Linux on the Lenovo ThinkPad X201

Published: Sun 14 November 2010

In Tech.

tags: linux

As anyone who's been within hearing range can tell you, I've acquired a new laptop recently that I've grown quite fond of. Here's my experience getting various Linux distributions working on it, your mileage may vary (e.g. my experience with Debian was widely different from others'). I ordered the laptop from the Lenovo website, the only significant specs change was to upgrade to the i5-540M processor.

Ubuntu 10.10

The latest version, Maverick Meerkat / 10.10 installed fine, no issues whatsoever.

Debian Squeeze

Debian is my main development distro and I absolutely needed it working on the laptop before setting up everything to be Just RightTM. Unfortunately, stable wouldn't boot, and the daily testing images were acting very weird, asking me for a password and, no matter what I typed, showing me an empty grub menu that slowly disappears up the screen.

Eventually I solved this thanks to UNetbootin, using it to create a LiveUSB from Debian unstable. I'm not quite sure how it does that, but whatever it did did the trick (yay!) and I was able to boot from the stick and install Debian off it. If you go this way, don't forget to update your apt sources.list to point to unstable. Also, Suspend works for the first time ever, wahoo :D Hibernate was a bit more moody, though it worked last time I tried it. The option seems to have disappeared from my menus a couple of weeks back, but I've been messing with various things including Gnome Shell, which may be related.

Fedora 13/14

The Fedora 13 stick seemed a bit reluctant to boot up fully, but did so after a couple of tries. The installer's partition editor wasn't playing so nice and I ended up using GParted first to create the partition (which led to entirely unrelated problems due to my own clumsiness). Once this was done everything was fine, including the wireless. When I was trying Fedora 14 prerelease in late October the stick booted fine, and since then I've upgraded to Fedora 14 without an issue either.

Sugar on a Stick (Mirabelle -- based on Fedora 13)

The stick does not boot :/ (Black screen with the grey blinking underscore on the top left). I must install Mango Lassi (based on Fedora 14) on a stick soon and check out if that works...

I still have more space than I need after installing those 3. I'll probably try to install a source-based distro as well, either Arch or Gentoo, not sure yet. Recommendations?