January 26, 2020

Linux on Thinkpad T460s; The king of laptop deals?

Just recently I decided to purchase a used Thinkpad T460s I7 6600u 256Gb SSD. I bought it to replace my old OSX Macbook Air and to provide me with a Linux based laptop for Productivity, Coding, and everything in between. I chose the Thinkpad after reading much information about how Thinkpads trump every other laptop (see r/thinkpad). So does the ThinkPad live up to its hype? Is it a good Linux experience? let’s explore!

First impressions

The Laptop arrived a bit scratched up, one of the main issues with buying a used laptop. To be fair I got a killer deal ($300) so no complaints here. I also ordered the Thinkpad Ultra dock for about 30$ which arrived on the same day. The dock has issues running two monitors at once (weird considering it contains two Displayport, one HDMI, one VGA, and one DVI). Otherwise, it functions with gigabit ethernet, a 1440p 144hz monitor, speakers, a keyboard and a mouse; so no complaints here considering it only cost 30$.

The trackpad feels fine but the MacBook air’s trackpad felt much better. The keyboard feels great, comparable quality to the Macbook Air’s keyboard. My model came with a broken X key, but the seller sent a new keyboard for me to replace, and this is likely not a chronic issue.

Linux Compatability

Essentially everything works with this laptop in Linux. The wifi worked immediately, same with the speakers. Most things on this system have drivers in the kernel. Theirs a few things that may need to set up though. My experience comes from Fedora but should translate fairly well into other Linux Distributions

The Function keys worked immediately for controlling sound as well as brightness in Gnome. Even the light on the mute key that represents muting works perfectly. In Sway, though you must configure these keys for yourself, they use default media key bindings so the process remains fairly straightforward. After I finish binding all of the function keys to their correct commands in fedora I will post my Sway config; however, if you want to figure it out on your own the information remains fairly standard.

The fingerprint sensor remains the only device that I found unable to use so far. The drivers for Linux exist, just the installation for the make-package is currently broken as far as I’m aware. It may very well work on Arch and Ubuntu in which one gets a package from a repo instead of downloading from git. Here the link to the drivers and a more updated reddit guide for those brave souls not on Arch and Ubuntu. If anyone gets this working then please update us 🙂

Conclusion

I highly recommend it. $300 for a high-quality laptop with an i7 6600u and 256gb SSD; It’s a great deal. Especially if you’re looking for a relatively thin and light (not insanely thin or light but thin and light nonetheless) midsize laptop; I think you would be hard-pressed to find a better deal. Plus what other laptop comes with a nipple mouse.

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