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IBM-Lenovo Thinkpad X61


This is a guide to running Linux with the IBM-Lenovo Thinkpad X61 laptop. The X61 is a very small sized and light laptop with a good amount a power. This system is being tested with Ubuntu 7.04.

This guide is intended to provide you details on how well this laptop works with Linux and which modules you need to configure. For details on how to actually install and configure the required modules have a look at our guides section for distribution specific instructions.

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Linux Compatibility

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo T7100 1.8 GhzYes
Screen12.1“ XGAYes
Optical DriveDVD+-RWYes
GraphicsIntel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100YesSee notes below
Sound YesSee notes below
WirelessIntel 4965AGN 802.11abgnYesSee notes below
Bluetooth Yes
56K Modem Not Tested
USB3 x USB2.0Yes
Firewire1 x FirewireNot Tested
Card Reader YesWorks perfectly with Ubuntu 10.10


This system does not include a optical drive so you will need another method to install Linux. A external USB optical drive works fine, as does the Ultra-Base docking station.

Most current Linux distributions wont support the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 by default but there are drivers available to add support. In Ubuntu you need to use the xserver-xorg-video-intel driver.
Update: With any recent Linux distribution the graphics controller will be supported.

The X61 use the 4965AGN wireless controller. This works with the new iwlwifi driver but these are currently quite hard to install. However they will be incorporated in the Linux kernel shortly which will remove this difficulty. Have a look at the Configuring the iwl4965 driver for the Intel 4965AGN wireless controller guide for installation details.
Update: With any recent Linux distribution wireless will work properly.

You will need the CVS ALSA modules to get sound working properly. Not even the latest 1.0.14 drivers are new enough for the X61. You can find a little easier to use alsa snapshot packages here. Grab the latest. If you are using Ubuntu and followed the guide for the iwl4965 you may have the /lib/modules/2.6.22-10-generic/ubuntu/media/snd-hda-intel/snd-hda-intel.ko file. This file will cause you problems so just remove it before installing the new ALSA modules.
Update: With any recent Linux distribution sound will no longer be an issue.


For now quite a lot of work and Linux knowledge is required to get the Lenovo Thinkpad X61 working with Linux. However it is expected that with the drivers needed to run this laptop properly being scheduled to be included in the mainstream kernel shortly that these difficulties will be alleviated. Update: Ubuntu 7.10 and more than likely other recently released distributions now include good support for this laptop. The graphics, sound and wireless work without extra configuration.*Update* Ubuntu 10.10 supports all Thinkpad X61 functions except the Tablet fingerprint reader.


Peppe, 2014/01/01 05:35

I have a Lenovo X61 and Ubuntu 13.10. I have already trying all the recommendation inside the forum related to the Display Menu in the setting. I found quite strange that the computer detect properly the second screen (whatever I plug a normal screen or beamer) but I cannot see nothing on the second screen. I try with mirror , dual and so on, but nothing happen. I understood that I may need to go in the Terminal and doing something in setting. Someone can guide me step by step how to do it?

To see if there was some “hardware” problem with VGA port I purchase the dock station that is perfectly working but if I cannot the VGA cable to it, the problem remain the same. In the software the screen is detected but on the screen you cannot see anything.

PLEASE HELP !!!! Thanks

Shannon Jacobs, 2013/11/28 01:25

My situation may be similar. I want to retire XP completely, so a native boot to Linux seems to be the preferred option. Unfortunately, most of my Linux experience is with Ubuntu, and they have abandoned such ancient machines. No surprise to me that 12.04 doesn't work well… Not familiar with MINT, which was mentioned in another post, nor with Fedora (though my employer is offering some RHEL options).

There's also the problem of lacking a CD/DVD drive for the machine. I do have an external USB CD/DVD drive, but I can't recall doing an OS installation from it. I've done quite a bit of gymnastics with GRUB, but I'd prefer an easy approach that may not be feasible with a box of such an old vintage.

Regina Rand, 2013/08/15 07:14

With ubuntu 12.04, the sound doesn't have any functionality. Either through the speaker or via the 3.55mm jack. I tried disabling the modem(which is tied into the jack) and altering alsa at the program config files levels to no avail. Fingerprint reader has limited functionality through third-party software.

