So you ask, what is TPB?

Well, I’ll tell you. It stands for ThinkPad Buttons. Yes, those little buttons you find on your IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad. With Fedora Core 5, they don’t work out of the box, probably because they are only on the ThinkPads, and nothing else. It’s useful to have an on-screen display however, when you are watching a movie or adjusting the brightness. And it’s actually pretty easy to install this to your FC5 system. Here’s how I did it, and I am sure you can too.

I regularly visit for all of my ThinkPad needs and this time, I needed to install the on-screen display. From the TPB page, I found some helpful resources to get the on-screen display buttons installed. Yet, after following all of the links on the page, there was nothing there for a current install of FC5. I wondered why.

After some digging, I discovered that the tpb package was added to the extras repository some time ago, and has been available there. So I installed it with yum.

# yum install tpb

Loading “installonlyn” plugin

Setting up Install Process

Setting up repositories


Installed: tpb.i386 0:0.6.4-3.fc5


Cool, what you might notice afterward are a couple things. One, tpb actually had one dependency, xosd, and that’s fine, but if you are not installing using FC5, you may need to install this separately on your machine. I know on Ubuntu that it needed nothing, but your mileage may vary.

Afterward, I was left with a couple more steps I needed to complete.

One was to test it out, and see if the tpb system was working.

# tpb –osd=on –verbose –thinkpad=”/usr/bin/X11/xterm -T ntpctl -e ntpctl”

Mute off

Mute on

Yep, looks successful.

Now I looked in the rpm installed by yum to find out if anything was started during initialization and saw some of the following files:

# rpm -ql tpb



So I cat’ed the above file to see what was in it, as it appears to be started when X starts:

# cat /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d/


/usr/bin/tpb -d

The -d option starts tpb in daemon mode which should provide all of the options I’ve chosen above.

After a successful reboot, all of my on-screen display components seem to be working properly.


In addition to all of this, I found that using the blue ThinkVantage/AccessIBM button can be useful for different things. By modifying the /etc/tpbrc file and adding a line similar to this, pushing the button can yield cool results. In my case, I made it so it would start up firefox for me, with a specific starting point.

# vi /etc/tbprc


# String with command and options that should be executed when ThinkPad

# button is pressed. It is possible to execute any program.

# By default no command is executed.


THINKPAD /usr/bin/firefox

It’s pretty easy to tweak any of the buttons to do anything you’d like, just dig around in the file and find the well documented section with the components to change.