Installing Ubuntu 10.10 on a Thinkpad 420

by gorthx

(This post is mainly about getting the RealTek wireless card working.)

I went with 10.10, mainly because I had the image handy on a USB key, and I’m not so excited about what I’ve heard about 11 yet. (Although I do intend to try it at my next available opportunity.)

To get the Thinkpad to boot from a USB, I hit F12 during boot (gotta be quick with it!) to access the boot menu, then -s to get the startup menu. (The ‘thinkvantage’ button didn’t get me where I wanted to be.) Once I was in the startup menu, I was in the ‘boot options’ tab. Hit the down arrow to select “USB HD”, then hit enter. Voila.

The install went pretty fast, but then I spent a fair bit of time with updates. In retrospect, I probably should have updated the image on the USB key. :shrug:

First, the most important configuration change: put the #&@* minimize/maximize buttons back on the right side, where they belong.

Next: install my favorite font.

Everything worked out of the box (external keyboard, external monitor, card reader, etc) except wireless. My laptop wasn’t even detecting that I had a wireless interface.

First I tried enabling “connect to ethernet and wireless networks”. (System -> Administration -> Users & Groups; select the user; click “Advanced Settings”; select the “User Priveleges” tab; make sure “Connect to wireless and ethernet networks” is checked). No dice.

I could see my card:
lspci -nn
Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. Device [10ec:8176] (rev 01)

…but I needed the drivers. This thread (specifically, the post by canucked) had the info I needed:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lexical/hwe-wireless
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install rtl8192ce-dkms

(Kind of confusing that the driver has what seems to be a different model # in it, but there it is.)

I pulled up System -> Administration -> Additional Drivers to check the status of my new driver, and discovered it was activated but not currently in use. Deactivating and reactivating it didn’t change anything, but a reboot did.

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