Debian GNU/Linux (etch) on a Lenovo (IBM) Thinkpad T60 with Xen HVM support
This document describes how to install Debian GNU/Linux "Etch"
(testing) on a Lenovo (IBM) Thinkpad T60. These instructions aim at a
Dual-boot installation that preserves both the factory installed
Windows XP operating system and the special Lenovo "ThinkVantage"
repair button functionality.
My T60 has a T7200 dual-core CPU that provides hardware support for
virtualization. As an added bonus, this document also describes how
to make use of this virtualization support with Xen 3.0.3 and run a second
Debian GNU/Linux installation on a hardware virtual machine. (That
is, not using the older paravirtualization technique for older CPUs.)
Last updated: 13 January 2006
Although I provided this information in the hope that it will be
useful, I provide it WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; follow these instructions
at your own risk.
(1) Machine specs
- Intel Core Duo T7200 CPU at 2GHz
- 2GB RAM
- Intel PRO/1000 PL Ethernet NIC
- Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG
- 120 GB Serial ATA-150 hard drive
- ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 video adaptor
- DVD +-RW +-R DVD-RAM
- Verizon wireless
(2) What worked, what did not
- Things that worked automatically after the initial install:
- Both CPUs
- Ethernet NIC
- Things I haven't tried yet:
- Verizon wireless
- DVD burning
This howto combines information from several other authors along with
my own experience.
Many thanks to these earlier authors who essentially did all the hard
work for me!
(4) Dual-boot installation
Saving the factory-installed Windows stuff
The T60 came with Windows XP Professional pre-installed. It also came
with an extra bootable partition containing various Lenovo repair,
restore and rescue programs. You can boot this partition by pressing
a blue "ThinkVantage" button on the machine after turning it on. I
wanted to save both XP and the rescue partition and keep the
ThinkVantage button working. According to Stephan Bellon's page, I
would need to take the unusual steps of keeping the existing NT Master
Boot Record (MBR) and using the NT loader to multiboot XP and Linux in
order to accomplish this preservation. Although this approach
complicates the installation, that's what I did.
- Boot XP and create the ThinkVantage recovery DVD/CDs so if something
goes wrong, you can always restore the T60 to its factory
settings. Burn the DVDs/CDs by going to Start->All Programs->ThinkVantage->Create Recovery Media.
- Make a bootable GParted CD from the ISO available at
The Gnome Partition Editor
GParted is a bootable CD that allows you to change and resize NTFS
- Use GParted to shrink your XP NTFS partition. My XP partition was
originally about 90GB. I shrank it to 30GB leaving about 60GB of
free unpartitioned space. I did not touch the 5GB ThinkVantage
Initial Debian GNU/Linux install
I initially tried installing Debian stable (Sarge), but its kernel was
too old to support my T60's Ethernet NIC. So I installed release
candidate 1 of Debian testing (Etch) instead.
- Make a bootable Debian testing (Etch) netboot CD for x86 machines
from the latest ISO available from the
- Boot and run the install procedure.
- Allow the installer to automatically generate new partitions in
the unused hard disk space you created with GParted. I chose to
have only a swap and a root partition. When you begin
partitioning, the XP partition will be the partition with the
"bootable" flag. Mark your new Linux partition as the bootable
partition. We will make the XP partition the bootable one again
in a later step, but we need the Linux partition to be bootable
for now. At this point, my partition table looked like this:
Disk /dev/sda: 120.0 GB, 120034123776 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 14593 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 1 5222 41945683+ 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda2 13999 14593 4777920 12 Compaq diagnostics
Partition 2 does not end on cylinder boundary.
/dev/sda3 * 5223 13638 67601520 83 Linux
/dev/sda4 13639 13998 2891700 5 Extended
/dev/sda5 13639 13998 2891668+ 82 Linux swap / Solaris
Partition table entries are not in disk order
- Do not write the grub bootloader to the hard disk's Master Boot
Record (MBR). Instead, write it to the beginning of your new
Linux partition. By writing it to your Linux partition, you will
preserve the factory-supplied XP MBR---a key step to preserving
the ThinkVantage button functionality.
