ThinkPad Laptops and Linux Guide (2023)

Originally published at: ThinkPad Laptops and Linux Guide (2023)

Thinkpad laptops have become synonymous with reliability and innovation in the tech world. As a Linux enthusiast, you understand the importance of selecting the right laptop for your projects, work, and other professional tasks. In this article, we’ll look at a recent change Lenovo has implemented in several of their latest ThinkPad models. This update…

One ARM based exists. Its worth mentioning as its different. There are several semi working hard to install Linux images around, no official support by anyone. It works best with Armbian:

Main work on Snapdragon chip support was done by Linaro (they also did windows part), some by Ubuntu, fine touch by Armbian.


Hi @Igor Thanks for adding that! :handshake:

I was not aware there was that much progress. I regret not digging deeper now. Because that X13s looks like a fun lil’ project. Very promising.

Prior to ordering the T14s I was heavily considering it. Mainly because of the battery life and fanless design like the MackBook Air.

I don’t need much processing power. The vast majority of my laptop usage will be terminal, SSH / Termius (don’t think ARM ready) and Chrome. I’m very open to sticking on Windows until Linux is fully support. I may revisit the X13s in a year, closer to Windows 10 EOL, since it comes with Windows 11.

I’ve also found additional Linux installed on x13s here:

Update: Here’s a look at my Thinkpad T14s running Kali-i3. A review is pending…

Yes, it works decently to cover daily activities, but AFAIK non working camera might be a deal breaker for some people. Not sure there is a solution for that yet. I heard its a nasty problem …

In general, with arm SBCs (and laptops) that are complex, support gets in perfect state when they are not that hot anymore, like a year or two after start of the sales. And that is just first step. Without proper maintainace, future upgrades will be full of surprises.

With Intel based, you have good Linux support from the day one and there are more potential maintainers.

Exactly. My main app on laptop is email, chat, ssh and browser. This latter has to work decently and I am sold.

Otherwise x13s is perfectly light, looks like durable, comes with good keyboard and screen … and its not Apple :wink: I have been toying with it for two months, but 13" is in the edge of usability for my workload / vision / age. Windows works more or less glitch free, even Armbian images can be compiled withing WSL2.

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Sounds like the T14(s) or even x13 (or similar) would also be a better match for you? 14" displays do not sound much larger than 13.3", but they are indeed noticeably easier on +40-year-old eyes.

The AMD Ryzen 5/7 CPUs are amazing. Honestly, If they could have fit low-spec AMD that’s throttled not to need a fan, it would have been great as well. I would take 1/4 the performance of the T14s for double the battery life.

Edit: It’s probably why I struggled with the Pinebook Pro for as long as I did haha. Amazing battery life. But processing power is definitely too low. lol

My current workhorse is 12th gen Intel powered Yoga Slim 7 Pro 14". Its a very solid device, but its not Thinkpad.

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Just wanted to note that I have an X13s running here with Ubuntu 23.10 Mantic Minotaur. It’s a bit of an oddball, dual-booting with Windows 11. Except for WWAN (not tested yet) and camera, everything works, although my setup doesn’t have the touchscreen enabled. And, it’s also playing nicely with an Iiyama XUB2792QSN (USB-C) display. Running my own 6.6.0 kernel. Got started on it with Armbian, great build tool. The actual target of my dev and packaging effort is the MS Windows Dev Kit 2023, but the branch can do both. So if somebody wants a bootable image for x13s (I can’t find an official Ubuntu one yet), drop me a note.

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Thanks for sharing @Jens_Glathe Nice work!I have some questions:

  • how is battery life on Linux?
  • any apps that you found so far that can’t be installed on ARM?

Will be following this space.

On on a side note, what mouse are you using? Is it optical or laser? I’m using the MX Anywhere s2 mouse. It works perfectly on cloth, glass etc. but it’s a bit tiny for my hand.

Hi @hydn, the mouse is a fairly big and precise Roccat Kone Air. Can work with BT directly and with dongle, stored in the battery compartment. I like the Roccats, high-res, good ergonomics. Battery life on Linux is good, haven’t tested to the limits yet, but you get easily a full day out of it, and then some. It’s completely fanless, thermal design appears to have enough capacity to run 10mins on full power 8 cores before throttling (experienced with the compile run of the kernel). With GPU or NPU intensive load these times will be shorter. Building the kernel on it takes ~ 40mins with all steps. On the fan-cooled WDK it’s more like ~30mins. Regarding software limitations, you don’t have /dev/kvm (yet…?) on this, since it’s Qualcomm hardware secure boot, and they lock down the EL2 level of the CPU via BIOS. Docker actually runs, qemu, too, so there’s that. Otherwise, haven’t found any not running. It is still early regarding support, but it’s getting better fast.

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This is very encouraging to hear! With the 16:10 aspect ratio, these 13" displays now make much more sense than the previous 16:9.