notebook isn't any better than my P!!! 600 notebook. I've been cheated!" I fear that the clockspeed/performance differential between Crusoe and x86 processors will become an albatross around Transmeta's neck, possibly damaging its reputation among non-geeks. After all, the non-Geek would read that it takes a 1 GHz Crusoe to be as powerful as a 600MHz P!!! or Athlon*, and deduce that somehow the Crusoe is inferior, not realizing the Crusoe's strong points and completely different architecture. I fear that magazines for the semi-computer-literate will fuel the fire, magazines like those in ZD's stable of consumer-targeted stuff. A similar thing dogged the K6-2, though the K6-2 certainly didn't have Crusoe's low power consumption or nifty new architecture; but, not being clock-for-clock as powerful as P!!! or even Celeron did hurt its image.

    *: The comparison here is pulled out of my ass rather than from actual figures since I don't have the time to look them up/calculate a good comparison, but they shouldn't be too far off the mark.
  • The laptops are aimed at computer professionals and scientists, two groups that have embraced Linux, said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, the head of IBM's Linux group.

    Okay, I'll bite. I'm a scientist. What do I want in a laptop linux system? If one has to transport bulky computers, then the answer is obvious. But there are other factors to consider.

    First and foremost, software compatibility, either home-grown or from elsewhere. For home-grown code the question is does it compile and run the same. If one has a GUI interface program, does the GUI work? Ppl that post here seem to hate Motif/Lesstif. But compatibility is important for this specific case.

    Is this a replacement for some other system? What type of system? Why change? To the latter question is the answer, because it is cheaper in terms of hardware and licencing costs. Additionally, if one comes from a Unix based environment, Linux provides a means to implement a mobile system. About 10 yrs ago, some company tried to sell a mobile Sparc system. AFAIK, this was not a financial success.

    Problem: binary compatibility (aka the big/little endian problem). If you don't have conversion code or don't use XDR, then you have a serious problem.

    I use a dual boot PowerBook. Other ppl that I work with use dual boot IBM's and Dell's. I've been trying to convince the powers to be that we can buy a good laptop system for the same price as the additional higher cost of shipping a bulky traditional workstation/computer. Note: laptops need to have effective access to large disk storage devices.

    My personal bias: USB support is critical when it comes to laptops. The next one with be Firewire/ILink support. Good to see the 2.4.0-test kernel providing more support for this.

  • with other distro's "out of the box." At least, that is my understanding. The linux that is used has been modified to support the Crusoe's features. However, sincs it is all open-source, it should be trivial to get another distro working on it. It won't be possible to install it right off the CD, that's all. Also, is the version of linux running on top of the x86 emulation, or has it been compiled directly for the Crusoe's VLIW instruction set? After all, the whole point of VLIW was to leave less to the processor (because so much real estate on the advanced RISC chips is going towards branch prediction and such) and mvoe that work to the compiler. I'll bet that the performence gains from native compiled code would rock (not that I have seen the design of the Crusoe or would be competent to interpret it.) Still, one of the great benefits of open-source software is that it can be re-compiled for any platform. I would wonder if Linus or any of the other Transmeta guys could comment (we know you read /. Come on now.)
  • But do you really think that Microsoft won't tell OEM's to dump linux or their prices will increase? It seems from Bill's attitude during the trial and even now that Microsoft(s) will continue to behave this way, counting on the fact that Big Brother can't effectively police Microsoft without having someone watch over the shoulder of every M$ employee. Will the government scrutinize every decision made by the 60k employee M$? Will the government scrutinize every line of code for artificially inserted incompatibilities? (Microsoft inserted just enough code between Windows 3.1 and 3.11 to break OS/2) Will the government be able to? Will the government have the power to fire people who consistenly go against the ruling? IBM and Dell will be able to have their way because they're big and they will make a stink and get Big Brother on Microsoft's back if they don't get their way. But what about the smaller vendors?

    I don't think governmental action will be the answer to what ails the software industry. I think free software is.


