How do you rate this laptop with Linux?
Excellent
 
86% (165)
Good
 
9% (17)
Fair
 
2% (3)
Poor
 
2% (3)
Unusable
 
2% (4)

IBM-Lenovo Thinkpad T61

Introduction

This is a guide to running Linux with the IBM-Lenovo Thinkpad T61 laptop. The T61 is a high end, corporate style notebook from Lenovo. The various features (wireless N, WWAN, firewire, USB, Bluetooth, PCMCIA slot, SanDisk memory chip slot, LAN port, modem line port, ext VGA, removable CD-ROM/CDRW, DVD, 2nd Drive bay, 12vdc-110/220vac travel adapter, headset mic & headphone jacks, wireless ON/OFF switch, trackpoint & touchpad combo, and fingerprint reader) that it offers are all fantastic features for LINUX, and “all” of these work extremely well with the newest release of openSuSE v11.4! They are “auto-sensed”, making your setup and configuration a snap!

Two people relate their experiences on this page. Here are there summary:

  • As of 2011/05/12 the Lenovo Thinkpad T61 (model: 7658-CTO) installed “everything” using the NETWORK INSTALL CD that I downloaded from SuSE's “download” site at: http://www.opensuse.org
  • As of 2013/11/17, the Lenovo Thinkpad T61p (model: 646066U) works like a charm with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Penguin). There is an issue of overheating that is not clear of being a problem specific to Linux and sometimes shutdown does not work; the computer hangs (after the filesystems are all unmounted though) and you have to manually turn it of.

For full specifications see the Lenovo ThinkPad T61 specifications page.

This guide is intended to provide you details on how well this laptop works with Linux and which modules you may need to configure, if any. For details on how to actually install and configure the required modules have a look at our Installation Guide section for distribution instruction specifics.

Editing This Page

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Please keep any pertinent information, and update areas where changes have occurred as things progress and related items are upgraded.

Linux Compatibility

DeviceTypeCompatibilityComments
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo (Merom) 1.8, 2.0, 2.2, 2.4 GHz 800MHz FSB, 2-4MB L2 Cache CPUYes
Intel Core 2 Duo (Penryn) 2.1, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6 GHz 800MHz FSB, 3-6MB L2 Cache CPUYes
Screen13“ WXGAYesExcellent performance/quality
RAM3GBYes
HDD500GBYes*Easy to upgrade/swap out for testing or experimenting
Optical DriveRemovable: CD/CDRW, DVD+-RWYesalways recognized, worked fantastic, hot-swappable!
Drive BayRemovable: CD/CDRW, DVD+-RW, 2nd HDD cartridge, 2nd batteryYeshot-swappable, great asset for an admin/LINUX student!
GraphicsIntel X3100Yes
nVidia Quadro NVS 140mYes
Graphics 3D Yesexcellent image and quality, works well with return from hibernation, sleep modes, using open source and proprietary drivers
Sound Yesauto-detected
Webcam Yesgood image, quality is acceptable but not “top-notch” like you see with a Macbook, Macbook Pro, or with an external webcam, but it always works.
Sound Yesauto-detected
Ethernet10/100/1000Yes
WirelessIntel 3945ABG 802.11abgYesuse the ipw3945 driver
Intel 4965AGN 802.11abgnYesmake sure you have a wireless access point with “N” capabilities, performance is greatly enhanced!
Bluetooth Yes
56K Modem Yesfor both dial-up networking, and dial-in terminal sessions (use SW install: add mgetty service for dial-in services support
USB3 x USB2.0Yes
Firewire1 x FirewireYes
PCMCIA Slot Yes
Suspend to ram with open source graphical driver YesExcellent, faster than Windows!
Suspend to disk with open source graphical driver YesExcellent, faster than Windows!
Suspend to ram with propietary graphical driver YesExcellent
Suspend to disk with propietary graphical driver Not tested

Notes

Graphics

With the latest release of openSuSE 11.4, the graphics are well-supported!
My only complaint is the webcam device in the notebook seems to have a “yellow-ish” tint to it. In plugging in other webcams, like the Logitech, the image is fantastic! I believe they probably just used a cheaper webcam device for this feature. Webcams were just beginning to be “standard equipment” when this device came out.

Wireless

Some models of the T61 use the 4965AGN wireless controller. I highly recommend this choice (your option when you buy it) as the “N” performance is priceless in mobile use and with SKYPE video conferencing! Drivers/setup was auto-sensed to support both the wireless and the WWAN (cellular).

Audio

Auto-installs with openSuSE 11.4 … even well supported in VirtualBox.

