RedHat Linux on IBM Thinkpad A21p

In November 2002 i bought a used Thinpad A21p for a very nice price, it was a real deal on ebay (never found another for that price). I decided for this device because of the robustness and lightweight and the nearly fully supported hardware under linux.

It has a dvd replaced by a Toshiba SD-R2312, CDRW/DVD combo, and than to a IBM 4/24 Combo from my A30p. I disassembled the original Ultrabay 2000 tracks with a screwdriver and the arpeture which was fixed by some kind of double-faced tape. This works all fine.


CPUIntel Pentium III mobile 850 MHz
Memory512 MB (2x256)
VideoATI Technologies Inc Rage Mobility M3 AGP 2x, TV-Out SVideo, TV-in(Phillips SAAxxx)/TV-out, 16 MB RAM
HarddiskIBM, 32GB 5400 rpm
CD/DVD4xCDRW/8xDVD/24xCD, Ultrabay2000
Display15,1 Inch, 1600x1200
SoundCyrus Logic Crystal 4614/22/24
Communication3Com Combo Mini-PCI 3c556B, 10/100MBit LAN and with Modem
Floppy3,5 Inch Floppy built in
IrDAFast IrDA 4MBit


The installation of RedHat 7.2 runs smoothly, and all hardware, except the 3Com Mini-PCI-Modem, works well. I deleted all windows partitions, because i never will used commercial software on my private computers. The installer detected the network-card and all other needed components. The X11 ati driver works well in 2D, but does not offer any special features supported on the Rage Mobility 3.

UPDATE 2003-03-02: Now the machine runs fine with RedHat 9.0, no problem while installing.

UPDATE 2004-01-02: Fedora Core 1 does also show no problem while installing.


The 3Com Card is identified as 3Com PCI 3c556B Hurricane, a combo card with modem included, i found no driver for the modem and it seems to be no developing on it. There is a specialdriver for the ethernetchip, the card by itself works for me fine with the 3c59x driver. Something strange is that the card by itself is not found sometimes when booting the machine (BIOS also report that the card is gone). I checked the cards version (there is nearly the same problem reported at IBM with other firmware versions or some like this) but it the version which should be okay. This occurs 1 time per month where i can live with. I can solve it mostly by putting out the accu and take it back.


As the laptop went to my wife Bea, i installed RedHat 9.0 completly new, the system works well.


As i mentioned above the XFree86 driver only support 2D and does not provide any special feature like overlay and TV-Out. For DRI-support and Xv i used the Gatos X11-driver. This provides extented performance for 3D and accelerated DVD/mpeg. Also there is utility available for enabling the TV-connector, which works well.

The TV-in is not supported because chipset documentation and features seems to be under copyright. I hope someone will created a drivers in future. I had to fiddle a bit with the resolutions, first only 1600x1200 was available. At the moment 800x600 and 1280x1024 works well. I only use the native resolution of the LCD, external monitor works, but mostly i do not connect one. Next i have to test is XINERAMA which is supported by the chipset, so i will try to setup a 800x600 for my beamer. Information will follow if it works.

For more details whats enabled or not,please view my XFree-Logfile


Sound quality is good, autodetect at installation, the speakers sounds okay for a notebook. The cipset is supported by cs46xx kerneldriver. I did not use alsa, i found no need.

Ultrabay 2000

The Ultrabay slot can be used in conjunction with hdparm-command to change devices, you have to disable/shutdown the inserted device, after that i'm able to insert my second harddisk-drive and re-enable it with hdparm. If i change from cd/rw to harddisk, i have to unload scsi-emulation.

I setup the following append-line for lilo to enable ide-scsi emulation for cd/rw at boot time


The trackpoint works well, but i am not able to use the klick-on-press feature, i never missed it. It is a ps2 device, i use it in conjunction with my Logitech USB scrollmouse.

USB support

USB works fine, unfortunately the A21P has only one USB 1.1, i have attached a Logitech Cordless Wheelmouse, the mousewheel works okay on all programs, including shellwindows, but not in Netscape 4.79 (i never tried to solve this).

IrDA support

IrDA runs only if serial port is disabled in BIOS, you have to load the modules irda, irtty, ircomm and ircomm-tty, i use it to transfer pictures from my girlfriends Nokia 6220. Therefor i use the openobex software package. You have to compile the library and also the openobex-apps package. For receiving files via IrDA you we used irobex_palm3 application successfully.


Accu works nearly 3:15 hours in normal use, when i use the DVD for viewing movies 2:30 hours are able. Thats okay for me. I think about an Ultrabay battery but at the moment it is to expensive (about 225 Euros) for me.