  • by MikeFM ( 12491 )
    I believe that Crusoe's software is all below the OS level. To the OS it's just another x86 processor so any software that runs on Intel x86 should run on a Crusoe processor also.

    Also they've said they won't be using the CPU at it's own instruction-set level both because it'd defeat the purpose of code-morphing software and also because the processor is designed specificly to be run by a code-morpher and isn't appropiate to use without the code-morphing layer. Important features of a CPU are left to the code-morphing layer. Transmeta's version of Linux, to my understanding, is just a normal lite version of x86 Linux w/ a few extra's thrown in (all which are still open so don't worry).
  • Hmm, let's see, I'm running RH6.2/Xfree86 4.0/E 16.4 on my 770Z and it works perfectly. The sound isn't painless, but it can be gotten to work. No problems with the PCMCIA ethernet devices or serial, and I've never had a docking station. The bios is not really secret, only different from the standard AMI/Phoenix style bios. They won't have to port the configurator because it's already been ported, check out the tpctl homepage. [] I've used several different brands of laptops over the years and I've found that brand doesn't necessarilly matter, though specific models may, or even small batches of a single model may exhibit certain problems. Your circumstances may very well be unique.
  • by Euphonious Coward ( 189818 ) on Sunday June 11, 2000 @09:49PM (#1009698)
    I used to sell Thinkpads running Debian GNU/Linux under the Linux Laptops Ltd. brand.

    JWZ is right: they are buggy as hell. IBM documents the bugs candidly as "Considerations" in their manual, so they happen in Windows too. Thus, the answer to JWZ's question is, "No, it will be just as buggy under Linux as under Windows."

    Incidentally, the IBM laptop drives were the least reliable of any I handled. I never had a Toshiba or Hitachi drive fail, but lost two IBM drives during burn-in.

    The BIOS access problem, though, has been mostly solved by Thomas Hood's "tpctl" program. IBM, uniquely, has provided a protected-mode interface to the BIOS so that you can reconfigure BIOS modes without shutting down Linux. Furthermore, IBM's PS2 program runs under DOS, so you still don't need Windows even for the things tpctl doesn't do.

    I did get suspend/resume mostly working... on some models you have to unplug from the power main before popping out a network card. Also, you have to have all your programs close the sound devices first, or you won't get sound again until you cycle power. (Rebooting isn't enough!) Thus, the "esd" sound mixer daemon component of Enlightenment, or the equivalent in Gnome, messes up the hardware on suspend. It is useless to try to run APM event scripts: IBM's BIOS doesn't deliver the events, at least on the 600. (The 570 seemed to do better.)

    I suspect the buggy BIOS is because they don't really have actual I/O devices; they are all simulated by the DSP gadget that also does the modem. The whole mess is probably so complicated they dare not touch it for fear of breaking something else too. At least, each model has a different set of bugs, and they never get fixed, year after year.

    Why do people not complain more? Maybe because very few buy it with their own money, and maybe because most who have them are managers and don't really use them, or spent so much they feel they *must* have got their money's worth; or are embarrassed not to have done their homework. Your guess is as good as mine.
  • Bull...
    I ran Debian on a 760 in -96 and RedHat on a 600 in -98 Both without any install problems at all.
    Sure, if I wanted to use the built in modem on the 600 I had to download a driver from IBM.

  • 7IMHO, This is so fucking stupid!

    Listen there is what 50+ differant winmodems on the market, everyone and there mother has a differant winmodem right? What does Lucent (IBM??) have to lose by releasing the source to this drvier?

    Will other companies be able to copy there winmodem? If so, who really gives a crap, there is already 50+ modems, does lucent really care if there is 50+ modems and 3 clones of there modem? It is not like Lucent has a %100 domination of the market and the ONLY winmodem, they don't. What could they possiable lose by realeasing the source?

    Second, if there winmodem was the only modem that was supported by linux, don't you think they would get a short temp sales in this niche market, before other manufactors released there source code?