Summary

Quite a lot of work and Linux experience used to be required to get the Lenovo Thinkpad T61 working with Linux. Now that openSuSE 11.4 has been released, everything “works” after install! If you try another LINUX release and have problems, before you beat yourself over the head, try the openSuSE LINUX 11.4 release. It's “FREE” and downloadable (create a bootable CD from the image and do a “network” install). Check them out at: http://www.opensuse.org
(edit: November 2013) Arch linux works almost perfectly out of the box, the T420, T61 and other thinkpad articals on the arch-wiki site help for configuration. Linux-mint works out of the box with no issues.
Due to the age, and Nvidias design, for some laptops hardware accelerated graphics (Using both nvidia's drivers and nouveau) there are graphical glitches/crashes. You can however set a program to run in software rendering with LIBGL_ALWAYS_SOFTWARE=1 <command>, but it will be CPU intesnive and slowish rendering speeds (Fine for youtube/movies, not so much for games.)


Discussion

The Burnaby Kid, 2013/08/15 14:49

Currently running Ubuntu 12.04, which came preinstalled on a machine I got from ebay. Works very well. Will likely stick with Lenovo computers from now on.

Seamless VGA Switcher, 2011/11/04 03:13

Welcome to Kryoco Technology, home of the miniFreeze! Kryoco offers Powerpoint Clicker, Live PowerPoint Presentation and more for best price.

Niccy, 2011/01/08 19:51

The software is mediocre. Some of the bundled OS X software is so old it's non-native on Intel machines, fortunately you can omit that. Unlike the higher end machines you don't get Adobe's superb PDF/OCR combination (yes, once Adobe was competent), you get a much less efficient product called ABBY FineReader. Even so, it does produce PDF images with searchable OCRd text indices. desktop document scanner

manshou, 2010/10/16 08:47

Is there anyone has tried to install Ubuntu 10 (10.04 or 10.10) on his/her T43?

I failed to install Ubuntu 10 on my T43 from both a valid live CD and from an ISO image, the reason was, i couldn't boot up successfully. After displayed the progress screen with Ubuntu logo in it, it stopped at a screen with some texts on it, but didn't give any detailed error messages.

weixing, 2010/10/12 23:44

How do you do!I am the person who comes from China!Can you purchase a computer in the United States?

G., 2010/04/22 21:14

Have been running Fedora on my T61 since Fedora 10. Most all hotkeys work in gnome and xfce. Fingerprint reader works out of the box. Hdaps (Hard drive active protection system) installs, but the service daemon needs to be configured.

Ubuntu/Mint also work quite well out of the box with the gnome desktop. OpenSUSE 11.2 works well out of the box for both gnome and KDE versions.

Basically, it is all about your flavor and functionality 8-)

Robert Smits, 2009/12/30 18:54

Installed opensuse 11.2 KDE recently after running opensuse 11.0 for several years on my T61. 11.2 is definitely more install friendly than 11.0 - Everything worked out of the box, and it was very easy to add multimedia support.

Kevin, 2010/03/09 03:02

Brother! How did you get the audio to work? It's been fighting me for 2 days now and I just can't get it running

Tristan_Sydney, 2009/08/18 05:48

I have been using Windows 7 for the last few months and really enjoying it. I decided to install Ubuntu 9.04 64 bit via Windows 7 which arranged auto dual boot. I found it worked really well that way. Everything worked straight out of the box including NVS 140M and my built in microphone. Skype also worked which was a major bonus.

It differs a lot to the time I installed 9.04 64 bit as the main OS. A lot of hardware didn't work straight out of the box and mic never came online. I can't tell you the reason why it worked a lot better installing Ubuntu along side Windows 7 rather than Ubuntu alone. I'm a newb, sorry.

im watching csi lol, 2009/07/07 03:52

debian 5 (lenny) is running good. The touchpad scroll bar (right side of touchpad) is delayed and scrolls long after you lift your finger, makes scrolling with touchpad almost impossible. battery life was horrible to start with, i got 1:30 on a 9-cell battery (win7 is getting twice that+). i installed laptop-mode-tools from synaptic and now I have 1:30 left and I'm at 66% battery so it seems to be working nicely. I believe the hdd wasn't spinning down when idle before…not sure though. it may be my wireless router (qwest stock modem/router) but it keeps messing up my /etc/resolf.conf i have to manually set dns back to opendns after dhcp (dhcp seems to set it to the router's address which fails to retrieve IPs from domain names).

