I bought a T540 3 years ago that shipped with a Bay Trail processor. This processor was absolutely unusable on Linux due to this bug (https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=109051). Even setting max cstate to 1 resulted in regular freezes.
Not only would Lenovo not accept a return of the laptop, I could not even get them to update their Linux compatibility page to warn other users!
To this day:
- The cstate bug is not fixed, and running Linux on a Bay Trail processor will cause lockups
- Lenovo continues to recommend laptop versions that are flat out broken on Linux (https://support.lenovo.com/us/en/solutions/pd031426)
So be careful!
You didn't. Bay Trail is an Atom and there has never been a ThinkPad T with an Atom chip.
Not to mention that the 40 generation didn't have a T540. It had a T540p with various Haswell CPUs from cheap i3 up to i7 4700MQ. ThinkPads always ran wonderfully with Linux. It is the only with a p, all other T5x0 machines from the T500 to T580 didn't have a p (performance) postfix.
I do not think there was any ThinkPad ever for that matter with an Atom chip but here I might forget some bad apples. But certainly not in the T and X2... series, these are flagship business class machines.
Maybe some Ideapad? Yoga? Flex? whatever 2-in-1 -- but who cares about those.
I'm going to extend OP the benefit of the doubt on the model name here and say this: it sucks that Lenovo have diluted the "ThinkPad" brand and it sucks that they didn't remove the bad models from their Linux compatiblity list.
On the flip side, I think ThinkPad workstation laptops (T-series and above) are still safe for Linux. Just avoid the convertibles and tablets as well as the budget-range Edge series, which are frankly bad computers overall.
Does that more satisfy you my hair splitting, persnickety friend?
I'd guess that if you came up with a link showing that the T540p was indeed sold with a Bay Trail processor, 'chx' would apologize profusely, publicly eat his hat, and probably come over to mow your lawn. Alternatively, if for some reason you misspoke as to which processor generation it had, you might consider making the world a slightly better place by correcting your error and apologizing for the apparently trivial bit of misinformation.
 Like this one, but with Bay Trail than Haswell: https://www.cnet.com/products/lenovo-thinkpad-t540p-15-6-cor...
This merited a strong reply because contrary to this allegation, the rule of thumb is to recommend a ThinkPad T or X for someone looking a Linux laptop.
You can accuse an old Porsche 911 SD of having problems with the front engine but people will be quick to point out that a) Porsche 911 only had an SC and not an SD version b) the Porsche 911 engine is in the back.
It's a shame Lenovo's documentation is inaccurate though!
The ThinkPad was once venerable brand, but I've lost all respect for it - at this point I'm probably just going to buy a MacBook Pro and send the W540 back to the office because I'm tired of playing the Linux compatibility game on modern notebooks.
Former ThinkPad fan, current MacBook user: I am likely to buy a Dell for my next laptop. Dell expanded the range of machines that they will preload with (Ubuntu) Linux last year, and were the first big vendor to sign on to the Linux Vendor Firmware Service, so that supported computers can get easily get firmware upgrades.
Yeah, I definitely should have qualified that I probably would not get an XPS, because there seem to be consistent issues with that line. That's why I'm pleased to see that Dell have expanded the number of ranges that they offer Linux support on: hopefully there will be some good models at the time that I need to buy a new machine. Or I could buy an unsupported model: none of the ThinkPads that I used had Linux support from the vendor.
I use an HP Spectre as my Linux laptop now. Everything worked on a modern kernel out of the box and the quality seems way better.
I know that Martin Wimpress, the Ubuntu MATE lead, sometimes uses a Spectre. They look to be quite a different thing to what we might expect from a HP laptop.
I certainly didn't have any complaints about them. Absolutely stay away from consumer models, obviously.
My Wi-Fi and battery status still don't work. I use a Wi-Fi dongle at work. :-P
VMWare's stupid kernel modules are always breaking in one way or another as well, plus I never get guest 3D support because of the switchable graphics in my laptop and I just cannot be bothered to fight and fight to get it to work. I tried using gnome-boxes instead for a while, but audio inside the guest would constantly get garbled and have cuts, support for guest drivers beyond VirtIO disk/network was hit and miss.
I've got more, but I don't want to make it into a rant about the state of the Linux desktop - because for all the problems I have I still love it, but I need a computer and software that works smoothly out of the box because I have work to get done.
I picked up Slackware and FreeBSD a long time ago and had so much fun plus found a career.
I finally through in the towel with Linux as my main machine a long time ago and went back to Windows as 7 was pretty good.
With Win10, I've tried to deal with both VMs and WSL, but once I got a MBP there was no turning back. I simply don't have the time or patience to deal with the issues Linux now has.