  • Of course, only an AC would make from of my friend the grammar nazi. You are too spineless to do it any other way.
  • I've been considering a linux laptop for a while. I'm going off on vacation for over a month next year and would like to bring along a lap top for finding maps, checking email and journaling.

    The only thing thats held me back is battery life. Does Linux handle the normal features that say Windows or MacOS does to preserve battery life?

  • Well go for it then.

    RedHat 6.x is beautifully stable on the VAIO, and Q2 runs like a peach.

  • Hmmm... I have a compaq presario with the same symptom -- battery "charges" then goes dead in 10 seconds to 10 minutes. Think it might also be a dc/dc converter problem?

  • I wonder if IBM could release the source to OS/2 or if they have some legally binding agreement with Microsoft?

    I would of really like to see IBM kick the crap out of Microsoft with OS/2, even though I never used the OS. Let me re-phase that, for entrainment purposes, I would like to see IBM kick the crap out of Microsoft with OS/2

    If OS/2 was say GPL, Microsoft won't really have any direct enemey to attack...
  • I have linux running on my thinkpad, it's an old 755c, which is a 75MHz 486 DX. The thing is, i'm having a hell of a time trying to get X running :P I wish IBM released more specs about their LCD screen.
  • If a driver works on one linux, it works on any linux. They all use the same kernel -- that's what makes it *linux* and not the Hurd or something.

    Caldera 2.3 has two really nice installation features; one, it lets you play video games while it installs. Two, once it's done installing, you don't have to reboot; just pop out the CD and go install on the next machine. Whee! Kinda cool. Witness The Awesome Power of Chroot().
  • Yeap. Outside of downloading the drivers for the display and the internal modem; it's 100% compatible with Red Hat 6.1. on mine too.
  • Yes, it does. I'm posting this from Netscape 4.73 under Mandrake 7.1.

    My only question: why such a huge install? If I hadn't edited out some packages, it would have been over 1.5gb! As it is, I was only able to get it down to 1.1gb.

    Granted, hard drives are huge and cheap these days, but what about my ThinkPad P133? It only has a 2.1gb hd, and I don't want it over half full with the OS.

    Yes I know that you can slide that bar during install to lower the size of the install, but who knows what you're missing then? I spent about a half hour going through all the packages and deleting what I didn't want. Since it was still 1.1gb, which ones get deleted when you lower the size?

    Anywaysssss, that's my mini-rant for the day.

  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Monday June 12, 2000 @03:52AM (#1009710) Homepage
    "Question is, why so long? Thinkpads have been running Linux for a long time, after all."

    I saw this, and it brought to mind just how far Linux has come. Think back a couple of years: two years ago, before Mozilla, before the "great database ports of '98", back when kernel 2.0 had been current for years, we were glad to see any mention of Linux, any hint of support. If IBM had so much as mentioned Linux on a web page, it would have rated a mention on Slashdot.

    Anyone remember the "YALA" (Yet Another Linux Article) Stories? Back when any mention of Linux in a magazine other than Linux Journal warranted a Slashdot post?

    Yet, today we complain when a major manufacturer is sluggish in pre-loading Linux. Not that we shouldn't complain, but I think it's an interesting contrast.

    I look around, and I see a whole new band of Linux users. People who've never edited a Makefile -- who think that installing a program consists of "rpm -ivh" or, just maybe, "tar -xzvf" are becoming commonplace. Advanced users may know how to run "./configure; make; make install" -- but xmkmf (then editing the created makefile because xmkmf never worked right on any system I ever used) is a thing of the past. I don't resent these newcomers. In fact, I'm delighted to have them.

    But it's definitely a totally different world from the Bad Old Days when I first ran Linux by booting from a floppy, then switching over to a root disk! (This was before lilo). No hard drives, no nothing. Anyone else remember SLS?

    *sigh* I guess I'm getting old.


  • Ryan, Have you seen this []? Be patient, this page takes a long time to load (like 5 minutes for me).