#download laptop-mode-tools from synaptic
#change /etc/resolv.conf to read: nameserver 208.67.222.222

rokafeller, 2009/05/31 12:06

Puppy Linux 4.2
T61 model 7663-B22 1440×900 Nvidia Quadro NVS 140M
Detailed specs.

Basic functionalities (audio, wifi, usb, etc.) but nvidia quadro+xorg. Native drivers don't support nvidia chipset in order to run xorg, so you're forced to use xvesa.
To make nvidia quadro work and finally run xorg I had to install this package:

http://download.tuxfamily.org/nop/NVIDIA-177.82-k2.6.25.16.pet

check also this thread for complete procedure (very easy):
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=42910

Keyboard keys for volume/mute don't work, as well as Fn+F# keys. Only Fn funcionalities that are working are Fn+Home/End to control LCD luminosity and Fn-PgUp to light the white led.

Jacob, 2009/05/08 18:02

T61 7664 18G 14.1” 1440×900 Nvidia Quadro NVS 140 Cpu T7300 2ghz dualcore 120gb 5400 hdd 2gb ram

Works out of the box with Ubuntu 9.04 and Kubuntu 9.04, and same goes for the Advanced mini dock.(Thinkfinger not tested.) Biosupdate by iso available from Lenovo support downloadpages and works fine on a Linux only machine.

HDAPS and SMAPI (HDDprotection and battery mgmt) available in general repos and works fine. All buttons (blue thinkvantagebutton not tested) works (change to T60/T61 keyboard). Mute-button works - but needs to be assigned to master in “general shortcuts”. Virtualisation-functionality for CPU works. ThinkLight works. Scrolling with trackpoint by following advices in thinkwiki.

Kernel 2.6.28/2.6.29 with Xorg 1.6 provides improvements that are valuable to the T61 as Suspend/hibernation/sleep now works out of the box (Nvidia 180.51 driver).

Bootchart gives 17 sec boot with a standard Kubuntu 9.04 installation in dualboot.

Ext4 with boot/grub on Ext4 works fine and Arch Linux performs well on this machine.

I do recommend a update to a distribution based upon 2.6.28/29 kernel or later with Ext4 simply because of performance and compatiblity.

Will, 2009/04/13 08:11

I was able to order the Thinkpad T61 with SLED (Novell's SUSE linux) when it first came out. It's a shame that they don't seem to offer a discounted blank linux-ready laptop, or a pre-installed version anymore, based on my last glance on the lenovo site.

I admit the problem is that SLED 10 was not quite up to par. To shut down properly, I had to first log out, then press the power button. The shutdown buttons would not work for some reason. Then the Novell account interaction and updates were buggy. It made me really disappointed, and I barely ended up using it, which was a huge waste.

I just recently installed OpenSUSE 11.1 (you'd think SLED, the contract version of opensuse would work better) on the T61, and the machine is beautiful. Everything, including the integrated X3100 graphics, sound, audio buttons, several special function buttons like web-back/forward, worked out of the box. Power management and simple things like shutting down, work like they're expected. I love the ease of reconfiguring the partitions with the opensuse installer. Of course if I was trying to resize some windows partition, then it might be a hassle.

The wireless/networking applet is great; it has really improved a lot. The T61 has a manual wireless disable switch on the front lip, and SLED seemed to have a problem re-enabling the wireless when the switch was toggled on/off, which was a royal pain, and still a greater pain b/c something as simple as shutting down was not functioning as it should. Either this (reactivating wireless) was fixed in opensuse 11.1 or the toggling of the networking in the applet is doing the trick.

I didn't realize how fast 2.4GHz dual core 2gig memory is compared to Pentium 4 3GHz 1GB memory. Also the software options in the opensuse repository is a million times better than on SLED, though I assume that they would have worked fine on SLED. I never tried to add them, b/c I didn't see any documentation that it was possible. It's nice having the options of the many tools available on the opensuse repository.

I decided to try the multimedia codecs with mplayer from opensuse community, and the machine is more entertainment friendly. It would be nice if the SLED version had been up to par, so that Lenovo would not discontinue it.

I may try one of the others sometime. Which contract flavor of linux does one recommend, that comes with all the codecs? (and is nearly as user-friendly as
opensuse)

BTW, openSUSE 11.1 with Gnome is awesome. The OpenOffice is awesome, and it's nice to have the programming capacity available. I hope to use it for some financial analysis eventually. I hope a professor can help me figure out how to access some good financial data.

Biggest gripe is the search engine though. I wish it gave you more options. Beagle collects all kind of crap sometimes or nothing, when all you want is a “find …” search. Many people that use suse (sled/opensuse) end up disabling it I heard (…there's a plugin portion, and a general daemon it seems). Any advice on improving search features?

