Lenovo ThinkPad X230

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Lenovo ThinkPad X230 comes with a wide range of available configurations. Since Lenovo's acquisition of the ThinkPad brand from IBM, it has received lots of negative criticism 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.

Hardware

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

Tip: Below were the tested configurations at the time. If you are interested in more details and review, see the gist A Hacker's Ongoing Review for Lenovo ThinkPad X230 for full details.
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

Systemd

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.

Kernel

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

To reduce power consumption, as neither the stock nor Arch supplied kernel is optimized to run on any laptop efficiently, try patched kernels like linux-ck or linux-pf instead.

/etc/mkinitcpio.conf
MODULES="i915"
BINARIES="badblocks"
FILES="/etc/modprobe.d/modprobe.conf"
HOOKS="base udev autodetect block filesystems keyboard fsck"
/etc/modprobe.d/modprobe.conf
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. The first line in modprobe.conf file enables different Intel HD power saving options. To see what each of the parameters does, issue the command modinfo i915. The second line disables the wifi N mode as the Intel wireless driver suffers connection loss due to possible bugs. You can comment out 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 the 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 the depth of 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 other unexplained and unexpected misbehavior with i915 so you may want to experiment with different values to find out what suits your needs.

TrackPoint

Pretty much self-explanatory.

/etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-thinkpad.conf
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"
EndSection

Touchpad

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

/etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf
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"
EndSection

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

/etc/default/grub
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet acpi_osi=\"!Windows 2012\""

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

The fix is partial 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 shown below.

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 the 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.

Suspension

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 the sleep.sh file below. And it is quite fast with systemd anyway.

/usr/lib/systemd/system-sleep/sleep.sh
#!/bin/bash
if [ "$1" = "pre" ]; then
	killall -9 wpa_supplicant #nm-applet bug's workaround
fi

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

fi

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
#!/bin/bash
# /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
  done
done
/usr/lib/systemd/system/rc-local-shutdown.service
[Unit]
Description=/etc/rc.local.shutdown Compatibility
ConditionFileIsExecutable=/etc/rc.local.shutdown
DefaultDependencies=no
After=rc-local.service basic.target
Before=shutdown.target

[Service]
Type=oneshot
ExecStart=/etc/rc.local.shutdown
StandardInput=tty
RemainAfterExit=yes
Suspend failing

As of kernel 3.10 and 3.11 suspend may fail because the kernel tries to switch off 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
#!/bin/bash
# /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
   ;;
esac

External links

  • [ Review based on first hand experience by original tester]