Lenovo ThinkPad -- good as IBM?

Chad Perrin perrin at apotheon.com
Mon May 19 21:36:06 UTC 2008

On Mon, May 19, 2008 at 04:12:56PM -0400, Joachim Rosenfeld wrote:
> I had an IBM ThinkPad T41 that I was using until recently. It was rock
> solid, ran FreeBSD perfectly, handled all abuse I threw at it (I dropped
> it a couple of times), and generally did everything I needed it to do.
> I switched jobs so I had to return that T41, so I'm thinking about
> buying a ThinkPad of my own.
> Since the T41 however, IBM has sold its ThinkPad line to Lenovo. I've
> only heard anecdotal stories about Lenovo, and its largely been about
> driver compatibility.
> Can anyone comment on whether or not Lenovo has maintained the IBM
> quality standards for the ThinkPad line, whether or not a Lenovo would
> make a good FreeBSD laptop, or suggest some alternatives?

Thinkpads are by far my favorite laptops -- I've used them for MS
Windows, Debian GNU/Linux, and FreeBSD.  My current Thinkpad is the first
Thinkpad on which I've installed FreeBSD.  It's an R52 that I got from
Lenovo, though it was early enough that they were still using the IBM
imprint on Thinkpads.  It's most excellent.  The only problem I've had
with it is suspend/hibernate issues.

If Thinkpads have declined in quality at all since Lenovo took over,
they're still probably head and shoulders above everything else (with the
possible exception of Mac laptops -- but I don't want a Mac laptop, for a
number of reasons) for general-purpose laptops.  Of course, there are
also special-purpose laptops out there with which Thinkpads never could
compete, like Toughbooks and TEMPEST-hardened laptops, but those are edge
cases.  In general, Thinkpads are all I use, and all I recommend, for
running open source operating systems.

Research a given Thinkpad before purchase, though.  Check what graphics
adapter it has in it, of course, and what it's using for wireless.  There
will always (until hardware vendors wise up) be cases where specific
hardware components aren't fully supported *yet*.  In general, though,
any Thinkpad configuration more than about eight months old should be
very well supported.

Chad Perrin [ content licensed PDL: http://pdl.apotheon.org ]
Marvin Minsky: "It's just incredible that a trillion-synapse computer could
actually spend Saturday afternoon watching a football game."
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