Lenovo ThinkPad Helix

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Revision as of 23:55, 20 January 2016 by Eduncan911 (talk | contribs) (Udev Configuration: needs reboot)
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Hardware Information
Form Factor Tablet/Ultrabook Convertible (detachable keyboard dock)
Display 11.6" 1920x1080 LCD with Capacitive and Pen Digitizers
CPU 3rd Generation (Ivy Bridge) Core i5-3427U or i7-3667U
RAM 4GiB (i5) or 8GiB (i7) DDR3L RAM (dependent upon CPU)
Storage 128/160/256GB mSATA SSD
WiFi Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205S mPCI WLAN
Bluetooth Broadcom BCM20702 Bluetooth 4.0 (USB connected)
Camera 5MP Rear and 2MP Front (also USB)


Note: As this model includes no physical recovery media, it's highly recommended to create a Windows reinstallation flash drive just in case using the recovery media creation tool included with your preinstalled Windows system.

Due to the fact that there is no optical drive, you need to install Arch from USB stick.

The Arch install media will happily boot under UEFI, so it is recommended to disable legacy boot in the system setup utility. If legacy boot is needed for some reason, it does work fine as well.

Booting using Systemd-boot works perfectly. Again, if legacy boot is needed, GRUB is perfectly functional as well.

Hardware Configuration

To fully support all hardware in X, one needs to ensure that the following driver packages are installed:

Nearly everything works fine with no special configuration. The sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, ambient light sensor) don't seem to be recognized yet.


If the Broadcom USB device isn't showing up, you likely need to turn it on with echo 1 > /sys/devices/platform/thinkpad_acpi/rfkill/rfkill0/state


The Lenovo Helix comes with the following input devices (the ids may not be the same on your system):

$ xinput list
⎡ Virtual core pointer                    	id=2	[master pointer  (3)]
⎜   ↳ Virtual core XTEST pointer              	id=4	[slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Wacom ISDv4 EC Pen stylus               	id=15	[slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Atmel Atmel maXTouch Digitizer          	id=16	[slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad              	id=18	[slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ TPPS/2 IBM TrackPoint                   	id=19	[slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Wacom ISDv4 EC Pen eraser               	id=21	[slave  pointer  (2)]

The Wacom ISDv4 EC Pen stylus xinput device is recognized by the xf86-input-wacom driver out of the box. However, additional Udev and Xorg configuration is required to recognize the Atmel Atmel maXTouch Digitizer touchscreen device as well as Wacom ISDv4 EC Pen eraser input if using a pen with an eraser function.

Udev Configuration

With an up-to-date Arch install, install the following packages:

The wacom-udevAUR package installs the additional Udev rules. The libwacom is needed by some graphics applications to see the additional inputs.

Udev should automatically detect the changes if already running. But, you may want to reboot your system to verify the changes stick.

Additionally, you may want to read the Wacom_Tablet#Dynamic_with_udev section to ensure the two wacom input devices are found. On this Helix system, it looks like this:

$ ls -l /dev/input/wacom* 
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 6 Jan 20 15:32 /dev/input/wacom -> event5
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 6 Jan 20 15:32 /dev/input/wacom- -> event5

These two inputs are the pen and eraser, respectfully.

You can also see if the touchscreen was detected properly:

$ ls -l /dev/input/tablet-*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root       6 Jan 20 15:32 tablet-tpc-ec- -> event5

With these three inputs, you can continue to the next section to configure Xorg.

Xorg Configuration

Now, you'll need to tell Xorg to use the new inputs. The xf86-input-wacom driver package has an up-to-date list of devices that the Helix has. But, the package does not install the updated list by default. You'll need to copy it for Xorg to see them:

# cp /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-wacom.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/

Once done with all the above, reboot and you verify xinput list looks the same as the above.

Touchscreen / Wacom Tips & Tricks

If you find yourself frustrated by the capacitive digitizer while trying to use the pen, there are a few AUR packages that may be of interest.


The thinkpad-helix-utilsAUR package contains a script, helix-toggle-touch, which will toggle the capacitive digitizer on and off with a simple command. It also installs a desktop file for Gnome that can be used to toggle xinput on and off with the pen.

Screen Rotation

If you have both digitizers configured through the xf86-input-wacom driver, they will automatically rotate with the display and you can use a simple command like xrandr --output eDP1 --rotate left to rotate the screen with ease.

If you want to use the bezel buttons (or some other hotkey) to cycle through orientations (or toggle between two specific ones), helix-rotate, also from from thinkpad-helix-utilsAUR, provides an easy-to-bind command that may serve your needs well.

There is also Magick Rotation, which is supposed to automatically rotate the screen based on input events, but it only seems to respond to docking/undocking the tablet.

BIOS/Firmware Updates

Helpfully, Lenovo now provides bootable ISO images for the purpose of installing BIOS updates. While it is not stated on their site, these bootable images also include updated firmware for the keyboard dock MPU. It is uncertain as to whether the USB hub firmware is also updated via this utility.

Note: While the update utility states that all expansion units should be disconnected, it is only referring to external (USB and DisplayPort) devices. Ensure that the tablet is in the dock and connected only to AC power and the utility boot media before starting the process.

If you do not have access to a USB optical drive and writable media, the information on ThinkWiki is extremely helpful.