- If you want X11 be sure to select "desktop system" when given the
chance. Also select the maximum resolution for your LCD in the
X11 configuration menu. In my case this was 1400x1050 with
Getting dual boot to work
At this point we need to configure the NT boot loader to dual boot XP
or Linux, and then fix the partition table so that the NT boot loader
is run on boot.
If you don't want to run Xen, you can stop here.
- After the initial install completes, reboot. Because the Linux
partition is the one marked bootable in the partition table,
Linux will boot. Make sure your network is up. Install an SSH
client. Copy the grub boot record you wrote to the beginning of
your Linux partition to a file and then copy that file to some
# /sbin/ifconfig eth0 | head -n2
eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:15:58:7D:B5:3B
inet addr:192.168.40.186 Bcast:192.168.40.255 Mask:255.255.255.0
# apt-get install ssh
# mount | grep ^/dev
/dev/sda3 on / type ext3 (rw,errors=remount-ro)
# dd if=/dev/sda3 of=bootgrub.bin bs=512 count=1
# scp bootgrub.bin firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Reboot using your GParted CD. Put the "bootable" flag back on
the XP partition.
- Reboot. The T60 should boot into XP. In my case, it offered to boot
into "safe mode", but I declined and chose to boot normally.
- Install Cygwin on XP.
Be sure to install OpenSSH and vi.
- In a Cygwin shell, cd to /cygdrive/c ("C:").
- Use scp to copy bootgrub.bin into C:\bootgrub.bin.
- Make a backup of boot.ini with cp boot.ini boot.ini-orig just
- Use chmod u+w boot.ini to make boot.ini writable.
- Use vi to add C:\bootgrub.bin="Debian GNU/Linux"
to the bottom of the boot.init file. After editing, my boot.ini
file looked like this:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional"
- Use chmod u-w boot.ini to make boot.ini read-only again.
- Reboot. The NT loader should run on reboot and offer to boot
either XP or Debian GNU/Linux. Also, your ThinkVantage button
should still work. FYI, if you change your Grub configuration
from Linux (perhaps to add a new kernel to the list of kernels
bootable from Grub), you do not have to transfer a new copy of
bootgrub.bin to XP.
(5) Installing Xen
Setting up Domain0
I was able to use the binary Xen packages provided by Debian to create
virtual machines using paravirtualization. However,
paravirtualization was not enough: I wanted to take advantage of my
CPU's hardware virtualization support and do true virtualization. The
Debian binary packages for Xen did not seem to include the vital
vmloader component required for true virtualization ("HVM" as Xen
calls it), so I had to build Xen from source instead. Fortunately,
this was not too hard. The tricky part is to make sure you have all
the required tools and libraries installed before you build Xen
because if Xen fails to find something it needs, it does not complain,
it just leaves out features.
I have named my first Debian installation "entourage" and I will name
the second virtual Debian installation "victim". I'm going to use the
Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) library to enable Xen to bring up a
little X window containing the console of my virtual machines.
Boot into the first Debian installation ("Entourage").
Replace your glibc with a Xen-friendly version so that you don't have to worry
about Xen's Thread Local Storage compatibility issues.
Also install the Debian packages needed for building Xen with SDL support.
The Xen build instructions refer to a "dev86" package. On Debian, this
package is split into separate "bin86" and "bcc" packages, so you won't
see the "dev86" name.
# apt-get install libc6-xen
# apt-get install gcc make binutils
# apt-get install bin86 bcc
# apt-get install zlib1g-dev libcurl3-dev libncurses5-dev python-dev x11proto-core-dev python-dev
# apt-get install libsdl1.2debian-all
# apt-get install libsdl1.3-dev
Follow the "Installing from Source" instructions in the Xen
documentation to obtain and build Xen from source.
The Xen kernel needs to load a module containing a low-level SCSI SATA
driver in order to mount its root partition from the T60's hard disk.
Consequently, you must create an initial RAMdisk containing all the
kernel's modules. Initrd images created in the usual Debian
mkinitrd manner won't work with the Xen kernel. Instead, you
must use mkinitramfs.
