How do you rate this laptop with Linux?
Excellent
 
54% (40)
Good
 
38% (28)
Fair
 
4% (3)
Poor
 
1% (1)
Unusable
 
3% (2)

Lenovo Thinkpad SL500

Introduction

This is a guide to running Linux with the Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 laptop.

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.

This page is just for discussing using Linux on the Lenovo Thinkpad SL500. For a general discussion about this laptop you can visit the Lenovo Thinkpad SL500 page on LapWik.

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Specifications

For full specifications see the Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 specifications page.

NameLenovo ThinkPad SL500
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo
Screen15.4“ WXGA or WSXGA+ Widescreen
RAM1GB to 4GB
HDD80GB to 320GB
Optical DriveDVD+-RW or Blu-ray
GraphicsIntel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500 or nVidia GeForce 9300M GS
NetworkEthernet, Thinkpad 802.11abg or Intel 5100 802.11abgn, Bluetooth

Linux Compatibility

DeviceCompatibilityComments
ProcessorPassed
ScreenPassed
HDDPassed
Optical DrivePassed
GraphicsPassed
SoundPassed
EthernetPassed
WirelessPasseddriver: iwlagn
BluetoothPasseddriver: btusb
56K ModemNot Tested
USBPassed
FirewirePassed
Card ReaderPassed
ExpressCard SlotPassed
Fingerprint ReaderPassedsee http://darkblue.homeip.net/FingerprintForum/topic.php?TopicId=45&Posts=0 for important installation information
HotkeysPassedexperimental driver by Alexandre Rostovtsev
WebcamPassed

Notes

The linux support for the Thinkpad SL500 is not as bad as most people will say. Almost everything important works out of the box, except WiFi and Hotkeys. WiFi needs the iwlagn driver which is included in the linux kernel since version 2.6.27. You'll also need the firmware from http://intellinuxwireless.org.

Since 2.6.33 (correct this if wrong) the asus-laptop module supports most hotkeys, including backlight support for the Lenovo SL series.

There is a experimental driver written by Alexandre Rostovtsev which supports hotkeys, the BT kill switch and backlight control. Don't hesitate to use it, since it's quite easy to compile and use and seems to be very stable. I have not experienced any problems with it yet (kernel 2.6.29-rc3).

See his message from the linux-thinkpad mailing list:
http://www.nabble.com/RFC-%3A-a-hotkey%2C-backlight%2C-and-bluetooth-driver-for-SL-series-thinkpads-td21698427.html

Backlight control even works flawlessly without that driver (at least in Debian Lenny) if you modprobe the acpi video module with “brightness_switch_enabled=0” and control the brightness by echo'ing to /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness.

The built-in fingerprint sensor is an UPEK device. You can get it up and running by using the fingerprintGUI suite from Wolfgang Ullrich. Also search his forum for additional information on how to get this special device (147e:1000) to work.

Summary

You can enter a summary of how well the Lenovo Thinkpad SL500 works with Linux here.


Discussion

Dirk Heumann, 2012/01/11 15:44

The IBM SL500 supports 8 GBytes of memory. I put in 2 x 4 GBytes Corsair RAM modules, and it works very well. I have only a 2×1800 MHz Celery(on) in my box.

Bill, 2011/11/17 13:20

Hi,
Sound has never worked for me across three distributions: Ubuntu, Scientific Linux and now Mint 11. It works in Windows 7. No one else has commented on it so I guess I lucked out. Any suggestions will be much appreciated.
Cheers,
Bill.

Yigit Turgut, 2011/01/20 16:31

Slackware 13.1 x64 works unexpectedly perfect on this machine.

What works ; all peripherials including all fn keys.
what doesn't work ; nothing (even built-in ericsson 3g modem works!)

You just need to install Wicd-1.7.0 because Slackware doesn't have a default network manager.

Cheers for Slackware team!

Yigit Turgut, 2011/01/20 16:35

Don't forget to apply latest firmware BIOS: 1.30 / ECB: B110390001 (6auj19uc.iso) BEFORE the install (:

Maria, 2010/03/01 18:46

I was planning to buy the Lenovo SL 5100. It has 1GB2 Memory and 160GB3 HDD.
Someone told me that if you install a program with a big capacity, it will slow down your computer. I want to install the programm SPSS version 12 on this laptop. Will it support this program or will it slow down the laptop's capacity?