Alex, 2013/07/28 12:35

The middle mouse button does not work as expected in that I can't click, hold and scroll using the TrackPoint. I'm using Fedora 19.

harun, 2013/05/18 07:20

i installed ubuntu 12.04 LTS first but didnt recognize my display card and i wasnt able to use fingerprint feature, secondly i installed linux mint 14 and i got a great compability on everything, i definetly reccomend mint on thinkpad x61 :D

affian, 2011/06/18 12:18


pamela, 2010/01/15 07:21

I have a lenova laptop and it has no operating system but i want to instal the edubuntu operating system but it says it has no harddisk but can only display CD rom only

Gustave Gerhardt, 2009/03/30 20:03

very glad to have found this. i recently acquired an X61 that a company i work for was just going to throw out. I had to buy a power adaptor, and i am planning on reinstalling an OS to wipe out everything that was on there. glad to see linux will work - this will be my first plunge into linux-land!

my question is this: can i just make an ISO of the linux install i want to use, and throw that on the thumb drive? i don't have access to an optical drive with usb port.

Peter, 2008/09/23 15:38

Installed Fedora 9 on X61

Fedora 9 feels pretty good on this laptop, especially after updating to KDE 4.1. Some issues with WPA2 (WPA Enterprise) but I think I will figure this out soon (WPA-PSK works fine already). The install has been done using external USB DVD-drive (also lenovo, I believe). Booting is reasonably fast. Fn keys don't work, but I haven't tried to make them work. Sound is sometimes unstable (I don't use pulseaudio, only ALSA)

JonsenElizee, 2008/06/02 20:02

Can I install Redhat AS4 or redhat 9 on X61

Hi, Bill.
the default system on my new x61 laptop is vista, I do not like it.
I want to install the redhat linux as4 or redhat 9 on my x61 laptop, but I could not find
any useful message for me. after reading your article, I thingk you are good at it, can you
show me some suggestions. any advice will be appreciated for you.

Bill Giannikos, 2008/11/28 04:18

The kernel of either of these two will be too old. I doubt it would work properly.

MJ, 2008/05/17 19:05

Ubuntu hangs on boot - & is there a notebook-specific distro?

Is there a Linux distro specifically for laptops, specialized with the appropriate patches and drivers that wouldn't normally be accepted into a desktop distro like Ubuntu?

On my x61t, Ubuntu installs, but hangs 9 out of 10 times on boot with some error about “Kernel direct mapping files”. Browsing the various formus, it seems there are issues on the x61 with ACPI and SATA drives requiring miscellaneous hacking and patching.

ricky, 2008/05/15 19:49


i have fogotten my password is there another way to access the computer now?

Richard, 2008/02/04 07:42

Installation Issue

I tried to install Fedora 8 x86_32, Fedora 8 x86_64, ubuntu 7.10 & opensuse 10.3 in my x61, but it's failed. If I should change some settings in BIOS, or my SATA HDD is broken? When I installed these distribution, it always happened to hang during installation. Could you give a hand?

Gino, 2007/11/06 19:17

USB issue with Gutsy on X61

I install Gusty on my X61, everything work fine including wifi, hotkey, multimedia key even think light. Also, sound, 3D effect with compiz fusion…
but, there is only one thing I still can't figure out why. The USB port at the left hand side work perfectly, but the other two USB port at the right hand couldn't detect any device after boot. They work if I plug the mouse before boot up the system. Will you know how could I fix it?

v.jones, 2008/01/17 17:00

Ran into the same problem. Found the solution buried elsewhere. (would credit the original author, but I've lost the reference).

Add “irqfixup” to the boot options for your kernel. Assuming you're using GRUB as your bootloader, this entails editing /boot/grub/menu.lst.

This appears to fix both the right side USB ports and the SD card slot, although I have not extensively tested either.

Petrosyan, 2008/02/29 02:41

The problem with failed USB ports gets solved after upgrading the BIOS.

Anonymous, 2007/08/25 03:36

I installed Ubuntu 7.04 on X61 and now get the sound card driver issue.
I searched and noticed your article, it is helpful , however I'm a newbie on linux thus I'm not quite sure abt the steps of compiling the ALSA module because I got some error when I issued the sudo ./configure command.

It seems to be looking for the Linux Kernel Source package but I dont have it, Error messages below:

Please suggest what I should do.

checking for kernel linux/version.h… no

The file /usr/src/linux/include/linux/version.h does not exist.
Please install the package with full kernel sources for your distribution
or use –with-kernel=dir option to specify another directory with kernel
sources (default is /usr/src/linux).

Bill Giannikos, 2007/08/25 03:39

You're on the right track. You will need to install the headers package for your kernel. Something like this should work.
sudo apt-get install linux-headers-2.6.22-10-generic

Replace the “2.6.22-10-generic” part with the kernel you are currently running.

Anonymous, 2007/08/25 08:20

thanks a lot, it's working now.

The other question is regarding the SD Card Reader.
I remember it was working after the original installation of Ubuntu 7.04, however after kernel replaced then it no longer works, so maybe still that can be fixed, anyway the sd cardreader is not that important.

Thanks again for the guide here.

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ibm-lenovo_thinkpad_x61.txt · Last modified: 2011/03/21 17:51 by
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