  • That's funny. I find it difficult to believe someone would like DOS/Windows v3.x over 32bit OS/2. Heck, they could have run multiple instances of DOS/Windows v3.x INSIDE OS/2. They could have even made the OS/2 desktop look like DOS/Win3.x...
    I don't run Windows but I sometimes help fix it and OS/2 v2.0 had a better desktop then todays Windows. It did need a Program Manager(Explorer) file browser for those used to it. Last I knew, OS/2 ran circles around NT v4. Is it still true for NT v5 (Win00)?
  • I wonder if they'll be significantly cheaper than their propriety-software-running counterparts?

  • Up in laptop space, Windows ain't a big component of the base price. Plus, they gotta get something back for supporting a nice market. So be glad they don't charge extra!
  • Does this mean they've solved their little Winmodem problem []?
  • I'm being late in the day here, as this story is dropping down the front page. But several posts have complained as has The Register [] in their coverage [] of the same, that IBM aint been up to much recently.

    No I hate to say it but ZDNet [] has been a little more thorough.

    What intrigued me was th ehint in the linked article that IBm was going to release some office products for Linux at the same time. ZDNet's coverage [] of the same story is more enlightening. In fact better than IBM's linux home [] IMO.

    It's going to take some time to bring Linux into the support levels and consistency that IBM's corporate customers want. But Thinkpads to AS400 and CICS or whatever else is IBM's game. Not one individual product offering or another.

    Sometime soon the floodgates will burst and CIOs will *need* to evaluate enterprise Linux solutions seriously. IBM plans to be right there. Check out the links (including a promise for AS/400 port :)

  • by Storm ( 2856 ) on Sunday June 11, 2000 @06:54PM (#1009717) Homepage
    IBM has been shipping ThinkPads with Linux for a couple of years now. A friend of mine at a former job was able to order, straight from IBM, a ThinkPad 600 (IIRC) with RedHat 5.2. They have been quietly shipping them this way if you requested it. Its good to see them being more open about it.

  • by Paradox ( 13555 )
    Ick, why'd they choose Caldera? I suppose if it works with Caldera, it'll probably work with other distros as well though...

  • It's entirely possible that my experience is different than anyone else's, but I have nothing but good things to say about my ThinkPad 390E, which has run only Linux since the first day I got it.

    I don't have the sound problems you describe -- a simple rmmod and insmod after resume fixes sound for me. I am running the commercial OSS Solo driver, so maybe that's the difference, but it works like a charm.

    I also haven't had any problems with APM. All events work, and scripts run fine. Network card and all other devices continue to perform as expected after APM resume.

    The WinModem is annoying, but that's probably my only gripe. My ThinkPad has travelled with me everywhere, and aside from needing a new keyboard after a mishap with spilled liquid, it has been operational 24/7 for me. It continues to be a great little machine today.

    I bought mine, and would definitely consider buying another one. I'm not embarrassed at all. I consider it to have been a very solid investment.

  • by ZiGGyKAoS ( 86253 ) on Sunday June 11, 2000 @06:48PM (#1009720) Homepage
    But you had to buy windows with it and install linux yourself. :] but Seriously now the ibm thinkpad I series seems to be 100 percent linux compatible ive been running red hat 6.X on my 1400 since i got it 8 or so months ago.
  • As far as I know, there is a difference in the way P III and Crusoe emulates x86. The PIII will translate each instruction each time it is needed and the Crusoe processor will translate it once until its cache is full.

    Given this, I see no strong evidence the Crusoe at 1 GHz will be necessarily slower than a PIII at the same clock speed. Anybody can comment on this?

  • It's most likely taken so long because official support costs money - you have to have a bunch of people able to deal with questions. Presumable IBM have only just reached the point where they feel the cost of offerring Linux as a supported OS is worth it.

