Lenovo ThinkPad SL500

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The support for this laptop is not as bad as it first seems. In fact, pretty much everything works fine. I am very happy with this machine!

While this guide if for the Thinkpad SL500, the steps should be easily applicable to the SL300 and SL400 models.


Despite the Thinkpad name, the SL series laptops actually contain IdeaPad firmware, making it incompatible with the thinkpad_acpi modules. A new module, lenovo-sl-laptop has been written to expose most of the lost functionality. Thinkwiki has a page for the SL series with good general information and howtos.


There are two possible wireless chipsets: Intel WiFi Link 5100 or a Atheros AR5007EG.

With the Intel WiFi Link 5100 series all functionality is supported out of the box. Follow the wireless setup guide for further information.


The sound card is supported in the kernel, and following the instructions in the Beginner's guide and also the ALSA guide should be sufficient to get sound working.

lenovo-sl-laptop Kernel Module

This modules is no longer required in 2.6.32 for most hotkey support; the mainline asus-laptop module has been patched to support these models. However, some features still require the lenovo-sl-laptop. Check the git commit for clarification. Note that it's recommened to blacklist the asus-laptop module when the lenovo-sl-laptop module is used to avoid problems with hotkey support.

This experimental kernel module was written to control bluetooth, hotkeys, fan, and screen brightness in place of the incompatible thinkpad_acpi module. A package is currently available in the AUR. After installation, be sure to load the module, and to load on startup, add lenovo-sl-laptop to the MODULES array in rc.conf.

Despite it's experimental status, it works quite well. Sadly, there is no support for the HDAPS.


To allow control of the backlight, first edit /etc/modprobe.d/modprobe.conf as follows:

options lenovo-sl-laptop control_backlight=1

Then turn off ACPI control of the backlight by performing the command on startup.

echo 0 > /sys/module/video/parameters/brightness_switch_enabled

A preferable alternative is to add the following to your kernel boot line to do so on startup.


Building Manually

Instead of installing the AUR package, the module can built manually from source.

To do so, first obtain the source from here and perform the following

sudo install -m=644 -D lenovo-sl-laptop.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/lenovo_sl_laptop/lenovo-sl-laptop.ko
depmod -a
modprobe lenovo-sl-laptop control_backlight=1

The bluetooth light on the front of your laptop should turn on.

Finally, add lenovo-sl-laptop to your MODULES array in your rc.conf.

USB and SD auto mounting

Check out the Udev rules for automounting USB and sd cards, very handy.

Other notes

The SD card reader seems a bit buggy.


Fingerprint reader, Bluetooth, Modem.

Tips and tricks

Power saving

There are a plenty ways to save power and extend battery life. The following entries can be placed in /etc/rc.local and will save power at startup. Be warned that the cpu settings may destroy your processor and I don't warrant that they will work on your machine.

# /etc/rc.local: Local multi-user startup script.
#CPU settings
echo 1 > /sys/devices/platform/lenovo-sl-laptop/hwmon/hwmon0/pwm1_enable
echo 70 > /sys/devices/platform/lenovo-sl-laptop/hwmon/hwmon0/pwm1
echo ondemand > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor
echo ondemand > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/scaling_governor
echo "11:25 10:22 8:15 6:8 136:5" > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/phc_controls
echo "11:25 10:22 8:15 6:8 136:5" > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/phc_controls 
#Activate SATA ALPM link power Management
echo min_power > /sys/class/scsi_host/host0/link_power_management_policy
echo min_power > /sys/class/scsi_host/host1/link_power_management_policy
echo min_power > /sys/class/scsi_host/host2/link_power_management_policy
echo min_power > /sys/class/scsi_host/host3/link_power_management_policy
echo min_power > /sys/class/scsi_host/host4/link_power_management_policy
echo min_power > /sys/class/scsi_host/host5/link_power_management_policy
#Suggestion: enable HD audio powersave mode by executing the following command:
echo 1 > /sys/module/snd_hda_intel/parameters/power_save
#Vorschlag: Increase "VM dirty writeback time" from 5 to 15 seconds:
echo 1500 > /proc/sys/vm/dirty_writeback_centisecs
#Deactivate unused outputs
xrandr --output DP1 --off
xrandr --output DP2 --off
xrandr --output TV1 --off
xrandr --output HDMI1 --off
#Activate Laptop-Mode
echo 5 > /proc/sys/vm/laptop_mode
#Harddisk Power-Saving
hdparm -B 1 -S 12 /dev/sda

Acpid handler.sh

The Acpid daemon is a very handy tool which listens for Acpi changes. However getting it to work with the Lenovo SL500 is not able by default as this laptop listens on different acpi signals. The following handler.sh changes the governor depending on whether the system is connected to AC or not.

# Default acpi script that takes an entry for all actions

# NOTE: This is a 2.6-centric script.  If you use 2.4.x, you'll have to
#       modify it to not use /sys

minspeed=`cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/cpuinfo_min_freq`
maxspeed=`cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/cpuinfo_max_freq`

set $*

case "$1" in
        #echo "PowerButton pressed!">/dev/tty5
        case "$2" in
            PBTN|PWRF)  logger "PowerButton pressed: $2" ;;
            *)          logger "ACPI action undefined: $2" ;;
        case "$2" in
            SLPB)   echo -n mem >/sys/power/state ;;
            *)      logger "ACPI action undefined: $2" ;;
        case "$2" in
                case "$4" in
                        echo -n $minspeed >$setspeed
                        #/etc/laptop-mode/laptop-mode start
			 # System is connected to AC 
			 echo "performance" > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor
			 echo "performance" > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/scaling_governor
                        echo -n $maxspeed >$setspeed
                        #/etc/laptop-mode/laptop-mode stop
			 # System is not connected to AC 
			 echo "powersave" > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor
			 echo "powersave" > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/cpufreq/scaling_governor
            *)  logger "ACPI action undefined: $2" ;;
        case "$2" in
                case "$4" in
                    00000000)   #echo "offline" >/dev/tty5
                    00000001)   #echo "online"  >/dev/tty5
            *)  logger "ACPI action undefined: $2" ;;
        #echo "LID switched!">/dev/tty5
        logger "ACPI group/action undefined: $1 / $2"


Thread on the forums concerning configuration of Arch Linux on the SL series