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I am considering selling my Mac to get money towards a Lenovo Thinkpad X1 because what I really want to do is to be running an Ubuntu system all the time.

Is this machine completely supported in Ubuntu, with no tiny little feature missing just because I am "going Linux"?

Optional user story section, skip to the question below if you don't have time:


I have a friend who bought a "works on Ubuntu" system a year ago and has hated the fact ever since: battery lasts less than if he boots in Windows (which he despises) and he ascribes that to "no good OS/harware integration and support for advanced chipset power management features", odd behaviour on suspend/resume/hibernate (says: "when it works 90% of the time and the other 10% it makes you lose your work is as good as broken -> 90% is the same as 0% he says), some occasional graphics card glitches he can perfectly well live with and has almost grown affectionate to, and finally, and that is what would make him undo his choice if he could, bad "input device drivers". He says: trackpoint and trackpad just "feel different", "so much better" on Windows and that was impossible to know from the website brochure.


That story makes me very doubtful... but I want to abandon this "walled garden" of prison that is my Mac and go Ubuntu all the way, no doubt about that! My dilemma at this time is just: "I don't want to live with those eternal frustrations for sure"!

Here's a directly answerable phrasing of my question:

  • Is the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 supported on Ubuntu? Yes/no, which version?
  • Which hardware features are not supported? Provide a list
  • Optionally: sort the list in descending order of frustration from your experience
  • Optionally: mention if there are acceptable workarounds to the "out-of-the-box" condition described in the earlier points and whether this ameliorates frustration at least to "tolerable" levels

Comment: the Ubuntu hardware certification page is so not-for-end-users it's unreal. Whoa. What would make it end-user friendly is:

  • Link to "buy here and you'll be just fine, this is the right configuration for you, it'll work as long as you press BUY on that page and don't browse further"

  • Remove mentions of may and might not work. Just tell it straight: press buy here and you will get a working system with the exception of A, B, C (so that I can decide whether the philosophical "freedom pleasure" I get from escaping an Apple world is enough to off-balance the loss, for instance, of Bluetooth capabilities (something that I of course use on my Mac) but "could" lose to use free (as in freedom) software

The certification page fails to dispel doubts in me as an end-user. I don't feel "eased into Ubuntu", I feel "partially informed".

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3  
You can have a look at System 76, they ship Ubuntu by default and they guarantee that everything is working. –  Marco Oct 14 '12 at 17:52
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My personal experience (your mileage may vary) is that Intel is the way to go. Now, I don't actually like Intel that much (the 80% desktop CPU share may be part of that), but my experience with Intel is pretty good. Intel's chips work well with Linux, most of their wireless cards have support built into the kernel through the iwl drivers, and their integrated graphics have open-source drivers for Linux. Considering that Linux's weaknesses are wireless and graphics, Intel makes a pretty compelling case (again, I would rather use AMD, but they like proprietary drivers and Broadcom chips). –  InkBlend Oct 15 '12 at 0:36
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This is absolutely an important question. Anyone with an ounce of business sense should put a "Buy now" button on that recommended hardware list. I really hope that Canonical pays heed to your comment. I don't care so much for all the fancy features they keep adding to Ubuntu. What's important is that things must work smoothly right out of the box. –  Anh Nov 23 '13 at 2:58

10 Answers 10

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I just received a Lenovo X1 Carbon and installing Ubuntu 12.10 (64bit) then everything works out of the box without any tweaks, except for two minor things:

  • Finger print reader
  • Mute button for microphone

Everything else seems to work very well, including the WiFi and SD card reader. The laptop is amazingly light, runs very quite as it rarely gets that hot and the fan is very quiet on the one occasion it did come on (after several hours of video playback).

I have the i7 version with 8Gb RAM and a 180 Gb SSD. The laptop is very fast and Ubuntu desktop is incredibly responsive.

I am writing my experiences with this new laptop in detail on my blog: http://blog.jr0cket.co.uk/

Thank you.

John.

