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By cmnorton at 2008-03-22 16:05
I have installed Ubuntu 6.06, 6.10, 7.04, and 7.10 on an Acer Laptop (Travelmate 630) and an Acer Pentium IV (pre-Threaded) desktop. The desktop was purchased about four years ago, but is new enough to have native USB 2.0.

These installations were simple compared to installing Ubuntu on a Thinkpad T61p, and I believe the advanced NVIDIA graphics is the reason the installation was so difficult. Given this was an employer-purchased laptop that came through with Windows XP, I first needed to preserve Lenovo's extensive Windows tools that come with their pre-installed Windows Thinkpad models.

One of the most important parts of this tutorial is that had I known about these steps, the final reboot would have concluded successfully. That is, had I taken the recovery option on the grub menu and configured X, then I believe the final reboot would not have been interrupted and issues like my /etc/group not being set up correctly would not have occured.

I believe the fact the final reboot was interrupted due to graphics problems is why my /etc/group was not set up completely. I had to go back and add myself (the installer's username who is the first administrator -- root -- on Ubuntu systems) to several groups like adm, dialout, and plugdev.

1) Using bittorrent, I downloaded a 7.10 live CD image; burned; and checked the CD.

Then, I preserved the XP environment that was installed on the T61p by making the rescue DVDs; installing Acronis imaging/backup software; and backing up the drive to a SAMBA share.

2) I booted with the live Ubuntu CD. From instinct, I chose start or load Ubuntu in safe mode. This instinct was from having installed on the Acer Travelmate.

I could not run Ubuntu in safe mode. I got a "black" during the launch process from the live CD menu.

3) I rebooted from the live CD, and chose command line installation. This completed successfully, but upon reboot, I still got the black screen, and had to cycle the power.

4) I booted into recovery mode from the grub menu, and ran these commands:

# dhclient eth0
# aptitude update
# aptitude upgrade

These completed succssfully, but upon reboot, I still was getting a black screen, and had to cycle power.

5) Then, I rebooted and selected recovery mode again. I ran dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg, and first chose the vesa driver, taking all other defaults. This was not successful. I still got the black screen.

6) I rebooted into recovery mode again, re-ran dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg and chose the vga driver.
After reboting, I was able to continue past the low resolution warning, run the restricted drivers manager, and select the nvidia driver; reboot; and all was well.

This tutorial might have ended hapilly here, but this Thinkpad T61p's role is that of portable development workstation. It has 2GB RAM; a dual core CPU; and a large HD. The purpose is to house our three in-house Informix applications. So, it needs to work in a KVM switch environment.

Unfortunately, the advanced 3D graphics prevented working with an external flatscreen monitor alone or part of a KVM switch.

7) I ran Restricted Drivers Manager; de-selected the nvidia driver; rebooted; told the low-res warning that I wanted to remain in low res; selected a reasonable resolution in the 1280 range; and the external monitor now works fine.

8) Sound did not work, and I added the following to the end of /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base

options snd-hda-intel model=thinkpad-t61p

There was no magic list containing my model number. Basically, I put a dash in between the brand and the model and took a guess. This allowed the sound to work normally.


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