Installing Debian 4.0 (Etch) on a Thinkpad x60s

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This page describes the installation of Debian Etch, with its standard kernel, on a Thinkpad X60S (Type 1702-3GJ). The aim of this installation is to try to stick to a standard Etch installation.

The standard installation of Debian Etch (i386) goes smoothly. You have to check that "laptop" task is selected into tasksel.

Once, everything has been installed, you must edit /etc/apt/sources.list and add contrib and non-free after main. After this you must update the list of available package:

apt-get update

To enable the wifi, one have to install ipw3945d and firmware-ipw3945. The kernel driver of Etch (ipw3945-source) doesn't work for this version of the laptop. You have to download one from unstable/testing version 1.2.2, at least ( and install it through dpkg:

apt-get install debhelper dpatch module-assistant bzip2 make
dpkg -i ipw3945-source[...].deb

Compile it using m-a:


In m-a you have to "prepare" and then "select" module ipw3945. Follow instructions given by m-a. At the end of the procedure you should install the generated module.

In order to get NetworkManager working with this laptop you have to remove everything related to bluetooth:

apt-get remove --Purge bluez-utils bluetooth

You also have to edit a file in /etc/modprobe.d/myblacklist and add "blacklist bluetooth". Once done update the initrd image:

update-initramfs -u

In fact, bluetooth is not a real issue on this laptop, since there is no bluetooth device. The real problem is that it interferes with ipw3945 in a weird way. Another better solution, is to fully recompile a kernel with "preemption enabled" (select low-latency desktop).

After this, you must reboot your computer to be able to load the new module.

A possible remaining problem concerns hda_intel failing to initialize sound. This issue is related to the internal modem of the laptop. You must be sure that this modem is enabled in the BIOS. Typical message for this problem are:

hda_intel: azx_get_response timeout, switching to polling mode…
hda_intel: azx_get_response timeout, switching to single_cmd mode…

At the end, you should also copy the file /etc/acpi/start.d/ from unstable and place it in /etc/acpi/{suspend|resume|start}.d. This prevents an increase of the Load_Cycle_Count (a problem called "HDD laptop killer"). This file only contains a call to "hdparm -B 254" for your hard drive.

It is also possible to use a more recent kernel (2.6.24 and later) which includes iwl3945, a new OSS driver for the WIFI. It works pretty well, but the WIFI antenna is no more blinking after that. Since, this is out-of-topic, and need to recompile a kernel by hand and use backported package, people wanting to migrate to a newer kernel should look at this blog entry to proceed.

You should also take a look at Installing Debian Etch (Kernel on a Thinkpad x60s.