Personalize your computer

25 Feb, 2014

There are a couple of ways of making your computer really yours. The first is the choosing of a good hostname, preferably something besides "Computer" or your own name. There's even a helpful RFC for choosing good names!

My systems are all named after characters from the webcomic Sluggy Freelance. So far I have eight systems, fortunately there's quite a large cast of characters, but I should probably stop collecting computers before I have to resort to using Bert or Doctor Lorna.

The second way to personalize your machine? Stickers obviously!


Bonus shout-outs to Unixstickers for providing nifty Debian keyboard stickers for covering the Windows logo and to camJAMR who sells re-usable webcam covers.


Debian GNU/Linux on the Thinkpad Edge S430

09 Oct, 2013

These are a few notes on running Debian GNU/Linux unstable (as of 131008) on the Thinkpad Edge S430 (using kernel 3.11). The TL;DR is that 99% of all features of the laptop seems to be working perfectly. I've had zero stability issues so far, and no problems with suspend/resume.

Thinkpad Edge


Ivybridge Mobile (HD Graphics 4000) is very well supported in the i965 driver in Mesa 9.2. No stability issues or crashes, pretty much every game tried works fine.

HDMI out (mini) is working without a hitch.


Intel HDA / Realtek ALC269VC, supported by the snd_hda_intel driver. Internal speakers, microphone, audio jack and HDMI output all working great.

There's a small gotcha in that the system lists two HDMI outputs but only one produces audio. I need to figure out if it can be blacklisted.

Update: This has been fixed in later releases of GNOME and PulseAudio.


Wired ethernet

Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 Gigabit Ethernet, working fine, using the r8169 driver.


Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 BGN, no problems, haven't tried it out as a wireless hot spot yet. Needs the non-free firmware-iwlwifi package.

Update: Hotspot seems to be working fine with Network Manager.

Mobile broadband / WWAN

Ericsson H5321 gw, 0bdb:1926. Untested so far but reported to be working with a minor workaround. Seems to be working just fine out of the box on Debian unstable.

This adapter supposedly works as a GPS, something I haven't tried yet.


Intel, 8087:07da. Working fine, not sure if this also needs the firmware-iwlwifi package.

SD Card Reader

Realtek RTS5229, supported by the rtsx_pci driver in kernel 3.8 and later.


Acer/Ricoh, 5986:02d2. Supported by the uvcvideo driver, working fine.

Fingerprint reader

Upek Biometric, 147e:1002. Untested so far. Support for fingerprint readers seems to be generally poor for GNU/Linux.

Multimedia keys

All working.
Mostly working out of the box, at least under GNOME. The only button not supported is the MIC_MUTE button, but there are open bugs and work being done to fix this.

The small LED for illuminating the keyboard also works OOTB.

Trusted Platform Module

Like most (all?) Thinkpads the hardware includes a TPM, or Trusted Platform Module.
tpm_tis 00:09: 1.2 TPM (device-id 0x0, rev-id 78)
It seems to be working well with TrouSerS software and can among other things be used to securely store an SSH key.


Touchpad, "nipple" and the extra mouse buttons over the touch pad are all working out of the box. The touch pad uses the synaptics driver.

CD/DVD Drive

MATSHITADVD-RAM UJ8B2 (1.00), small and noisy, but working OK.

USB and Thunderbolt

The thunderbolt port is completely untested. I have no thunderbolt devices and no idea how good the Linux support is.

Unfortunately I also have no USB3 devices, so untested for the time being.

Compatibility issues with USB3 are gone with 3.14. Seems like it was a software issue after all.
I did however notice compatibility problems with some USB devices, some cheap hubs and mice, but also with my Android phone. This can be worked around by running the ports in legacy USB2 mode. I need to figure out if this is a straight up hardware incompatibility or a driver issue in Linux.


lm-sensors (using the coretemp driver) detects sensors which appears
to be correct:

$ sensors
 Adapter: Virtual device
 temp1:        +29.8°C  (crit = +100.0°C)

 Adapter: ISA adapter
 fan1:           0 RPM

 Adapter: ISA adapter
 Physical id 0:  +56.0°C  (high = +87.0°C, crit = +105.0°C)
 Core 0:         +56.0°C  (high = +87.0°C, crit = +105.0°C)
 Core 1:         +49.0°C  (high = +87.0°C, crit = +105.0°C)

 Adapter: Virtual device
 temp1:        +56.0°C

I can't get any RPM readings from the fan unfortunately, probably because of this bug.

