I ordered a laptop on February 4, just over two months ago. It arrived on March 11 (at long last!) and I got it operating nicely within a day or two.

jaenelle, as I chose to name my new Lenovo ThinkPad T440p (following my fantasy character naming scheme), currently runs Arch Linux, one of the ‘independent’ (and very sensible) GNU/Linux distributions; that’s a big break from my usual taste in Red Hat distros (and I’ve made my opinions on Ubuntu apparent in the past).

Until FreeBSD’s UEFI support has stabilised sufficiently, it’s probably going to stay that way. I’ve found very little that convinces me that I should switch away from such a nice, light-weight, friendly distro (except for the little voice in my head shouting “Stockholm syndrome!”).

Some Odd Quirks

Linux is very nice on Lenovo ThinkPads in general. ThinkWiki is full of useful notes, as is the Arch Wiki, but nearly everything Just Works out of the box. There are a few subliminal gotchas, though:

  • The newfangled “ClickPad”, where the whole trackpad clicks; even though it should be obvious that I’m used to this because of the slab of glass in elspeth, I’m really not; further, disabling the trackpad using synclient makes the trackpoint essentially unusable, because there are no separate mouse buttons for it.

  • HDMI audio is the default audio output device; this is more an annoyance than anything else.

  • Like inara, a Mini10 (basically a X100e), it’s possible to mute the headset and speaker outputs separately to the master, and, bizarrely, muting the speaker output improves bass output on the headset port.

  • The fingerprint sensor is a Validity VFS5011, which requires a patched fprintd and is apparently highly unreliable anyway.

  • Controlling the Fn-Lock, Mute, Mic Mute or ‘glowing I’ LEDs is apparently not possible from user-space (I suspect they’re mostly all BIOS buttons).

  • With the integrated GPU, xrandr can crash while attaching or detaching displays connected via the dock, and the built-in miniDisplayPort will sometimes spew I²C issues into the kernel log; I notice this especially with my Apple mDP-to-DVI dongle, although that may be more an Apple issue.

  • Bluetooth is agonisingly fragile; while, most of the time, the controller works fine, on sleep/wake cycles, the system can panic on resume, notably if a connection was active at sleep; the only way around this appears to be powering off the controller manually before sleep.

  • The T440p, being a modern computer, ships with UEFI and SecureBoot enabled; this is painless to turn off, but annoying; gummiboot works mostly fine, as does dual-booting Windows 8 (when I bother to, which is never).

  • VA-API is highly recommended; having used a Raspberry Pi for long enough, I know the great advantages of hardware accelerated (especially GPU-accelerated) decoding of media; according to vainfo, the Intel GPU can decode MPEG-2, H.264 (CB, main and high), VC-1, and M-JPEG in hardware.

I haven’t yet tested the cup-holder (!) or the SD card slot. Port replication to a dock works very nicely, and the system happily drives three screens over eDP, DisplayPort/VGA and DisplayPort/DVI-D. It also pulls ~8 hours on a single charge, which is very nice.