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The lenovo ThinkPad is a small laptop/large netbook sized laptop, selling for around €300 (without OS). The system comes with a standard (as of 2013) set of inbuilt-devices, and uses an AMD CPU.
Debian Testing was installed (Oct 2013) successfully, and after some initial problems works reasonably well - bar wifi.
3.10-3-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 3.10.11-1 (2013-09-10) x86_64 GNU/Linux
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|Name||Lenovo IdeaPad E135|
|Processor||AMD E2-2000 APU|
|Network||Ethernet: RTL8111/8168/8411, Wireless: BCM4313, Bluetooth: yes|
|Screen||Yes||Multiple screen support poor - cannot choose optimum resolution on two screens via VGA port. HDMI untested.|
|Graphics Chip||Yes||ATI proprietary driver works, but cannot suspend/resume, nor use VGA out. However, it is much faster than the radeon driver|
|VGA Out||Yes||Only under open-source “radeon” module. Fglrx 1-13.11-betav1 failed.|
|HDMI Port||Not Tested|
|Sound||Yes||Works, but there are four different volume controls (2xHDMI, 1xThinkPad,1x”Generic Audio”)|
|Ethernet||Partial||Several complications due to missing firmware. See Notes section below|
|Wireless||Partial||After firmware install, wifi signal was exceedingly poor when using brcmsmac. broadcomm's proprietary STA drivers do not compile. See Notes section below|
|USB||Yes||Only tested for USB2.0|
|Card Reader||Yes||Whilst it works, card cannot be housed inside laptop, and pokes out the side. There is also no spring-lock mechanism for SD cards, it just slides in and makes a push-contact|
|Webcam||Yes||Video quality is passable for personal use.|
|Touch Pad||Yes||Has “rocking” style buttons, and also above-pad buttons. Trackpad surface has bumpy texture, which can make accurate pointing a little tricky on occasion.|
|Track Point||Yes||Can be disabled via synaptic if so desired.|
|Suspend/Resume||Yes||Yes, but only with Radeon driver|
|Function keys||Partial||All keys work, however audio keys may need to be bound to something.|
Secure boot can be disabled in the Bios.
Installation was complicated by several problems. The debian installer hung during the installation due to missing firmware. Not having the firmware installed causes the brcmsmac module to cause lockups for any process that tries to access the networking stack eg:
[ 28.548255] brcmsmac bcma0:0: firmware: agent aborted loading brcm/bcm43xx-0.fw (not found?)
[ 240.729912] INFO: task NetworkManager:2428 blocked for more than 120 seconds.
It is however, very hard to install the firwmare without the OS being installed first, as the firmware is not open-source and is not included on installation media. Workaround is to disable the network adaptors in the BIOS, then manually walk the firmware .debs across.
With the following debian packages installed, drivers seem to work:
i firmware-b43-installer - firmware installer for the b43 driver
i firmware-brcm80211 - Binary firmware for Broadcom 802.11 wirele
i firmware-linux-nonfree - Binary firmware for various drivers in the
i firmware-realtek - Binary firmware for Realtek wired and wire
i b43-fwcutter - utility for extracting Broadcom 43xx firmw
Additionally, b43-fwcutter needs to be installed, but will fail when it attempts to access the network (!) to download drivers.
You can avoid this failure by manually placing the driver tarball in the same folder as the deb, the installing with
'dpkg -i'. The hanging network stack until you install the wireless drivers means you have to port the tarball using a USB key or other storage device. Possibly with appropriate blacklisting the wired network could be used to install the wireless drivers, after installig the firmware-realtek package.
Wifi signal is exceedingly poor. Cannot seem to set wifi power management - possibly the problem?
wlan0 IEEE 802.11bgn ESSID:off/any
Mode:Managed Access Point: Not-Associated Tx-Power=19 dBm Retry long limit:7 RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off Encryption key:off Power Management:off
# iwconfig wlan0 power on
Error for wireless request “Set Power Management” (8B2C) :
SET failed on device wlan0 ; Operation not supported.
Fan is moderately noisy. Battery life seems to be about max 4.5-5hrs (new), prior to using powertop (untested afterwards). There are
no status LEDs other than the awake/asleep LED. Knowing if your radio devices (wifi/bluetooth) are turned on/off requires use of 'rfkill list' command to check. Also annoying that there are no HDD or caps-lock lights to determine what the system is doing.
Has significant teething issues owing to both network adaptors requiring firmware, and the wifi device causing network stack to hang when firmware is not available under the 3.10.11 kernel. Whilst these can be worked around, it takes some time to walk through the process of obtaining the packages (other kernels not checked). A USB network device (eg 3G stick, or wifi stick) is very handy to help overcome the install problems.
Biggest issues are the lack of good support from the proprietary drivers/slower radeon drivers (eg. supertuxkart is playable, but has a noticeably low frame rate). For practical use, radeon drivers are a better solution, as these allow suspend/resume and video output to work.
For the low price, the performance is ok, bar the wifi. Absent status LEDs are an unnecessary annoyance.