I want to install Ubuntu on a Lenovo ThinkPad T500 that I've got. However, due to some licensing and warranty issues, the recovery section on the disk (the one that enables the "ThinkVantage" button) must remain intact. I install Ubuntu on a dual-boot with a Windows XP partition, and when in Windows, the ThinkVantage button must work.

Did anyone experienced problems with this, have any advice, or know of precautions that must be taken to ensure this?


If you only need it to work in case you return it and have a bit of cash and a screwdriver I'd seriously consider buying a nice SSD and just replacing the current one. Keep it safe and if you need to return it, just switch it back.

If (for a reason I don't understand) you constantly need the restore button to work, use something like CloneZilla to take a whole-disk backup to another machine (or an external drive). At least then if you do lose this feature, restoring is pretty simple.

Restore systems tend to use a separate partition to the standard Windows install. As long as you leave that as-is and just resize (or remove) Windows' partition, you should be fine. But backing up should ensure that.


The ThinkVantage button most likely boots off of a specific recovery partition. Use the manual partitioner and split & resize the partition you are SURE is the Windows Partition, which will be NTFS-formatted.

You are still encouraged to back your system up before proceeding, or simply replace the disk and keep the original one safe.

For licensing and warranty purposes that might even be better - you have a "known good" drive you never touch that matches the manufacturer's state. "Linux was installed on this machine*, so it can't be a software issue."

*'machine' in this case means the factory-shipped configuration, not your modifications.

I tend to void warranties, YMMV, HTH, HAND.

  • I used the Ubuntu 10.10 installer's resize option a few weeks ago to install onto a Thinkpad X201 while keeping the recovery and windows partitions, and it worked fine. It might be a good idea to do this before the first boot of Windows. – poolie Mar 23 '11 at 21:31
  • It's not my-own machine, so taking out the hard drive is not an option. For this reason, voluntarily voiding the warranty is not a good idea. Thanks for the info, still. – Little Bobby Tables Mar 24 '11 at 6:52

If the "Rescue and Recovery" functionality is set up similarly in T500 as in older T-series ThinkPads then ThinkWiki has comprehensive instructions on how to install a Linux distro while keeping the recovery option enabled at boot time.

The method I successfully used on a T60 was to install the GRUB bootloader on a partition's boot sector instead of the MBR, keeping the original MBR intact. After that the only thing remaining is to make the system actually boot GRUB from wherever it was installed. With newer Rescue and Recovery versions that may be as easy as just marking the correct partition as active. Another option is to add an entry for it in the Windows bootloader (assuming you keep the Windows partition around).

  • Could you elaborate? How do I install GRUB not on the MBR, change the way the R&R treats partitions, or make a partition active? Thanks. – Little Bobby Tables Mar 26 '11 at 16:49

I did this recently on an X201. It's really easy. You just choose to resize the partitions in the installer, and you're done. You get an option in the grub menu for the Windows partition (if you choose to keep that) and the recovery partition.

  • My dedication to providing good answers on AskUbuntu does not quite extend to blowing away my Linux partition to check that the recovery partition still works. ;-) But I'm pretty sure it has not been damaged. – poolie Apr 21 '11 at 0:28

If the Bios allows usb devices to boot, you can boot to Ubuntu from an usb stick, or external usb hardrive. This way you can have the best of both worlds. Laptop hardrives are easy to remove and put back in. Usually requiring the removal of 2 screws at the bottom of the case.

A friend of mine had a laptop that work lent him, I just removed the hardrive as a safety precaution. Set Bios Boot Device priority to External Usb Drive, secondary boot device to the internal hardrive. Plugged the USB Drive, put Ubuntu Live Cd in the DVD tray, did the installation without worries (since I removed the internal hardrive). Tested the system, it worked just fine.

Powered down, reinstall the internal HD. As long as the External USB Hd was not plugged in, it would boot to windows. When his term (contract) was up, he just had to go into bios and change the boot priority back to the original settings.

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