# apt-get install initramfs-tools
# mkinitramfs -o /boot/initrd.img-188.8.131.52-xen 184.108.40.206-xen
Add an entry for Xen into your grub menu.list file. Mine looks like this:
# Put static boot stanzas before and/or after AUTOMAGIC KERNEL LIST
# BEGIN Added by Tim for Xen
title Xen 3.0.3 / XenLinux 2.6.16
kernel /boot/xen.gz dom0_mem=1572864
module /boot/vmlinuz-220.127.116.11-xen root=/dev/sda3 ro console=tty0
# END Added by Tim for Xen
### BEGIN AUTOMAGIC KERNELS LIST
- Reboot into the Xen kernel. If all goes well, you should see
(XEN) dmesgs on your console followed by the Xen Linux kernel's
messages. The Xen network bridge scripts should also run during boot.
After boot, you should see a xenbr network bridge in your
$ /sbin/ifconfig | grep xen
xenbr0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 36:38:2D:E1:2F:32
(6) Configure and boot the "victim" Debian system in an HVM Guest Domain
- Download an ISO image of the Debian GNU/Linux testing ("Etch") net install
CD-ROM. I'm putting my images in ~/VMs for convenience.
- Create a big sparse file to be the "victim" system's virtual disk.
I made mine 10GB in capacity, although at this point the actual
on-disk size is much less.
tfraser@entourage:~/VMs$ dd if=/dev/zero of=virtualDebian.img bs=1M seek=10240 count=1
1+0 records in
1+0 records out
1048576 bytes (1.0 MB) copied, 0.002726 seconds, 385 MB/s
tfraser@entourage:~/VMs$ ls -l
-rw-r--r-- 1 tfraser tfraser 134137856 2007-01-13 00:00 debian-testing-i386-netinst.iso
-rw-r--r-- 1 tfraser tfraser 10738466816 2007-01-14 01:55 virtualDebian.img
tfraser@entourage:~/VMs$ du -h virtualDebian.img
- Modify a copy of the /etc/xen/xmexample.hvm domain
configuration file. I named mine /etc/xen/virutalDebian
and modified the lines shown below. Note that the virtual hard disk
will be backed by the virtualDebian.img file and the virtual CD-ROM
drive will be backed by the Debian ISO. Note also that I have set
boot = 'd' to make the CD-ROM boot. We'll have to change
this after the install is done.
tfraser@entourage:/etc/xen$ diff xmexample.hvm virtualDebian
< name = "ExampleHVMDomain"
> name = "virtualDebian"
< disk = [ 'file:/var/images/min-el3-i386.img,hda,w', ',hdc:cdrom,r' ]
> #disk = [ 'file:/var/images/min-el3-i386.img,hda,w', ',hdc:cdrom,r' ]
> disk = [ 'file:/home/tfraser/VMs/virtualDebian.img,hda,w', 'file:/home/tfraser/VMs/debian-testing-i386-netinst.iso,hdc:cdrom,r' ]
- Boot the virtual machine with the command shown below. This should
bring up a new X window showing the console of the virtual machine.
The machine should boot from the CD-ROM. Run through the Debian
install. I named my virtual Debian system "victim", since I expect
to use it as a sort of crash-test dummy. I chose only the minimal
"standard system" option with no X11. AFAIK, you should be able to use
X11 with HVM. Indeed, you should even be able to boot various
entourage:/home/tfraser# /usr/sbin/xm create virtualDebian
- When it comes time to remove the Debian install CD-ROM and
reboot, reboot the virtual machine and interrupt the boot process
by asking the bootloader to show you additional boot options.
While the boot is interrupted, use the commands shown below to
determine the virtual machine's ID number and shut it down.
entourage:/home/tfraser# /usr/sbin/xm list
Name ID Mem(MiB) VCPUs State Time(s)
Domain-0 0 1535 2 r----- 705.7
virtualDebian 14 128 1 -b---- 21.7
entourage:/home/tfraser# /usr/sbin/xm shutdown 14
- Modify /etc/xen/virtualDebian so that the boot line
reads boot = 'c' instead of boot = 'd'. This change
will make the virtual machine boot from the hard disk rather than the
- Use the xm create virtualDebian command to restart the virtual
machine and enjoy your virtual Debian system! After I ran apt-get
update and apt-get dist-upgrade my virtualDebian disk
image was using about 1.1GB of actual disk space:
tfraser@entourage:~/VMs$ du -h virtualDebian.img
Tim Fraser's homepage at the WPI alumni site
$Id: t60.html,v 1.5 2007/01/13 19:59:43 tim Exp $