I will be using this laptop to work on my final thesis, so it will be many long hour (max 3) withou taking a break. Can this SL 5100 help me during this process or will it strike down?

Mr. Nice guy, 2010/02/20 16:05

sl500 and unbuntu 64bit

first of all to say hello to all community,
i am interested in installing linux unbuntu on my laptop lenovo sl500, and must say found this forum realy helpful.
wanted to ask how to download unbuntu 64bit version?! when i go to official page it gives me to download but it doesn`t say 32 or 64bit?
Can anyone help me with this matter?
Thanks

Mr. Nice guy, 2010/02/20 17:14

found it, silly me;) gonna give it shot now, tho have new question. since i am new, i wonder do i have to install any graphic drivers and where to find it? dont know for linux are things the same as for windows? atm running win7 rc on laptom, but i still am not satisfied, cause things looks like slide show. on my sl500 there is nvidia with 256gm ram, with 4gb on motherboard and core 2 dou procesor, i think things should realy fly…well at least go enough smooth, but than again… windows;P i realy hate them and i am glad i found this forum and so much good experiences with linux

rlomkkko, 2010/01/21 21:08

great nb. first worked with kubuntu 9.04 later kubuntu 9.10 and now on ubuntu 9.10 cause of unstable kde releases. everything's perfect with it i think just wondering if anyone's got any drivers for lenovo care and volume control buttons?

omdzor, 2010/01/28 09:38

there's a driver from tetronimo, already mentioned here, see f.e. http://gianlucamagalotti.wordpress.com/2009/02/16/lenovo-thinkpad-sl-series-hotkeys/, it handles fn keys but it doesn't support any lenovo care…

alex, 2011/02/11 22:02

I've stripped out brightness from the driver as it didn't compile with recent kernels and brightness worked perfectly for me without that driver. I put it here.

mintsharpie, 2010/01/06 01:18

Hi guys, I'm running the new 9.10 build (Karmic Koala) on my SL500 and the hibernate function has stopped working. When I go into BIOS, under Config > Power it says that LAN Deep Sleep Mode is disabled and I can't change it (the option is grayed out). Does that have anything to do with it? Either way, does anyone know how to fix it?

vesa, 2009/12/03 20:17

FireWire works well with Fedora 12 x86_64, have attached external hard drive.

vesa, 2010/09/23 14:53

Also successfully tested 4World 2x eSATA II ExpressCard controller (with external hard drive)
Fedora 13 x86_64

mbm, 2009/10/11 20:28

I'm running ubuntu 8.10 64 bit on my SL500, all in all I'm pretty happy with it …, well after I looked hard finding all the possible drivers, described here by others ( fingerprint reader, brightness, hot keys, wireless ). Normally the wireless does not work out of the box with 8.10 ( works when compiled into the kernel ), but it works with ubuntu 9.04 64 bit.

CONS: low battery life, with vista was more than 3 hrs, now I barely get ~ 2 hrs :(
Don't know if it's ever going to be fixed! If anybody knows anything about this issue, I'd appreciate sharing.

BOTTOM LINE: despite the battery life, a great laptop! A bit of pain while fixing the missing pieces, but worth the effort. VMware WS 6.5 and VMs run very smooth :))

PS. I expanded the RAM to 4GB and it just rocks !

mischa, 2009/09/18 02:30

short question: is the umts modem working?

Yigit Turgut, 2009/10/13 19:09

Depends on the adapter you want to use.
I am currently online via HUAWEI K3715 HSPA USB Stick - distro is ubuntu (based)

bella, 2009/12/06 20:59

Ericsson F3507g works out of the box with both FC11 and FC12.
Bluetooth does not however… (on both).

Regards,

Piotr

hahn, 2009/08/30 17:22

works like a charm on opensuse 11.1 using the acpi driver mentioned above, no problem to get it running, wlan works out of the box my model doesent have bt or fingerprintreader so i dont know about them

Rob Audenaerde, 2009/08/25 10:34

The 2.6.30 kernel, combined with the drivers mentioned earlier and the nvidia 1.85 driver work great!

