Lenovo Thinkpad T410

Gentoo Linux


Bought via, arrived on 2013-01-22. Obviously used, but I got a very nice deal with a brand new keyboard, display panel, battery and optical drive — the parts that generally wear out. With plenty of RAM too.

As for Gentoo, I simply copied the root filesystem from Hoo. The kernel was configured anew, and display drivers also needed changing.

Compiler notes

The GCC optimization for Core i[357] is -march=corei7. There are other options for newer Core models with AVX etc, but this is not one of them. However, since I use a network with an Atom D510 and a Core 2 Duo T7200, the highest common optimization is core2.

Kernel, undervolting

Intel graphics needs KMS, I have this built into the kernel. KMS also provides its own framebuffer, and automatically finds a good resolution for the console.

For undervolting, I simply emerged phc-intel. It provides the kernel module that replaces acpi-cpufreq. However, you still need to compile acpi-cpufreq to provide some symbols (mperf.ko), so you cannot completely remove it. Nevertheless, you can remove the actual acpi-cpufreq.ko to ensure that it is not loaded (as this would block phc-intel).

Power management

ACPI all the way. There are Thinkpad extras in the kernel, but I'm not sure if they are all really necessary. Standard suspend to RAM or disk works without a fuss.

I wrote my own script to suspend automatically upon low battery, and for more sensible fan control, see below. There is already plenty of software for these, but frankly, it was easier to roll my own.


Pretty solid, as expected from a Thinkpad. I haven't used a "full" keyboard with real home/pgup/pgdn/end etc. for a while, but I warmly welcome these. Also, it feels like the vertical travel is longer than in most laptops I've used, and it takes a little more force, but the latter is probably due to being brand new :)

The keyboard light (Fn+PgUp) initially seemed like a cheap hack to replace an actual backlit keyboard, such as that of the Powerbook. However, it has turned out invaluable as a wider-ranging work light, particularly with my theatre sound work.

Keyboard problems and solutions

This Thinkpad model has a known issue where the keyboard cable can be short-circuited, since it is pressing against a sharp corner of the metal chassis. You can generally fix this yourself with electrical tape. The cable may eventually be damaged too far, in which case it's good to have warranty. (I received my replacement keyboard on the next day after a service call :) The new keyboard cable should then be taped pre-emptively.

There are other potential sources for keyboard short circuits, namely the extra RF cables on the bottom. Good insulation, again, is your friend.


Your typical business laptop display, with poor contrast/blacks compared to real IPS/[PM]VA, but works as expected. At least it is not reflective. This is pretty much the main bit where I miss my Powerbook, but I wouldn't buy a recent Mac for many other reasons :-/

[2014-11-03] The screen backlight controls have ceased to work recently. Possible reasons are kernel module options with weird defaults. In the meantime, I whipped up a quick script to change brightness, as it can be controlled via xrandr (at least with Intel graphics).

[2015-02-03] There is occasional display corruption, something that I often see with the bleeding-edge Intel drivers. Today I switched to more conservative CLFLAGS and the UXA acceleration framework, but it will be a while until I can declare it a stable solution.

[2016-03-05] Backlight buttons regained using Gentoo wiki scripts. These need acpid running to work.

Trackpoint and touchpad

The trackpoint was one reason why I specifically wanted a Thinkpad. They used to be more common, but nowadays a Thinkpad seems the only sure way to find one. I do use a mouse when at home, but the trackpoint does not get in the way at all, unlike many touchpads.

Speaking of which, the touchpad does _not_ show up as a regular mouse, as they often used to do. It works automatically under Ubuntu, but not in my Gentoo setup, and apparently it needs special drivers. For me, this is only a good thing, making sure it does not get in the way. The touchpad buttons do work as mouse buttons though, but that has not been a problem so far. If they ever do get in the way, both pointing devices can be individually disabled in BIOS.

Strangely enough, the touchpad does work without configuration in gpm, but only after gpm has been woken up by some other mouse.

[2014-05-31] Recent Xorg updates mandated INPUT_DEVICES="evdev synaptics" — X wouldn't start without the Synaptics driver, even though I don't want to use it. However, it can be easily disabled with the command "synclient TouchpadOff=1". Actually, the touchpad is not half bad, and the two-finger scroll is occasionally useful.


Besides the iwlwifi module, iwl6000-ucode is needed for WLAN. Works as expected.

The ethernet module is e1000e.

WD hard drive idle3 issue

As in nanite. This time I used idle3-tools in Linux to change it.

[2013-10-08] Disabled as I suspect it is the reason behind an annoying lag when opening files.

[2013-10-24] Swapped for the Toshiba (from hoo) as the latency issues kept plaguing.

[2014-11-02] Back to the original WD as the Toshiba had developed bad sectors — probably due to heavy field work :-/ Changing was a breeze, as I had maintained it as a hardware backup. I guess it is time to look for an SSD now...


I am not too keen on "trusted" computing, but there is one thing TPM is good for: hardware random number generation. The Linux module is called tpm_rng, available via /dev/hwrng.

To test it and use it for the system entropy pool, emerge rng-tools. The randomness tests are passed fine at a rate of about 83.5 Kibits/s. For the daemon, there is no need to configure anything, as it picks up common devices automatically.



About the name

Recycled from my first Linux laptop I had from 1999 to 2005, which by the way had a Trackpoint.

Risto A. Paju