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Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

T40/T41/T42/T43 series specific matters only
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mrtaufner
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Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#1 Post by mrtaufner » Thu Aug 30, 2018 8:58 pm

I've literally wasted +5 hours of my life trying to make some distros work on my good ole T41.

I've been looking for some of the most known ones that "don't have PAE", but for some reason it has been a real pain:

I'll list some of them (none of them has worked actually):

[*]Lubuntu 18.04 and 16.04 (actually only 12.04 and previous are non PAE, and that version is not on their repo anymore. Installation gets stuck after the "detecting hardware" thingy)

[*]Bodhi (legacy install is allegedly non PAE but didn't work with either unetbootin nor rufus. This was a complete mess: First the pae [censored], then the Radeon 7500 wouldn't allow a normal live boot... so i had to go xforcevesa and then it would say that no live media was found to boot...)

[*]Trisquel Mini (didn't work with unetbootin)

[*]Elementary (actually this was the first I tried and only noticed afterwards that it's only for PAE enabled CPUs)

Distros that did work (which, also, I recommend):

[*]Trisquel Mini (with Rufus. The last distro I tried with Rufus and booted from a Live USB AND the one I'm going to install on my Thinkpad)

[*]ToriOS (with Rufus. Pretty basic and completely intended to be upscaled like arch, but based on Debian Jessie instead)

So my point is:

[*]Machine is too old. Finding a good distro for it felt really grindy.

[*]Don't try using unetbootin It seems that it causes bugs on most recent(-ish) distros.

[*]Do your homework first if don't want spend a good amount of the evening and night grinding with distros and commands and drivers.

[*]DON'T try using unetbootin. I really mean it.

[*]Devs should really be more explicit on what their OS do and do not have. Had to dig really deep into some forums to find the info I was trying to find.

[*]As of today, old ATI Radeon Drivers for Linux are still [censored] and many distros won't have them (mostly because they're are not free software nor open source)

[*]As of today, old WLAN drivers support on Linux is still [censored]. I guess I'll have to find the drivers for Ye Olde Intel Wlan 2100

[*]UNETBOOTIN IS SHIET

Hopefully this will serve someone well in a near future

ajkula66
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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#2 Post by ajkula66 » Thu Aug 30, 2018 10:28 pm

Two distros that worked OOTB on my T42 were non-PAE version of Zorin, and the Debian-based Mint (Betsy).

ATi drivers are a real problem with older systems, but my take is that the lack of them doesn't really make a huge difference, since these machines are old and sluggish for most purposes to begin with.

To each their own, but there's no need IMO to use a 2100B in A.D. 2018. Atheros-based cards have always had much better support and are woefully inexpensive nowadays.

My $0.02 only...
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mrtaufner
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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#3 Post by mrtaufner » Fri Aug 31, 2018 5:13 am

ajkula66 wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 10:28 pm
Two distros that worked OOTB on my T42 were non-PAE version of Zorin, and the Debian-based Mint (Betsy).

ATi drivers are a real problem with older systems, but my take is that the lack of them doesn't really make a huge difference, since these machines are old and sluggish for most purposes to begin with.

To each their own, but there's no need IMO to use a 2100B in A.D. 2018. Atheros-based cards have always had much better support and are woefully inexpensive nowadays.

My $0.02 only...

I agree. Didn't know Zorin, but I did know that Debian and Mint have dedicated non PAE releases.

I don't mind having a sluggish machine: you can't overcome that, but i'd like to know I'm getting the most juice from it, right? As i said on reddit before (regarding this thread) these Thinkpads are no more than a glorified Raspberry Pi but x86-capable.

Unless you make it a server or a CLI machine

And yea, I'm looking for other mini PCI cards but I'm completely ok without having to browse the internet with this PC

Rs125
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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#4 Post by Rs125 » Wed Oct 03, 2018 9:43 pm

Hi, new today and first post. When most distros are booting from live usb, you can hit “tab” or sometimes f6 to get to boot options. Then enter forcepae—forcepae
This will make it work on older pentium M cpu’s. I have a toughbook cf-29 and it will run new distros by using forcepae. That’s two dashes between the forcepae. Google forcepae for some good info.
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Dekks
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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#5 Post by Dekks » Thu Oct 04, 2018 3:02 am

antiX or pupply linux
Home - Win10/i5//Arch GNOME 3/X230 Tablet //Spectrwm X61 [Korean] - Debian 10//X32//T60p
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zinger919
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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#6 Post by zinger919 » Thu Oct 04, 2018 6:40 am

ajkula66 wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 10:28 pm
Two distros that worked OOTB on my T42 were non-PAE version of Zorin, and the Debian-based Mint (Betsy).

ATi drivers are a real problem with older systems, but my take is that the lack of them doesn't really make a huge difference, since these machines are old and sluggish for most purposes to begin with.

To each their own, but there's no need IMO to use a 2100B in A.D. 2018. Atheros-based cards have always had much better support and are woefully inexpensive nowadays.

My $0.02 only...
FYI, I'm writing this on a T42, happily running MX 17 PAE! Even though some Pentium Ms don't report themselves as PAE, most, save the very oldest, are. BTW MX17 runs great on this machine - much more responsive than my wife's T410 / Win 7.

mrtaufner
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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#7 Post by mrtaufner » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:12 am

Rs125 wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 9:43 pm
Hi, new today and first post. When most distros are booting from live usb, you can hit “tab” or sometimes f6 to get to boot options. Then enter forcepae—forcepae
This will make it work on older pentium M cpu’s. I have a toughbook cf-29 and it will run new distros by using forcepae. That’s two dashes between the forcepae. Google forcepae for some good info.
Yeah, I discovered that when I posted this, but the distros I tried even with --forcepae would not work.

