Linux on the Thinkpad T60p


After three years with an IBM Thinkpad T40, I bought this summer a new Lenovo laptop, a T60p, model 2007, 83G. This model presents to the user the same form factor than its predecessor, with its 14 inches LCD screen at resolution of 1400x1050 pixels. Inside the box, the hardware naturally evolved: the CPU is an Intel Duo Core (not core 2 duo), running between 1GHz and 2.16 GHz depending on the power management settings, the graphic card is an ATI FireGL V5200, the network card is an Intel 82573L, the sound chipset is an Intel HDA, the modem is a Conexant winmodem, and the hard drive is a Seagate Momentus 100GB SATA 7200 RPM.

Initial installation and partitionning

The machines comes with a big FAT32 partition containing Windows XP, and a Diagnostics partition visible at the end of the disk. Without user intervention, the OS will convert its underlying partition to NTFS the first time the system is launched. So I suggest to reduce the partition size before starting Windows for the first time, while the filesystem is still in VFAT. I typically use a bootdisk running FIPS. The SATA controller must be configured in "compability mode" for this operation.

The minimum size you can reach for the Windows XP partition will be around 11 GB, which is huge compared to the 5GB of the T40. Adding to this space the Diagnostics and recovery partition size, the maximum remaining free space you can gather from your 100GB disk is only 80GB. If you intend to keep the Windows XP partition solely for BIOS upgrades purpose, you may think twice before doing that, because :

After grub is installed on the MBR, the Diagnostics partition is no longer accessible with the "Thinkvantage" blue button, but an entry for this partition can be added in the grub.conf menu, see the excerpt below. Currently, I can boot on it, but I cannot start the PC-Doctor program from it.

title Diagnostics
rootnoverify (hd0,1)
chainloader +1

Supported and unsupported hardware

I run Fedora Core 5 on this machine, without much trouble in my daily work.

What works out of box:

What works with a proprietary driver:

What doesn't work:


Update 2008/03/10: The machine now runs Fedora 8.

What works:
What doesn't work:

Power consumption

Clearly, the T60p consumes MUCH more power than the T40 in the same power saving mode, consisting of:

With this setup, the T60p consumes 18W, while the T40 only comsumes 10W. The batteries capacity didn't evolve much on the other side. A brand new 9 cells battery has a maximum capacity of 80Wh, so your T60p will have an autonomy of 4 hours, when the T40 has an autonomy of 8 hours.

These values must be tampered, if we consider a more expensive power utilization. The T40 consumes around 13W, and the T60p is around 24W, that converts to an autonomy of 3h20 and 5h30. Also keep in mind that the battery capacity will drasticaly erode itself quite rapidly, for example 60% of the factory capacity remaing after one year.

The consequence is that the temperatures inside the box are also much hotter, than with the T40, the typical values collected from the acpi /proc interfaces are :

On the T40, these temperatures were lower for the CPU (40 deg idle, 75 busy).

Update 2008/03/10: Some serious enhancements have been made to reduce power consumption in the kernel, since tools like powertop are now available to pinpoint subsystems, and userland programs that cause most of the processor wakeups. Kernel drivers, like usb, network, and wireless now implement power-saving features by default, and each contribute to lower the consumed power of the laptop. Some progress still need to be achieved for the GPU. Reduced power states of the GPU are possible with the radeon driver, provided that an unofficially patched version of radeontool is used. It will be great when this feature are merged upstream in the Xorg drivers.

The embedded controller looks currently a bit too conservative when dealing with the fan speed depending of the temperatures of the CPU and the GPU. The fan spins up at a very low temperature, and never stops, even if the CPU temperature decreases signigicantly below 50 celcius degrees and the GPU below 60, when the computer stays mostly idle for a long time.

Hints and Tips

Update 2008/03/10: In Fedora 8, the CPU speed modulation is now handled by the in-kernel ondemand speed governor, so no userspace daemon is needed anymore.


This benchmark is not a very scientific one, but it gives a rapid performance comparison. It's a full kernel compilation (make allmodconfig). Note that both machines have a 7200 RPM HDD. The T40 has a PATA one, and the T60p a SATA one.

So yes, there's a big power boost with the T60p compared to the T40, and no, the dual core is not that impressive in my opinion.


I tested few stuff. Flightgear runs fine at a very decent frame rate. GoogleEarth is fluid without flickering. I also tried a game demo (Cold War) that crashed the ATI proprietary driver. nexuiz cannot complete in benchmark mode (nexuiz-sdl -game benchmark -benchmark demos/demo1), because the ATI driver miserably fails. Despite this bug, the beginning of the demo runs at 26 fps avg using the game default config.


The machine has already been serviced, after 15 days of utilization. The battery could no longer be charged after it's first full discharge. The problem appeared to be located on the motherboard, that got replaced.

Update 2008/03/10: I had to replace the LCD panel, that died last year.


As usual when buying a new laptop, with up-to-date hardware inside the box, for use with linux, there's a period of several months before all the hardware, that can be handled by free drivers, is correctly supported. With some more luck, the 2D and 3D specifications of the high-end ATI cards will be disclosed to the Xorg developpers. A reverse engineered driver for the fingerprint hardware is on the way. The support for the internal winmodem remains uncertain. As an alternate solution, it is still possible a resurrect an old 3Com/Megahertz modem pcmcia card, and to use it when this bug will be resolved.

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Fabrice Bellet

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