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Can confirm this, running the same machine with 12.10 (64bit) and the only noticeable thing's that don't work are stated above. –  Eddie Apr 2 '13 at 4:28
    
How about mobile broadband? –  Costa Nov 11 '13 at 16:25
    
I've only tried it with the sime provide by Lenovo, but the Mobile Broadband hardware is detected by Ubuntu (I'm running 13.04). With the network indicator you can select a new GSM network. A wizzard will pop-up to help you choose your provider and set up your mobile broadband connection. –  jr0cket Nov 12 '13 at 20:37
    
hmm... I'm on ubuntu gnome, so I have a different network indicator. I managed to create the mobile broadband connection by adding a new connection and going through the wizard, but I can't find a way to connect to that network. –  Costa Jan 25 at 17:14

This is the official list of Ubuntu certified hardware from Ubuntu.com's own certification program. It's possible that other vendors may provide their own certification that is separate.

The Thinkpad X1 Carbon is on the list, but for "pre-installed systems only".

That is, this laptop is available in some countries with Ubuntu pre-installed, and Ubuntu is officially certified for use on this laptop only if it is one of those pre-installed ones.

They say:

Standard images of Ubuntu may not work at all on the system or may not work well, though Canonical and computer manufacturers will try to certify the system with future standard releases of Ubuntu.

There are additional notes too. Check it out:

http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/hardware/201204-10913/

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I have never had one single Lenovo/IBM laptop not work fully with Ubuntu, granted I have not used the x1 carbon, but my current ones are the T420 (similar hardware inside) and a Thinkpad edge. Both work completely including the fingerprint reader. I also have used t-40's, T-60s without any issues at all. –  Themiddaysun Dec 19 '12 at 14:31
3  
Indeed - just because it's not certified by Ubuntu Certified Hardware doesn't necessarily mean it won't work. In most cases, most things will work. –  neon_overload Dec 19 '12 at 23:43
    
Have it now for about 3 months running on 12.10, never had an issue! Just installed it side by side the standard Windows installation. Camera, keyboard backlight, suspend, everything works out of the box. I don't know about the fingerprint reader though, haven't tried to get it to work. –  panmari Jan 17 '13 at 12:42

I've installed Ubuntu 12.04.1 64-bit on my X1 Carbon. Smooth installation, everything is working fine, except this:

If the Fingerprint Reader can be fixed, the system will be perfect.

Updates: I've got some freezes with the system so I decided to try Ubuntu 12.10 32-bit, as I do not really need the 64 bit version. Everything works great: no need to fix WIFI after resume as there is no problem; and no more freezes. Guess that 32 bit version supports this machine much better. I did not try finger reader though.

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I have recently installed Ubuntu 12.10 on the X1 Carbon. Everything except two things work for me. First of all, the fingerprint reader is causing some trouble, I have managed to install 'Fingerprint GUI' and am even able to get it to register my finger print but the software is not storing the print. Secondly, Skype for linux crashes every time I send a message in chat while I'm in a video call.

I've experienced no problems with the WIFI card after standby and have just plugged in an SD card which was detected instantly. Overall, this is very impressive.

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Here is lot of info about experiences with linux and x1 carbon: http://x1carbon.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/install-linux-on-lenovo-x1-carbon/

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I am writing this on an X1 right now. Running XFCE 13.10.

For the most part, things work.

The items which do not work for me are:

  • Suspend/Resume
  • The Ethernet port. (Wifi works fine)

Also, I had to wait for recent update to get sound to work.

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I installed Ubuntu 14.04 on my new Carbon X1 2nd_gen and it works like a charm.

There is a solution to the Suspend problem (that it won't recover from it) that is upgrading the Bios to the 1.13 version. Link is here

[Problem fixes]

  • Fixed an issue where the computer might not resume normal operation from sleep state on Linux.

There are some tweaks for the touchpad (to make the pushing touchpad work) and some thinkpad_acpi modification (that I hope it arrives to the kernel soon) for the function key to work (Fn) but besides the suspend issue (solved) I did not find any major problem.

Hope it helps!

