Saturday, December 24, 2011

ThinkPad T60 and Ubuntu - A Good Mix

As many of you know, I'm a big fan of Linux.  As my "work hardware" has aged out over the years, I've taken to installing Linux on whatever "old laptop" I might have at the time.  For the last 12 years or so, my laptops have been ThinkPads - first manufactured by IBM, and later by Lenovo - so it's safe to say that I have a great deal of experience when it comes to combining Linux with ThinkPads.  (In case you were wondering, Red Hat 5.0 DOES install on ThinkPads 560Z and 600!)

Well, I just received a "laptop upgrade" from my employer, so my ThinkPad T60 was an immediate candidate for Linuxhood.  I chose the Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) distribution, and installation was virtually effortless.  I was immediately presented with the choice to upgrade to Natty Narwhal (11.04), which I did.  There were a few minor glitches, the most noticeable of which was that the infamous "ThinkPad buttons" for volume up/down/mute and "ThinkVantage" were inoperational, but I fixed that with the install of ThinkPad utilities from the Ubuntu Software Center. 

Some time later, I had the chance to upgrade to Oneiric Ocelot, aka Ubuntu 11.10.  This one was a little different, because the upgrade immediately informed me that my graphic hardware might have a rough time after the upgrade.  This was due to Ubuntu's change from straight GNOME to the new Unity 3D interface.  Well, they were right; while everything was operational after upgrading to 11.10, video responsiveness was HIDEOUSLY slow.  Now, for folks like me who still run ThinkPad 600s and T41s, it wasn't unusably bad, but it was poor nonetheless.  Thankfully, there's another option - Unity2D.  Since I'm not much for eye candy in general, I switched to Unity2D; the positive results were immediate.  It's visually zippy in all but the most intensive operations (such as Workspace view, where it does a split-screen view of all four workspaces).  It does everything I need, and does it "fast enough" for me.

Why am I mentioning this?  Because IBM still sells used/refurbished laptops.  While they don't currently have any T60s in stock, they do have T61s at a VERY affordable price.  The links below will take you to IBM's used equipment marketplace, ThinkWiki (a great reference for Linux on any model of ThinkPad), and the Ubuntu homepage.

IBM Certified Used Equipment

Homepage | Ubuntu



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