Thinkpad Edge 11″ AMD Nile, and using it with Ubuntu GNU/Linux

I recently purchased a new ultralight laptop to replace my 3 year old Sony Vaio TZ21. I settled for a Lenovo Thinkpad Edge 11″ this time. I am really fond of the Thinkpad brand, and this Thinkpad Edge is quite a deviation from the ‘normal’ Thinkpad design.
The Edge comes in a few variants, ranging from 11 to 13 and 15″, all available in AMD and Intel flavors. Wanting something thin and light I choose the 11″ model, which at 11.6 inches is slightly bigger then the Vaio (11.1″).

The red Lenovo Thinkpad Edge 11"
Shiny red Thinkpad

The screen has a decent resolution for the size, at 1366×768 it should be sufficient for most uses. The screen is of the glossy variant and has a good range in brightness settings and decent viewing angles. Like in any Thinkpad the hinges are made of metal, and the screen can bend all the way to a flat position. Also in the screen-bezel is a low-light uvc-webcam.

The Edge 11 comes in two versions, Intel Core i3 and AMD K325, both running at 1.3 Ghz. In the netherlands the AMD version comes with 4GB of DDR3 ram, while the Intel version comes with only 2GB. Given that the AMD version is also a good €100 cheaper, this choice was easy.

The 320 GB Hitachi HTS54503 5400rpm disk should provide enough space, but isn’t the fastest or biggest on the block. I’m thinking of replacing it with an SSD drive, or at the very least adding an SSD to the system.

The included Windows Home installation was quickly replaced by Ubuntu 10.10, which recognised almost all the included hardware, including (after installing the closed-source drivers) the Ati/AMD video chip, webcam, ethernet, bluetooth, cardreader and wireless network (The realtek driver does need an update before it works)

The Inside

I did have some small hardware issues with the Thinkpad, as the spacebar wouldn’t always register a press when I hit it on the far-left side. Since I mostly use my left thumb for hitting the space I noticed a lot of missing spaces. I contacted Lenovo/IBM support about this issue and then quickly sent me a replacement keyboard and directed me to the installation instructions.
I got the keyboard replaced the next day, which gave me a nice look at the inside of the Edge. It looks very well built, and is very much user-servicable.
Removing the 3 screws on the bottom allows access to all the internals:

  • Hard drive bay
  • Half-height mini-pci bay for Wifi/Bluetooth
  • Full-height mini-pci bay (empty, might want to use this for a mini-pci based SSD drive?)
  • 2 DIMM slots (both containing a 2GB DDR3 SODIMM)
  • Sim-card slot (for the optional internal Gobi 3G modem

Removing the keyboard required the removal of the battery pack and two screws underneath it (they hold the keyboard in place) and removing the sata harddrive (2 screws). After these are all removed you have access to the back of the keyboard, and it’s just a matter of a small push to click it loose.

Putting the Edge together again wasn’t hard and the entire procedure took no more then a few minutes (including doing it twice, since I didn’t correctly push down on the keyboard connector, so some keys weren’t working the first time)

Using it with Ubuntu Linux

Installation of Ubuntu was a breeze, as usual, and only a few issues remained after the initial installation:

  • The wireless network wouldn’t work
  • Suspend to ram doesn’t work
  • The touchpad/pointer would occasionally lock-up for short periods of time

Realtek rtl8192CE/8195 Wireless

The Realtek rtl8192CE driver included in Ubuntu 10.10 recognised the internal wifi card, but did have issues with it. Upgrading this driver with on from the Realtek site made the wireless network work, but still reports a lot of interesting messages in the ‘dmesg’ output. This situation should improve, as more work is done on this new driver.

Suspend to RAM

Appending ‘acpi_osi=linux noapic’ to the kernel commandline seems to fix all suspend/resume issues.

Synaptics touchpad behaving erratic

The touchpad will report errors and reset itself occasionally. This results in a few seconds of unresponsiveness. This also seems to be fixed by the above kernel commandline options. (I couldn’t reproduce it anymore since)

Sound

Plugging in a headphone will not redirect sound to the headphone jack (that stays silent, and the speakers keep playing). As user ‘Felix’ reported below, append “options snd-hda-intel model=ideapad” in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf to fix issues with the microphone and jack plug-detection. (untested by me)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Good

  • Cheap
  • Light
  • Good battery life
  • Good chiclet keyboard, and also the ‘clit’ pointer
  • No optical drive or other useless hardware
  • Vga, HDMI, 3x USB, Cardreader, Ethernet… so much more then a macbook air.
  • 64 Bit, Dual Core, AMD-V capable CPU and enough memory
  • A nice red led as the dot on the ‘i’ in Thinkpad
  • Silent, without getting hot