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linlap says nothing about linux support and X1 Carbon http://www.linlap.com/lenovo_thinkpad_x1

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I've installed Ubuntu 12.04.2 64-bit on my X1 Carbon. Everything is working fine, except the Finger print reader. However, I found a ppa that fixes it. Tried and now I can unlock my computer using my finger print reader.

Directions/ppa are found here: FPrint

One other side note is bluetooth always turns itself on after a reboot which is annoying. You can search on the web and find a few different methods to stop it from turning on by itself.

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Pretty good addition.. FPrint looks nice! –  Robottinosino Aug 29 '13 at 12:51

This answer received a few down votes, because some people stumble upon this question, when they seek for an answer to hardware recommendation. However this answer also (or may be mostly) deals with the ideological part of the initial question. No this is not an excuse for poor quality, I'm still thinking of how to improve the ideological part of this answer.


[...] I want to abandon this "walled garden" of prison that is my Mac [...] My dilemma at this time is just: "I don't want to live with those eternal frustrations for sure"!

This sounds like someone demanding that the hardware work perfectly, but not wanting to be burdened with the work that goes into finding the proper hardware for you. Like having a tofu

Computer hardware and software are frustrating. You're trying to move from a system where there is one hardware manufacturer and one software manufacturer and both are the same company that is responsible for the brand of products they release.

This doesn't have to be bad, this doesn't have to be evil either. It could be heaven on earth. Because the chances to mess up in this environment are minor. You're heading towards a system with a lot of hardware manufacturers and a lot of software programmers, only some of them working for companies. While we know from Windows, the system somewhere in between these two extremes, that hardware manufacturers don't feel responsible in their usual day to day business and don't care much about brand value or just measure it differently.

We have an additional problem with drivers and software in Linux. The few companies that invest in Linux Development and the Free Desktop do a good job, but there is so much work that needs to be done. A few companies and some hobby programmers can't do it all alone.

The sad part is: The manufacturers try to minimize their support costs by supporting as less as possible, acting as stupid as possible, and even try get everyone to comply with their understanding of how things should work. In addition they try to use all their patents where ever possible, even if there could be a much more simple solution. That is why computer hardware and software are frustrating: Because people and politics are frustrating.

Breaking out of this can be very painful if you're trying to do it the GNU or Arch way. Using Ubuntu is still a choice of user experience above a completely free computing environment.

I know this is all very frustrating, perhaps this TED talk might help you with you choice: http://www.ted.com/talks/sheena_iyengar_on_the_art_of_choosing.html


To answer your questions:

The SD card reader and the fingerprint reader will not work. All in all, there is no big difference to the T530 base configuration I am currently using with 12.04. It's just the Thinkpad 2012 platform in the smallest chassis.

From my experience with my T530 booting in uEFI mode works fine. Hibernate and resume work fine and fast with a mSATA SSD, but you should always save your work. Input devices work fine, you just have to configure the behavior (pointer speed) to match that from the other operating system.

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-1 for low information density. Your analysis would probably make up for a good blog post, but on the Q&A site it's just opinionated noise begging for a huge [citation needed] tag. You covered no factual experience of yourself relevant to the question, the links you shared don't provide any foundations for other facts you asserted. I'm sorry if this offends you, but it seems that you might be able to extract some advice from this kind of negative feedback. –  ulidtko Jun 30 '13 at 23:32
    
@ulidtko Thank you for explaining your down vote. While it sounds reasonable in the first place, it isn't. And while the topic seems to be focused on a certain product, it also really isn't. This topic is rather about someone who wants to go the Richard Stallman way. Most of us have been there and abandoned this endeavor shortly after, because you will be facing a situation where you seem to get nothing done because of micromanagement. So we settle for choosing only certain things. That is what I said. It's written all over the web, yet people rather ignore or down vote it. –  LiveWireBT Jul 1 '13 at 14:39
    
Though I have to say I'm all in for a high density explanation of "Why Ubuntu isn't all about choice" as in "Linux isn't all about choice" covering software, hardware and related topics and what beginners can expect and what not. Free of stereotypes, free of marketing, free of patronizing. –  LiveWireBT Jul 1 '13 at 14:56

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