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ThinkPad 240 Configuration under Linux

By  Sean Reifschneider Date November 25, 2004

ThinkPad 240 Information

Manufacturer/ProductIBM ThinkPad 240
Part Number2609-21U
Build Date1999-12-01
Report Date1999-12-28
CPU Type/SpeedCeleron 300MHz
Video Res/Size/Type800x600, 10.2inch, TFT
OS InstalledKRUD 6.1, 6.2, and 7.0 (Based on Redhat 6.1, 6.2, and 7.0 respectively)
OS Notes On 6.1 used errata PCMCIA boot disc and installed via NFS. No problems running graphical installer in 640x480. 6.2 had no problems using the standard boot disc. 7.0 didn't do the GUI install. The only problem I had with 7.0 was that XFree4.0 was excruciatingly slow, I installed the include XFree-3.3.6 SVGA server, rebuilt the /etc/X11/X link, and used my 6.2 XF86Config file (see below).
XFree Version3.3.5-3 and XFree-3.3.6-33
XFree Config FileXF86Config
XFree Notes Am only running in 800x600 with 16bpp. Works great, but it seems that Xconfigurator would only configure it to run at 640x480. Note that 640x480 runs full-screen using pixel stuttering (but looks really bad as a result).

This card is the NeoMagic MagicGraph NM2160 (rev 1). It's FAST and works great. I bought this laptop SPECIFICALLY because it had the NeoMagic chip set, and they've been good at providing docs to Linux driver authors.

Sound Card/DriverESS Solo1 using Kernel driver (esssolo1)
Sound Notes Tried running OSS, however it had severe problems with "skipping". The kernel "esssolo1" driver works fine. Used "sndconfig" to configure it.

MP3s sound good, though hard drive access noise is noticeable during quite passages. Have not tried recording audio or doing 2-way telephony apps.

See notes about sound after suspend in APM section.

Modem/DriverLucent LT 56k WinModem/ltmodem.o
Modem Notes I've done limited testing currently, but was able to dial out and get a 49k connection, and log in to a remote terminal server under Linux. Check out for more information or get the driver from Lucent (binary only) at

Unfortunately, you have to use RedHat 6.1 with the stock kernel to really use the above driver. I haven't used the modem since the first week I got the laptop -- currently I'm running the 2.4.0test2 kernel on it. The Lucent driver doesn't work on this kernel.

APM Notes Has no problems suspending or resuming. However, currently it's not bringing my network back up after a suspend (likely a configuration issue). Can power off fine with "shutdown -hy".

WARNING: The system seems to hang for nearly a second when doing a "cat /proc/apm". Make sure you have the latest BIOS from the IBM support site, it cures this problem. They also have a hibernate utility floppy there, which works fine at setting up a hibernate partition. You'll need DOS to extract the floppies on IBMs site, they are .EXEs, and not just self extracting Zip files or the like. Bummer. I finally had to boot my laptop into DOS -- it was previously unsoiled.

After a suspend, the audio doesn't seem to work (plays slow or funky, or doesn't play at all). I've found that doing an "rmmod esssolo1 ; modprobe esssolo1" seems to result in the audio working fine.

PCMCIA Notes PCMCIA Seems to mostly work fine. The only real issue I have is my Aviator wireless card causes a kernel panic if it's in and a PCMCIA shutdown is done (or system reboot is requested). I believe this is an issue with the module for this card however.

WARNING: The door on the PCMCIA slot is spring-loaded and opens inward. Obviously, anything pushed against this door will easily go in, and once in will not come out. This is worse than having no door on the slot at all, because stuff gets stuck in there. While I never knowingly store change with my laptop, I've had a number of occasions where change has gotten stuck in there. IBM wants $375 to fix it if you bend the pins.

Therefore, always store your laptop with a card in the slot, or consider taking the little door off the slot. In one of my 240s the door fell off and I've never had problems with change getting stuck in it, and several times have in the other one.

Note to IBM: This is the poorest designed PCMCIA slot I've seen -- the "eject" button is hard to use, and this door contributes to repair bills that can be 30% the value of the laptop. Have a talk with the rocket scientists who did this, eh?

For some reason, the PCMCIA PCIC value isn't set correctly on the initial load of 6.1 -- 6.2 was fine. Modify /etc/sysconfig/pcmcia to contain:

Misc Notes LiIon Extended battery is very nice -- around 4 hours of run-time. Though after 11 months of use, the extended battery is giving me around an hours power -- the laptop is powering off at 65% according to /proc/apm. I need to look into this more. I'll probably order a new battery.

There's a procedure with the latest BIOS, which allows you to fully drain the battery. This is supposed to help these problems, but it didn't seem to for me. After the BIOS upgrade, it seems to periodically ignore a suspend request. I have to watch to make sure it actually suspends. The previous BIOS (as of 2000-10-15) seemed better, but the poor battery life was what prompted me to upgrade.

Unlike other ThinkPads I've had, this one makes replacing the hard drive EASY. Remove 2 screws and the 9mm hard drive can easily be replaced. Getting to the memory is a bit harder, but not bad. Read the docs for details, but basically you remove the 3 "memory" screws on the back, then pull in the esc and del keys to pull the keyboard out. Pull up on the top, then slide the entire keyboard towards the LCD).


Mike Loseke for the /etc/sysconfig/pcmcia settings web-page patch.
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