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Ubuntu, Fedora and Centos on Lenovo X61 Tablet

Posted on 2008-01-01, last modified 2008-05-14.

I recently purchased a new Lenovo X61 laptop to run Linux for work. This article covers my experiences with three different distributions.

Executive Summary:

Lenovo customer support is excellent. Fedora 8 and Ubuntu 7.10 work very well, Centos 5.1 (and presumably RHEL 5.1) are not recommended.


As part of a recent contract I had a chance to work with some Red Hat-based distributions to set up a subversion and Xen server. I set up both Fedora 8 and Centos 5 on the X61 to reacquaint myself to the Red Hat way of doing things after using Debian-based distributions for some time.

The X61 is a nice piece of hardware. In particular the 1400x1050 screen resolution, light weight and long battery life are what drew me to this laptop. The keyboard is very comfortable, and the track point works well, but I miss having a scroll wheel. The built-in Wacom tablet is a nice, but I find I rarely use it, especially since the fine handwriting-recognition software from Microsoft is not available in Linux. The pen can be enabled in X by uncommenting (or adding) the following lines in the "ServerLayout" section of /etc/X11/xorg.conf and restarting X:

InputDevice     "stylus"        "SendCoreEvents"
InputDevice     "cursor"        "SendCoreEvents"
InputDevice     "eraser"        "SendCoreEvents"

The laptop came with Vista preinstalled. A quick call to customer support had some XP recovery CDs in the mail and delivered about one week later. In the mean time I had successfully installed Ubuntu alongside Vista, but once I installed Fedora the Vista installation stopped booting. I didn't spend very much time investigating, so I don't know if that could have been repaired, or if it was really Fedora's fault.

With the XP recovery CDs it took a number of hours and the usual "wait, click a few buttons, wait some more, repeat" procedure to wipe the drive and install XP. After installing XP I restored my Ubuntu partition from a tar file and installed fresh copy of Fedora and Centos.

Centos 5.1 Results

Fedora 8 Results

Ubuntu 7.10 Results

*the LCD backlight does not come on when resuming, but switching virtual consoles (CTRL+ALT+F1, CTRL+ALT+F7) after resume is a workaround.


Debian-based distributions are still my favourites, so I will continue to use Ubuntu as my primary OS on this laptop. However, Fedora 8 is a very nice distribution and I enjoyed working with it, and either is a good choice with the X61 tablet.

Tags: Hardware Linux