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vtmemo
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
Location: Blacksburg, VA

Misc. SL500 fixes including: WinXP downgrade + SATA DRIVERS, slow HDD / keyboard, slow wireless...

I've been on the Lenovo boards for a while now, and there have been more than a few problems coming up with the SL(X)00 series notebooks... it appears to me that many folks purchasing these notebooks wish to downgrade to WindowsXP.  Vista isn't well-received, so that's understandable.  However, the SATA driver issue is only the beginning of the headaches I've gone through with this machine.  There is, however, a silver lining:  I managed to get my SL500 booting in under 30 seconds with a full SATA-capable, clean install of XP pro with full driver support and all my necessary programs.

 

I'll try to explain how, in hopes that other folks can benefit from my trail-blazing.  This guide contains two parts.  Part 1 involves getting SATA drivers working with a clean downgrade to Windows XP.  Part 2 involves some of the software / hardware issues inherent with this notebook while running WinXP.  

 

Note:  I don't work for lenovo, I'm not an IT professional, and I don't have time to answer individual questions.

I won't be checking this thread very often and I can't address individual issues not enumerated by the guide itself.

Use the steps outlined here at your own risk, and always back up your files!

If you found this guide helpful, I'm glad.  I'm upset that it took me almost 6 months and a whole pile of frustration to finally resolve the majority of the crippling problems with this notebook.  I'm FURTHER upset that lenovo doesn't seem to have updated the drivers in question for many of the devices with reported issues... in many cases for more than half a year.  That's not flame, that's -fact-.

If these steps work for you, link other folks to them, and maybe eventually the problems won't fall to the customers to fix themselves.  If you found them particularly useful, say so :smileyhappy:

 


 

Part 1:  Clean downgrade to Windows XP Pro *with* SATA DRIVERS

Issues Fixed:  Slow HDD read & write speeds, Sluggish Keyboard, "HARD DISK DRIVE NOT FOUND" during XP downgrade, Switching between AHCI & Compatability Modes, Intel Matrix Storage Controller Won't Install, Mysterious Blue Screen on Boot / Windows XP Doesn't Come Back Up...

 

This was the trickiest part of the whole process, but after you do it once, it's a very convenient method to customize -any- installation of Windows XP.  It's called "slipstreaming", and it's not as difficult as it sounds.  This guide specifically involves the SL500 notebook, but it should be extensible to the 400 & 300 as well.  What you'll need:

 

  • A clean, licensed Windows XP professional disc (base install, -not- a recovery CD)


Got all that ready?  Good.
 

  1. First, run the self-extracting .exe file you downloaded for the Intel SATA driver, put it in a folder on your HDD and remember where you put it.
  2. Download and install n-lite if you haven't already.  If it yells at you to install .NET 2.0, you forgot to install the .NET 2.0 framework you downloaded, so that now.
  3. Put your working WinXP CD in the DVD drive but DO NOT RUN IT (hold shift to prevent autorun)
  4. Make a folder on your HDD (suggest naming it "winxp disc" ), navigate to the windows XP DVD, and COPY THE FILES from the CD to the folder on your computer.  (You may have to right click on the drive letter for the XP CD and select "explore" to view the files contained therein.)
  5. Open n-lite.  At this point, it's important that you remember to breathe -- the next steps will feel a bit like surgery, and that's because it is.  You're about to give your Windows XP disc some... enhancements.  Basically, n-Lite will go into the XP files, put in drivers that aren't natively supported, take out anything you don't want, and then wrap the whole thing up in a neat little package for you to burn onto a new DVD.
    1. Point n-lite to the folder on your Hard Drive where you copied the XP files.  Click Next.
    2. If this is your first go 'round, you don't need to import any presets, so don't do it.  Click next.
    3. You're now faced with some options.  Don't panic.
      --- (optional) If you don't have the base install with the latest service pack, download the service pack from Microsoft and enable the "Service Pack" option in n-lite
      ++ (REQUIRED) Enable "Drivers"
      --- (optional) If you want to remove components, set up unattended install with your license key, change options (advanced users only), or add tweaks (advanced users only), enable those buttons as well.
      ++ (REQUIRED) Enable "Bootable ISO"
    4. Have a cookie.  You're earning it!  (I'm skipping the service pack install, optional, listed above.  If you need to add SP-#, just point n-lite to the SP install file you got from Microsoft.  Simple, huh?)
    5. Now you get to integrate drivers into the installation.  Here's where you get to act like one of the big boys, and make your -own- recovery disc!
      -- Click "Insert" ... Select "Multiple Driver Folder"
      -- Navigate to where you unzipped the Intel Matrix Storage Manager, select that folder
      -- Click "All"
      -- You'll be presented with a list of drivers.  In TXT mode, select the driver for your Notebook:
      THE SL500 USES THE "Intel(R) ICH9M-E/M SATA AHCI Controller"
    6. Click OK.  Your Windows XP disc will now contain SATA drive support during install.
    7. (optional)  Install any other drivers you wish to pre-load on your machine.  Not required, but handy, especially if you want networking functionality out-of-the-box.
  6. At this point, you can configure n-Lite to strip Windows down to a barebones install, but most of that is for advanced users or those wishing to automate the install process.  For our purposes, the SATA Drivers (and maybe the Network Card drivers, if you're ambitious) are all we really need for now.  Click NEXT and let n-Lite compile your NEW version of WindowsXP.
  7. Now comes the ISO creation step. If you're clever, you can also make a subfolder within the WinXP directory you've been modifying called "Lenovo Drivers" and toss in your other downloaded lenovo drivers, and include other folders with miscellaneous preware you might deem necessary to install -- e.g., firefox, thunderbird, MS Office, etc etc.  Again, this is all bonus material and isn't required for this guide.
  8. Once you've got everything you want in the WinXP folder, you've made the ISO image, now you're ready to burn the DVD.  Open up CDBurnerXP, Nero, or your burning program of choice and burn the ISO to a DVD-R

