Libreboot - are there any simple guides?

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atitanfalls
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Joined: 06/21/2018

Hi all big thanks to the team for making Trisquel, I love this OS, its easy of use and how easy it is to migrate from Ubuntu. I do, however sometimes feel out of my depth on these forums, reading through various tutorials/websites as i'm not a programmer or have extensive hardware knowledge to be able to flash devices (eg libreboot).

Of course i'd love to learn these things and become an advocate to friends and family for free software, as i agree with having the right to ethical technology, but there is no easy guide to 'hacking' a libreboot compatible laptop to remove the proprietary bios. Does anyone have an 'easy to follow' tutorial for flashing some of the thinkpad models?

Many thanks.

chaosmonk

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Joined: 07/07/2017

> Does anyone have an 'easy to follow'
> tutorial for flashing some of the thinkpad models?

Most require external flashing, which I'm afraid to try. However, the X60 can be flashed internally. I was fortunate enough to coincidentally already have an X60 when I discovered the free software movement, and I was able to flash libreboot in about 20 minutes despite being a complete beginner to all of this.

There are both 32-bit and 64-bit X60's. I recommend obtaining a 64-bit model if you can. I also replaced the HDD with a SSD, which helps. I haven't bothered upgrading the RAM, because 2GB is enough for me, but I think the X60 can handle up to 3 or 4 if you need that.

I've finally ordered an Atheros AR5B95 WiFi card, with which I'll replace the Intel WiFi card that doesn't work without proprietary software. Until now I've been using a USB dongle. Replacing the WiFi card doesn't seem too intimidating, and I'm hoping it will perform better than the USB dongle. If you try this, make sure you do it *after* flashing libreboot, as the proprietary factory BIOS won't boot if you replace the card.

atitanfalls
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Joined: 06/21/2018

Thank you, I had heard about the x60 was software flashable along with the Macbook 1,1's, but it didn't occur ot me to add in a SSD to improve the speed of it! Great idea. I do have one question though, how do you discern a 32-bit from a 64-bit model?

jxself
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Joined: 09/13/2010

"how do you discern a 32-bit from a 64-bit model?"

I don't know if you mean physically or what. In software you can run "lscpu" and see:

Architecture: x86_64
CPU op-mode(s): 32-bit, 64-bit

chaosmonk

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Joined: 07/07/2017

> how do you discern a
> 32-bit from a 64-bit model?

If you already have access to the machine then jxself's answer works. If you want to know in advance of purchasing one I think you'd have to just ask the vendor.

chaosmonk

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Joined: 07/07/2017

> I've finally ordered an Atheros AR5B95 WiFi card, with which I'll replace the Intel WiFi

I received and installed the Atheros card yesterday. After using it for a day, I absolutely recommend doing the same if you buy an X60. It connects much faster and maintains connections much more reliably than the USB dongle, and costs less too. It also doesn't heat up the palm rest like the Intel card did. If I had known how much better it would perform than the USB dongle I would have done this long ago.

Here's[1] a good guide on replacing the WiFi card. Just make sure that you libreboot the device *before* replacing the WiFi card, as the factory BIOS won't boot if the WiFi card has been replaced. Also, if the ribbon cable connected to the keyboard does not have a pull tab as described in the guide (mine did not), you can get it out by quickly prying with a screw driver the left-hand side of the piece connected to the motherboard.

[1] https://libreplanet.org/wiki/IBM_Thinkpad_X60

uboot
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Joined: 05/31/2016

https://libreboot.org/docs/install/

is all you need, can't be easier.

traxter
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Joined: 03/23/2018

There are several videos on Youtube where people have filmed their monitors while installing Libreboot on Thinkpads (X60 and others). You should, of course, get familiar with the documentation on Libreboot's website as well.

One thing to consider is that it's possible that a X60 with Libreboot installed won't boot distros that don't have the libre kernel.

So you should either
- start flashing Libreboot with Trisquel or Parabola installed
- have a USB drive with Trisquel available

Because if you start flashing Libreboot with e.g. Debian installed, you could run into a problem at the point where you have to restart the machine to finish the Libreboot flashing (if you're unlucky, Debian won't start anymore and you're not able to finish the Libreboot flashing, unless you can start a Trisquel live session).

I'm not saying that this will happen, but there are some reports.