IBM ThinkCentre M50 vs CentOS

Installing Linux on an IBM ThinkCentre M50 requires the ACPI interface to be disabled or you could see the system slow to a crawl. Here’s how I found out and how to fix it.

At work I admin RedHat 4 and 5 Enterprise Linux servers but due to the limited number of licenses we own I’ve had to set up test systems using CentOS 4 and 5. My scrounging ability comes to the fore here and I’m using old ThinkCentre SOE desktop PCs. Unfortunately there’s a trick for inexperienced players (like me).

The first sign of problems was when I first installed CentOS 5.3 on an IBM ThinkCentre M50 (MT-M 8185 NML). After a few hours/days the system would slow to the point of being unusable. Simples commands would take minutes to return, ie. ls -l. Switching terminals would takes even longer and shutdowns took up to an hour.

I tried disabling all unnecessary services. I tried updating all installed packages, kernel included. Nothing worked. I googled. I found (unsolved) bug reports and a few less related forum posts and the like. No joy.

I relented, thinking that the hardware was maybe too old, and installed CentOS 4.7 on the ThinkCentre. Within a few days the same problem reared it’s ugly head. It was time for more googling and I eventually found this Ubuntu forums post describing how to disable ACPI at boot. The ThinkPad ACPI Linux driver site was what gave me a clue to the right path.

If your system boots with GRUB you can add acpi=off to the relevant entry in /boot/grub/menu.lst thus:
title CentOS (2.6.9-78.0.22.ELsmp)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.9-78.0.22.ELsmp ro \ root=/dev/VolGroup00/LV2 rhgb quiet acpi=off
initrd /initrd-2.6.9-78.0.22.ELsmp.img

For the full list of relevant parameters I found Novell’s Kernel Parameters for ACPI/APIC page very helpful.

2 thoughts on “IBM ThinkCentre M50 vs CentOS

  1. IBM ThinkPad is very nice. Frame/chassis is solid for the most part, but the electronic components or system would be designed better.
    my co-workers had complains about some minor annoyances w/ their IBM/Lenovo also.

    Do you think this is a hardware issues (w/ IBM ThinkCentre’s motherboard or BIOS)?

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