The Bad

  • No backlit keyboard or thinklight
  • No disk and network-activity leds
  • Current state of linux support (though getting better)

The Ugly

  • No working suspend (yet) in Linux
  • Issues with the trackpad

lspci

The device list of this laptop:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 Host Bridge Alternate
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 PCI to PCI bridge (int gfx)
00:04.0 PCI bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 PCI to PCI bridge (PCIE port 0)
00:05.0 PCI bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] RS780 PCI to PCI bridge (PCIE port 1)
00:11.0 SATA controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 SATA Controller [AHCI mode]
00:12.0 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB OHCI0 Controller
00:12.2 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB EHCI Controller
00:13.0 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB OHCI0 Controller
00:13.2 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 USB EHCI Controller
00:14.0 SMBus: ATI Technologies Inc SBx00 SMBus Controller (rev 42)
00:14.2 Audio device: ATI Technologies Inc SBx00 Azalia (Intel HDA) (rev 40)
00:14.3 ISA bridge: ATI Technologies Inc SB700/SB800 LPC host controller (rev 40)
00:14.4 PCI bridge: ATI Technologies Inc SBx00 PCI to PCI Bridge (rev 40)
00:18.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 10h Processor HyperTransport Configuration
00:18.1 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 10h Processor Address Map
00:18.2 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 10h Processor DRAM Controller
00:18.3 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 10h Processor Miscellaneous Control
00:18.4 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Family 10h Processor Link Control
01:05.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc M880G [Mobility Radeon HD 4200]
01:05.1 Audio device: ATI Technologies Inc RS880 Audio Device [Radeon HD 4200]
02:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller (rev 03)
08:00.0 Network controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. Device 8176 (rev 01)

Cpu Info

processor       : 1
vendor_id       : AuthenticAMD
cpu family      : 16
model           : 6
model name      : AMD Athlon(tm) II Neo K325 Dual-Core Processor
stepping        : 3
cpu MHz         : 800.000
cache size      : 1024 KB
physical id     : 0
siblings        : 2
core id         : 1
cpu cores       : 2
apicid          : 1
initial apicid  : 1
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level     : 5
wp              : yes
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush mmx fxsr \
    sse sse2 ht syscall nx mmxext fxsr_opt pdpe1gb rdtscp lm 3dnowext 3dnow constant_tsc rep_good \
    nonstop_tsc extd_apicid pni monitor cx16 popcnt lahf_lm cmp_legacy svm extapic cr8_legacy abm sse4a \
    3dnowprefetch osvw ibs skinit wdt nodeid_msr npt lbrv svm_lock nrip_save
bogomips        : 2593.54
TLB size        : 1024 4K pages
clflush size    : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes   : 48 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
power management: ts ttp tm stc 100mhzsteps hwpstate
Be Sociable, Share!

66 thoughts on “Thinkpad Edge 11″ AMD Nile, and using it with Ubuntu GNU/Linux”

  1. I will be receiving my Edge 11 this weekend so I will report my experience. I am torn between installing Kubuntu or Arch with Gnome 3. Unity is ok but I think I prefer gnome-shell, though I think a more classic style desktop is more to my taste, hence KDE.

  2. I finally received my Edge 11. I got the AMD version, but it doesn’t have the wireless card you guys seem to be having problems with … this one has a broadcom card, which after enabling the drivers from the restricted drivers is working great, including connecting to 802.11n router at full speed! Up to now it seems to have very good performance, but this is only from 2 hours since opening it. I’m using Unity and it seems to be working quite smoothly, I’m quite tempted to try KDE4 or Gnome 3 on it.

  3. Quick tip if you’re usinf proprietary fglrx driver in Ubuntu. install ‘compizconfig-settings-manager’ , then launch it and go to OpenGL settings, then disable “Sync to VBlank”. Greatly improves performance on my Edge 11!

  4. I picked up an Edge 11 with AMD K325, yesterday. Installed Ubuntu 11.04 AMD -text installer- and set boot option back to ‘gnome classic’, i.e. 2.x.

    Wireless was working out of the box (apparenty issues here with previous versions).

    So far everything is working, even the webcam and bluetooth. However, I did so far not check on the headphone thing. Indeed, I did witness -occasional- mouse pointer stops as described here already.

