Anyone one have advice on Lenovo machines?

I am using the arch page for compatibility issues, but I was curious on opinions. It seems linux users love the thinkpad and are always recommending it.

However, there’s a ton of models and I am getting the feeling that people like the old school brick Thinkpads because many of them are self serviceable compared to more ‘modern’ laptops. I wouldn’t mind that, but I do want something more portable than my 17" beast of a macbook that’s slowly dying.

I’ve been looking at the T460. The IdeaPads look nice and some of the T4XX models come in a slim form factor, something like a T460s.

Any pros and cons or advice on what I should look for? Things I should watch out for?
For example this macbook has frustrated me to no end with the hybrid/dual GPU garbage. So, I feel like I should steer clear of that.

Is there any benefit to getting something that’s HD, versus 1366 x 768 ?

I hope you are all having a nice holiday!

I have a Legion 5i (intel i7) and have AL on it. Everything works. No hassle. The device is really fast and the high fresh rate screen is good for games but bad for the battery.

Great to know! I appreciate the response. That ArchLinux page is a great resource, but obviously cannot list everything. Even your machine is missing from that list. From some of my reading it appears that Lenovo is liberal with their claim that all their machines are Linux compatible. For example, it looks like sound is not working on the Legion 7i. Again, provided that the list is updated. :wink:

Linux support for ThinkPads in general is very good indeed, I have an X201 that works perfectly and an E485 for which the only problem is resuming from suspend (but that works under OpenBSD).

NVIDIA graphics cards will always be a hassle but that’s because NVIDIA hate open source, it has nothing to do with Lenovo.

Lenovo themselves are now committed to Linux support and will be contributing more drivers to the kernel in future. Many of their machines are officially certified with Ubuntu and they even have some that can be bought without Windows:

I haven’t looked into it much, but what is the ‘E’ line of Lenovo machines about? Some ‘X’ have popped up in my searches and loads of ‘T’ but I recently saw some Boxing Day sales of ‘E’ designated machines.

T seems to indicate some sort of business class, like docking availability and upgradability. The IdeaPads seem more consumer focused and the X1 seems to be a mix.

It’s always the same, isn’t it? I set a budget for myself, start doing the research and then find myself wanting to spend double that.

I have learned the T480 is the start of quadcore goodness. So, I convinced myself a T480 would last longer if I bought one. Of course, I am not the only one that thinks this. I hardly find any T480 machines used or refurbished. Wow. I saw some on ebay, but I had a bad experience with ebay and most are in the US so it would cost a fortune. :joy:

FWIW, I scored a T460s off Ebay that shipped with 12 gigs of RAM, an IPS FHD touchscreen, that has the i5 chip (the better chip) with Intel Graphics for around 300 bucks. It shipped without an SDD (which I look for anyway, since it shaves cost and I buy a new one for it instead), and I found a Samsung nvme 500 gig drive for 60 bucks. You can’t replace the CPU like you could with a T440, and one RAM slot is soldered in (I think, I have opened the bottom cover to reseat the battery, and I recall only one slot), but screen, batteries (it has two), keyboard, RAM (again one stick only is what you can upgrade), all are replaceable/upgrade-able.

The Thinkpad is fairly solid, screen is readable at any angle, keyboard has a little more travel than I am used to (I suck at typing anyway lol), and you should go for the FHD 1080 IPS screen instead of the lower res one, or find one on Ebay to replace it. My Thinkpad arrived in immaculate condition, it had a bad keyboard, but the vendor shipped me a new one and two extra batteries free of charge and shipping. As a daily driver, it’s great, I dual boot Archlabs and Bunsenlabs on it, boot times with the nvme SSD are at the blink of an eye, they are that quick, and CPU temps on heavy loads are nominal, I don’t hear any “coil whine” when compiling say, mpv-full-build which compiles all the ffmpeg codecs along with spirv-cross and all the other dependencies it needs for stuff like Vapoursynth, and FHD 1080p video with SVP 60fps with picom active (with the dual kamakaze blur) has like zero stutter or fan noise. Of course if I used heavy processing like with the NEDI algorithm with Vapoursynth, it chokes, but most shaders would do that to heavy duty GPUs anyway, much less Intel Graphics.

Linux wise, everything works like a charm, I don’t use the fingerprint reader, but only because I haven’t bothered to find a solution for it. I don’t take it anywhere outside the house, and this laptop is more for Linux based stuff that isn’t production or development level workflow, although I have no issues compiling source code whatsoever. I am just getting my feet back in the Linux game after a long hiatus, so this purchase - along with the two best distros IMO - is working out swimmingly.

You can find deals like mine on Ebay, I almost pulled the trigger on a T440 before I did one last check, found this, and bada bing, score. I don’t bid, I just check “buy it now”, and again, I go for the option of not shipping with and OS or SSD because it’s not for Windows, and I always like a fresh SSD anyway.

In the future I might buy a couple more Thinkpads that are refurbished from the same vendor, but I am also looking at System76 for a desktop and a new laptop, for Linux. I have used Mac for ages, built my own Win boxes and servers, and might have to pull the trigger on a new Mac because a family member’s Mom and Pop marketing firm is popping off, and she uses Dreamweaver and Lightworks, and the Lightworks I can use in Linux, but Adobe I can’t.

The E & L models are the budget ThinkPad versions, which tend to use a slightly cheaper case construction with ABS plastics instead of metal & carbon fibre and cheaper screens which have a smaller colour gamut. The X series are a more compact version of their T class business models.

I would buy an apple product and put Linux on it. Apple usually builds better machines and they last longer. I bought a Thinkpad and a Macbook Pro at almost the same time. Now, I am still running Arch on my Mac and the Thinkpad is in the garage (the hinge broke & battery died long time ago).

