Tag Archives: ssd

Thinkpad x220 – the (almost) perfect setup (Fedora 16)

So here I am – sitting in front of my new laptop – Lenovo Thinkpad X220. The date is November 8, 2011 which happens to be the release date of Fedora 16 codenamed “Jules Verne”. It’s 11:00pm, everybody are already asleep and it’s quite and peaceful in my home (thanks to my son that rarely happens 🙂 – it’s time to start with that perfect setup that I’ve had in my mind for quite some time now. I suppose that this is not going to be a short post – so if you are in same state of mind – thrilled, excited and willing to start that Fedora setup any minute now – this is the time to go grab a cup of coffee, tea or beer maybe 🙂 I’m going to describe all the specific things that I’ve done during the install (leaving the boring stuff behind 🙂

The Hardware (4291-2WG)

  • Intel i5-2540M
  • 1 x 4GB memory
  • 12.5” HD Premium Display (the one with the IPS panel)
  • 320GB 7200 HDD
  • 80GB Intel mSATA SDD
  • Wireless – Intel 6205
  • Video – Intel HD 3000
  • 720p webcam, fingerprint reader, bluethooth
  • 9 cell battery
  • Thinkpad Ultrabase 3 + DVD Burner

Some thoughts about the hardware – first of all I had some doubts about my choice, but after I’ve received the package – they are *all* gone. What where my main concerns:

  • Display size would be too small – that turned out to be fine by me, but still I had to do some tricks to further “improve” it
  • Lack of USB3 ports – not a dealbreaker in the end as you can always stick an additional ExpressCard that sits flush in the laptop (like this one) whenever you get the need of USB 3.0 speeds
  • The IPS panel would suffer from ghosting – there is a huge thread about that, but the issue was actually addressed by Lenovo in the mid of August and after I’ve received mine I’ve even didn’t bother to check whether it has the new or old panel – the screen is (almost) perfect and is miles away from those TN panels. It has some bleeding from the bottom bezel though noticeable at boot time or at the console (when the screen is almost black), but that is not something that you’ll notice during your day to day work.

One more remark about the hardware that I’ve choose – if you don’t have the option to order a customized device (like me) you can get all available options from the so called “tabook” – Personal Systems Reference Lenovo® ThinkPad ® Notebooks. Truly a must read if you are in a position of deciding what Thinkpad to buy.

The Installation

So, enough about the hardware itself – lets get it rolling. You’ll need a boot media first. A couple of options here, but as I wanted to go with the latest and greatest of the available technology I’ve decided to go with UEFI boot on the machine (I really wasn’t able to find any major benefits of using UEFI instead of BIOS BOOT, besides maybe the possibly faster boot times) with got me to the first part of this setup.

1. Preparing bootable media (USB Stick)

I’ve decided to continue using 64bit OS despite the numerous problems that I had with some proprietary  software/packages, so I’ve downloaded the Fedora-16-x86_64-netinst.iso. From the Fedora documentation  – the are not UEFI bootable media by default – you’ll need the installation ISO file readily downloaded somewhere (on the preinstalled Windows 7 perhaps? or boot the Fedora Live CD image), mount it and extract the UEFI bootable image located under /images/efidisk.img on the iso itself.  The Network installation iso contains that file also so you can stick with it. After that you can put it on whatever USB stick you’ve got (the image is around 140MB) using dd:

mount -o loop /<path>/<to>/<file>.iso /mnt/cdrom

dd if=/mnt/cdrom/images/efidisk.img of=/dev/sdc #where /dev/sdc is your USB flash disk (be careful here!)

When this is finished the machine is ready to be rebooted.

REMARK: You’ll need to enter BIOS settings (F1) and select as boot method either only UEFI or at least select UEFI as preferred boot method. After that pressing F12 at boot time will allow you to select the USB stick as temporary boot device.

2. Booting the installation

Nothing special here – I used the Intel SSD of course for the system installation, creating EFI, BOOT and SYSTEM partitions. If everything is correct the Fedora installer will know that it was booted from UEFI and will create GPT table instead of MBR on the SSD, which will automatically be also aligned to the 2048 sector which is exactly at 1MB. To verify that, you can do the following. First select “Review and modify partitioning layout” during the installation setup and then check that the EFI partition is created:

You could also verify the alignment and the partition table format from command line after the disk was formatted:

[root@yggdrasil ~]# parted /dev/sdb
GNU Parted 3.0
Using /dev/sdb
Welcome to GNU Parted! Type 'help' to view a list of commands.
(parted) unit s
(parted) print
Model: ATA INTEL SSDMAEMC08 (scsi)
Disk /dev/sdb: 156301488s
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
Partition Table: gpt

Number  Start     End         Size        File system  Name                  Flags
1      2048s     5974015s    5971968s    fat32        EFI System Partition  boot
2      5974016s  6998015s    1024000s    ext4
3      6998016s  156301311s  149303296s                                     lvm

What packages are you going to install is entirely a matter of personal taste, but for me – the most important was to switch the default Desktop Environment that is going to be installed from GNOME to KDE. Also I’ve removed almost all packages in the Base System -> Hardware Support section that were not needed anyway on my system.

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