Once the DVD is burned, you should put it aside and guard it well.  You've already backed up, so I don't need to tell you again, right?  There's no going back after you format.

 

INSTALL PROCESS:

  1. Boot with the MODIFIED windows XP cd in the drive, but first, HOLD F1 TO ENTER THE BIOS
  2. In the bios, navigate to the "SATA" options (hard drive, sata options) and change the mode to "AHCI" if it's not already.  This tells your bios, and anything attached to it, to assume that you've got SATA drivers on any install disc you might want to run;  "Compatibility Mode" treats the drive as a pseudo-IDE drive, allowing WindowsXP to install without a fuss.  But your copy of XP now *has* Sata drivers, doesn't it?  Lucky you!
  3. Set the boot order to default to your CD/DVD Drive if it's not already.  Make sure the hard drive isn't set before the optical media drive, or you'll just pop right back into Vista or whatever OS you've loaded on there already.
  4. F10 to save and exit the bios config, and the system should boot from the Windows Install Disc.
    Personally, I used this opportunity to DELETE the default partitions with Vista / recovery preinstalled.  You can keep 'em there if you like, but I wiped it clean on Day 1 and haven't missed them since.
  5. From this point, you don't need to do ANYTHING out of the ordinary -- DO NOT hit F6 to install "SCSI/RAID" controller when prompted, since you've already slipped these in.  Windows should install normally, and with full SATA support.

Ta-da!  A clean, driver-supported copy of Windows XP with full SATA support.  Have a drink, you've earned it!

 


 

Part 2:  Configuring Windows Apps / Hardware for SPEED AND PERFORMANCE


Issues Fixed: Slow Wireless Speeds, Slow (itemized) HTML Page Loads, Power Manager Memory Leak, Windows is Generally Slow, Onboard Audio is 'Buzzy' or 'Crackles', Very Loud BEEP on Power State Change, 

 

ISSUE:  "Windows Is Generally Slow"

If you're a techie, you already have TweakUI from Windows Powertoys.  If you don't have it, GET IT NOW.  Disable the graphical fading options, animations, fast user switching, reduce the startup processes, etc etc.  Again, it's worth noting that n-LITE has many of these options configurable if you're wiling to spend an hour or so digging through the menus to really trim things down.  Since the Intel Display Driver hasn't been updated in 6+ months from the time of this post, it's commonly accepted that the SL-series notebooks aren't graphical powerhouses.  (AHEM.  LENOVO.  WHY IS DRIVER SUPPORT FOR THIS NOTEBOOK SO POOR?).  Disabling the majority of Windows "flashy" animations will further improve your computer's performance.

 

ISSUE:  "Power Manager Memory Leak"

The easiest way to avoid the memory leak in the Lenovo Power Management Utility is to... you guessed it... NOT install the Power Management Utility.  HOWEVER, you -should- install the Power Management DRIVER, which is a different thing altogether and allows windows to manage Stand-by and other Battery-related functions.

