Thinkpad X31 and Ubuntu 9.04

I am typing this from my newly purchased IBM Thinkpad X31 loaded with Windows XP Pro and Ubuntu 9.04.

Firstly I have to say something about the machine itself, and then I will go on a bit about how Linux is doing on this notebook.

From the time I opened the box and saw the laptop I was overjoyed. This unit is small and super portable but at the same time it isn’t so small that you feel you are falling off of it all the time. I have had a lot of opportunity to handle, use and just fool around with a variety of Netbooks, ASUS EEEpc, MSI, ACER, HP and the Lenovo S10, but nothing comes close to this X31 in my opinion.
This ultra-portable has a 12 inch screen so its small and lightweight but very comfortable. Mine came with an 80GB hard drive, 1.25GB of RAM, ATI Graphics card with dedicated video memory, Firewire, 2 x USB2.0, CF Card slot, PCMCIA slot, VGA out, Lan/Wifi/Modem, portable docking station with DVD Burner and more ports — all for $320 (AUD) including shipping!

Sure, this machine is not new and it isn’t a glossy or shiny gadget, but its got a lot of heart and the price is great for the quality and features you get – I would take this little beauty over a Netbook any day!

Now on to Linux…

I loaded Ubuntu 9.04 on here from the start. All the hardware was picked up and working from “GO”!
Ubuntu 9.04 does seem to run just a slight bit sluggish though and I am going to try out putting either Ubuntu Hardy LTS, Xubuntu or even Ubuntu Remix.

Overall its been superb with not a single hitch in this run!

Posted in 1. 14 Comments »

14 Responses to “Thinkpad X31 and Ubuntu 9.04”

  1. Phil Goetz Says:

    I have an X31 thinkpad, and the ubuntu installer won’t run. It stops in step 2, entering the time zone, and just won’t advance to the next step.

    What did you do to install it?

  2. Admin Says:

    I installed from a LiveCD. Are you using an optical drive (like in a dock?) or are you installing from a USB stick?
    If your using a CD you might want to do a integrity check on it. Sounds like the image may be faulty.

    I actually decided to run Foresight Linux in the place of Ubuntu 9.04 as I wanted my OS to run as fast as possible. Ubuntu 9.04 ran well on it but as I said it was a tad sluggish. Foresight Linux is running very fast though …

  3. anonymous Says:

    if you ‘dmesg’ you’d see that there’s a clock speed problem. that’s why it feels sluggish. the same goes for ubuntu 8.10. i installed 8.04 and everything is fine. i totaly agree with you – i would choose this over a netbook any day. i have mine for 4 years and i’m totaly satisfied.

    • Admin Says:

      Interesting … about the clock speed problem … is this a widespread issue with later release of Ubuntu, or is it a matter of it being with older hardware here?

  4. Demolished Man Says:

    Hi. I also have an x31 and the ubuntu 9.04 installer hangs at step 2 of 7. I am using a docking station cd drive and the disc verified ok. My thoughts are that it may be waiting for the network – the wifi is off and I do not have a ethernet connection. Perhaps I’ll try a LiveCD instead.

    • Admin Says:

      Yes, try the LiveCD!
      Step 2 of 7 is the location section if I remember correctly. I don’t think it looks for an Internet connection at that point.

      Again, I used the LiveCD and did not have any issues with the install.

  5. Demolished Man Says:

    In the end I went for plugging in an active ethernet connection and slightly suprising it did go past step 2 – the timezone bit. So (for me at least) intalling Ubuntu 9.04 on an IBM X31 requires an active (perhaps wired-only) internet connection to avoid it stalling at step 2.

  6. JD Says:

    I have loaded Xubuntu on my X31 with zero hassle. I notice it’s a bit sluggish on mine as well. This from the allegedly faster XFCE…

  7. t22xubuntu Says:

    Installed xubuntu 9.04 from live CD on a t22 and runs extremely well in 512MB memory footprint with XFCE. Ubuntu was very sluggish/did not install.

  8. JD Says:

    I have Xubuntu on my X31. The only problem I ever have is with streaming video. It really doesn’t work well. I’m thinking it’s some sort of video driver problem.

    • Admin Says:

      How much RAM do you have in this machine?

      If you are having issues with streaming video (like through Firefox) make sure you have the latest Adobe Flash Player installed … I like to download the latest from the Adobe site itself.

      Have you tried playing an AVI movie file?

  9. Johnson Lam Says:


    My X31 got some display problems after upgraded from 8.04, some of the 3D (OpenGL?) screen saver display and tooltips garbaled, other than this everything running smoothly.

    Glad to know if any patches or X31 special drivers needed.


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