See here: http://law-and-tech.blogspot.com/2009/06/thinkpad-sl500-and-linux.html

omdzor, 2009/08/11 14:06

Hi, I've installed Fedora 11 (Leonidas with Gnome/openbox window manager) on this laptop about 2 month ago and almost everything works, only things, that don't work now, are some fn keys (volume up / down / mute and some fn + F1 shortcuts), but I can live without them… More important thing is, that this fedora release work really fine with this laptop, no noticable slowdowns, failures or errors. I can honestly recommend this release and laptop…

luis, 2009/07/10 21:52

y friends, I am desperate, I bloutooth driver works in linux and windows xp give me error :S if someone can help me please write me a kurtrock.19.05 @ gmail.com, thanks in advance

ilovebeer, 2009/07/01 02:26

i use gentoo and have everything working on this laptop except fingerprint reader which i really don't care for after using it on vista. i have a working kernel .config for the sl500 for a modular kernel if anybody wants it.

marzio, 2009/07/23 20:55

coul you send me your config? tnx
marzio

Jonathan Heard - UK, 2009/04/24 11:31

This is a really useful page - I'm running Ubuntu Intrepid (8.10) although about to embark on 9.04 (Jaunty)!!

I've just discovered what I consider to be a bug in the SL500 BIOS. This isn't linux specific, but be aware that if you set the BIOS Power On Password, at the time you set it, charaters such as brackets will not register as characters in the password. However, when you are prompted to type the password at next power on it will type in special characters. For example:
If you want to set your password as 'passw()rd' the BIOS will only record the letters 'passwrd' (no stars displayed when you type a special character)
When you try to login it will accept all the characters (e.g. special characters *do* produce a star) and of course 'passw()rd' that you typed do not match 'passwrd' as the BIOS remembered it so it won't let you in and you'll be really frustrated that you've been locked out!
If you accidentally do this with the Supervisor Password then it's new motherboard and Hard Disk time!!!! (N.B. I've thankfully only experienced this on the Power On password and this can be reset by removing the CMOS backup battery.)

Note: I also went through a period where Bluetooth stopped working under Ubuntu 8.10 - It seems something in BIOS Version 6auj10uc broke this. When I upgraded to 6auj11uc the out-of-the-box Bluetooth functionality in GNOME started working again.

Yigit Turgut, 2009/04/28 12:39

Hi T,

I lived the exactly same problem, upgrading the bios solves the problem.Just keep in mind that ONLY apply the official bios firmware not 3rd parties.

Cheers

T_Bone, 2009/03/29 17:19

Hi,

I am interested in purchasing either the Lenovo N500 or Lenovo SL500. I am intending to install Debian Lenny (kernel version 2.6.26) on it. There seem to be a mixture of reviews in regards to the OS working “out of the box” and would like to know which would be recommended? Obviously the cheaper is the better for me as the spec between the two dont bother me so much but just want to ensure linux compatibility

N500: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/159354

SL500: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/154658

Any help appreciated

sharpXs, 2009/03/01 00:29

Great notebook. Using openSuSe's latest release most things work out of the box. Alexandre's module helps controlling the backlight smoothly. The only thing that really doesn't want to work is this fingerprint reader. I've spent a lot of time trying several drivers and software but nothing would work. After lots of googling I finally found that there's just no linux driver yet for this model. Let's wait and see… Oh, and the dvd drive doesn't want to play encrypted dvds (all relevant libs are installed of course).

Yigit Turgut, 2009/02/09 20:08

SL500 is %99 compatible with linux including acpi power management and the camera.Fingerprint is hard to get it working.There is almost no differnce between T61 and SL500 in the manner of linux compatibility.What an absolutely cool notebook for this price…

dave-o, 2009/02/11 07:44

I have to agree. Installed Ubuntu 8.10 yesterday on my SL500 and almost everything ran out of the box (only had to install Alexandres driver).