 

ISSUE:  "Wireless Card Is Slow", "Slow (itemized) HTML Page Loads"

This one took me a solid week to figure out.  If you opt to NOT install the Power Management Utility, you'll have to configure the Wireless Card to DISABLE "power save" mode, which (under the current drivers) greatly slows the connection speed and disables multi-stream downloading, causing one image at a time to load - painfully slow - from HTML pages.  This should manifest for all pages in all browsers, so if your problem is systemic, check this setting:

  1. Start -> Settings -> Network Connections... right click on the "Wireless Connection", and select "Properties"
  2. Click on "Configure", go to the "Advanced" Tab, and highlight "Power Save Mode".  In the pulldown menu, switch this to "OFF".
  3. Apply all settings.  Note, my wireless card also manifested slow download speeds and itemized page loads; this setting resolved the isue.

 

Issue:  Onboard Audio Is 'Buzzy' or 'Crackles'

Yes, yes it is.  And no, I haven't yet found a "fix" for it, even after installing correctly-versioned SATA drivers.  It's an economy notebook, and the system board isn't very well grounded -- you'll hear "static" over headphones while downloading content via the wireless card.  You'll notice that your audio files have a distinct "buzzy" quality that wasn't there before, and that's likely a symptom of poor audio drivers, which AGAIN HAVE NOT BEEN UPDATED IN MORE THAN HALF A YEAR.  *AHEM*. The onboard audio for this notebook is just... poor.  If you want something substantial, an external USB card solves both problems pretty well.  I found a SoundBlaster X-Fi 5.1 ch. card for around $50.  Problem solved.  ... ish.

 

ISSUE: "Very Loud BEEP on Power State Change"

This actually isn't a Windows setting, it's a BIOS option.  Hold F1 during startup, and under "Alarms" disable the power state change alarm.  This disables the power state change beep while coming back from stand-by and hibernate as well.

 


 

I'll be monitoring this thread for a little while as initial response dictates.  If you find any glaring errors, please feel free to point them out and I'll try to fix the items in question.

 

Hope this helps, and good luck!

 

- MeMo

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t3nchi
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎04-03-2009
Location: Irving, TX
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Re: Misc. SL500 fixes including: WinXP downgrade + SATA DRIVERS, slow HDD / keyboard, slow wireless

Thanks for this write up. I think it will help MANY ppl. It took me a while to figure out a lot of stuff you mentioned and I'm glad there is now a one-stop resource for all of them.
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ecetim
Posts: 116
Registered: ‎03-11-2009
Location: Southeastern US
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Re: Misc. SL500 fixes including: WinXP downgrade + SATA DRIVERS, slow HDD / keyboard, slow wireless

Awesome writeup, thanks for taking the time and sharing it with the community!
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hankn
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎06-28-2009
Location: Israel
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Re: Misc. SL500 fixes including: WinXP downgrade + SATA DRIVERS, slow HDD / keyboard, slow wireless

Can someone explain how this solution differs from those as posted by Andreas at:

http://forums.lenovo.com/lnv/board/message?board.id=SL_ThinkPads&message.id=110&query.id=40605#M110

 

That leads to:
http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=188992
http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=333677

 

In 188992 Arki states

 

Config > Serial ATA (SATA) > Set AHCI to Compatibility*
Hit Esc
Hit Esc again
Startup > Boot > Move ATAPI CD0 to the topmost spot (1)

Hit F10 to save and exit. The computer restarts.

Upon bootup, hit any key to boot from disc.

*You are setting it to Compatibility mode because in AHCI, the XP CD will not recognize the HDD. Don't worry though, we will switch it to back to AHCI later in the guide.

 

So how does this solution differ from Arki's?

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vtmemo
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
Location: Blacksburg, VA
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Re: Misc. SL500 fixes including: WinXP downgrade + SATA DRIVERS, slow HDD / keyboard, slow wireless

hankn, thanks for the question:

 

This solution incorporates slipstreaming so that windows never manages the "new hardware" driver install.  I find that going into the bios, switching compatability mode, installing XP, then drivers, then switching back, then rebooting and allowing XP to install the drivers, then doing the rest... is all a bit more lengthy in process than just making a slipstreamed disc with the drivers preinstalled.

 

As an FYI, you could also install from CD when XP install promps you to install "SCSI/RAID ADAPTERS" since it allows you to pause the install, install the Intel Driver Matrix (SATA Support), and resume normal XP install without having to slipstream.  IMHO, this would be the 'easiest' option to get basic SATA support, if you really know what you're doing (and when).

 

In short, this solution eliminates the need to switch SATA modes in the bios and allows the user to add any other drivers in one simple step, instead of installing them independently one-by-one after OS install.

