Lenovo ThinkPad X230

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Revision as of 16:53, 4 January 2014 by DPX-Infinity (Talk | contribs) (Removed "Compatibility" section because it was mostly on fingerprint scanner issues and they are obsolete because the scanner is now supported by fprint. Added corresponding section on that.)

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Summary help replacing me
Lenovo Thinkpad X230's basic test setup and configuration. It is more of a review!
              ###              Test Setup Configuration 
            ; #####;       
          +##########           Distro: Arch Linux
         #############;         Kernel: 3.7.1-3-ck
        ###############+        Uptime: 12 day, 6:49
       #######   #######        Window Manager: Xfwm
     .######;     ;###;`".      Desktop Environment: Xfce
    .#######;     ;#####.       Shell: /bin/bash
    #########.   .########`     Terminal: xterm
   ######'           '######    Packages: 1048
  ;####                 ####;   CPU: i5-3210M CPU @ 2.50GHz
  ##'                     '##   RAM: 1402 MB / 3676 MB 
 #'                         `#  Disk: 6G / 103G

 systemd-analyze: Startup finished in \
            2.234s (kernel) + 1.048s (userspace) = 3.282s
 systemd-analyze blame:
            407ms NetworkManager.service
            62ms systemd-modules-load.service
            58ms systemd-vconsole-setup.service
            44ms avahi-daemon.service
            41ms systemd-logind.service
            41ms systemd-tmpfiles-clean.service
            38ms polkit.service
            33ms systemd-udev-trigger.service
            32ms ModemManager.service
            29ms systemd-sysctl.service
            23ms systemd-tmpfiles-setup-dev.service
            20ms colord.service
            20ms sys-kernel-debug.mount
            20ms systemd-remount-fs.service
            16ms dev-hugepages.mount
            15ms dev-mqueue.mount
            12ms wpa_supplicant.service
            12ms systemd-tmpfiles-setup.service
            11ms systemd-journal-flush.service
            11ms upower.service
             8ms rtkit-daemon.service
             7ms alsa-restore.service
             6ms dev-sda2.swap
             5ms systemd-random-seed-load.service
             5ms systemd-readahead-collect.service
             4ms systemd-udevd.service
             4ms systemd-readahead-replay.service
             3ms systemd-update-utmp.service
             3ms systemd-readahead-done.service
             3ms atd.service
             2ms systemd-user-sessions.service
             1ms tmp.mount
           903us sys-kernel-config.mount

Lenovo ThinkPad X230 comes off with a wide range of available configurations. Since Lenovo's acquisition of ThinkPad brand from IBM, it has received lots of negative critics for not maintaining the original quality and compromising the brand itself. Regardless, ThinkPad still is one of the first preferences for many geeks, students (mainly due to student discounts) and Linux users. It is the standard option available in Lenovo's X Series under 12-13 inches display category.


Below is the short list for this setup. After-market RAMs and SSD were bought because Lenovo is apparently charging a lot for these.

Tested Configuration

Note: Below were the tested configurations at the time. If you are interested in more details, see full review by original tester in external links.
Feature Configuration
System X230 2306CTO
CPU Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3210M CPU @ 2.50GHz
Graphics Intel HD 4000 - Ivy Bridge
Ram 3.5GB (Kingston)
Disk Crucial M4 120GB SSD
Display 12.5" IPS
Wireless 2x2 Centrino Wireless-N 2200
Built-in Battery 9 Cell
Additional Plugable Battery 6 Cell 19+
Backlit Keyboard No
ThinkLight Yes
Fingerprint Scanner Yes
Bluetooth Yes
Cam Yes

System Configuration


Configured as usual with readahead and the below services.

  • NetworkManager
  • cups
  • slim
  • sshd
  • syslog-ng
  • vnstat
  • cronie
  • atd

Boot time was as roughly ~3 seconds.

Fingerprint scanner

Works out of the box. See fprint article for installation instructions. No extrac actions are needed.


Note: You may want to run 'linux-ck' instead of the default kernel to conserve power and to fix iwlwifi issue with system sleep and wakeup. See power saving section below

If you really want to cut power then neither the stock kernel nor the Arch supplied kernel is optimized to run on any laptop efficiently. Try the patched kernels like linux-ck or linux-pf instead.

HOOKS="base udev autodetect block filesystems keyboard fsck"
options i915 i915_enable_rc6=1 i915_enable_fbc=1 lvds_downclock=1
options iwlwifi 11n_disable=1

The badblocks binary helps fix logical bad blocks if detected by fsck during system startup. First line in modprobe.conf file enables different Intel HD power saving options. To see what each of the parameters does, issue a command modinfo i915. The second line disables the wifi N mode as Intel wireless driver suffers connection loss due to possible bugs. You can comment on this line if you want to transfer data at wireless N speeds.

After saving the above files, make sure to regenerate your init ram image by command mkinitcpio -p linux && mkinitcpio -p linux-ck.

Then, to update grub2 with the new kernels you have to run grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg.

Note: Using i915_enable_rc6=1 will enable basic power saving with first stage of C-state 6 (sleeping state). The stages vary by level of deepness in the sleep, that can be attained by setting the value of i915_enable_rc6 between 1 to 7 in ascending order as can be seen in its documentation with modinfo i915 command shown above.
Warning: Keep in mind that c-state power saving always comes at performance sacrifice and setting a higher value can cause a jittery display or some unexplained and unexpected misbehavior with i915 so you may want to experiment with different values to find out what suites your needs.


Pretty much self-explanatory.

