Sam Trenholme's webpage

Linux and the IBM 600X Laptop

Updated May 21, 2006

The IBM 600x was a top-of-the-line laptop from 1999. It has an excellent keyboard, a good screen, and a 450mhz PIII processor (some 600x models have a 500mhz processor). The memory can be expanded up to 576 megabytes; my system has 350 megs and runs both Linux and Windows XP Pro without problem. This system has no 3d acceleration and not enough processing power to decode mpeg4 movies in real time. However, it is able to use modern browsers (Firefox seems to be the fastest browser) and word processing programs; it is also possible to watch flash videos at youtube and such at 10-15fps in Windows (flash, alas, is slower in Linux).

This describes how well Linux runs on my ThinkPad 600X.

Version of Linux used: Fedora Core 3

Install process: Burn Fedora Core CDs, boot from first CD. Install is completely smooth; this system has Fedora Core 3 on it in a matter of 30 minutes.

Linux functionality by part:

PCMCIA Works perfectly in Fedora Core 3
USB portWorks perfectly in Fedora Core 3
Serial portWorked last time I tried it (RedHat 6.x)
Parallel port Worked last time I tried it (RedHat 9)
Video port Works perfectly in Fedora Core 3
Modem Needs binary-only driver, then will work last time I used this (RedHat 7.x w/ 2.4.x kernel) search for ltmodem
Sound Works flawlessly until the first suspend/resume. Once the system is suspended and resumed, sound can be made to work again by removing then reinserting the cs46xx/snd_cs46xx kernel module:
rmmod snd_cs46xx
modprobe snd_cs46xx
Floppy Drive Works perfectly
Trackpoint Works perfectly (emulates a ps/2 mouse)
Internal CD-ROM Works perfectly
Suspend, resume Suspend and resume are as functional on this computer as they are in Windows 98. (It crashes once in a while)
Hibernation I never got this to work, but never tried either.
Video Serious crashing problems in XFree 3.x (old Linux distros) flawless in X.Org 6.8. Chipset auto-detected during Fedora Core three install.

Other words of wisdom:

  • The system works a lot better with a 2.4 kernel instead of the 2.6 kernel.
  • X is buggy at true color; use hi (16-bit) color.
  • The keyboard is excellent. Springy, clicky, easy to type on without being mushy.
  • The screen is good but not as snappy as modern TFT standalone displays.
  • There is a problem with power management that will trash batteries unless the battery is discharged once a week. Basically, with this system, the batteries go if the computer is plugged in all the time; once a week, keep the system unplugged and let the battery discharge.
As an aside, if you have one of those multicard readers, they don't work out of the box in Fedora Core 3. In order to get them to work, type in the following command as root:
echo options scsi_mod max_luns=8 >> /etc/modprobe.conf
Reboot, and, voila, your multcard reader will work. (The reason for the necessity for this incantation is because this will cause the kernel to lock with certain devices)