Ubuntu and the t500

I’m lucky I got the laptop on a Friday, I am spending this whole weekend setting it up to my liking.  It is very nice to be able to take the time to get things right the first time.  This post will detail the hardware and drivers issues that I have dealt with putting ubuntu on the t500.

For the most part everything just worked.  The install was quick and painless – as I have come to expect from ubuntu.  With one exception I didn’t have to do anything at the command line.

The only area where I may have run into trouble was with wireless drivers.  This laptop has an intel 5100 or 5300 wireless card, I’m not sure.  I say may have because I think the problem was really with my router not ubuntu drivers.

My laptop wouldn’t log into my old netgear router when I got it.  The netgear router showed up in the list of networks available, but after entering a password, the network icon just spun and finally failed.  Friends often have trouble logging into this router.  I changed the security on the router to wep from wpa, no luck.  Then I removed all security from the router, no luck.  I tried to login on my MBP, but that didn’t work either.  Finally I put the security on the router back to WPA and my MBP still couldn’t login, the t500 was never able to login to that router.

I bought a new D-Link dual band router.  I had a little trouble initially logging into the N network with the ubuntu and I ran.

sudo modprobe -r iwalgn
sudo modprobe iwalgn

those commands removed and reinstalled the linux wireless kernel module. After that, I was able to log into both networks with ubuntu. I’m not sure if that was a linux problem or a router problem, during the time when I was having trouble logging into the D-Link, my MBP had a little trouble too. Now everything works, and I’m happy.

Graphics worked off the bat. My t500 has switchable graphics, it has an ATI Mobility Radeon 3650 and built in Intel graphics. On vista the os will use the ATI chipset when you want better performance and the intel chipset when you want better battery life, it switches without rebooting, there are no drivers that accomplish this feat on linux, xp, or windows 7.

Next I wanted to test the different driver combinations for performance. I was only interested in 2d performance, so I used the gtkperf benchmark. I was running xmonad with the test window fullscreen when these results were produced.

Intel Drivers

GtkPerf 0.40 - Starting testing: Sat Jan 16 18:51:08 2010

GtkEntry - time:  0.03
GtkComboBox - time:  0.24
GtkComboBoxEntry - time:  0.18
GtkSpinButton - time:  0.05
GtkProgressBar - time:  0.03
GtkToggleButton - time:  0.05
GtkCheckButton - time:  0.02
GtkRadioButton - time:  0.08
GtkTextView - Add text - time:  0.41
GtkTextView - Scroll - time:  0.01
GtkDrawingArea - Lines - time:  1.13
GtkDrawingArea - Circles - time:  1.47
GtkDrawingArea - Text - time:  1.05
GtkDrawingArea - Pixbufs - time:  0.14
 ---
Total time:  4.89

GtkPerf 0.40 - Starting testing: Sat Jan 16 18:51:15 2010

GtkEntry - time:  0.03
GtkComboBox - time:  0.25
GtkComboBoxEntry - time:  0.19
GtkSpinButton - time:  0.05
GtkProgressBar - time:  0.03
GtkToggleButton - time:  0.07
GtkCheckButton - time:  0.04
GtkRadioButton - time:  0.13
GtkTextView - Add text - time:  0.42
GtkTextView - Scroll - time:  0.02
GtkDrawingArea - Lines - time:  1.13
GtkDrawingArea - Circles - time:  1.37
GtkDrawingArea - Text - time:  1.45
GtkDrawingArea - Pixbufs - time:  0.14
 ---
Total time:  5.31

Ati Open Source drivers

GtkPerf 0.40 - Starting testing: Sat Jan 16 18:54:06 2010

GtkEntry - time:  0.02
GtkComboBox - time:  0.30
GtkComboBoxEntry - time:  0.19
GtkSpinButton - time:  0.06
GtkProgressBar - time:  0.05
GtkToggleButton - time:  0.05
GtkCheckButton - time:  0.03
GtkRadioButton - time:  0.05
GtkTextView - Add text - time:  0.38
GtkTextView - Scroll - time:  0.01
GtkDrawingArea - Lines - time:  1.00
GtkDrawingArea - Circles - time:  1.62
GtkDrawingArea - Text - time:  0.95
GtkDrawingArea - Pixbufs - time:  0.07
 ---
Total time:  4.78

GtkPerf 0.40 - Starting testing: Sat Jan 16 18:54:12 2010

GtkEntry - time:  0.03
GtkComboBox - time:  0.29
GtkComboBoxEntry - time:  0.19
GtkSpinButton - time:  0.05
GtkProgressBar - time:  0.04
GtkToggleButton - time:  0.08
GtkCheckButton - time:  0.04
GtkRadioButton - time:  0.08
GtkTextView - Add text - time:  0.41
GtkTextView - Scroll - time:  0.01
GtkDrawingArea - Lines - time:  1.01
GtkDrawingArea - Circles - time:  1.62
GtkDrawingArea - Text - time:  0.95
GtkDrawingArea - Pixbufs - time:  0.07
 ---
Total time:  4.87

Proprietary ATI Drivers

GtkPerf 0.40 - Starting testing: Sat Jan 16 18:59:29 2010

GtkEntry - time:  0.02
GtkComboBox - time:  0.27
GtkComboBoxEntry - time:  0.19
GtkSpinButton - time:  0.03
GtkProgressBar - time:  0.02
GtkToggleButton - time:  0.05
GtkCheckButton - time:  0.02
GtkRadioButton - time:  0.05
GtkTextView - Add text - time:  0.40
GtkTextView - Scroll - time:  0.01
GtkDrawingArea - Lines - time:  0.99
GtkDrawingArea - Circles - time:  1.18
GtkDrawingArea - Text - time: 19.52
GtkDrawingArea - Pixbufs - time:  1.97
 ---
Total time: 24.72

GtkPerf 0.40 - Starting testing: Sat Jan 16 18:59:56 2010

GtkEntry - time:  0.02
GtkComboBox - time:  0.28
GtkComboBoxEntry - time:  0.19
GtkSpinButton - time:  0.03
GtkProgressBar - time:  0.02
GtkToggleButton - time:  0.07
GtkCheckButton - time:  0.03
GtkRadioButton - time:  0.08
GtkTextView - Add text - time:  0.60
GtkTextView - Scroll - time:  0.02
GtkDrawingArea - Lines - time:  1.10
GtkDrawingArea - Circles - time:  1.28
GtkDrawingArea - Text - time: 20.11
GtkDrawingArea - Pixbufs - time:  1.98
 ---
Total time: 25.83

It seemed like the open source ATI driver was a little faster than the Intel driver, but not by a signficant amount. The proprietary ATI driver was atrocious for text. I don’t know that I would notice a difference in day to day use though, when I get a chance, I will run the same tests on my MBP through OS X and virtualized Ubuntu. For now I will be using the Intel drivers. Things will get interesting when my docking station comes in and I start playing with my 30 inch screen.

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