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wirawan0 08-14-2011 10:07 PM

Linux on Lenovo Thinkpad T400
I am beginning this thread to chronicle my experiences on using Linux on Lenovo Thinkpad T400. This is a very good and reliable laptop, and I am happy purchasing this laptop for my daily use. Without any computing load, the laptop runs cool at 35-39 deg C---much cooler than my previous laptops! I'd love to invite other Thinkpad owners to participate on related topics.

Description of my system:

* Intel Core2 duo 2.26 GHz
* Hybrid ATI/Intel graphics
* Intel Wireless 5100 AGN

I am always using 64-bit OS on this laptop for work-related reasons (building for 64-bit environment). I disabled the ATI card from BIOS and only used the Intel. Here is the relevant lspci output:

00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Mobile 4 Series Chipset Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 07)
00:02.1 Display controller: Intel Corporation Mobile 4 Series Chipset Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 07)

Since I have been using Ubuntu for several years now (since 2007) my first choice was Ubuntu for this laptop. Here's the summary of my experiences:

*) Ubuntu 8.04 LTS: shortly after installing this distro, I overwrote the installation with 8.10 because of some showstopper. I don't remember what the problem now (maybe has to do with shutdown or related).

*) Ubuntu 8.10: This was "okay" but not great. Wireless connectivity was not great, since the wireless driver is buggy. System becomes unstable when enabling or disabling wireless.

*) Sabayon 5: I have long been interested in Gentoo-based system. But it turned out to be too much work (lots of compilation to do) for what I wanted to have accomplished, so I gave it up eventually. This was a fine distro though.

*) I have had Ubuntu 10.04 on my laptop since September 2010. I have been using kernel modeset. For a while this laptop suspended and resumed with no problem whatsoever. I use this laptop as a work machine that I suspend/resume often (once or twice a day if not more). Recently (for a few months) the laptop sometimes wake up with a bizzare behavior on the LCD display: it flashes a bright light then the LCD went black. The display could not recover until I rebooted the laptop. Trying to suspend and resume again won't help.

In addition the X display often shows random flickering (once every some minutes--so random I can't tell the frequency of this occurence).

I tried backported 2.6.35 and 2.6.38 series kernel available for
10.04---I keep having issues with respect to suspend/resume. 2.6.35
problem is as described in the bug page (moon light blinking and
suspend was hung);

2.6.38's problem is with waking up from suspend (something X-related; I can't describe in full right now). Both are occasionally happening (and don't know when they will happen). It feels like I want to give up using Ubuntu on this laptop.

I love Ubuntu and the efforts made by Canonical to popularize linux. However I am also disappointed that critical issues like this always exist from release to release. Tired of using Ubuntu, I am now trying Debian.

*) I recently installed Debian 6.0.2 (Squeeze) on my laptop. I think this distro runs smoothly on this laptop. Debian seems to pay better attention to stability and reliability for "business"-like uses. If you don't mind running software that is not the latest, the "stable" line is for you.

For Debian 6, they "Squeezed"(tm) out the proprietary firmware to separate packages. This laptop requires intel iwlwifi firmware, which must be installed separately (not a big deal). Get them from here:

or here (as of 2.6.32 kernel line):

Because of this chicken-and-egg issue with wireless firmware, you must install Debian via wired network, not wireless. Once firmware is installed, wireless runs fine.

I am using "stable" line for most software. If you are like me, wanting some newer software (but not all), try squeeze-backports: (See instructions here: )

I am using kernel 2.6.38 from squeeze-backports to get rid of "screen flickering" problem existing in 2.6.32 kernel line (described above on 10.04 Ubuntu line). So far it is running smoothly, so I would recommend upgrading to this one. For backport kernel 2.6.35+ we need this firmware instead of above:

That's my two cents.


wirawan0 08-14-2011 10:12 PM

Here's my summary of experiences with the distros above:

*) Ubuntu: easy to install, easy to use. But I keep having issues from distro to distro.
*) Sabayon: great to use if all you want is the "canned" version of the software. But if you get to the crunch of "emerge" and friends, it's hard.
*) Debian: more work to do than Ubuntu, but not terrible. Works well.

YMMV. Post your experiences here, please. By the way my Lenovo T400 model number is "2764-CTO" (printed underneath your laptop).

sycamorex 08-14-2011 10:31 PM

You may also write a review in the Hardware Compatibility List section of LQ

dugan 08-14-2011 11:55 PM

At least three of this forum's regular Slackware user have this particular laptop (myself, Robby Workman and Eric Hameleers). I cannot speak for the other two, but my experiences were honestly so trouble-free that I never bothered to write about them.

DavidMcCann 08-15-2011 07:09 PM

Do you know this site? It might come in useful some time.

sohanwins 04-08-2012 01:34 PM

hello friends, I've have the same thinkpad series T400 and these days I want to make a shift from windows7 to Linux for some obvious reasons. I was searching over search engines and I came across to this post which seems quite helpful.

I have few questions that I want to clear before I make this shift:
1) what would be the best linux distribution for me?
2) I'm a graphic designer and I uses Adobe CS5 (Illustrator, Photoshop and Indesign) mainly. Do you know anybody running these applications smoothly in any linux?
3) does thinkpad T400 drivers' are supported within Linux, all of them?
4) if you a comparison between Linux and windows7, do you think T400 works better in Linux?

TobiSGD 04-08-2012 02:10 PM

1. Since we don't know anything about your needs we can't give you an answer for that.
2. Adobe CS5 currently has a "Garbage" rating with Wine, that means you will not get it to run on Linux.

dgoldwx 04-17-2012 09:50 AM

More questions from a newbie
I, too, am planning on converting a Lenovo T400 from Win7 to Linux, with primary use being scientific computing. I am looking for the most trouble-free, stable distro. Any suggestions would be welcome. I am willing to provide more details about my intended use.

sohanwins 04-17-2012 10:14 AM

Last week I installed Mint12 on my machine and I had to revert back to windows7 as adobe CS5 is not supported in it, I tried installing through wine but no success. I cannot live without Adobe creative suits and that's the reason I had to re-instate my windows7. Other than that I loved Mint12.

DavidMcCann 04-17-2012 12:32 PM


Originally Posted by dgoldwx (Post 4655065)
I, too, am planning on converting a Lenovo T400 from Win7 to Linux, with primary use being scientific computing. I am looking for the most trouble-free, stable distro. Any suggestions would be welcome. I am willing to provide more details about my intended use.

It's always best to start your own thread, rather than putting your question into an existing one. Many people in a hurry just check the zero-reply posts, so they would miss yours.

Linux has always been popular in scientific circles, so there should be no problem about getting software:
Everything from molecular modeling to processing data from radio interferometers!

I'd suggest you try Mepis and SalineOS. They are stable, easy to use, have good documentation, and based on Debian (which has the largest software repository). They differ in user interface (KDE or Xfce dsektops), and you're bound to prefer one to the other. As you probably know by now, most distros (including those) come as a live disk so that you can try before you install.

I don't recommend Ubuntu or Mint, as they're more suited to the recreational user than the professional in my opinion. I don't recommend the two I use, as they're less suited to the beginner.

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