Installing Linux (RH7.3) on an IBM ThinkPad T23


In February 2001 I intalled Linux (RedHat 6.2) on my (then) new Toshiba 2800 notebook. The saga is available for anyone who wants to read it. In March 2002 I did a fresh installation, this time of RedHat 7.2, which you can read about here.

In September 2002, my wife and I came home one day to find a hole in the roof and two notebooks missing - my Toshiba 2800 and an oldish NEC Vectra belonging to our son. The burglars had triggered the alarm system, and had fled taking very little; just the notebooks. Fortunately I had just acquired an external CD-W and had done a backup of the essential areas of the Linux filesystem only two days before.

I dashed off the next day to buy a replacement. The equivalent Toshiba to the stolen 2800 was the 1400 (same RAM and disk size, but a faster processor). In fact I bought a ThinkPad T23 for a number of reasons:

On the down-side, the processor was a bit slower, but with Linux that's hardly an issue.

Why RedHat 7.3?

As with my previous systems, I decided to stick with RedHat because:

  1. I know it reasonably well, and use it on my office system at Monash;
  2. it is the only version for which support is provided by our sysadmins at Monash;
  3. I have no particular reason to change.

The installation

The first step was to search the WWW for other people's experiences with this model. In fact I had done this already before buying it.

The main initial issue was what to do about the Windows 2000 that came installed. IBM does not even provide a CD - just a re-installation partition. On my Toshiba I had shrunk the Windows partition and kept it there for use via the dual boot. In fact I virtually never used the Windows installation. So this time, after discussing it a little with the good people on the TLUG list, I took a deep breath and blew Windows away completely. It turned out there was a downside to this - the ThinkPad only comes with a rudimentary manual - you are expected to use the online one that comes on the Windows system. Shame on you IBM, shame.

Anyway, using 3 Redhat 7.3 CDs that I bought in Tokyo at a TLUG meeting for Y500 in July, I installed Linux. It went absolutely smoothly. The only manual intervention I did was to resize the partitions, where RH's initial allocation seemed a bit odd. X installed OK, my USB mouse was detected and installed, the USB system detected and worked correctly with both the external CD-W and my Fuji digital camera. The sound, both from CD and file, worked fine, as did the Ethernet connection to my cable modem.

All in all the smoothest Linux installation I have experienced.

Oh, I did have to turn off the screensaver, as the lockup with the notebook's own screen-blanker occurred here too, as it did with the Toshiba.

Views on the T23

I am very impressed. The system is much faster than the Toshiba, despite the processor being only marginally faster. Also, it is much quieter, as the processor fan only comes on when I have been doing intensive computation (in the Toshiba I had to keep it on as the fan/temperature coupling was in BIOS or somewhere like that.) The keyboard feels better too.

Jim Breen
November 2002