Lenovo ThinkPad Helix

From ArchWiki

This article or section does not follow the Laptop page guidelines.

Reason: Hardware table needs some adjustment (Discuss in Talk:Lenovo ThinkPad Helix)
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)

For the second generation of Helix hardware (models 20CG and 20CH), see Levovo ThinkPad Helix 2nd Gen.


Note: As this model includes no physical recovery media, it is 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:

When using Xorg without the libinput driver (xf86-input-libinput), the following packages might be needed to support all features of the digitizer and touchpad:


If the Broadcom USB device is not 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)]

A Wacom USB device recognized by the xf86-input-wacom driver will create multiple X input devices from a single kernel device. In the Lenovo Helix's case, three such X input devices are created when properly configured:

  • Wacom ISDv4 EC Pen stylus
  • Wacom ISDv4 EC Pen eraser
  • Atmel Atmel maXTouch Digitizer

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.

Xorg Configuration

Next, you will 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 will need to link it for Xorg to see them:

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

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 options as outlined below that can help.

thinkpad-helix-utils: Toggle Touch

The thinkpad-helix-utilsAUR package contains a script located at /usr/bin/helix-toggle-touch that will toggle the capacitive digitizer on and off with a simple command using Xorg's xinput function. It also installs a desktop file called Toggle Touch that can be used to toggle xinput on and off with the pen.

Once activated, it disables the touchscreen xinput device until it is ran again to re-activate it.


Another option that also uses Xorg's xinput is xnohands. This utility disables the touch device in a system when a stylus is detected (either pen or eraser) and re-enables the touchscreen once then stylus is pulled away from the screen. It does this by listening to the digitizer's "presence" event, which the Helix's Wacom ISDv4 EC input devices support. You will need to download and extract it. Follow the README for instructions as it outlines how to set it up.

NOTE: You must have followed the udev and xorg configuration instructions earlier to have both the Pen and Eraser detected, as well as the touchscreen (all three must be detected); or else, this tool will not work.

If you want it always running, install the desktop file in your autostart to have it run on startup:

$ cp xnohands.desktop ~/.config/autostart/

Please note that you can have both the thinkpad-helix-utils Toggle Touch and xnohands installed; but, do not use both at the same time. xnohands will "re-activate" the touchscreen as soon as you pull the pen away from the screen, defeating the purpose of Toggle Touch to keep touch disabled at all times.


For X11 to utilize, install the AUR package iio-sensor-proxy to expose the dbus events. For example, gnome will automatically utilize the dbus events exposed by the iio-sensor-proxy package to:

  • Adjust the display brightness when moving from dark to bright lighting
  • Automatically rotate the display based on orientation.

See the upstream source for more information about iio-sensor-proxy and how to configure/test its functionality.

Screen Rotation

If you have both digitizers configured through the xf86-input-wacom driver and the iio-sensor-proxy package, they will automatically rotate with the display.

Alternatively, 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.


The built in 128 GB and 256 GB mSATA SSDs included with the Helix all support SSD TRIM functions. See Solid state drive#TRIM.


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.