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Currently Mac user but will switch to ThinkPad soon, with Arch Linux, Debian or some BSD loaded on it.

Everything except T and SL series is out of the consideration for me. I am leaning towards T500. Wondering what are the experiences with those laptops regarding Linux and/or *BSD?

Any other laptop recommendations besides ThinkPads? Thanks.


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SL is an IdeaPad in disguise, don't buy it – Hubert Kario Jan 1 '12 at 18:36

Check out ThinkWiki; it has SOOO much information on thinkpads and good configurations, etc. And I'd personally suggest a T-series thinkpad, just cause a bunch of my friends (and myself) have them, and Linux works incredibly well with them (after a bit of tuning, of course).


I have a Lenovo Thinkpad T61 (note: its Lenovo now, not IBM), and Gentoo runs perfectly on it. In my experience, all the hardware on it--even its oft-knocked Intel Wifi card--runs just fine on it. If you want to double check, just check the specific hardware, not the overall machine. The two key pieces of hardware to look out for:

  • Video card (nVidia seems to beat ATI, some integrated Intels have issues)
  • Wireless Card (Atheros [Thinkpad a/b/g/etc] is best, from what I've heard, although Intel works fine)

Ubuntu and RedHat support the above out of the box, although you will be prompted to install the "restricted" nVidia drivers on Ubuntu.

The rest of the hardware is pretty much standard, although things such as the fingerprint reader, UltraNav scrolling (using the trackpoint to scroll), and volume keys may not work out of the box, but all of these have well-documented instructions on Thinkwiki.

If you can get a Thinkpad with Nvidia graphics, do it. I have had many problems with the ATI graphics under Linux. – pcapademic May 28 '09 at 22:27

In my experience IBM hardware is pretty much universally supported by the Linux kernel. If your particularly worried, look around at the ThinkPads your interested in for what hardware is in them and see if their are drivers available for them. I'm willing to bet that not only are good drivers available but they will be compiled into whatever distributions kernel that you end up going with.


I have had very good luck running Suse, OpenBSD, and CentOS on my T40 machine. I have recently loaded a T500 with CentOS and have had no issues with it thus far


A lot of OpenBSD developers use ThinkPads. So support is quite good in OpenBSD.


My experience with ThinkPads has also been good (albeit, my hardware is much older). I've used CentOS with a 760XL and have put Linux onto other older systems as well.

Best recommendation I can give is to use Google to search out other's experiences with the specific model; also use sites like TuxMobil and TuxMobil covers non-Linux environments as well; does not.

Also, Linux is much more likely to support all of the hardware and to work out of the box. This is not due to any fault of BSD, but to the popularity of Linux, including manufacturers that help support Linux.

Even so, FreeBSd will work on many laptops, and OpenBSD has better support for wireless than any other distribution out there (possibly including Linux).

Also, if you have limited memory in the laptop, use a Linux distribution that uses a lightweight desktop (such as XFCE, Fluxbox, IceWM, or WindowMaker). Switching to FreeBSD will also help: the BSD environments are smaller than Linux generally. Stay away from OpenSolaris if memory is tight or if the system is unsupported: again, not because OpenSolaris is bad, but because it doesn't have the popularity, the drivers, and so on - and is just plain larger than the others.

One more thing: when done, document what you did and how and what your experiences were - and post it to the Internet for people to learn from your experiences.


I have everything except infrared working out of the box with T41/OpenSUSE.


I've been running Debian testing/sid on a T60 for a good while now, very happily.


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