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Fedora 12 Linux on Lenovo/IBM ThinkPad Edge13 AMD

Do not buy this laptop if you want to run Linux on it.

My wife is a huge Linux fan. Her existing ThinkPad laptop is about 5 years old, so we decided it was time to (finally) replace it. My wife prefers the TrackPoint, so she wanted another ThinkPad.

She had only a few criteria for her new laptop:

  1. it must be Linux compatible
  2. it must be Red (she was tired of always having a black laptop, time for a change)
  3. it should have a TrackPoint
  4. it should have a solid state drive

We weren't able to find a new ThinkPad that met all the criteria, but we did find a nice laptop that met the first three items. The Lenovo/IBM ThinkPad Edge13 Intel was listed with the following:

  • "Heatwave Red" glossy finish
  • Intel Core2 Duo processor SU7300 (1.3GHz, 3MB L2)
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
  • 13.3" TFT display with 1366x768 (HD) resolution with LED backlight
  • 3GB memory
  • 320GB 7200rpm 2.5" SATA HDD
  • Realtek Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000)
  • Intel HD Audio with a CX20582 codec
  • Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1000
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 0.3MP Integrated camera
  • UltraNav (TrackPoint / Touchpad combo)
  • Multicard reader 5-in-1 (MMC, MS, MS Pro, SD, SDHC)

So that's what we bought. Or rather, that's what we thought we ordered.

In reality, Lenovo/IBM had a web site problem (their Sales guy later confirmed this when I called to complain) where the Edge13 AMD was being displayed as an Edge13 Intel. While I bought an Intel system, their web site sold me an AMD system.

The Lenovo/IBM ThinkPad Edge13 AMD that they sent me had these specs:

  • "Heatwave Red" glossy finish
  • AMD Athlon Neo X2 Dual-Core processor L325 (1.5GHz, 1MB L2)
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200
  • 13.3" TFT display with 1366x768 (HD) resolution with LED backlight
  • 3GB memory
  • 250GB 5400rpm 2.5" SATA HDD
  • Realtek Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000)
  • HD Audio with a CX20582 codec
  • ThinkPad 11b/g/n Wireless LAN Mini-PCI Express Adapter II
  • 0.3MP Integrated camera
  • UltraNav (TrackPoint / Touchpad combo)
  • Multicard reader 5-in-1 (MMC, MS, MS Pro, SD, SDHC)

I've highlighted the differences for you. My wife doesn't store any large files, so a 250GB versus a 320GB hard drive makes no difference to her. And to be honest, the AMD CPU worked fine.

The major problems were the video card and wireless network card.

I happen to have a USB flash drive that has Fedora 12 installed on it. (I use it on another machine that usually runs Windows, but where I also want to boot Linux.) Fortunately, before I installed Fedora 12 on the new laptop, I decided to boot it with the Linux USB flash drive, just to see that everything worked. That's when I discovered it was a different system than what I ordered.

I called Support, and got some moron who tried to tell me there is no exchange policy for situations like this, that I'd need to buy another one from them, and return this one for a refund. I said that was bullshit, and got transferred up the chain.

I talked to a guy in Sales who confirmed the web site problem, and tried to find another laptop they could exchange for mine. Yes, it really was going to be an exchange - that other guy was wrong. Unfortunately, you can only get "red" systems with AMD CPUs - another problem with the web site. And the other AMD system wasn't Linux-compatible, either.

In the end, I'm returning this thing for a refund, and buying a Dell.

For the curious, my brief experience with Fedora 12 on the USB flash drive are below:

Graphics

The ATI Radeon card is not supported by Fedora 12, at least for 3D features. Instead, it is supported using a generic driver, so no 3D desktop effects. We knew this before we bought the laptop, which is why we bought the Intel laptop instead. In theory, the fglrx proprietary, binary-only driver will support this card, but I had no interest in trying it out here.

Bluetooth

The on-board Bluetooth card was recognized, and GNOME gave me the little Bluetooth icon. I didn't test it out, though, since I knew I wasn't keeping the laptop.

Sound

The sound card worked fine, and played my desktop sound effects no problem.

Wireless

The ThinkPad 11b/g/n card is actually a re-branded Realtek wireless card. This does not work under Linux. According to ThinkWiki, this won't even work with NDISwrappers. The use of ndiswrapper is not recommended.

Summary

My grade: "D"

  • video card not recognized, supported using generic driver
  • wireless card not recognized, not supported with NDISwrappers


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