  • there's also a company called tuxtops that had cute lookin laptops. However, I emailed them and they dont currently have plans to use transmeta or arm processors... i may invest in a transmeta thinkpad when they're available :) if the price is right anyway :)
  • I had been starting to evaluate laptops; I'm currently using an older Thinkpad. I was really hoping that I'd be able to get IBM to sell me a non-Windows laptop.

    Now, it looks like all I have to do is wait one to three months. :)
  • by Oscarfish ( 85437 ) on Sunday June 11, 2000 @07:01PM (#1009725) Homepage
    The Register reports [] that Crusoe chips should hit 1GHz by year end, consuming only 4 to 5 watts of power (for comparison, mobile Pentium III chips at 900 MHz use 29 watts). If IBM uses Crusoe chips like this in their thinkpads, running a version of Linux that is enhanced for the Crusoe's architecture and unique power consumption, I think we'll have some very interesting laptop machines going around, at speeds up to 1GHz.

    Too bad there won't be any machines like this based on Athlons anytime soon. AMD is having some serious problems with power consumption.

  • I can think of two reasons why they will not be cheaper:
    1) I believe that leading Windows OEMs such as IBM still have to pay Microsoft a royalty for every desktop and notebook system shipped, regardless of the actual OS installed. Therefore, the system prices will still include the now-infamous "Microsoft tax", even if IBM does not actually ship the Windows software with the systems.
    2) If IBM preinstalls a major Linux distribution on the Thinkpads, it may have to pay a per-unit royalty to the supplier of the distribution as part of the OEM agreement, which may or may not be less than what Microsoft charged.

  • Although I'm on a Toshiba right now, I've had the privilege of being assigned three ThinkPads over the course of the last two years. They are far and away my favorite laptops.

    It's not glamorous, but one of the most useful features of the ThinkPad line is the third "mouse" button. In its default configuration, it allows you to scroll windows vertically or horizontally by holding down the third button and moving the TrackPoint. It's great for those situations where you don't want to pound the Tab key a hundred times so you can use the arrow keys to scroll, and you don't want to mouse over to grab the scroll bar.

    I assume that this feature will be supported in the new Linux boxes?

  • What does Transmeta have to do with a Thinkpad bundled with Linux...?

    I must've missed something somewhere.
  • Yes they've solved the winmodem problem.. in a really crappy way. From what I can tell, they paid(or got for free?) Lucent to write the driver. Now get this... it works with Redhat only. And it's binary only ahere the driver is basically locked down to a kernel version so you can't upgrade your kernel until they release a new driver. Furthermore, it is a buggy driver. If you try to use the serial port after using the WinModem driver, the computer freezes solid. No contact info on who wrote the driver yet. You can find info on Linux + i series Thinkpads here []. This model uses the Lucent WinModem.

  • I have a Thinkpad 770ED, and man, it sucks.

    It's been relegated to a sad life as a desktop machine, because any time I try to do anything even remotely laptop-like with it, such as:

    • unsuspend and have PCMCIA still work;
    • switch from eth0 to ppp0 and back again;
    • talk to devices in the docking station;
    • switch hot-swap devices;
    • do sound; basically loses its mind.

    I did get sound working eventually, but not well enough to run Quake. And I was never able to get VMware to talk to the serial port or network for some unknown reason.

    So does the fact that IBM is going to ship Linux on these laptops mean they're going to actually make the features of these laptops work?

    Another problem with Thinkpads is that their BIOS is secret and weird, and the only way to manipulate most of it is via a Windows configurator program: so you can't delete Windows; it is your BIOS. I guess they'll have to solve this by porting their configurator to Linux...

    The damn thing also eats batteries: three times now it's gone from "100% charge" to "0% charge" overnight, while plugged in to wall current, and from that point on, the battery won't take a charge at all: it becomes a $300 paperweight. This isn't some battery-memory situation, it just dies all at once, not gradually.

    (PS: after that glowing review, anyone want to buy my Stinkpad?)