Power Management

I need to look into making the suggestions from powertop permanent (and make sure it doesn't make the system unstable).

Must also make sure I'm not affected by the RC6 problems on some Intel systems.


BIOS updates for the Thinkpad S430 are thankfully still available the old fashioned way, as bootable ISO images.


The drive bay on this laptop only take disks 7mm in height, so keep this in mind if you plan on replacing the hard drive.

If you plan on replacing the DVD/CD drive with a second hard drive you need a 9.5mm caddy (and a similarly matched USB enclosure for the DVD if you plan on using it).

The screen has a very blueish tint, a common issue with almost all laptop screens and monitors. I recommend getting a ColorHug or similar colorimeter and getting it properly calibrated, you'll thank yourself.


There's a long standing BIOS bug causing the key combination Ctrl-Alt-Up (commonly used in GNOME Shell) being ignored if the Fn and Ctrl keys are swapped.

So far Lenovo has ignored this as a Linux specific issue, but it's reported as happening on Windows too. I need to bug them about this again.

This has also been reported for other Thinkpad models in this Launchpad bug, so it's not specific to the S430.

Logs and output

Show lsusb and lspci output.

Full dmesg output.


I still need to:

*Updated 09 Oct 2013 with note about the screen.*
*Updated 7 Dec 2013 with note about fancontrol bug.*
*Updated 14 Dec 2013 with note about HDMI and PA.*
*Updated 02 Mar 2014 with a note about the TPM.*
*Updated 12 Jun 2014 hotspot function seems to work fine.*
*Updated 19 Jun 2014 added short note about wwan.*
*Updated 01 Nov 2014 microphone button working.*
*Updated 04 Nov 2014 update about USB3.*

Debian Etch Wallpaper

01 Jan, 2007

Last time i messed around in Inkscape I started doing a wallpaper celebrating the (upcoming) release of Debian Etch. (It could be used as a logo or for some promotional material too).

Unfinished artwork for Debian 4.0

I don't think I will get around to finishing it, so I will simply post the SVG file here and now if someone want to use it. It's licensed under the GNU GPLv2. Click the thumbnail above for a larger image and the SVG.

Tags: art, debian,

For Make Benefit Glorious Operating System of Debian

11 Dec, 2006

I was recently given the privilege to work with pkg-gnome, the Debian GNOME maintainers and was even given commit rights to the SVN archive. With a little help, I closed my first RC bug. Great success. :)

Tags: debian, gnome,

Shameless self promotion

20 Nov, 2006

November has been an interesting month in many ways. I've gotten not one, but two patches commited to free software projects. One for the Debian package of Einstein Puzzle.

einstein (2.0.dfsg.2-3) unstable; urgency=low

* main.cpp, res/resources.descr, debian/icon.bmp.uue, debian/rules: Window
icon.  Closes: #396113.  Thanks to Sven Arvidsson .

-- Bart Martens   Sun,  5 Nov 2006 13:32:08 +0100

And one patch for nautilus-cd-burner in GNOME(!).

2006-11-20  William Jon McCann

* src/burn-extension.c (nautilus_burn_get_file_items):
Try to burn cue for x-cdrdao-toc mime types.

Patch from Sven Arvidsson
Fixes #366909

They are both very, very tiny contributions, and the window icon for Einsten needs more work, still, it makes me pretty happy about myself.

Tags: code, debian, gnome, patch,

Encrypted Home Directory

16 Jan, 2006

I finally set up my laptop to use an encrypted home directory. This was easy enough using dm-crypt and LUKS for loopback mounting a file to use as my home dir. I simply followed Rene Mayrhofer's short HOWTO.

This solution is a little bit hackish. When I log in and out from X, it does not seem to unmount the loopback device,log in from SSH is not possible (no support in libpam-mount), etc. I was also not surprised to find out that it is about three times slower than normal. (This is of course a very old computer, 333 MHz. A modern machine should be considerably faster).

Since only my home dir is encrypted, application startup time is not affected. I will use this setup for a while and see if it becomes painful or not. Either way, I will probably choose another solution (less hackish) in the future.

Edit. It seems the trouble I had with unmouting after using GDM was a configuration error in /etc/pam.d/gdm and as I don't run SSH by default on this machine, that is a very small problem.

Tags: debian, howto,