Adventures in setting up a T60 with a modern OS — RAM, TrackPoint and Vifm and Escape

In this post, we'll be discussing the new RAM that has arrived, the new file manager I've started using and a few other things.

RAM

The new RAM finally arrived yesterday and I was quick to try and install it; however, to my dismay, it seemed to not like — at least at first. Initially, I had removed both of the old RAM sticks and replaced them with the new ones; this, however, resulted in my ThinkPad throwing an error at me, namely beeping. The ThinkPad has a bunch of beep codes that play whenever something is wrong, and I got short short short short which basically means that something is wrong with the RAM. I thus decided to take one of the RAM sticks out of the machine and put back one of the old ones and — voilà, it works. For some reason, it can only take 3 GB of RAM; and whilst I knew that only 3 GB could actually be addressed by the processor's chipset, I was unaware of the fact that it cannot even handle 4 GB of RAM installed. Everything I've read about this laptop indicated that 4 GB could be installed but, of those, only 3 GB could be used. The German ThinkWiki puts it as follows: —

Maximal sind 4 GB (2x2 GB) möglich, wobei jedoch nur 3 GB vom Chipsatz angesprochen werden können. Bei eingebauten 4 GB laufen die genutzten 2x1,5 GB im Dualchannel-Modus.

This tells me that you can install a maximum of 4 GB of RAM (two 2 GB RAM sticks) whereof only 3 GB can be addressed; this seems to not be true, unfortunately. This leaves me with the slight annoyance of having two differently sized RAM sticks installed in my machine; luckily, however, this is the maximum amount of RAM supported anyway, so it's not like I'm missing out on anything.

Browsing with more RAM

Now that I have more RAM, browsing the web has become much more bearable and having several tabs open at once is no longer a problem; and, due to the very lightweight nature of the OS + WM combination I am using (Manjaro with i3-gaps), the operating system only needs about 250 MB of RAM, so roughly 1.75 GB are free for other programs.

TrackPad speed

I am someone who likes their TrackPad, TouchPad and mouse to be quite sensitive; I'm unsure how anyone can endure having to have a 1 km² table to move from one end of the desktop to the other — obviously I am exaggerating, but I cannot for the life of me stand low sensitivity mouse input. Thus, it was imperative for me to increase the speed of my TouchPad but unfortunately, I was not sure how this can be done on i3wm; so I did a bit of searching and found the following command, wherein the 0 can be replaced by a number:

xinput set-prop "TPPS/2 IBM TrackPoint" "libinput Accel Speed" +0

I found that, for me personally, a speed of +0.3 works great, so adding the following line to my i3 config will automatically set the TouchPad speed upon starting i3-gaps: –

#Changing TrackPoint sensitivity
exec --no-startup-id xinput set-prop "TPPS/2 IBM TrackPoint" "libinput Accel Speed" +0

The name of your TouchPad or TrackPoint (which, in my case, is TPPS/2 IBM TrackPoint) can be found by running the xinput command on its own and looking at the output: —

⎡ Virtual core pointer                          id=2    [master pointer  (3)]
⎜   ↳ Virtual core XTEST pointer                id=4    [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ TPPS/2 IBM TrackPoint                     id=10   [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎣ Virtual core keyboard                         id=3    [master keyboard (2)]
    ↳ Virtual core XTEST keyboard               id=5    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Power Button                              id=6    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Video Bus                                 id=7    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Sleep Button                              id=8    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ AT Translated Set 2 keyboard              id=9    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ ThinkPad Extra Buttons                    id=11   [slave  keyboard (3)]

Remapping the Escape key

This is something I've been meaning to do for quite a while now — remapping the Escape key. I've not yet done so as the Escape key on most keyboards was in a decent position; on the T60 keyboard, however, it's very high up, above the F1 key. This results in my frequently pressing F1 instead of Escape, and you really have to do some finger gymnastics to actually reach that Escape key. Thus, I decided to remap the Escape key to Caps Lock on my T60 and I've achieved that by adding the following to my i3 config: —

#Remapping Caps Lock to Escape
exec "setxkbmap -option caps:escape"

This has made editing in Vim — and just general computer stuff — much easier.

Vifm

I have also abandoned ranger as my file manager and moved over to vifm. The main reasons for that are that vifm seems to be more lightweight, it's written in C (so it's faster than ranger, which was written in Python) and it uses the Vim keybindings all over. Additionally, you can add image, pdf (and other files) previews using Überzug, which provides image previews that are soo much better than those of w3mimgdisplay; those tend to be very iffy and don't often work correctly. This is especially true when using the terminal emulator I use, namely, suckless' st (simple terminal), because the image previews barely work at all in that terminal, especially when using transparency. Vifm on its own doesn't have any icons, which I like, but it's a feature that can very easily be patched in by adding a few lines to the vifm config file (~/.config/vifm/vifmrc).

The speed increase is especially noticeable on an old machine like the T60: ranger takes 1-5 seconds to open and vifm opens up almost instantaneously. It may not be as noticeable on more powerful machines, but I believe that, even there, the difference would be big enough to be noticeable. I have yet to install vifm on my main computer and my other laptop, but I will and see if the speed increase is noticeable there as well.