Installing Debian on Thinkpad X1 Carbon |

Installing Debian on Thinkpad X1 Carbon

Debian stable (as of 2015-05) installed practically without an itch. Most things "just worked" after installing the necessary packages from the official Debian repositories, including wireless and suspend to RAM. However, as always there were a few things I had to tweak to get everything the way I wanted to. On this page, I've documented most of these wee changes. Enjoy!


Problem that VirtualBox just hangs forever at 0% when starting a virtual machine (and then 20% and another "forever hang").

This seemd to be caused by this bug which was fixed in version 4.3.22 of VirtualBox So I added Debian testing to my /etc/apt/sources.list and upgraded my VirtualBox from there (using pinning so that I didn't pull more packages from the testing pool than necessary).

After upgrading VirtualBox, the problem went away. The performance of my virtual machines is impeccable after turning on the vitalisation extensions.

Sound 🔉

I prefer using pure ALSA instead of of PulseAudio as it has messed up and obfuscated the audio setup on all machines I've ever had.

Since ALSA registered two sound devices on the X1 Carbon and it's the second card I want to use, I added the following to my ~/.asoundrc to make everything use this card by default:

$ cat ~/.asoundrc
pcm.!default {
  type hw
  card PCH

ctl.!default {
  type hw
  card PCH

I got the "PCM" name from looking at /proc/asound/cards:

$ cat /proc/asound/cards
 0 [HDMI           ]: HDA-Intel - HDA Intel HDMI
                      HDA Intel HDMI at 0xf1130000 irq 64
 1 [PCH            ]: HDA-Intel - HDA Intel PCH
                      HDA Intel PCH at 0xf1134000 irq 61
29 [ThinkPadEC     ]: ThinkPad EC - ThinkPad Console Audio Control
                      ThinkPad Console Audio Control at EC reg 0x30, fw unknown

I prefer using MPD for playing music on my work machine. It's the least obtrusive music player that I know of, while yet offering many different clients, CLI, web and graphical. I had to add this to /etc/mpd.conf to get MPD to play music through my prefferred sound card:

audio_output {
        type                    "alsa"
        name                    "Sound Card"
        device                  "hw:1"

Trackpad buttons

The two (mouse) buttons on the trackpad didn't work as left and right mouse button respectively, but as scroll up and scroll down (!). This bug was midly annoying, but I got by by pressing the touchpad itself for a (left) mouse click.

However, having the mouse button under the space bar is so much more convenient, so this is something that had to be remedied. The bug has been fixed in Linux 4.0, so I'll just have to wait till it arrives in Debian testing or unstable (my days of compiling the kernel myself are over 😃)

psmouse serio2: alps: Unknown ALPS touchpad: E7=10 00 64, EC=10 00 64
psmouse serio2: trackpoint: IBM TrackPoint firmware: 0x0e, buttons: 3/3

Extra Thinkpad options

I added the thinkpad_acpi to the setup. Currently (2015-05-05), it has to be forced in:

$ grep -v '^#' /etc/modules
$ cat /etc/modprobe.d/thinkpad_acpi.conf
options thinkpad_acpi force_load=1

I now got some Thinkpad goodness in the kernel log:

thinkpad_acpi: ThinkPad ACPI Extras v0.25
thinkpad_acpi: ThinkPad BIOS N14ET25W (1.03 ), EC unknown
thinkpad_acpi: Unsupported brightness interface, please contact
thinkpad_acpi: radio switch found; radios are enabled
thinkpad_acpi: This ThinkPad has standard ACPI backlight brightness control, supported by the ACPI video driver
thinkpad_acpi: Disabling thinkpad-acpi brightness events by default...
thinkpad_acpi: rfkill switch tpacpi_bluetooth_sw: radio is unblocked
thinkpad_acpi: rfkill switch tpacpi_wwan_sw: radio is unblocked
thinkpad_acpi: Console audio control enabled, mode: monitor (read only)

Flawless suspend and resume 💤

The suspend and resume on this laptop is the best I've ever had. For more than two weeks now, I've suspended and resumed at least once a day with tons of applications running. Never any problem. And this is using Debian stable. Linux wise, this is totally amazing! 😃

Adjust brighness from the command line

Get the current value:

$ cat /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness

Dim it, but leave it useable:

# echo 200 > /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness

gmail torstein.k.johansen @ gmail ~ twitter @torsteinkrause ~