1 Like

Not only that, the resale value holds a lot more than Thinkpads (which are mass distributed for corporate). My niece bought a Mac Air last year, and now wants the one with the ARM chip. I told her she could sell her current one easily without losing much value from original purchase, and buy the new model for whatever nominal cost over her previous one.

My 2009 iMac is still in great shape, not a dead pixel in the display. It’s going to be a Linux box, since maxed RAM for it is at 8 gigs, and I plan to purchase maybe a Mac Mini with the ARM as well as a Mac Air with the same, and that’s it for Macs here.

Thanks for the input! I never heard of VapourSynth, but I have been out of the video and motion graphics game for a while now. I had a T460 highlighted and was really interested in it. Then, I went down that rabbit hole where I learned the T480 was the beginning of 8th gen Quadcore in the Thinkpads.

I have been very slowly trying to switch to open source everything and leave my dependency on Adobe. I am mostly freelance writing now and typically only do some drawing/photo manipulation for images if I need to make them for publications. I still haven’t gotten the hang of Inkscape, but I am using Glimpse more frequently. Other than that, I use Adobe for podcast editing and the occasional personal AE project. So do I need the horsepower of a quadcore? Likely not. There’s just a part of me that is typing on this 11 yr old Macbook that believes if I get the quadcore it will last me longer.

I have looked at System76 gear as well. I spent so many years in the Apple world and then they neutered Final Cut and many of us abandoned ship for Premier and found ourselves using more powerful Windows machines for less money. Now, when I look at systems built for linux, I find myself back in the Apple price range. Though, I really do want to support companies like System76.

1 Like

I hear you. I am typing this on an 11yr old Macbook Pro. Unfortunately, it runs so hot that I never want it on my lap. Not to mention, it is one of the last 17" models so it weighs more than my dog. On top of that it has one of those troublesome hybrid graphics setups, switching from the intel to the NVIDIA GPU. I had it working in Archlabs before, but I did a fresh install and now it is not working. So I cannot adjust screen brightness.

My other machine was an iMac with a defective built-in video card. I think it was the first or second generation after they switched to intel. Everyone said it was defective, but Apple would not replace them. So, I installed linux on it, cut two holes in the back and added fans to it. The machine was my audio server in the home for a number of years, but it never sat with me that they refused to acknowledge the machine had a defect. Eventually the video gave out.

Friends in the Apple world still have seem very frustrated the last few years as the machines benchmark slower than the real focus of the fashion brand, the iPhone. Also there was a lot of complaints from people about the keyboards. I am curious to see how things go now that they ditched intel and are making their own chips, but again that CPU switch took a long time for software developers to catch up back in the G4 to intel switch days.

So, I’d rather give my money to a company making linux machines like System76, if I had Apple money to spend. You’re right though, these Macbooks are solid. I do get scared when I see all the plastic in other laptops.

I’m ready for something more portable.

You have macfanctld installed for the heat problem? Tried prime or optimus for multi-gpus?

Those “Linux ready” laptops are priced way too high. You can save a couple of hundreds and buy a Windows laptop and install Linux on it. Just need a little more time and research, you pretty much can make it Linux ready. :smile:

And last, now a decent Apple laptop may cost less than a Windows laptop, let alone a “Linux ready” one.

Lenovo now make Linux machines, as I mentioned earlier. And Apple are now committed to a hardware lock-in for their walled garden ecosystem with their new M1 SoC.

I used to use madvr in Windows, also used stuff like avisynth in the same, and Vapoursynth uses the same shaders like NEDI, and with Linux, IMO more efficient. I work with digital media for my job, build video walls, projection, mapping, editing, camera, the works and used to cut in Avid when I worked in television broadcasting. I rarely cut in Final Cut, I like FC, but Avid is pretty sweet, and the station I worked for had all the content loaded in servers, so rendering and cutting could be done in real time, which was good when you had to get a breaking news package ready for air in five minutes lulz.

Yeah, I have macfan installed. Optimus totally broke my install. I tried it despite seeing my card was not listed. So that wasn’t unexpected. My machine is a strange duck. There are a few people who have gotten it working by doing some trickery in the boot sequence to tell the bios you’re booting MacOS. I started a thread documenting the things I had tried, but it was so frustrating I gave up. Too many other things to do instead of get discouraged with the issue.

I run Arch & Void on my mac. Luckily, almost everything works. The only complaint I have is the battery life. No matter how I tweak, still can not make the laptop run as efficiently as on MacOS.

I put a new battery in mine six years ago. I didn’t have a problem with battery life in Arch Labs, but admittedly, I never compared to MacOS. However, since the clean install it got worse. I chalk it up to age and the display issue. In fact now that I think of it, I wonder if my display issues came from upgrading MacOS as well. Previously I think I was on Mavericks and dual boot to AL via grub. When I did a clean install I went to El Capitan and started using ReFind.

I am not sure what I will do with this machine once I get a new laptop. It seems like I should keep it around since I have some externals with previous client work formatted for software in OSX.

Not a bad idea. MacOS is a great desktop OS. Beautiful and very reliable.

1 Like

I appreciate the explanation and I am going to mark this as the solution if anyone has a Lenovo question.

I paid more than I initially wanted to, but I went with the Thinkpad T480. After doing more looking, finding that this machine is the beginning of Quad Core machines made me think it was possibly a better choice if I want something to last a while. Plus, even though I am not crazy about the form factor I like the idea that I can do maintenance and upgrades. That’s important to me going forward as I want to do more recycling and upcycling and stop wasting so much.

Now, I just wait for the delivery. Then, I’ll be back begging for help doing a dual boot on a non mac machine. :stuck_out_tongue:

1 Like