Don't know what the solution is. Perhaps dump Systemd and the rest of RedHat's decision.
Or maybe Redhat, Suse, or whover could just get one disto working perfectly on two or three hardware models a la Apple.
But not happy with how things have turned our with Linux on the desktop.
Disclaimer: Just a customer
The closest thing to an issue is the poor battery life - but this has been my experience with all laptops and Linux.
I can't comment on the W540, and I wonder if it is that different compared to the W541.
Not to defend Intel but that was 3 generations ago; I would certainly consider a Gemini Lake for my next nettop - where media-pc quiet is more important to me than performance. (provided no showstopper bugs exist!)
I wonder how ChromeOS avoids(fixes?) both the above said audio issue and the cstate issue mentioned by you.
Do any options have open boot/something close?
As for open boot, I understand the X220 supports both coreboot and libreboot, but I don't use either, so I can't comment on it in detail.
I would like to get an 802.11ac card for it at some point and that's about it. It came with a 6-cell battery with 70% capacity left, and I've put a new 2Power 9-cell battery in it, getting around 6-7 hours battery life as you say. I would sort of like to have an external charger so I could always have both batteries topped up, but they seem to be rare as hen's teeth.
In my opinion, the X220 is probably the best Thinkpad ever made. The i3 isn't a problem, I used a T42 for years and years despite its slow-ass Pentium-M, and I only sold it because a lot of Linux distros started going 64-bit only.
I have bought a couple of newer Thinkpads but they end up reverting to my x220. x230 is almost as good but doesn't have the old school keyboard.
On reddit.com/r/thinkpad there is huge following for moding them.. My only recommendation is to ensure it you have an SSD and load up on RAM.
I'd love to find one damn laptop that we know works well.
By saying that, the 2018 generation of ThinkPads finally includes excellent panels. If you get the new X1C or T480(s), you can choose a bright IPS panel with a good resolution. With the old ThinkPads, especially X220/X230 you just need to be VERY sure you DO NOT get the TN panels.
The display is vastly superior. Everything is more crisp, and it is brighter.
The X220 is still fast enough for Chrome / YouTube / Netflix without spinning up the fan. Running a high res external display is a bit too much though; the fan kicks in most of the time.
Personally I care more about ruggedness (my X220i is my travel computer) than color fidelity. Compared to my old Acer Chromebook 13's absolutely horrible TN panel, the one in the X220i is actually quite decent.
Still, from what I gather the IPS panels suck a bit more power than the TN panels (not a huge difference, though), and for my use (travel PC getting lugged all over the world in hand luggage) I'm primarily interested in ruggedness and battery life. I use it to browse and read email, with the occasional Youtube video, not for anything color critical. I would be much more interested in upgrading the mediocre built-in speakers, apparently you can use the speaker from a Nexus 6P for a nice boost in volume and quality.
Thinkpads can also support not charging the battery to 100% / over-cycling it, which can help prolong battery lifetime:
sudo modprobe tp_smapi
echo 40 | sudo tee /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/start_charge_thresh
echo 80 | sudo tee /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/stop_charge_thresh
I am not planning on changing or upgrading it until it dies.
Web dev / data scientist.
It’s fine, but my work laptop is a 15” rMBP and I know which screen, pointing device and battery life I prefer.
Install of Linux mint was simple and it’s been running well with no issues.
Pretty much nothing to do with that. It's been years since IBM does not own Thinkpad anymore but Lenovo was perfectly able to provide proper Linux support up until recently.
If I could mount a screen from Dell XPS (3840 pixels wide) to a T420, that would be mostly it. A thunderbolt connector would be a mere nice-to-have.
The next best thing is apparently a Thinkpad Carbon, it seems to retain a good keyboard, but apparently bids farewell to the "serviceable" part: e.g. RAM is soldered on.
I'd add that I had my last Thinkpad 5 years. They're very durable. If I keep this one as long, that's $1/day, which I'm happy to pay for a computer I like.
You do have to deal with the dual-video card craziness, but there are plenty of guides to show which ACPI setting to changed to ensure they're off when you're trying to save battery. Some of the MSIs change the color of the power LED to indicate which GPU is active which helps as well.
Screen replacement on the newer Thinkpads is a little harder than it used to be, because the front frame is glued on now, but replacements are inexpensive.
ThinkPad edge. I'm glad that line died, it was a shame on the thinkpad brand.
It still kinda works, I fixed the keyboard and all, but I don't want to use it anymore and just got it as a backup. It was the worst laptop I ever bought. Granted I can't say for sure that every edge laptop is like this, but I never want to touch one again.
