Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fedora 14 on a Lenovo Thinkpad T510

by Jemimus, on Flickr
Another brand new toy. After my last trip to the UK for bikesoup I decided that it was about time to get a proper laptop.
So far I only have a netbook, which is very convenient when size and weight matter. But for getting work done it is just to small, the main problem is the screen size and resolution.
I had a look around for good full sized laptops and the only brands producing something with the quality I had in mind were Apple and Lenovo. The advantages of the Apple over Lenovo are better built quality, battery life and easy to buy locally. I choose the Lenovo, because you can order it with more gadgets, swappable batteries and mostly because it isn't an Apple as I despise where the company is going and I already had bad experiences with Linux and iPods.
This is the configuration I finally got.
  • Intel Core i7-620M
  • 15.6" FHD Display  1920x1080
  • 4 GB
  • UltraNav (TrackPoint and TouchPad) with Fingerprint Reader
  • 500 GB Hard Disk Drive, 7200rpm
  • Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 (3x3 AGN)
  • Integrated Mobile Broadband (Gobi 2000 3G with GPS) 
First thing I did was to install Fedora 14 on it. I used the install option to shrink the Windows partition to 50G and used the rest for Linux. I am probably going to replace the hard-disk with a SSD in the future, but it was a bit too expensive for now.
The install was amazingly boring. I was expecting all kind of problems with the hardware, but everything just worked. Even the fingerprint reader allows you to login after configuring it with a nice tool.
The only tweaks I needed so far, are these:
  • The UMTS card needs a firmware and loader, I used these instructions from the CentOS list.  I don't really need it, because mobile broadband via bluetooth is also very easy to set up and works just as fast.
  • I haven't tried the GPS yet, but I seem to be inside of buildings most of the time anyway
  • if you enable VT-D (whatever that is) in the BIOS, hibernate / suspend to disk won't work
  • for some reason some of the preferences don't work for the touchpad, but you can enable those and more with the synclient tool. For example "synclient VertTwoFingerScroll=1"
Battery time is a bit disappointing, with either a 6 or 9 cell battery. Some of it seems to be the fault of the Linux software, but PC hardware always seems to be rubbish in that department.
The build quality is also not on the level of a MacBook pro, but much better than any Dell, Asus or whatever they are called.

I will comment on this post in case I make any new discoveries.


  1. Can you please share the fingerprint reader config information? What program did you use to make it work?


  2. It was installed by default. You switch it on in System/Admin/Auth/Advanced options : Enable fingerprint reader support.
    And then you register your fingerprint at System/Preferences/About me.

    It is handled by the packages fprintd, fprintd-pam and libfprint

    That is it as far as I know :-)

  3. What’s the name of those configuration tools? Or where can I find them in KDE?

  4. VT-D allows you to map IO regions from the host into the guest, allowing hardware access to peripherals.

    I have a Thinkpad-500 (better screen format) which has switchable grpahics card (intel integrated and ATI discrete) and battery time increased a lot after following the instructions on to switch off the unused GPU (from 1.5 hours to nearly 3 hours).

  5. I'm on a Lenovo W510, and I just got my mobile modem working thanks to you. But it is like it runes and then stops, I can load the firmware, and I get ask for the PIN from my SIM card, and the connections is available from NetworkManager, but then they disappear again, did you experience the same?

  6. No, it just works for me. The only difference for me is that I don't have a PIN on my card.

  7. The gpointing-device-settings package does a good job managing settings for the trackpad and pointer without having to resort to the command-line. I find it indispensable on my T510.

  8. thanks for the vgaswitcheroo and gpointing-device-settings pointers. I didn't realize that switcheroo was already included in F14.

  9. I have added this to /etc/rc.local :

    echo 0 > /sys/devices/platform/thinkpad_acpi/bluetooth_enable
    echo OFF > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

    And created the file /etc/pm/sleep.d/90vga_switch :


    case "$1" in
    echo ON > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch
    echo OFF > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch
    *) exit $NA

    this makes the battery last a little bit longer and suspend still works.