Dekks wrote:
Thu Oct 04, 2018 3:02 am
antiX or pupply linux
I managed to install Bunsenlabs Linux (kind of a Debian with newer packages, instead of the old ones that Debian usually uses on stable) without much trouble and runs perfectly fine. The only failing thing right now is the wifi card, but I'm just using an usb wifi stick instead
zinger919 wrote:
Thu Oct 04, 2018 6:40 am
ajkula66 wrote:
Thu Aug 30, 2018 10:28 pm
Two distros that worked OOTB on my T42 were non-PAE version of Zorin, and the Debian-based Mint (Betsy).

ATi drivers are a real problem with older systems, but my take is that the lack of them doesn't really make a huge difference, since these machines are old and sluggish for most purposes to begin with.

To each their own, but there's no need IMO to use a 2100B in A.D. 2018. Atheros-based cards have always had much better support and are woefully inexpensive nowadays.

My $0.02 only...
FYI, I'm writing this on a T42, happily running MX 17 PAE! Even though some Pentium Ms don't report themselves as PAE, most, save the very oldest, are. BTW MX17 runs great on this machine - much more responsive than my wife's T410 / Win 7.
Yea, I've also read a lot about that. I don't know what did Intel get from not reporting an ACTUAL capability of the Pentium M, though. But anyway, Bunsenlabs Linux runs just fine and I'm ok with that

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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#8 Post by Dekks » Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:07 pm

I use Bunsenlabs on this machine, did you add contrib non-free to your sources and add the firmware file for your wifi card
Home - Win10/i5//Arch GNOME 3/X230 Tablet //Spectrwm X61 [Korean] - Debian 10//X32//T60p
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mrtaufner
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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#9 Post by mrtaufner » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:47 am

Dekks wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:07 pm
I use Bunsenlabs on this machine, did you add contrib non-free to your sources and add the firmware file for your wifi card
Yea: I actually have no wifi problems with Bunsenlabs... (it fails ONLY on Windows XP every 5 minutes, forgot to mention it in my previous post)

beko1987
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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#10 Post by beko1987 » Mon Feb 18, 2019 5:23 am

I've had MX Linux running superbly on my T40 and 43 (well, on the 43 until the mSAta drive encountered issues the last time I tried it...)

Didn't do anything special either, just made a Live USB and off it went

Caveat? Well it runs better on the T43 than the T40, the generational improvement helps alot, MX ran fine on the T40, but the internet near kills it, the T43 can handle it more. I rebuilt the T40 as an XP machine, which is fine on the net with an XP tweaked chromium
Thinkpad T40
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Summer Deep
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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#11 Post by Summer Deep » Fri Nov 22, 2019 5:14 am

I know this is an oldish thread, but I thought I'd report that I'm running Q4OS on a T40. I hadn't even heard of the distro until a couple of months ago. Runs really well, only using around 600 MB of the laptop's 1.5 GB RAM, even with four or five tabs open on Firefox. The processor doesn't seem to be overburdened either, except when YouTube is being accessed.

antiX seems a good choice for this series as well - that's what I'm using on my T42.

junom
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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#12 Post by junom » Thu Mar 19, 2020 9:28 pm

Hi,

I discovered this forum a while back and recently decided to register just to answer to this post. I was a very happy user of a slightly modified 15" T42 until early this year. I had the infamous video card problem and decided it was time to part with my old trusted ThinkPad. Since then I am out of the ThinkPad family and into HP (please don't judge me!) with an EliteBook 8570w which I am also happy about after taking some time to get used to (I am fairly disapointed with the battery life... I barely get over 3 hours. But I use my laptop plugged in as a desktop replacement so it is less of an issue).

But enough about myself. We are talking about linux distros on the ThinkPad T4x series. The main reason I was able to use my T42 for so many years (bought it used in 2008) as my daily driver was that I ran Gentoo Linux on it. Everything is compiled from source so you have to be extremely patient if you want to install it. You also have to setup a few config files and do some work from the command line, so it is not noob friendly. With Enlightenment as my Desktop manager and a couple of tweaks in my config files, the memory footprint would be about 100 MB right after logging in to my session. It jumped to over 300 MB with the browser (Seamonkey, still my current web browser). Video card (FireGL Mobility with the open source Radeon driver), bluetooth, Gigabit ethernet, wireless with a LinkSys Mini-PCI card mod (too lazy to fetch the model number), everything worked just fine. Movies in 720p with minor framedropping was not a problem.

Hope this helps. I have my old config files somewhere on my drive, so if anyone needs it, I will be happy to share. ThinkWiki (http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/ThinkWiki) is a decent source of information for installing Linux on ThinkPads.

bluetomgold
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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#13 Post by bluetomgold » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:02 am

I’ve just installed Xubuntu on my T41. Very easy install. No issues apart from having to manually allow PAE with the command “forcepae”. Apparently the T41’s processor does support PAE, it just doesn’t shout about it.

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/PAE

Anyway it works pretty well considering. OS itself is snappy and looks nice, and general tasks like word processing all quite painless. Web browsing is sluggish, I haven’t yet worked out whether that’s down to the wireless adapter or browser. I’ll plug it in in a bit and find out...

Overall as a general purpose machine Xubuntu is way more practical than either the XP or Windows 7 installations I’ve had on it so I would recommend it.

bluetomgold
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Re: Thoughts after trying to install Linux on my T41

#14 Post by bluetomgold » Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:03 am

Web browsing via Ethernet cable is much better...quite usable. Currently streaming video via YouTube, slightly jerky in full screen but very watchable in a smaller window. Not sure whether the onboard WiFi is just a bit slow or it’s a driver issue...

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