The T61 is a well-built system, and seems to run well on opensuse. There are useful power management applets. The CPU clocking monitor is kinda kewl. Compiz is nice, but at first unsteady (locked twice during initial configuration; but that could be the fault of the 3D drivers for my integrated graphics). The T61 monitor on my system is its weakest point; nothing compared to the apple or sony screens. Hopefully, the newer thinkpads (t400 and t500's) have improved this.

Otherwise the system is pretty rock-steady. I look forward to making some serious use of it. The developer resources in the main repository and the extras on the pacman repository (added when you add the multimedia codes from opensusecommunity site's link) are awesome, and the yast does a beautiful job of configuring and updating your system. It's really beautiful compared to SLED 10 or the old flavors of linux I tried years ago.

Will2, 2009/09/24 02:55

More evangelism: linux on laptops… try opensuse on the thinkpad t61!
For everyone who wants an easy-to-setup, well-designed system, great out-of-the-box hardware drivers support and wants to use linux, I very highly recommend trying opensuse 11.1 with Gnome on the Thinkpad T61. The remark in the main article that much effort is required is false, esp. I know for my configuration: linux only, no fingerprint reader, no discrete graphics or webcam, 3945 wireless, as everything worked without any special config files or any extra work.

Everything else including special function keys like suspend and hibernate, mute, web navigation, wireless toggling work great, as well as things like WPA2 wireless security, etc.

Originally, when Lenovo actually sold this laptop to American consumers in March 2008 with SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) pre-installed, which is like a limited, official, contract version of OpenSUSE, the system was very mediocre b/c they had not worked out the hardware compatibility bugs of the system. Now, OpenSUSE (and presumably much of the linux community) has inherited the trials and experience of this brief experiment, b/c everything pretty much works as expected without tinkering, which can often be pretty hard to get on a linux laptop, as each vendor has non-standard hardware. It's a great tragedy, that Lenovo seems to have wavered on providing full support to the linux community, in ensuring that the t400's and t500's continue the now great compatibility of the t61.

After several months of using it, I have to say that the amount of standard software readily available through the OpenSUSE installation system is pretty impressive, and that the installation system is good at handling dependency conflicts, etc. for you. Adding the extra repositories from opensuse-community is highly recommended, with some great additional software.

The only things I might be unsure about is using Compiz (can be unstable, tho could some 3d driver's fault), or the Beagle search engine. In OpenSUSE, YaST is the name of the system admin control center, a fairly user-friendly centralized GUI, and is especially great for those of us with modest command line proficiency or inclination (those manual pages and options always seemed too tedious for rarely used functions), in addition to the standard Control Center for typical user system settings. In the standard Control Center, you can go to Sessions and disable or remove the Beagle engine (tho some ppl like it), and in the Firefox tools>add-ons as well for the default Firefox Beagle extension. In either the standard software repositories or the added ones (they're by default merged in the search filters for software install management), I found a great replacement that basically does the standard file name search, a standard filename search utility, gnome search, I think. The only gripe I still have is that it doesn't seem to respect my first choice for preferred application when opening files, from within it's dialog.

Lastly, my earlier complaint about the weak monitor is fading away, b/c it seems the new drivers somehow have fixed previous problems of fuzzy screens. Also the T61's VGA port on the left side works absolutely great with my new LG2361VG monitor an incredibly amazing 23” monitor that I nabbed for $220 online. (For safety, I try to ensure they're both off when hooking, if not when disconnecting, tho don't know how much it matters.) The dual-head monitor system works fine in linux; you can have it expand the desktop space or duplicate the screen (limits resolution and dimensional format tho with 2nd option). Battery life is almost 3hrs.

While it is a drawback not having access to many commercial programs, like Quickbooks, for most users, it has everything you need. For many young developers, it is a great system to try. I hope that there will be growing push to open standards, esp for web apps; some major web apps don't officially.
(Beware there is a challenge to saving DVD's to FAT32 flash drives b/c 4gig limit; so most will probably need to download your opensuse DVD and burn from same system or network filesystem; this messed me up one annoying afternoon)

Looking forward to trying KDE around January, when OpenSUSE 11.2 is finalized.

Burninman, 2009/03/28 20:52

T61+ Fedora 10 running like a top. minor annoyance with the fingerprint scanner. I was able to make it work in Fedora 8, but no luck yet in 10. As I said, minor annoyance, and everything else runs well enough to justify the install.

