Lenovo ThinkPad E135

Introduction

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.

Tested Kernel:
3.10-3-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 3.10.11-1 (2013-09-10) x86_64 GNU/Linux

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Specifications

NameLenovo IdeaPad E135
ProcessorAMD E2-2000 APU
Screen1366×768
RAM4GB
HDD500GB
Optical DriveNone
Graphics
NetworkEthernet: RTL8111/8168/8411, Wireless: BCM4313, Bluetooth: yes

Linux Compatibility

DeviceCompatibilityComments
ProcessorYes
ScreenYesMultiple screen support poor - cannot choose optimum resolution on two screens via VGA port. HDMI untested.
HDDYes
Graphics ChipYesATI proprietary driver works, but cannot suspend/resume, nor use VGA out. However, it is much faster than the radeon driver
VGA OutYesOnly under open-source “radeon” module. Fglrx 1-13.11-betav1 failed.
HDMI PortNot Tested
SoundYesWorks, but there are four different volume controls (2xHDMI, 1xThinkPad,1x”Generic Audio”)
Built-in MicrophoneYes
Headphone JackYes
Microphone JackNone
EthernetPartialSeveral complications due to missing firmware. See Notes section below
WirelessPartialAfter firmware install, wifi signal was exceedingly poor when using brcmsmac. broadcomm's proprietary STA drivers do not compile. See Notes section below
BluetoothNot Tested
USBYesOnly tested for USB2.0
Card ReaderYesWhilst 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
WebcamYesVideo quality is passable for personal use.
Touch PadYesHas “rocking” style buttons, and also above-pad buttons. Trackpad surface has bumpy texture, which can make accurate pointing a little tricky on occasion.
Track PointYesCan be disabled via synaptic if so desired.
Suspend/ResumeYesYes, but only with Radeon driver
Function keysPartial All keys work, however audio keys may need to be bound to something.

Notes

Installation:

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.

Wireless:
Wifi signal is exceedingly poor. Cannot seem to set wifi power management - possibly the problem?
#iwconfig wlan0
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.

When attempting to use the broadcom drivers, these do not compile, as create_proc_* functions are deprecated in the kernel as of 2008.

System notes:
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.

Summary

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.

External Resources


Discussion

Andrey, 2014/03/07 21:28

I installed debian 7.x (now is 7.4) on this notebook. There are two main problems: sound and wireless network.
Sound works, but by default playback device is HDMI output. I don't have any HDMI hardware to check it. Tries to setup it with mate sound applet is failed. It can not recognize outputs of sound card. Looks like it confused, that output have same name. I added correct default.pcm.device, default.pcm.card to /etc/asound.conf and after reboot analog playback became default. So it is possible to mix it with alsamixer. I build my own kernel 3.13.5, but it worked on default kernel too.
Wireless card have problem with level of signal on open source driver. It is very slow and almost unusable. The new kernel doesn't solve this problem. I installed proprietary broadcom drivers from testing (wl driver 6.30.223.141) with dkms. Unfortunately, it doesn't make hardware completely happy. It have normal speed, but rather often driver logs backtrace to the kernel log and stop working. After this possible turn off and turn on wifi and it works again.
I checked bluetooth, it works.

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lenovo_thinkpad_e135.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/01 13:12 by 188.141.105.28
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