Yigit Turgut, 2009/02/28 17:09

In fact, I managed to go more than 3 hours (200min) with the default battery charged to %96.Approximated RAM allocation with constant usage was around %70 (3Gb/4Gb).Software such as Vmware(2 vms),Ansys,Matlab were frequently used and Amarok (/w headphones) was constantly open.And after 200mins there were a few minutes left.No wireless, no optical operations, just 100mbps ethernet additionally.Model is 2746 A18 with 2GBx2 OCZ RAMs instead of 1GBx2.It has 4400mah battery on it, Core2Duo 2.4Ghz.Distro is Slackware 12.2.
I can do whatever Vista lets me to do like hotkeys
I am in IT Business and according to my professional opinion ; guys at Lenovo must have done a terrific job.

Plus ; it seems that BIOS firmware can be hacked for the ones requiring additional ACPI support.

But who cares right ? (;

bozhidar, 2009/01/19 17:24

Well, there are people who can setup things and people who think like they are working in windows, there is a very low possibility you installed a wrong driver since you probably did not install it the system installed it by probing your hardware, as for the skype just set it to correctly in the sound device section in skype by testing the settings for you system, i would recommend OpenSuSe and Fedore Core 10 i386 to latest updates, Fedora runs fine WITHOUT a xorg.conf file which only confuses the 3D desktop and the newest updates for the xorg and intel drivers applied its running more and more enthusiastic with each update so eventually things are going to be fine. As for ubuntu i think its a commercial thing in my experience with linux which started from Red Hat 7.5 with a book on the linux itself i do not consider Ubuntu as a distribution so i`m not going to comment on it BUT on my Debian experiences with this laptop, Debian works fine with the 3D desktop excepts a fine assortment of acpi`s depending on the power setting or CPU setting you have applied at any possible variant, also the hard disk works best with the [as]/“as” elevator you can set it up with a kernel command line during the boot itself or from the system configuration files which the kernel reads during boot skype also works fine.

And lastly, please do not comment like your on a windows forum for “gury” or “web guys” this is linux you do not have to think much to get it running the way you want but nevertheless you have to think, almost 90% of the things you need for a work station or a fun station on linux with this laptop are install on auto pilot and you only need to tweak a few things to get it working, the laptop is NOT Chinese and its one of the cheapest best solutions for travel/work/fun and more with a great and stable look in MY opinion do not get mad at the laptop for not reading your mind and doing what you want get mad at yourself for not being able to set it up as you want to since its not that hard.

I vote 10+ for this machine.

Best Regards
B.Bozhev

AngryManAtWork, 2009/01/27 15:04

1. made in china
2. FATAL: Error inserting thinkpad_acpi
3. look in other forums…brainy
4. Is it nice to work for lenovo?

bozhidar, 2009/01/27 15:09

1. I am in a very separate line of work ( web hosting )
2. error inserting thinkpad_acpi because you cant build it yourself ?
3, Have you tried anything except out of the box brainy ?
4. Please think before you flame….

Best Regards

AngryManAtWork, 2009/01/27 18:51

The ThinkPad SL500 has the same firmware as the IdeaPad, and therefore it
has absolutely no “special” support from Linux ThinkPad drivers. You don't
get thinkpad-acpi. You don't get HDAPS. You don't get tp-smapi.

The Linux drivers will detect that there is no ThinkPad ACPI or ThinkPad EC
support in any Thinkpad SL-series with IdeaPad firmware, and will refuse to
load. This is not a bug.

… so build it your self, brainy

bozhidar, 2009/01/27 18:58

Yeah it doesn't but do you want me to provide you with a couple of screenshots ? or you can guess yourself that you can just download another laptop series packages and build them from the spec files of those packages ? Or maybe IBM hardware doesn't differ that much, if you could just determine the difference between the package you`v downloaded and your hardware ?

Please this discussion is pointless, if you have not built any packages yourself.