  • Nevermind. I'm dumb.
  • Because the zealots jump at anything linux. Hey the microcontroller for the motor on this sewage pump runs linux! What I don't get is why you need a multi user OS on something like a palmtop. I don't use much of the multi user stuff in linux now.
  • About 10 yrs ago, some company tried to sell a mobile Sparc system. AFAIK, this was not a financial success.

    I've been drooling over those UltraSPARC notebooks for a long time. Lately I've been thinking of getting a quote on a refurbished one here []. I'm a little afraid at what they'll tell me. My guess is $7k, minimum, for one of these babies new. The guy who recommended these people to me said that you can save %40 off list from them, but since RISC notebooks are a niche of a niche market, I think I'd be lucky to get %20 off list.

    Apparently the manufacturer [] also sells refurbs.

    This is the stuff that dreams are made of. [] Or this [], if you're an HP-UX guy.


  • Theres a loyal following to the tadpole sparc books, plenty of people still use them. The thing is that most people don't need sparc features in a laptop. I'd take a sparc anything over a pc any day.
  • I used to fix those things for a living. It sounds like you have a bad DC/DC card. If it's still on warranty, send it to your local thinkpad service center for repairs.
  • I bought the dell sapecifcally because I don't like the trackpoint. Mine is PIII 650/500 (speed step), ATI Rage Mobility 1400x1050/24 bit (1600x1200 external). I got the 12GB disk (18 was an option but I don't need it - it's the 6th machine in the house :-) and 192MB of ram.

    As a dual boot box (Win 98 and Red Hat 6.2) it works great. Better still I can watch *my* selection of movies on long plane rides (why else get a dvd :-).

    I've even had win 98 running under vmware on it.

  • I think Big Blue has a long memeory and they still have not forgiven Microsoft over OS/2. Anything they can do to stick it to MS they will do.
  • by AndersW ( 64204 ) on Sunday June 11, 2000 @10:41PM (#1009738) Homepage
    I think you're still haven't "lowered" yourself to the consumers level here. IMHO most members of the Sixpack family won't notice the difference between a Pentium at 600MHz and one at 1GHz. The vast majority will just go for the Gigahertz label at a good price, and then get a pleasant surprise from the extended battery life that Crusoe notebooks are likely to be sporting.
  • You are right.. Alpha, introduced 3 years ago at a then stunning 450mhz when attempting to emulate x86 hardware was barely faster than a 200mhz Pentium pro. Any program with native support for Alpha is blazing fast. Seti@home is the perfect example. a 667mhz Alpha wil do a Seti unit in 57 minutes. A 1Ghz thunderbird Athalon takes 5 hours. The Crusoe also uses an x86 translator. The term "emulator" was given such a bad name by the Alpha that Transmetta will not use it. My old Alpha? 4.5 hours...

    This all reminds me of Intel's recent promise of a 1Ghz laptop processor "blitz" (their word) before Christmas. Scorched thighs! I will not put a 60watt light bulb on my lap what makes them think I want a 60 watt processor there?!?!

  • Actually, I use the binary-only module on both laptop and desktop. I found the module here []

    It is compiled against kernel 2.2.12, but I use it with 2.2.14 [insmod -f] and didn't notice any problem (apart the modem itself :-) ). Oh, and I use Debian, so the module does not seem to be distribution-dependent.

    I imagine that when I switch to 2.2.4, the module will break. For then, I hope the people working on open-source linmodems will have something workable for me (thanks in advance, guys!).

    If some company officially supports Linux on a laptop with lucent winmodem, maybe they will keep the module up-to-date. Well, until they think it is profitable, that is.

    Anyway, I kept my old external 33.6K, just in case ...

  • And for those looking to install Linux on just about any laptop under the sun, the Linux on Laptops [] homepage is the place to look.

  • The operating system is not the kernel

    Perhaps you should tell Dell as well, cause that's where he got it from :-)

  • What do you mean "ick"? Name one other distribution that caters to desktop users who are NOT Linux savvy

    Well... if I read the article correctly it said that:

    The laptops are aimed at computer professionals and scientists, two groups that have embraced Linux, said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, the head of IBM's Linux group.