 

Hope it's helped other folks along the way!

- MeMo

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hankn
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎06-28-2009
Location: Israel
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Re: Misc. SL500 fixes including: WinXP downgrade + SATA DRIVERS, slow HDD / keyboard, slow wireless

MY SL500 came with 2 extra partitions - Q: which has 2.9G out of 9.78G used and seems to be a Factory partition for recovery and S: which is labeled service003 and has 710M out of 1.46GB used and is indicated as a boot partition.  C: came with 221GB which I assume is where I will lay down XP on top of Vista.

 

When running thru the instructions to downgrade to XP as you have posted, there was no mention of what to do in regards to pre-existing partitions.

 

Can someone clue me in?

 

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hankn
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎06-28-2009
Location: Israel
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Re: Misc. SL500 fixes including: WinXP downgrade + SATA DRIVERS, slow HDD / keyboard, slow wireless

I just saw your posting here about this issue:

http://forums.lenovo.com/lnv/board/message?board.id=SL_ThinkPads&message.id=1077&query.id=35069#M107...

where you state you repartitioned everything into one single C.

 

Can you explain "To do this, you can simply boot from the XP DVD, delete all three partitions, and format the entire disk into one volume (C) to load XP.  It took me three repartitions and two deep formats to figure all of this out, but in the end, was very much worth it."

 

Is there anyone who has done it any other way?

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vtmemo
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
Location: Blacksburg, VA
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Re: Misc. SL500 fixes including: WinXP downgrade + SATA DRIVERS, slow HDD / keyboard, slow wireless

Hankn, this sounds like your first reformat / OS install.

 

When you boot from the Windows XP disc, it should give you some options depending on what's already installed:

-- if it finds a copy of Windows XP, it will ask if you want to repair it, install a -new- copy, or delete the original

-- if it finds a copy of a different OS, it will ask if you want to ignore it or delete it

 

Partitions containing Vista, support partitions, or driver recovery partitions, will show up as occupied (formatted) partitions.  When you choose to delete / modify existing partitions, you'll be shown a list of these.  At this point, you simply highlight one and, I believe, press "D" or "L" (the key prompt is on the text above the list) to delete the partitions.  Once you have deleted ALL partitions (you should have your hard-drive size of "unpartitioned" space), format that space into your C: partition.

 

Programs like PartitionMagic may make this easier for someone new to the process.

 

Cheers!

- MeMo

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hankn
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎06-28-2009
Location: Israel
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Re: Misc. SL500 fixes including: WinXP downgrade + SATA DRIVERS, slow HDD / keyboard, slow wireless


vtmemo wrote:

Hankn, this sounds like your first reformat / OS install.

 

When you boot from the Windows XP disc, it should give you some options depending on what's already installed:

-- if it finds a copy of Windows XP, it will ask if you want to repair it, install a -new- copy, or delete the original

-- if it finds a copy of a different OS, it will ask if you want to ignore it or delete it

 

Partitions containing Vista, support partitions, or driver recovery partitions, will show up as occupied (formatted) partitions.  When you choose to delete / modify existing partitions, you'll be shown a list of these.  At this point, you simply highlight one and, I believe, press "D" or "L" (the key prompt is on the text above the list) to delete the partitions.  Once you have deleted ALL partitions (you should have your hard-drive size of "unpartitioned" space), format that space into your C: partition.

 

Programs like PartitionMagic may make this easier for someone new to the process.

 

Cheers!

- MeMo


Thanks.  I have rebuilt XP about 4-5x from scratch but never on top of existing partitions.

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hankn
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎06-28-2009
Location: Israel
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Re: Misc. SL500 fixes including: WinXP downgrade + SATA DRIVERS, slow HDD / keyboard, slow wireless

I have hit a snag. I rebuilt the partitions, put down XP and rebooted - all fine.  I am now up to the point of installed the Intel Matrix Storage Manager.  I have downloaded the latest XP version:

http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/MIGR-69993.html

http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/license.do?filename=mobiles/6ai112ww.exe

I then do the install - as it says it on th Lenovo install page and as it says it in the notebookreview install pages. It asks "Do you want to install the Intel SATA Controller Driver?" I say yes and it says

"Install failed! Intel SATA Controller Driver - Do you want to continue the Setup process?" 

 

I try both Yes and No and reboot and change BIOS to AHCI but on bootup I get bluescreened and have to back out to Compatability mode.

 

Obviously the SATA driver is not getting installed properly.  What am I doing wrong?