Others Thinkpad specific specials

Other features work well, for thinkpad a deamon is available and software for configuring thinkpad specific options like with PS2.EXE unter DOS, i never tried it.

modules.conf file

alias parport_lowlevel parport_pc
alias sound-slot-0 cs46xx
post-install sound-slot-0 /bin/aumix-minimal -f /etc/.aumixrc -L >/dev/null 2>&1 || :
pre-remove sound-slot-0 /bin/aumix-minimal -f /etc/.aumixrc -S >/dev/null 2>&1 || :
alias usb-controller usb-uhci
alias eth0 3c59x

PCI IDDevicetypeIdentifier
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corp. 440BX/ZX/DX - 82443BX/ZX/DX Host bridge (rev 03) Flags: bus master, medium devsel, latency 64 Memory at f4000000 (32-bit, prefetchable) [size=64M] Capabilities: [a0] AGP version 1.0
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corp. 440BX/ZX/DX - 82443BX/ZX/DX AGP bridge (rev 03) (prog-if 00 [Normal decode]) Flags: bus master, 66Mhz, medium devsel, latency 128 Bus: primary=00, secondary=01, subordinate=01, sec-latency=64 I/O behind bridge: 00003000-00003fff Memory behind bridge: f0200000-f02fffff Prefetchable memory behind bridge: f8000000-fbffffff
00:02.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI1450 (rev 03) Subsystem: IBM: Unknown device 0130 Flags: bus master, medium devsel, latency 168, IRQ 11 Memory at 50000000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=4K] Bus: primary=00, secondary=02, subordinate=04, sec-latency=176 Memory window 0: 20000000-203ff000 (prefetchable) Memory window 1: 20400000-207ff000 I/O window 0: 00004000-000040ff I/O window 1: 00004400-000044ff 16-bit legacy interface ports at 0001
00:02.1 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI1450 (rev 03) Subsystem: IBM: Unknown device 0130 Flags: bus master, medium devsel, latency 168, IRQ 11 Memory at 50100000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=4K] Bus: primary=00, secondary=05, subordinate=07, sec-latency=176 Memory window 0: 20800000-20bff000 (prefetchable) Memory window 1: 20c00000-20fff000 I/O window 0: 00004800-000048ff I/O window 1: 00004c00-00004cff 16-bit legacy interface ports at 0001
00:03.0 Ethernet controller: 3Com Corporation 3c556B Hurricane CardBus (rev 20) Subsystem: 3Com Corporation: Unknown device 6356 Flags: bus master, medium devsel, latency 80, IRQ 11 I/O ports at 1800 [size=256] Memory at f0101400 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=128] Memory at f0101000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=128] Expansion ROM at [disabled] [size=128K] Capabilities: [50] Power Management version 2
00:03.1 Communication controller: 3Com Corporation Mini PCI 56k Winmodem (rev 20) Subsystem: 3Com Corporation: Unknown device 6159 Flags: medium devsel, IRQ 11 I/O ports at 2000 [size=256] Memory at f0101c00 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=256] Memory at f0101800 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=128] Capabilities: [50] Power Management version 2
00:05.0 Multimedia audio controller: Cirrus Logic CS 4614/22/24 [CrystalClear SoundFusion Audio Accelerator] (rev 01) Subsystem: IBM: Unknown device 0153 Flags: bus master, slow devsel, latency 64, IRQ 11 Memory at f0100000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=4K] Memory at f0000000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=1M] Capabilities: [40] Power Management version 2
00:07.0 Bridge: Intel Corp. 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 ISA (rev 02) Flags: bus master, medium devsel, latency 0
00:07.1 IDE interface: Intel Corp. 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 IDE (rev 01) (prog-if 80 [Master]) Flags: bus master, medium devsel, latency 64 I/O ports at 1c00 [size=16]
00:07.2 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 USB (rev 01) (prog-if 00 [UHCI]) Flags: bus master, medium devsel, latency 64, IRQ 11 I/O ports at 1c20 [size=32]
00:07.3 Bridge: Intel Corp. 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 ACPI (rev 03) Flags: medium devsel, IRQ 9
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Rage Mobility M3 AGP 2x (rev 02) (prog-if 00 [VGA]) Subsystem: IBM: Unknown device 0155 Flags: bus master, stepping, fast Back2Back, 66Mhz, medium devsel, latency 66, IRQ 11 Memory at f8000000 (32-bit, prefetchable) [size=64M] I/O ports at 3000 [size=256] Memory at f0200000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16K] Expansion ROM at [disabled] [size=128K] Capabilities: [50] AGP version 2.0 Capabilities: [5c] Power Management version 2

All hardware, except the modem does work well and performce good for my needs.

The following modules are loaded:

module device
sr_modfor cd-rw
cs46xx sounddevice
ac97_codecmore sound ;)
soundcoresound core module
r128 special kernelmodul for DRI in dependency with the gatos modules
yenta_socketsocket driver for pcmcia
pcmcia_coreas the name says
3c59xthe 3Com hurrican is supported by this module
ide-scsifor using cd-rw-combo drive
scsi_modfor generic scsi
ide-cdcd-rom support
cdromcdrom support
mousedevUSB mouse
hidhuman input device driver for USB
inputmore USB input
usb-uhcimy USB-controller
usbcorecore module for USB
jbdjournaling block driver

My disk partition-scheme was created with RedHats Disk-Druid.
/dev/hda1 1 9 68008+ 83 Linux mounted on /boot
/dev/hda2 10 348 2562840 83 Linux mounted on /
/dev/hda3 349 1364 7680960 83 Linux mounted on /usr
/dev/hda4 1365 4134 20941200 f Win95 Erw. (LBA)
/dev/hda5 1365 1689 2456968+ 83 Linux mounted on /home
/dev/hda6 1690 1760 536728+ 82 Linux Swap
/dev/hda7 1761 4134 17947408+ 83 Linux mount on /var

The packages installed can be found here

Last updated: Mar 22 2004 10:00 a.m.

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