ThinkPad X61 Tablet and Ubuntu Hardy Heron
A long time ago I ordered a tablet PC from Lenovo, but it did not arrive until a few days ago. But now I have it and I am quite happy with it. The laptop is the ThinkPad X61 Tablet PC, and it has been reviewed several times before in text and in video, so I will not be going over the hardware in much detail. I will dedicate most of this post to talk about it’s compability with Linux. I installed the first alpha of Ubuntu Hardy Heron, and I got all of the major features working without a sinch. Anyways, read on to learn more about the ThinkPad X61 Tablet.
First of all, let me do a quick summary about the hardware in my ThinkPad X61. I have the model with the SWGA screen that does not have the touch screen capabilities, so instead I have to use a special pen (included). However as a compenstaion I do get a better resolution. Also I upgraded to 2GB of memory and I have a Core 2 Duo processor running at 1.6Gh. The laptop looks a bit ugly, but I knew that before I ordered anyways since it is the trademark of the ThinkPad brand. 😉 The keyboard is very responsive, properly sized and has many multimedia shortcuts. The only problem is that the Ctrl and Esc button are not in the position that they are on a standard desktop keyboard, which can be quite hard to get used to and makes using Emacs a bit tedious. Finally, like all the other reviews sites, the screen smudges easily but you cannot see it with the computer is turned on.
Now a quick overview of how compatible this computer is with the GNU/Linux operating system, or more specific with Ubuntu Hardy Heron. Most features worked out of the box, but I had to install external packages and make a few scripts to get other working. In the rest of the post, I will mention what I got working and give a few tips. On everything else, I will write detailed posts later on. Also check out the ThinkWiki page for the ThinkPad X61 Tablet for even more guides. If you have trouble with anything, don’t hesitate to contact me.
The wireless connection works out of the box. I could connect to the internet from live CD of both Gutsy Gibbon and Hardy Heron.
Touchscreen (Pen Only)
Works after you uncomment the wacom options in your xorg.conf file. Hardy Heron did not have a default xorg.conf file, so I had to copy the one generated for me by the Gutsy Gibbon live CD. You can download it here.
Works with the xrandr utility, but there are no automatic scripts in place. There is a guide that shows you how to get automatic rotation when you flip down the screen. However I have created a script that takes data from the built-in accelerometer (see Hard Disk Protection) and rotates the screen according to it. Also I created a script for the rotate button on the screen that will rotate your display with a click. I will publish both of the scripts on this blog later after I iron out a few problems. Subscribe to my blog to be notified of them.
Extra Keyboard Buttons
All of the keyboard buttons, except the arrow buttons on the screen, report a keycode that can be assigned to an action in GNOME. However some of them do not have a X11 name assigned to them, so KDE users are out of luck. You can get the screen arrow keys working by adding the following lines to your /etc/rc.local file:
setkeycodes 6f 108
setkeycodes 71 103
setkeycodes 6e 105
setkeycodes 6d 106
There is also a problem with the ThinkVantage and Fn+SPACE buttons, which can be fixed by adding the following lines to the same file:
setkeycodes e017 148
setkeycodes 0082 192
Hard Disk Protection
The accelerometer that spins down your hard disk activity on lot of movement works, but the program that actually does it does not. The ThinkWiki page claims you can get it working by recompiling the kernel, but I did not feel like doing that yet. So far you can do other cool stuff with the accelerometer, like automatic screen rotation. However to get it working, you will need to compile the hdaps drivers for it manually, because the ones available in Gutsy and Hardy are broken. You can download them here.
The hdaps-gl script that mimics your laptop’s orientation based on the data seems to get the axis all screwed up, so if you using a program that uses it, you might need to fix the axis. I am not sure why this is happening. You can get the program by installing the hdapsd package on Ubuntu.
Both suspend and hibernate work out of the box. But after resume, the screen is not backlit and is very dark. I have to go into a console terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F1 and then back to X by pressing Alt+F8. Then everything is OK again. (Fixed)
Ubuntu comes with the fancy effects known as Compiz Fusion, and enables them if 3D support is enabled. This happened to me right after I set the video card driver to “intel”, and I did not notice any lag. So I can say that Compiz works perfectly on the ThinkPad X61 Tablet!
The fingerprint scanner works after you install the thinkfinger-tools and libpam-thinkfinger packages from the Ubuntu repos. You no longer need to add the extra repositories as claimed by the Ubuntu Wiki. However you should refer to it for installation instructions.