Hey, so I finally made a judgement call and decided contrary to first impressions Canonical's Unity desktop environment is actually powerful, so I took the plunge and am running Ubuntu 11.10 on a Z570.
I'm developing a habit of jotting down notes as I hit problems installing, configuring, bugs and fixes etc and figured I may as well share them here in case they're helpful to any other Z570 owners (or maybe other Lenovo platforms). Feel free to provide input, criticise, point out alternatives, etc; there are always things I don't know.
I'll summarise in this OP and include further details in subsequent ones where suitable. My Z570 is bought from the UK high street with an i3-2330M CPU, 8GB RAM, nVidia 520M 1GB / Intel HD 3000 graphics, with a 750GB hard drive split into 4 partitions and, as will seen to be relevant, Lenovo's One Key Recovery 7.0.1628 (sizes are very approximate).
200MB (primary) system/boot partition
650GB (primary) windows C: partition
30GB (logical) lenovo D: partition
15GB (hidden/oem) recovery partition.
I updated to the latest BIOS (38) from Lenovo's support site (mine was 36), Windows 7 Home Premium is pre-installed and I installed Ubuntu from USB.
Starting at the beginning...
Problem booting from USB. I first learned about this one in the store, selecting the multiboot menu on startup and then selecting USB leads to the boot process hanging almost instantly with a garbled screen necessitating a forced power off. Never figured it out but I suspect it could be related to with UEFI. Turns changing the boot order in the BIOS and letting the USB boot this way worked fine.
WiFi doesn't work on Ubuntu 11.10. There's a conflict between the AR9285 wireless chip and the acer-wmi kernel module so this needs to be blocked/removed and WiFi will be straight back up. Fix it on a per-session basis with
$ sudo modprobe -r acer-wmi
..and/or make it persistent over reboot by adding "blacklist acer-wmi" to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf. Via CLI (as root):
Preparing the disk for linux and working round Lenovo's partition structure / recovery. So I have a magic button on my laptop that can reinstall windows for me and even boot from an "unbootable" state. Do I need this? no... but I think it would be useful to keep if possible. All the advice on these forums suggests messing with partitions stops the recovery working and therefore anyone wanting to run Linux, even in dual-boot configuration, ends up sacraficing this functionality, which is not desirable for me on such a new machine. Turns out this isn't the case for my system... I ended up sliding in Ubuntu into a new logical partition.
grub doesn't kick in after installation. Once I got the USB booted and the disk prepared, installation itself went without problems but it booted straight into Windows. There's some mention on here of it being UEFI-related, but in my case I just got it working by booting up the LiveCD (well, USB) and reinstalled grub without doing anything special
$ sudo mount /dev/sda6 /mnt
$ sudo grub-install --root-directory=/mnt /dev/sda
Note that /dev/sda6 is the Ubuntu installation partition, /mnt is an arbitrary directory on the live session where the permanent ubuntu installation partition is to be mounted, and /dev/sda is the DRIVE the installation partition resides on.
No Optimus graphics management. So yeah, predictable this one. But, I've made steps towards fixing this via the Bumblebee Project. Honestly, I don't know how well it works right now re: power consumption etc because I've been running off mains and literally not tested it beyond checking it actually works (it seems to allow use of the 520M when required).
Stuck backlight after screen idle. Bug. I first noticed this during installation, but didn't encounter it for a while until it reared its head again. In short, it's manifests as the screen going dark after idle as usual, but it won't respond to standard input to come back up. Looking closely, you can see the screen is still there, just no back light. Fix supposedly being included in 3.0.0-15 kernel, but in the meantime this ppa has a patched kernel
Note; my z570 is now running on the 3.0.0-15 kernel and the problem does indeed remain fixed.
That's it for the hardware-dependent stuff. As usual, a bunch Ubuntu tweaks and bug fixes required before everything is running 100% smoothly and to my liking but it's mostly there and this Lenovo has a lot more promise for functionality than my old Toshiba Satellite Pro which was doomed to having most of its buttons not work. Overall, success. No doubt I'll attempt to get all the Fn keys working as expected and maybe even do something with the One Key Theatre and Power Management touch buttons (the volume ones work fine and most keyboard Fn keys seem to work also).