The notebook came pre-installed with Windows XP Professional. After finishing the Windows installation, I decided to create the recovery media first, because IBM doesn't put them in the box anymore. Better safe than sorry. Using the software in the "Access IBM" folder and two blank DVD-RWs that was quickly done.
Then I booted grml, my favorite Linux Live-CD, and used ntfsresize and cfdisk to resize the NTFS partition (/dev/sda1) to 15GB, but left alone the recovery partition (partition type in cfdisk is "Compaq diagnostics").
After that I booted the Debian Sarge DVD and tried the installation using version 2.6 of the linux kernel by typing "linux26" at the boot prompt. Unfortunately that didn't work, because the harddisk is connected to a SATA controller and the installation kernel didn't recognize it. So I restarted the installation, using the standard kernel instead. This time around the harddisk was recognized, although via the old IDE-sata interface of the kernel, so the disk was called /dev/hda. But at least I could start the installation.
I used the Debian installer to partition the harddisk, creating a swap partition (/dev/hda5) and the root partition (/dev/hda6), 1GB each. For the rest (~36GB) I used LVM and created logical volumes for /home (10GB), /tmp (1GB), /usr (2GB) and /var (1GB).
Then I did a minimal installation, and rebooted into the fresh system using the installed kernel (version 2.4). Everything was working so far, but I decided to compile a new kernel from the 2.6 series to use the harddisk via the new SATA interface.