Linux (Debian) on a Lenovo Thinkpad X61s

Friday, August 03, 2007 at 05:17 PM

Most of the hardware on the Lenovo Thinkpad X61s works with the Debian standard kernel. The few things that require a bit of tweaking are described here.


Supported Hardware Components

  • CPU: Intel LV7500 Core2 Duo, 1.6 Ghz.
  • Chipset: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family)
  • Graphics: Intel Corporation Mobile Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 0c)
  • Harddrive: SATA 160 GB (see notes below)
  • Sound: Intel HDA, AD1984 codec (see notes below)
  • Network: Intel Corporation 1000 MBit
  • Bluetooth: Broadcom Corp BCM2045B
  • WLan: Intel 4965 a/b/g/n (see notes below)
  • SD-Card/MMC reader
  • Thinkpad Hotkeys (see notes below)


  • Firewire

Installing Debian GNU/Linux

Resizing the Windows Vista partition without a DVD drive

In order to install Linux without deleting the pre-installed Vista I resized the Vista partition. If booting from an external CD/DVD drive is not an option it is also possible to create a bootable USB stick to resize the pre-installed Windows Vista partition. I used install-mbr from the mbr package (using ms-sys did not work for me) to create a bootable SystemResuceCd distribution on a spare USB stick. It ships with gparted which is capable of resizing NTFS partitions.

The first partition contains the rescue system and should be left untouched whereas the second partition is the Windows Vista partition which can be shrunken. It contained about 20 GB of data with the default factory setup. Please note that resizing the partition will break the Vista boot. See below how to fix it.

Fixing the Windows Vista boot record

After the Vista partition is resized Vista will no longer boot. This can either be fixed with by using system repair from a Vista install CD or by using this workaround:

  1. Boot into the rescue system by pressing the ThinkVantage button on startup
  2. Select Open Web Browser
  3. Type X:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe as the URL
  4. Select Open to get a console
  5. Type bootrec /rebuildbcd

I also tried 'bootsect /fixboot' and 'bootrec /fixmbr' without success but these commands might be required as well. There is also bcdedit to modify the Vista boot sequence.


I installed grub as the boot loader in the master boot record (MBR) to either boot Linux or Vista.



If you are using Linux 2.6.22 or earlier (or Alsa 1.0.14) the sound card is not supported properly, see this bug report for more information. Using the python script attached to the bug report with the Alsa kernel driver worked for me.

A better solution is to upgrade to Linux 2.6.23 that includes the hda-intel Alsa driver which works without requiring any tweaks.


After installing the kernel the mac80211 and iwlwifi driver needs to be installed.  I have tested the wireless card in b and g mode using using an access point and WPA2. As of version 1.1.21 the wireless led does not work.


Compared to other Thinkpad models the X61s handles more function keys in software. I installed powersaved and modified /usr/lib/powersave/scripts/thinkpad_acpi_events to handle the backlight keys (Fn+Home and Fn+End). See this page for more details. The page also has instructions on how get the volume keys to work by using a modified X11 Xmodmap and KDE input actions.


The UHCI driver that is part of the standard kernel works. The card can be enabled/disabled using these commands when the acpi-thinkpad module is loaded (see Hotkeys section):

echo enabled/disabled > /proc/acpi/ibm/bluetooth


Powersaved refused to enable Suspend-to-RAM and Suspend-to-Disk forcing these changes to /etc/powersafe/sleep:


Entry filed under: KDE, Linux

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