    Till yesterday I was running on 10.04 LTS on an 10y old pentium III mobile (0.5 Gb RAM). So far, I am happy with my new device.

  5. As far as headphones are concerned, I can play an MP3 and when a headphone is plugged in, it picks up the signal and speakers stop as they should. Internal Mic also works fine.

    Thanks to all of you. I’ll keep on posting only about relevant experiences (hoping it helps others). Hints for the stopping mouse pointer are of course welcome. On my new ‘Edge 11′ (4GB RAM) it’s the official Ubuntu 11.04 AMD 64-bit (text installer).

    BTW, on my 10y old toshiba laptop it was a nightmare, when KDE 3.x got replaced by ‘4.0’. Therefore, don’t let ‘Gnome classic’ die. I am personally not too interested in padded interfaces for touchpads that I don’t own anyway ;-) — Greetings from ‘Tomania’

  6. -Deactivated ‘Zeitgeist’ and have the feeling that these mouse pointer stops have disappeared for good.

    -Whenever a window is moved to the top of the screen, it gets maximized. … Believe me, this new 11.04 ‘feature’ is driving me NUTS !

    -A few packages dont work under 11.04, e.g. ‘gretl’ and ‘mupad’. Skype (here as ‘AMD64 version’) works, but not as perfect as in 10.04 LTS which i still run on my 10y old -slowly dying- toshiba.

    Any experiences on the (optional) Lenovo UMTS adapter ? … cheers.

  7. for the mouse pointer stuff:

    in /etc/modprobe.d/options.conf
    I added:
    options psmouse resetafter=10

    which dramatically reduces the timeouts (from twice a minute to twice an hour).
    This is on the singlecore AMD using ubuntu 10.10

  8. The stopping mousepointer is not completely solved for me under 11.04: Even though I don’t fancy ‘unity’ and, thus, switched to ‘gnome classic’, there is still a ‘unity-windows decorator’ to be seen using ‘top’. I switched off the open-gl vsync in Compiz, and the situation improved once more.

    Still, every couple of days, however, my x-server (or its replacement) dies on me completely – Incroyable !

    Contrastingly, gretl and mupad -with absolute references in startscripts- work now.

    I am beginning to doubt 11.04 – … There were no problems whatsoever with the 10.04 LTS on my old Toshiba.

  9. Benoe:

    “(0, 0, 60)
    (1, 50, 68)
    (2, 63, 71)
    (3, 68, 75)
    (7, 70, 32767)

    Fan level 4 is actually stops the fan, 5 and 6 have the same speed as 1 and 2, that’s why those are missing.”

    don’t really grasp the meaning of that last remark.
    care to post the full stanza (with 4, 5, 6 included)?

  10. You shouldn’t use fan level 4,5 and 6 because instead they provide faster fan speeds when the temp goes up, they swich off fan completely (level 4) or provide slower speeds than needed (level 5 and 6). This way you could burn your CPU.

    Btw with fglrx installed and power savings enabled I use these values:

    (0, 0, 60)
    (1, 51, 65)
    (2, 55, 70)
    (3, 60, 73)
    (7, 63, 32767)

    But use them with care, sometimes it happened that the machine freezed (don’t know why) and the temperature went up without any active cooling (the fan was not working in this frozen state) I had to switch off the notebook with pressing the power button for more than 4 secs.

  11. thanks, benoe.

    just another question:
    is the top cover supposed to be plane, ie the back of the display, red in the picture? mine feels slightly arched with the “peak” about 4 cm from the top and when the brightness it at minimum, the top of the display looks slighly like a comb, as if only every second led is lighted.

    is this normal? i got the impression mine has been used before (a few small scratches i found too late and some fingerprints on the display), and has maybe been returned …

  12. finally I moved to debian sid and after some work on my edge k325 i’m satisfied:

    *debian testing amd64 kernel 2.6.39.2
    *install thinkfan
    *install tlp and do some adjustments
    *k10ctl via rc.local (undervolting)

    –> on bat i hear the fan once an hour ;)
    –> apropos hour: using remmina connected to rc2 server, i’m working with, backlight switched down to 70% and gedit opened the consumption is about 10 watts!

    if you don’t want to use ‘original debian’ try lmde or parsix. they are ‘multimedia-preconfigured’… i did install both too on my edge and had the same expieriences regarding oob functonality and power consumption. tlp, k10ctl and thinkfan were working properly also in this distros.

  13. Comments are back! Yaay!

    So with new kernel from ppa:guido-iodice/kernel-and-drivers there are no freezes since the comments get freezed here :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


five + 3 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>