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier	"Trackpoint Wheel Emulation"
    MatchProduct	    "TPPS/2 IBM TrackPoint|DualPoint Stick|Synaptics Inc. Composite TouchPad / TrackPoint|ThinkPad USB Keyboard with TrackPoint|USB Trackpoint pointing device"
    MatchDevicePath	    "/dev/input/event*"
    Option		    "EmulateWheel"        "true"
    Option		    "EmulateWheelButton"  "2"
    Option		    "Emulate3Buttons"	  "false"
    Option		    "XAxisMapping"	  "6 7"
    Option		    "YAxisMapping"        "4 5"


The original configuration renders the touchpad quite useless, as it behaves very jumpy. [Ubuntu Bugtracker] offers a solution for this issue. Add the following

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier "touchpad"
        MatchProduct "SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad"
        Driver "synaptics"
        # fix touchpad resolution
        Option "VertResolution" "100"
        Option "HorizResolution" "65"
        # disable synaptics driver pointer acceleration
        Option "MinSpeed" "1"
        Option "MaxSpeed" "1"
        # tweak the X-server pointer acceleration
        Option "AccelerationProfile" "2"
        Option "AdaptiveDeceleration" "16"
        Option "ConstantDeceleration" "16"
        Option "VelocityScale" "32"

Setting e.g. the motion-acceleration value in dconf to 2.8 works nicely.

Backlight Control Keys

Note: On most X230 models, backlight works by default without any issues. Use below only in case of any problems.

Due to an issue with the firmware of several ThinkPads the backlight control keys (fn + F7/F8 on the X230) don't work correctly. Setting the brightness via e.g. the GNOME power control panel or altering the brightness value in sysfs is possible.

The issue can be temporarily and partially fixed in adding the acpi_osi="!Windows 2012" kernel parameter in

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet acpi_osi=\"!Windows 2012\""

sudo grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

The fix is partially in that only 8 steps are accessible via the keys.

For more information see https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=51231 .

Power Saving

Tip: The parameter pcie_aspm may not be needed in the more recent 3.9+ kernels
Tip: Don't enable pcie_aspm if dmesg | grep -i "doesn't support pcie aspm" is true because even if you do, kernel will still keep it disabled

One option is to use Powerdown to save power. On this setup, it gave 14+ hours on a 9 cell battery and 6+ hours on plugable 6 cell external battery, with normal usage of cmus, firefox and thunderbird. Power saving kernel parameters in addition to graphics card power saving, are as under.

grep GRUB_CMDLINE /etc/default/grub
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet ipv6.disable=1 elevator=bfq"
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="init=/usr/lib/systemd/systemd pcie_aspm=force acpi_backlight=vendor"

The parameter elevator=bfq enables the Brain Fuck Scheduler written by Con Kolivas, part of Linux-ck and Linux-pf kernel forks. pcie_aspm=force forcefully enables the PCIE Active State Power Management and apci_backlight=vendor loads the vendor specific Backlight#ACPI driver (i.e. thinkpad_acpi) so the brightness keys (Fn + F8 and Fn + F9) work correctly. After editing the grub file, make sure to regenerate your grub configuration by command grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg.

Note that the apci_backlight=vendor kernel option also works with the standard Arch kernel (currently 3.7.10-1) and has the additional bonus that (Fn + spacebar) controls the keyboard lighting.


Warning: If you suspend your system quite often, it is inevitable that you will stumble upon a wireless driver iwlwifi bug with errors 'fifo queues full' in dmesg. It is caused by weird PCIEM power control behaviors and is inhibited in all default kernels (as of writing 3.7.1-3). The only fix is to either enable PREEMPT & BFS with custom compiled kernel or use an optimized kernel like Linux-ck as reported by forum user Bassu. Default kernels are not suitable for power-conservation anyway. Check https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?pid=1209357 for details.

Sleep/suspension and unsuspension can be easily managed by systemd without setting it up in Desktop Environment applet or pm-utils. But there are some modules that must be loaded off and on every time the system is put to sleep or is awaken. There's also a need to kill wpa_supplicant by adding systemctl restart wpa_supplicant.service in below sleep.sh file. And it is quite fast with systemd anyway.

if [ "$1" = "pre" ]; then
	killall -9 wpa_supplicant #nm-applet bug's workaround

if [ "$1" = "post" ]; then
        /sbin/modprobe -rvf iwldvm
        /sbin/modprobe -rvf iwlwifi
	/sbin/modprobe -v iwldvm
	/sbin/modprobe -v iwlwifi


Put vboxdrv in it too, if you use VirtualBox. There is also an issue with system shutdown with power saving tools that cannot distinguish sys devices. You will need to add to the systemd shutdown trigger on this machine or else you'll get a system reboot when you shutdown the machine. Put this in /etc/rc.local.shutdown and update and enable its service, if not already.

# /etc/rc.local.shutdown: Local shutdown script.
# A script to act as a workaround for the bug in the runtime power management module, which causes thinkpad laptops to restart after shutting down. 
# Bus list for the runtime power management module.
buslist="pci i2c"
for bus in $buslist; do                                                             
  for i in /sys/bus/$bus/devices/*/power/control; do                              
    echo on > $i
Description=/etc/rc.local.shutdown Compatibility
After=rc-local.service basic.target

Suspend failing

As of kernel 3.10 and 3.11 suspend may fail because the kernel tries to switch of the onboard ethernet device twice (see http://forums.fedoraforum.org/archive/index.php/t-293457.html).

A workaround is to unload the driver manually and reload it on wake.

# /usr/lib/systemd/system-sleep/e1000e-probe.sh
# handles e1000e driver suspend problems:
#	pci_pm_suspend(): e1000_suspend+0x0/0x20 [e1000e] returns -2
#	dpm_run_callback(): pci_pm_suspend+0x0/0x150 returns -2
#	PM: Device 0000:00:19.0 failed to suspend async: error -2
#	PM: Some devices failed to suspend

case "$1" in
   "pre") rmmod e1000e
   "post") modprobe e1000e

External links