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IBM ThinkPad A22m

April 22, 2005

Sarah has been using an IBM ThinkPad A22m for about a year now. The system is a P3 1GHz with 384MB of RAM, a 30GB HD, a DVD/CDRW combo drive, 12" screen and an ATI Mach64-based video card. I purchased the system off-lease from Computer Depot here in town. Originally, this was a corporate grade top-of-the-line $3000+ laptop. I got it for about $600.

Sarah uses SimplyMepis Linux on it. With the exception of 3D acceleration, which can be enabled by compiling your own version of XFree86, SimplyMepis, as with most recent versions of Linux, runs perfectly on this laptop.

I originally purchased the ThinkPad because it was a good deal. I didn't have much use for it between my various systems and the iBook. At some point, Sarah and I realized that she could be using it instead of a laptop. She uses it connected to her monitor, keyboard and mouse most of the time. The fact that it is a laptop is really quite incidental for her. However, on occasion, she has found it very convenient to be able to unplug and easily move to another location.

As with most ThinkPads, this laptop is not a lightweight. However, it is extremely sturdy and quite fast. I may upgrade the RAM for her at some point, but overall the system is working so well that it wouldn't surprise me if she continues using it for years to come.

Under Linux, the battery lasts a good couple of hours. Software suspend works as well as I've ever seen it work in Linux, though she doesn't tend to use that much. Thankfully, the laptop uses very standard components. I was even able to install Solaris 9 for x86 on it, with working sound! (Using a commercial OSS driver.)

Being a high-end laptop, it has almost any plug that you could need. It has two PCMCIA slots, serial, parallel, USB 1.x, PS/2, IR, VGA, Composite video out, a floppy drive and a combo drive. Sarah has used it to watch movies, the system is quite capable of playing DVDs in Linux. The system is notably lacking built-in WiFi, USB2 and FireWire. For the most part, this is because these things didn't exist when the system was new. In any case, I added a $30 PCMCIA card that provides both USB2 and FireWire, and another $30 PCMCIA card for WiFi.

For Sarah, this system was a true desktop replacement. She is able to do everything she did on her old Celeron 2.4 and, because of software upgrades, the system is actually more responsive than her old machine. We both appreciate that the laptop takes up less space, is far quieter and draws less power than her old desktop system.

These machines are a bargain, as there are many coming off-lease. I highly recommend this system for anyone looking for a worry-free Linux laptop, or even for someone looking for a very robust and inexpensive Windows laptop. I personally would rather own a used $3000 laptop than one of the new $800 wonders. These ThinkPads are built like tanks and replacement parts are readily available. They make great systems for people on the go, students and just about anyone else.