Best Regards

AngryManAtWork, 2009/01/19 16:50

sl500 and linux:
1. there is no acpi for this ThinkPad !!! so I think, tis is no ThinkPad, when linux cannot correctly run in this chinese wannabe ThinkPad…

[root@localhost /]# modprobe thinkpad_acpi
FATAL: Error inserting thinkpad_acpi (/lib/modules/2.6.27-desktop586-0.rc8.2mnb/kernel/drivers/misc/thinkpad_acpi.ko.gz): No such device

I am using Mandriva2009.1 with kernel Linux version 2.6.27-desktop586-0.rc8.2mnb and foloving features don't work correctly, cause missing acpi:
-fan is still running
-Fn keys, you cann foget
-LCD brightnes to dark, but this cann be done by
[root@localhost /]# echo 100 > /proc/acpi/video/VGA/LCDD/brightness

…so I am very disapointed abouth this all

David C, 2009/01/14 17:23

I started on the SL500 with Ubuntu 8.04 which installed ok, although it could only do screen resolution 800×600 and the wireless didn't work at all - the two things I most cared about. But then I upgraded to 8.10 and everything just worked out of the box - the full screen resolution and wireless along with bluetooth, USB keyboard and mouse, SD card reader and dvd player. Power management seems ok too although the battery seems to go down pretty quickly (< 2 hours). The only thing I haven't got working is the camera. I haven't tested the fingerprint reader, PCMCIA card reader or firewire.

Audio in and out (with skype) worked after a small fix (see https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Skype). One curious thing though is that the brightness control keys are swapped. Also the volume controls on the side of the keyboard don't work but ubuntu's volume control works fine. All in all I'm very pleased with this laptop - I have a dual boot with vista but don't think I'll be switching much…

bozhidar, 2008/12/26 19:15

Everything is working fine except the Xorg which has a bug filed for the Chip set of the integrated Intel video, which causes allot of crashes on every distribution, i have installed OpenSuSe 11.0/11.1 on 11.0 it works good enough for everyday use but since i don`t like too graphically controlled systems and too much user friendly nothing is up to the user or so i think, i did not leave it, 11.1 uses the new Xorg version which has a bug filed for the integrated Intel video and causes crashes, especially with compiz enabled ! Also installed Mandriva 2009 which also angered me with the too much graphically controls and configuration changes of which the user is not notified but works fine, until you enable compiz ;) even with the powerpack or whatever that is for the mandrake install it installs a few patches for the kernel which fix a few things BUT still its too early to use this laptop on a linux for me at least. Also install Archlinux which very much fixed all the above issues, since it has a patch released for the integrated Intel video and works just fine + Compiz & Emerald. But since i am a curious person i decided to install Fedora Core 10 as well, with all the patches and fixes and tweaks with the current version of it bluetooth modem and most of the FN keys work but every one of the above distributions doesn't detect the brightness controls and doesn't save them on logout and restore them on login to a session.

As a result, the Fingerprint reader was working only on Mandriva/OpenSuSe/Archlinux fedora needs kernel recompiling and patches which are mostly stupid and provide the kernel with enough stupidity to load slower and by slower i mean VERY SLOW !

As for Windows i don't use it so this is as much as i have seen on linux with the SL 500.

Best Regards
B.Bozhev

sharpXs, 2009/03/01 00:33

How did you manage to get the fingerprint reader to work for you (especially with openSuSe)? What drivers did you use?

Chris Davaz, 2008/11/28 21:32

Some issues with SL500 and Linux

See here for my experience:
http://www.chrisdavaz.com/blog/?p=108

nico, 2008/11/24 03:26

sl500 mandriva 2009

I've install Mandriva 2009 on my laptop SL500. I notice that the graphic card is'nt well installed 'cause videos are more pixelized than under Windows Xp, we also see that using the 3D destop, it's not fluent. Moreover the sound card make amazing sound when the level is set at the minimum and when we shutdown the system or turn on it. Talking about the fn keys none of them works. I've probably install the wrong driver. I didn't try the camera,i see that bluetooth is on but i didn't try it. I'm connected with wifi it work well.

glenn, 2008/11/19 21:57

sl500 and linux

certainly the computer works well with linux… indeed, much much faster than vista and faster than xp. nothing though seems to run out of the box. i've got the camera, bluetooth, wwan working but not much else is working. so far acpi power management is a shambles. the fingerprint reader has no linux driver as yet. fn keys are partially working. all in all a good laptop.. but until solutions percolate down the line hang on to dual boot.

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lenovo_thinkpad_sl500.txt · Last modified: 2010/10/13 15:21 (external edit)
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