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Linux on Thinkpad 380Z

To say not to much it was a bit tricky to install Linux on the Thinkpad but it could have been a lot worse (Thinkpad 600 or 770 for example). The Thinkpad I used was a company loan and was lucky to be able to have time to install Linux on it.


The 380Z was a 2635-JG0 with a 13.3" TFT screen and a Neomagic MagicMedia256AV (NM2200) video chipset. The Audio hardware is a 16 bit CS4237B, not the best bit of on the TP but still okay.

Linux distribution

I have installed SuSE 6.0 and RedHat 5.2 successfully but unless most Linux users on Laptops I preferred SuSE to RedHat. I had a few problems with suspend mode in RedHat but not in SuSE. I describe here both distributions.

Installing XServer

Almost nothing easier then this. The Neomagic video card with 2.5 MB SDRAM supports up to 1024X768. First I tried SaX which is the new XFree86 configurator in SuSE. It could find everything almost at its own. But as soon as I tested the video configurations I got real spooky video patterns. So I had to kill the configuration process. That taught me a lesson not to use it again with that Thinkpad. Eventually I used XF86Setup. I selected the only NeoMagic in the list of supported video cards. The Server would be SVGA, the chipset NM2200 and the Video RAM is 2MB (sorry but you can not use the extra 0.5 MB RAM). With RedHat it was quite straight forward. Select Neomagic and the configurator will find the rest. I choose a Super VGA 1024X768 @ 87Hz which worked fine with me. If you want a nice picture you can use up to 16bpp with 1024X768.

Kernel settings

I tried only kernel 2.0.36 and 2.2.0. With SuSE I had no problems at all, even suspend worked fine on both kernels. The SuSE kernel seems to be a bit more to offer then the one from RedHat. However the 2.2.* kernels seem to work best


The advanced power is some tricky thing. With the 2.0.36 kernel you get a wee problem if you use suspend mode (FN+F4). The Thinkpad goes nicely in suspend but crashes at resume. I haven't tried that myself but there seems to be a fix. You need to edit the drivers/char/apm_bios.c file. Change the line #define APM_NOINTS to #undef APM_NOINTS. Recompile the kernel and try it. With kernel 2.2.* is no problem as far as I know.


Again one of the easier things to configure. Here are the settings I used.

[*] Sound Blaster (SB, SBPro, SB16, clones) support
[*] Generic OPL2/OPL3 FM synthesizer support
[*] /dev/dsp and /dev/audio support
[*] FM synthesizer (YM3812/OPL-3) support
(220) I/O base for SB Check from manual of the card
(5) Sound Blaster IRQ Check from manual of the card
(1) Sound Blaster DMA 0, 1 or 3
(5) Sound Blaster 16 DMA (_REQUIRED_for SB16, Jazz16, SMW) 5, 6 or 7
(0) MPU401 I/O base of SB16, Jazz16 and ES1688 Check from manual of the card
(-1) SB MPU401 IRQ (Jazz16, SM Wave and ES1688) use -1 with SB16
(65536) Audio DMA buffer size 4096, 16384, 32768 or 65536

In RedHat I had to run sndconfig. Just take the settings from the kernel. For SuSE there is a HOWTO for configuring the sound in general.

Note: As for now there are no utilities for the IBM Thinkpads as you can find for Windows and OS/2. This may change fairly soon as IBM is going to preload RedHat on some Thinkpads later this year.

Have fun ;-)

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