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Fedora Core 4, IBM Thinkpad 600E

Installing Fedora Core 4 on the IBM Thinkpad 600E

Norman Lippincott Jr, Asst. Professor, Dept. of Mathematical and Information Sciences
Cedar Crest College, Allentown PA USA

17 July 2005


Here I document my experience with a very recent successful installation of Fedora Core 4 (FC4) on an IBM Thinkpad 600E. As of this writing, the official FC4 release is just 5 weeks old. This release runs very well on this machine in spite of it being a low-end unit.

I purchased this particular Thinkpad 600E (used) about two years ago. The unit, at purchase, had Windows 98 installed, which I soon deleted. Since that time, I have installed several Linux distributions on it including Fedora Core 1 and Fedora Core 3.

In addition, I have a Belkin F5D6020 Wireless Notebook Adapter installed. The information here regarding that hardware may be useful to others with that card, even if installed in a laptop other than a 600E.

General Hardware Specifications of IBM Thinkpad 600E

Component Status Notes
Pentium II, 233 MHz Works This is just a bit under spec according to the FC4 recommended minimum, but runs fine.
288 MB RAM Works The 600E has 32 MB on the motherboard with capability to add up to 256 MB. I recommend maximum RAM for FC4.
6 GB Hard Disk Works This is the original hard drive for this machine. I chose the "Personal Desktop" installation type due to the limited disk space.
Neomagic Video Controller Works Works out of the box under Fedora Core 4, but requires special attention if installing Fedora Core 3. See notes below.
LCD Panel Works, setup required FC4 will configure to 800x600 maximum resolution, in which case the fonts do not display well. Works much better at 1024x768 resolution, but some special attention is needed during setup. See notes below.
Crystal Sound Controller Requires special setup Not recognized by FC4 setup, but does work with a little effort. Requires special BIOS setup. No additional software is required.
CD/DVD ROM Works for CD audio, CD/DVD data. DVD video not attempted. I had DVD video working under FC3, but did not attempt for FC4. My FC3 notes are included below.
Modem Not tested. I don't use dialup, so I never tried it.
USB Port Works See Additional Hardware Components below for devices tested.

Additional Hardware Components

These components were installed and tested on my system, but are not standard components of the 600E.

Component Status Notes
Belkin F5D6020 Wireless Notebook Adapter Works, but additional software required. This card uses the Atmel chip set, which is poorly supported. FC4 recognizes the card, but firmware must be loaded at system startup. FC4 does not include the required firmware. See notes below.
Logitech Wireless USB Notebook Mouse Works Automatically detected under GNOME.
Various memory sticks Works Automatically detected under GNOME and automatically mounted. Icon appears on desktop after mount.
HP Photosmart Digital Camera Works Automatically detected under GNOME. Automatically runs the Photo Import Tool.

Kernel Version

This laptop is running under kernel version 2.6.12, build 2.6.12-1.1398_FC4 as of this writing.

BIOS Settings

In order for the sound card to work on the 600E you must disable "Quick Boot" in the BIOS. This can be done as follows:

  1. With the unit powered off, press and hold the F1 key.
  2. Power on the unit while still holding the F1 key. The "Easy Setup" screen should appear, at which point you can release the F1 key.
  3. Using the mouse, go to "Config", then to "Quick Book". Set "Quick Boot" to disabled.
  4. Save the BIOS settings and reboot.

If, later, you still don't get sound working, you might try the "Initialize" option in the BIOS, then make sure "Quick Boot" is still turned off. Save, and try sound again.

Basic Installation of Fedora Core 4

For installation media I used an FC4 CD set burned from the standard i386 ISO images downloaded from the Internet. See

Insert CD #1 and boot. No special boot options are necessary, so just press ENTER at the "boot:" prompt. During the installation process, default selections may be used except where noted below.

Installation Type

FC4 offers several types of installations including Personal Desktop and Workstation, both of which are appropriate for laptops in general. I chose Personal Desktop due to the limited disk space; 6 GB is not enough for a Workstation installation.

Disk Partitioning

I allowed the installation to do automatic partitioning taking the option to remove all partitions on the system. The defaults are adequate but I always ask to review the disk setup. On my system it gave me a 576MB swap partition, and the remainder is dedicated to a logical volume group containing a 103MB boot partition and a 6047MB root partition.

I don't dual-boot with Windows, and I have no desire to do so. I'm sure it's possible on this laptop, but with 6 GB of disk space it would be very tight.

Network Configuration

This will vary depending on your network card, if you have one. In my case, the Belkin wireless card is recognized, but has problems later that need to be resolved.

Package Defaults

The FC4 installation will give you the opportunity to customize the package selection. I always use this option so that I can pick and choose the software I want installed. For this installation, I wanted to eliminate some of the software I would not use right off the bat. Here are some things I considered:

First Boot

The FC4 installation will prompt you to remove the CD media and reboot the system. The initial boot sequence continues the system setup.

For my installation, the network failed to start. This was expected with the Belkin, Atmel-based wireless card. A message indicates that the firmware was not found, and there is a significant delay at this point. The startup eventually proceeds without the network.

