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Fanfold Paper
Posts: 13
Location: portland, or
Views: 2,643
Message 1 of 8

anyone running ubuntu 11.x on a t420?

if so, any thoughts/comments/tips/suggestions?


i'm hopefully going to be doing this soon, in a dual boot configuration with windows7, and am looking for any info that may help me out.



Fanfold Paper
Posts: 13
Location: portland, or
Views: 2,615
Message 2 of 8

Re: anyone running ubuntu 11.x on a t420?

anyone?  anyone?  bueller? 

Posts: 223
Location: US
Views: 2,599
Message 3 of 8

Re: anyone running ubuntu 11.x on a t420?

I cannot answer your question directly, as I do not own a T420.  However, since no one else has replied, I can tell you the following:


* I own a T61, which is a predecessor to the T420, but less capable.  I have successfully installed Ubuntu 11.04 on it, as well as previous Ubuntu versions.  I have installed these in both single-boot and dual-boot configurations.  I have also installed other distros, such as Fedora, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, and maybe a few others.


* I find that Thinkpads have very good compatibility with various Linux distributions.  It is possible that some function or another does not work, but I have never had an insurmountable obstacle.  The issues I faced with a Thinkpad under Linux were different, but in my opinion, preferable to the ones I faced under Windows.


My current setup is a dual operating system, but not dual-boot.  Is there a particular reason you want dual-boot?  Have you had dual-boot experience before?  If you are not sure this is what you want, there may be alternatives that will meet your needs as well or better.


If you do a dual-boot, I recommend installing Windows first and then Ubuntu.  Ubuntu is set up so it can be installed alongside Windows with little grief.  Windows does not play as nicely if Ubuntu is already on the system.


A few resources I have found helpful, besides the ubiquitous Google, are ThinkWiki, which contains installation instructions specific for Thinkpads; also ThinkpadForums (or was it notebookreview forums), which had a good discussion section for Thinkpads and Linux; and also the Ubuntu (or whatever distro you choose) forums.


My experience is that battery life has been better under Linux than under Windows.  However, I understand the latest Thinkpads have optimized the Windows battery life, and have pulled ahead of what Linux does.


If you have any specific questions, feel free to post them up.


Hope this not-quite-direct reply helps some.



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Posts: 5
Location: Bracknell, UK
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Message 4 of 8

Re: anyone running ubuntu 11.x on a t420?

You may have seen


I was using openSUSE 11.4 rather than Ubuntu, but as compatibility with hardware is usually a kernel matter, and the kernel drivers are usually common across distros (apart from small version differences), you should have the same sort of experience.


In a nutshell: the T420 is basically fine. If you want to run the graphics to the extreme, you'll need to wait until the driver is updated; and the SD card reader has problems. Otherwise it's fine, and I would expect the same experience with a recent release of Ubuntu. In fact, it's a very nice laptop compared to my (old) HP nc6120 - cool, quiet, and much faster.




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Posts: 13
Location: portland, or
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Message 5 of 8

Re: anyone running ubuntu 11.x on a t420?

thanks for both your responses.  i will check out the other thread and the thinkwiki.


i've finally received the t420 and will try this soon.  i currently have a t400 with both windows and ubuntu 11.04 on it.  after some initial instability, it's settled down nicely.  although it runs very hot and battery life is not good.  both documented issues that i believe can be addressed though i have not yet done as i was waiting for the t420. 


in case anyone else comes across this thread, here is the most comprehensive discussion i have come across regarding t420 and 11.04:

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Posts: 8
Location: VA, USA
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Message 6 of 8

Re: anyone running ubuntu 11.x on a t420?

I have been ever since getting my T420 about a month ago, and it's my primary system for work.


Out of the box, all the goodies the base model comes with works. I don't have the NVidia graphics or bluetooth.


Video camera works fine.

Audio works fine.

All the buttons work.


Don't delete the service partition though, the thinkvantage button needs that. If you use the Ubuntu partition editor and split up your Windows partition, and set it up with GRUB, you're fine.


Some people get random hangs with i915 drivers, and the T420 I have also does. Adding i915.semaphores=1 to the kernel command line reduces this to the point that maybe once a week, things hang. There is a fix in X11, but it'll be a while before that works its way through the pipeline to an Ubuntu patch.


ETA: I am running the 32 bit edition. 32 bit linux can use all available ram without issue using PAE-enabled kernels, and I don't run any programs that need more than 2 GB of ram each. The other reason: APM and power saving support, as well as adobe flash and some other stuff is a lot more mature on the 32 bit platform.

What's DOS?
Posts: 1
Location: USA
Views: 2,291
Message 7 of 8

Re: anyone running ubuntu 11.x on a t420?

Anyone here insalled dual boot with the ubuntu intaller for windows - having problems with KDE - it's really flakey - looks like a video driver issue.


I've got 11.04 and the Intell HD Graphics / NVidia NVS 4200M combo &Gnome is fine. Haven't had any problems with the fan. I'm considering using VirtualVox.

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Location: VA, USA
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Message 8 of 8

Re: anyone running ubuntu 11.x on a t420?

I never bothered playing with the Ubuntu KDE packages on this machine, so I don't know.

Running Ubuntu or whatever you like in VirtualBox does have fewer surprises, although it can be a great deal slower. It is my fallback in case the occasional video hangs start to get annoying.

FWIW it should possible to share a user partitiion between your booted Linux instance and your VirtualBox one, which probably will also help performance since you're no longer writing to a file system that maps to a virtual disk that maps to a file system that maps to a physical disk Smiley Wink
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