Thinkpad X61: Everything just works in Ubuntu

Yesterday I received my new Lenovo Thinkpad X61. It’s the UX29DGE model, with Intel GMA X3100 graphics (gnome-device-manager says GM965/GL960), and 2.20 GHz Core Duo T7500. It shows up as Model 76739DG in gnome-device-manager.

After fighting with Windows Vista to reduce its partition size enough, I installed Ubuntu Hardy easily. I wanted to keep Vista around so I can look at it sometimes, but that short experience of it is enough to help me understand why people hate it so much. It’s as if they went out of their way to break all the basic principles of UI design, as if the managers had a running feud with the human interface department and wanted to outrage them. People who hate computers (most people), and who think that computers hate them, will not be surprised.

But it’s great to have a new laptop on which everything works. Even hibernation. I’ve never seen that work before and it’s truly useful. I wish my desktop could do it, in the absence of working session management.

I am a little disappointed that it’s almost as hot as my Acer. I guess this is just how all laptops are. How do people manage to use these things on their laps? Do we need a control panel to limit the CPU speeds, together with the internal temperature sensor, with options for “cosy”, “slow grilling” and “burning trousers”?

13 thoughts on “Thinkpad X61: Everything just works in Ubuntu

  1. I use Fedora 9 on my Thinkpad X61s, and I can also say: “Everything just works out of the box in Fedora”. Including Dual-Head/Xinerama, Bluetooth, WLAN, Hibernate and Standby :)

  2. Weird. We have half a dozen X61s at work, and they don’t run hot at all. Since the X61s is smaller than the X61, it should be hotter. My T61 is also always cool.

  3. Although in my case…having already had kids…having roasted testicles (and the low sperm count with it) don’t worry me that much ;-)

    Kidding aside…I have a laptop cooler, goes on lap and then laptop on top.

  4. Actually, you have that control panel! Well, sort of. GNOME Power Manager is set to automatically scale computer speed limiting based on processor load, whether on battery or power. You can get at those options via gconf-editor in apps/gnome-power-manager/ui; switch on cpufreq_show. (There is also a cpufreq panel applet somewhere…). I set it to maximum power saving when on battery, and I am certain it’s made a difference :)

  5. Do you notice a high-pitched whine coming out of the left side of laptop? My new X61 (7675HMU) is driving me crazy with this and I may send it back for repairs if it’s just my machine. It happens more when on battery power and sounds kind of like disk access. It’s apparently not the C-state since I’ve tried limiting it to no effect.

  6. Yesterday night I did seem to notice a whine but I couldn’t tell where it was coming from and am not sure it wasn’t my imagination. It was on battery power. I’ll keep an ear on it.

    I don’t think I’ve had one gadget or piece of technology in the last ten years that didn’t have some annoying flaw, no matter how expensive it is. Technology is rubbish.

  7. The X61 has a T-series Core 2 Duo while the X61s has an L series. While the L series chips are slower than the T series ones, their TDP is 17W rather than 34W. This does make a difference to the heat and fan noise the computer will make when running at full CPU (the difference is less pronounced when idle though).

  8. Dylan, yeah, there are various CPU frequency and temperature monitoring applets. Only the emifreq-applet seems to offer a way to change policy, including specifying processor speeds. It will be very helpful. It’s in Ubuntu Hardy.

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