* Sturdy bulky: It's got sturdy and bulky in spades. Not quite as bulky as the police/military grades mind you, but bulky enough. Rather light (3lbs?) and stupid durable. Nice wrist strap.
* Hardware switches: No, but I find the keys comfortable enough.
* Lots of keyboard buttons: Such as? I miss actual page up and down, but have gotten accustomed to Fn+Up/Dn. I don't miss anything else.
* Trackpoint: Yep.
* "But" battery: I assume you meant to say big battery. No, but I bought several extras since they were $12 on eBay. I can hibernate, swap, and go all day.
I have just about maxed mine out with a 200GB SSD, 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, and Win10. Not a screamer but fast enough for my needs. I am running KiCad, Netbeans, OpenOffice, and Chrome most of the time.
I also added a PCMCIA (yes, not CardBus) USB adapter, extra power supplies, and extra units for spare parts. All are super cheap. Total cost is somewhere south of USD $400, and probably closer to $250. (I didn't keep track.)
Only real complaints: Not really enough horsepower for standard rez YTube videos (I rarely watch them and when I do I put them on low rez) and the screen is dim in the sun. It's 1024x768 which I know would make many of you scream, but I connect it to an external monitor at home and dual displays, and I'm happy. Am accustomed to working at that rez. Oh, and the speakers are not terribly loud.
It's not for everyone. I have low requirements if you couldn't tell :-)
I used to swear by a trackpoint until one day I could only use a trackpad. Now I don’t want to go back. Grin
And I meant to say that my laptop is not ExpressCard. It is CardBus.
I've met anybody who thought thinkpads were cool, I usually get snobbed by Mac owners, although these days they look at my escape key with envy for some reason.
If a few component manufacturers came together and standardize component dimensions and tolerances based on something like an IBM ThinkPad, and an age of upgradeable laptops could have occurred.
Yes, it'll make the laptop significantly more bulky, but the X220 and X230 are from before Lenovo started putting ultra low voltage CPUs in their laptops, so they do have higher TDP than later models. That's just how it is.
The X240 can supposedly go for over 24 hours with the maxed out battery configuration.
I hope they'll make an X280p or something that's more like the older X Thinkpads.
Personally I'm OK with 1366x768, but my X220i is more of a travel buddy than a workstation.
For workstartion use, get a T420 or something with either the 1600x900 LCD or a swapped-in full HD panel.
I have 3 or 4 of these little t60 vintage thinkpads, and they're still the ideal road machine, 10 years later.
You can pick a used one up on eBay for less than $200, then spend another hundred or so dropping in a new keyboard, 8gb memory, and a TB SSD. Then you can stuff it into the bottom of your backpack and sit on it while taking the slow boat up the Mekong.
Whenever I head off somewhere sketchy enough to worry about the safety or smooshability of the $2500 dev machine, I'm on eBay grabbing a new one.
Now I have a new final step in the process.
There are so many of these dream ThinkPad builds. It's a testament to the community that the fanboys don't just complain, they find ways to build the things.
It seems they have somewhat fubar'd some of the newer and cheaper releases. I do however recommend to atleast try the more business oriented variants, usually they contain less crap.
I also find it disappointing that nobody else builds laptops like the Thinkpad. All I want from a good laptop is A) sturdy B) nipple mouse and C) long battery life.
Its user serviceable - very easy to open up.
What I'd love: if some bright and talented hardware engineer could produce an upgrade board for it, so I could swap out the existing PCB for a newer CPU.
I'm sure this would be a successful project for some budding hacker!
(Purposely omitting hyperlinking for referral logs.)
Of course you're limited to the hardware that came out in 2015.
FYI - If you sign up for a free dealer account, the discount is anywhere 10-30% off regular prices.
Their inventory changes daily. If you get an A grade refurb, they are in very good cosmetic condition.
Unfortunately I haven't seen anyone retailing the 13" 2015 MBP. If you're in the Bay Area, there's a fully loaded (3.1GHz i7 / 16GB / 1TB) 13" early-2015 covered by AppleCare until 2019.
If you happen to go the second-hand route, I highly advise you to check if the machine is still under some device management (MDM) by running:
sudo /usr/libexec/mdmclient dep nag
 : https://www.macrumors.com/2015/03/16/retina-macbook-pro-stai...
The batteries are glued in, but independent repair folks found a way to remove them with some isopropyl alcohol and old credit cards/gift cards or sturdy playing cards.
This isn’t for the faint of heart, as they can explode, but repair shops have experience replacing them.
Apple also replaced the battery for a very modest cost (99 I believe) since it was already having the screen repaired. My late-2014 laptop soldiers on. I'll probably cave and buy the next MacBook Pro though.