Display Setup

FC4 properly detects the Neomagic video controller but does not detect the monitor. As such, it sets the display resolution to 800x600 without an option for higher resolution. Fonts display very poorly at 800x600 resolution on this laptop. I run at 1024x768 and the display is very good at that resolution.

To change to 1024x768 resolution, do the following at display setup, in this order:

  1. Configure the monitor as "Generic LCD / 1024x768".
  2. Set color depth to "Thousands of Colors".
  3. Change resolution to 1024x768.

If you are installing Fedora Core 3 on the Thinkpad 600E, the video driver works but not very well. You will notice that scrolling motion is very rough. This can be fixed by replacing the driver (/usr/X11R6/lib/modules/drivers/neomagic_drv.o) with an older Neomagic driver from XFree86. The older driver can be downloaded from This does not appear to be a problem in Fedora Core 4.

Atmel Wireless (Belkin card) Network Setup

I spent a good bit of time researching this for FC1 and for FC3. My FC3 setup worked fine under FC4, so there was not a lot of research needed this time around.

The issue is that the Atmel firmware needs to be loaded at system startup, and the firmware is not included in the FC4 distribution (probably due to licensing issues, but I'm not sure). The firmware can be installed from package atmel-firmware. The RPM I used was atmel-firmware-1.1-1.i386.rpm. I had saved this RPM from my FC3 installation, but could not find this specific version on a recent search. Version 1.0 can be found for download via Google as of this writing, but I have not tried it.

Install the RPM and you get the firmware and a program to load the firmware. I was able to start the network by doing the following:

atmel_fwl eth0 /usr/lib/hotplug/firmware/atmel_at76c502d.bin
ifup eth0

In order to make this happen every time the system is started, add the following line to the end of /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0:

/usr/sbin/atmel_fwl eth0 /usr/lib/hotplug/firmware/atmel_at76c502d.bin

System Updates

Once the network was running, I wanted to apply all available system updates. I am very good about keeping my operating systems software up to date, and I typically look to update my systems as soon as possible after installation. I keep my Fedora systems updated with yum, using this command:

yum update

This will take some time. It took about an hour on my system.

Sound Setup

Getting sound to work on this unit was the most difficult and research intensive part of the installation. FC4's sound card detection does not recognize the Crystal controller built into this unit (nor did FC3's detection). To make matters worse, none of the configurations I had used for previous Fedora versions worked either.

After considerable searching I hit upon the right configuration. Add the following lines to /etc/modprobe.conf:

options snd-cs4236 isapnp=0 cport=0x538 port=0x530 sb_port=0x220 fm_port=0x388 irq=5 dma1=1 dma2=0
alias snd-card-0 snd-cs4236

You can test this immediately by doing:

modprobe snd-cs4236

I tested my configuration by running Applications / Internet / IM (which runs gaim). I set up my AOL-IM account, and sent a message to myself. gaim, in this case, gives two audible cues; one for the outgoing message and one for the incoming message.

If that works, try rebooting the system to make sure the sound system comes up. In my case it worked fine.

FC3 Sound Setup

The configuration, in /etc/modprobe.conf, I had used under FC3 is as follows:

alias char-major-116 snd
alias char-major-14 soundcore
alias sound-service-0-0 snd-mixer-oss
alias sound-service-0-1 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-3 snd-pcm-oss
alias sound-service-0-8 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-12 snd-pcm-oss
alias snd-card-0 snd-cs4232
alias sound-slot-0 snd-cs4232
options snd-cs4232 port=0x530 cport=0x538 isapnp=0 dma1=1 dma2=0 irq=5

This did not work under FC4. I am, by no means, an expert in Linux sound architecture, and I really don't know how all this ties together. But the two-line configuration that worked for FC4 is, to me, much more straightforward and understandable. Simpler is better, I suppose. I don't know if the two-line version would have worked for FC3.

Extra Software

As part of the installation, FC4 configures the Fedora Extras repository, which gives you access to additional software.

I also configured the Livna repository so that I could install xmms with MP3 playback. Installing this was the final test for my sound setup. Configuration information for the Livna repository can be found on the Livna Configuration Page. This is easier than ever under FC4. Just download and install the RPM and the repository is fully configured.

I used yum to install xmms-mp3, which in turn installs xmms as a dependency. Once installed, I tested it with an MP3 and it worked fine.

Unpursued Issues


Personally, I have not used a dial-up modem since 1999. Further, I have never set one up in Fedora. As such, the modem remains untested.

DVD Video Playback

I had DVD video playback working under FC3, but did not attempt to get it working under FC4. It worked fine under FC3 using Ogle, but I never got it working well with xine (my preferred DVD player).

In order to make this work under FC3, I needed to add the following to /etc/X11/xorg.conf in the Device section for Videocard0:

Option "OverlayMem" "829440"

Contact Information

I welcome questions, comments, suggestions, etc. regarding Fedora Core 4 on the IBM Thinkpad 600E, or FC4 in general.


Special thanks to the following which contributed greatly to the success of this project:

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