    Hmmm.. doesn't sound like they are trying to target my Grandmother here..

    Not to bag on Caldera here, I've never tried it so I would be remiss to do so, but ..uh...well..yeah... why not use a distro that's aimed more for the computer proffesional or scientist?

  • by bjb ( 3050 )
    So will these have 'Designed for Linux' stickers over the Windows 98/NT stickers?

  • I have been running RedHat Linux on Thinkpads for years and it runs just fine.

    The "problem" with the WinModem is best solved by not using the WinModem at all. It doesn't even work quite right under Windows, and I think it was altogether a bad idea.

    If you get a modem PCMCIA card (maybe a combo with Ethernet), you end up with a nice, fast, reliable, standard modem that works from both Linux and Windows. If you need your PCMCIA slots for something else, could go with a USB or serial port modem.

  • With IBM promising to churn out Thinkpads with Linux, I guess we would expect IBM to deal with all the funny laptop issues like power management and strange devices (win-modems, weird-ass sound cards, etc). Customers certainly wouldn't settle for a laptop with a built-in modem that doesn't work.

    Now, if I already have an IBM Thinkpad, acquired in the pre-Enlightenment era when win-doze contaminated your hard drive when the laptop arrived, where most things work under Linux, but not quite everything I would like, it seems that if IBM has to solve these issues for future Thinkpads with Linux pre-loaded, these solutions can also be applied retroactively to my little laptop.

    Does this seem reasonable, or am I living a pipe dream?

  • Mmmmmmmmmm...RedHat anus...

  • #]mount pengiun
    mount: Only root can mount pengiun.
    #]root penguin

    "pengiun?" is that anything like "penguin?"

  • Restrictions on the licences for the protocols. They are not allowed to release the source code. However what they should be doing, and what is repeated time and time again on linux-kernel and in developer documentation, is they should be making a binary-only userspace daemon for the protocols (compiled for all the different architectures that can use a winmodem, not just a McCpu (x86)). Then they should provide a source driver to interface with the daemon and the hardware. There is NO reason to have V.32, V.90, etc in the kernel.
  • It was called OS/2, perhaps you remember it?

    Yes, yes I do remember OS/2. Ever try and get an IBM-brand laptop or desktop computer with OS/2 pre-installed? Lots of them, right? Plenty of choice?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 11, 2000 @07:06PM (#1009755)
    the day any company sells anything related to linux and it doesn't make the front page news here...

    that, will be the day we know linux has finally arrived.

  • While browsing IBM's Linux pages [], I saw a page explaining their position on Linux support []. This is the first time I recall a major OEM (you know, excluding Linux-specific vendors like VA Linux) having such an optimistic outlook on Linux support, and not leaving anything ambiguous to the consumer. This part sums it all up for me:

    We are now offering the same kind of operating system support for Linux as we do for AIX, OS/2, OS/390, OS/400 and NT.

    Way to go IBM!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 11, 2000 @07:09PM (#1009759)
    They may also have to replace certain components (like winmodems, DVD players) with Linux-compatible ones, which cost more money.
  • As I recall the last "Linux Compatable" thinkpad that came from IBM had an in-operative winmodem in it. Though that didn't bother Redhat (IIRC, it was Redhat) who happily stamped them "Linux Compatable" anyway.

    Not too compelling when you can get approximately the same level of Linux Compatability from a Sony VAIO and it's a much nicer computer. The IBM Thinkpad was the best laptop out there and as usual IBM rested on their laurels and were passed by other faster, smarter companies. They should just give up at this point and completely leave the PC market, since they can't build a good quality part that won't cost thousands more than anything their competitors put out.

  • The Crusoe's tuned more for (energy) efficiency, rather than raw performance. On a desktop, this might not be so much of a priority, but for a laptop it makes a difference. I think your average laptop user (i.e. me) would be more concerned with getting a few more hours of battery life out of his or her laptop than getting a few more frames per second out of Quake. Burning through laptop batteries at 1 GHz of x86 performance isn't quite as cool as it sounds when you have a dead battery in 45 minutes.
  • umm... hello?