Garf, 2009/03/05 21:54

Fedora 10, rock solid on my T61. Fedora 9 was terrible, never a Fedora odd numbered build will touch this T61 again.

Just about everything worked out of the box. Great distro.

Paul, 2009/02/09 02:53

After some initial problems shrinking the Vista partition (I cloned the original drive to a new, bigger drive, then made the recovery media on the cloned drive, then tried to use the inbuilt Vista partition shrink), I now have Zenwalk 5.4 beta, Vector Linux 5.9 Standard and Vector Linux 6.0 RC4 installed.

Had some initial problems with wireless support in both Zenwalk and Vector 6.0 (5.9 does not support the wireless adapter out of the box), but new firmware for both distros sorted that out. Vector 5.9 also fails to support the T61 sound card, even though it does seem to be loading the correct module.

I've not yet bothered to configure the fingerprint scanner in Linux, but everything else is working well. My T61 has Intel graphics, good support for the WXGA screen from all three distros. Now I need to build a 1280×800 splash screen, since setting the correct framebuffer mode has killed bootsplash.

Very pleased with the performance indeed!

noob, 2009/02/04 18:35

As a total noob would do, i roamed the forums looking for an answer to my problem.
my problem is probably easy to solve I'm just getting lost in the jargon.
but i tried installing both linux mint and ubuntu 8.10 on my T61, and when i reboot (either from CD, DVD, or flash) all i get is the bootscreen …some scrolling and then nothing,,,,just a nice blank screen staring back at me…so fare havent found solution, will definitely post when i do

ahmadalian@gmail.com

Bill, 2009/01/10 05:58

I just installed Ubuntu 8.10 - after upgrading to the Nvidia closed-source drivers (I have a Quadro NVS 140, I have been experience strange X crashes upon restarting X, coming back from suspend.

May be a bug in the new Nvidia driver…

Santosh, 2008/12/29 23:31

My T61 works perfect with debian 5.0. MythTV, Nova TD Stick, Wifi and so on. I installed KDE 4.1. Perfect, works really fine. I have only problems with my micro and skype. I haven't found the right configuration til yet.

grifter, 2008/08/27 18:19

I was thinking of buying a T61 with the SUSE Linux weeks ago but Lenovo seems to have discontinued it as of today? I only found an R61 with Linux on their site; although website text does say they offer the T61 with Linux, there seems to be no link to it. Even your link goes to the same page I was earlier: all Windows Vista and no Linux.

bye, 2008/08/12 15:31

Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 SP2

I first installed Opensuse 11 with KDE 3.5 and had some problems with knetworkmanager..changing between devices→wifi,lan plus other little 'bugs' PLUS the “switch on/off” for wireless didnt work (and the 'wifi' light, also didnt work) so I moved to SLED 10 SP2 … worring about the standart gnome desktop, BUT Gnome is great, AND everything works…just remember to register with Novell, 'because they will not only add the Nvidia drivers (which work great → WOW compiz!) , but also the repo.! Volume works- Sound work- internal MIC works (just remember to make the right 'track' visible)- dont know if HDD shockprotection works….
Maybe someone cares… I installed Virtualbox 1.6.4 (from virtualbox.org) and it works very well! (seamless integration is still not 100% and USB is a bit of a hassel)

Omaha, 2008/08/08 06:15

OpenSuse 11 KDE 4.1

T61 “Works perfectly” with OpenSuse 11 KDE 4.1 including wifi (intel), GPU (NVS140), bluetooth, docking and fn. Only exemption are the volumebuttons. Batteryadministration works fine with tp_smapi and HDD shockprotection is fine.

Anurag, 2008/08/04 10:31

I tried FC9 Live CD it works like breeze, everything work out of the box. Wifi, sound and graphics too was decent. So go ahead with newer distro versions, that shd work.

Marco, 2008/05/17 07:35

Second Ubuntu 7.10

I have Ubuntu on my new t61. Sound and graphics work perfectly. Thinkfinger for the scanner works well also. I have not been able to get Skype working, a mic issue that I hear is common. Installing the Nvidia drivers allows compiz to work very well. I will attempt 64 bit Ubuntu soon and see how that goes. Overall, I'm quite happy with both Ubuntu and the laptop.

thebulbguy, 2008/01/19 06:59

openSUSE 10.3 also includes support for the sound and wireless cards out of the box, as well as the bluetooth adapter. Add the nvidia repository for openSUSE 10.3 to the list of software repositories and perform a system update to install the graphics driver, then run nvidia-xconfig and restart x to use it.

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ibm-lenovo_thinkpad_t61.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/17 06:51 by deragon
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