    Been There, Done That.

    It was called OS/2, perhaps you remember it?

    Anyway, as others have pointed out, this isn't really news, we've been shipping preconfigured machines with Suse, Caldera, Turbo and Redhat for some time now... all you have to do is place your order by phone and ASK for it. (assuming it's supported hardware.) There's a guy down the hall at work that just got a 600E preloaded... personally I'll wait for the a20's price to come down... or for a cruesoe based system... 'cuz I'll bet that 700Mhz mobile PIII will heat up a bit on ac power on your lap, I've already burnt my leg with an old 770... and that was just a 266 Pentium!
  • If it works with Redhat only, then it sounds they'll have a bit of a problem using Caldera as their distro...

    Seriously, I never saw any advantage to using Caldera. It doesn't really offer any special features that other distros don't have. They hype the Caldera Open Adminstration System, their configuration tool, but at least on 2.2 that program failed to do important things such as actually change configuration - most of the time it would just disappear without changing anything. They've got an X configuration tool that only works on installation and never works again - I was stuck in a painful, shimmering screen mode until I figured out how to change the Modeline. Their RPM system fails most of the time, unless you're using RPMs designed specifically for Caldera.

    So I'd assume IBM's porting their winmodem driver to Caldera as well. That would just suck, because it means you can't switch to a decent distribution.
    No more e-mail address game - see my user info. Time for revenge.
  • It's typically one of two things (At least in Thinkpads.) Either the DC/DC card is bad, which results in a variety of power related symptoms. The other potential problem is that the battery has been "Memoried" to death. Apparently recharagable batteries suffer from a memory effect which causes them to last for shorter and shorter periods of time. IBM includes a "Deep level discharge" on its Thinkpads to combat this effect. Every so often, the user should discharge the batteries completely and then fully recharge them.
  • Much of the low-level OS was implemented by Microsoft and IIRC most of that code is still in use. I believe HPFS is largely a Microsoft chunk of code. I'd be surprised if almost the entire GUI level wasn't totally rewritten by IBM, though.

    What'd be much more interesting would be if IBM ported its PM desktop to Gnome. Most of the underlying archetecture is already in Gnome, so it'd mostly involve porting the huge batch of desktop components they wrote.

  • You are wrong with this, and I have code to prove it. Most vendors make their own kernel patches and thus have slight incompatibilities. SUSE, Redhat, and others. This is a topic of much controversy lately.
    Well, then THAT SUCKS!!!! I've never have a problem using random modules on the e.g., 2.2.14-5 Redhat kernels. I don't know what the "-5" part entails. Do you? Of course, I usually download and rebuild my own kernel eventually.
  • I have a 770Z with the 1280x1024 video and love it, but X could be a bit faster. Actually, quite a bit faster. Adding 'Option "accel"' to the configuration file worked a bit, but I can still watch it draw the screen when I switch desktops, which is annoying.

    How's your XF86 4.0 working out? Does it improve performance at all over the previous release?


  • If it weren't for the fact that I hate, hate, hate those touchpad rodents with a passion, I would :-(.


  • by hypergeek ( 125182 ) on Sunday June 11, 2000 @07:25PM (#1009789)
    Is it just me, or does it strike anybody else that there's something very, erm, down-right disturbing about the title of this article?
  • by Mullen ( 14656 ) on Sunday June 11, 2000 @07:25PM (#1009790)
    Somemore good news about the Microsoft break up.

    Do you think that even Big IBM would have done something like this before Microsofts business practices came under carefull eye of the US Government? Nope, not at all. MS would called them up and said, "I think your OEM contract is going to increase ALOT unless you dump Linux".
    Now with MS under control and getting punished for their past business practices we will now see more thing like this. More companies saying, "Hey! we can release products and hardware that dont support MS products only".

    I dont know about you, but I think this is a good thing.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus