Lenovo T530: Ubuntu 12.10 and UEFI

As many of you know I purchased a Gazelle Professional a while ago and was initially happy with the laptop. Due to the heat issue and poor battery life I decided to return the laptop and eat the loss of shipping both ways (approximately $80). After much waiting I was finally able to purchase a Lenovo T530. Here are the specs as orderd (green items are better than the Gazelle and red items are worse):

Processor           Intel Core i7-3720QM
Operating system    Windows 7 Professional 64
Total memory        4 GB PC3-12800 DDR3 (1 DIMM)
Hard drive          320GB HDD 7200rpm
System Unit         T530 NVIDIA Optimus with 1GB (Intel 4000)
Optical device      DVD Recordable, UBE w/SWR
Battery             9cell LI Battery TWL70++
Bluetooth           Bluetooth 4.0 w/ antenna
wireless LAN        Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300
Wireless WAN        Mobile Broadband upgradable
Display Panel       TW530 15.6FHD Anti-Glare, WWAN
Keyboard Language   KYB (Backlit) US English
Warranty Type       2YR Onsite Next Business Day + Accidental
Price:              $1261.46

I wanted more ram so I ended up buying 16GB of Corsair Vengence ram and doing the upgrade myself. I also replaced Windows with Ubuntu 12.10. The resulting configuration is as follows:

Processor           Intel Core i7-3720QM
Operating system    Ubuntu 12.10
Total memory        16 GB PC3-12800 DDR3 (2 DIMM)
Hard drive          320GB HDD 7200rpm
System Unit         T530 NVIDIA Optimus with 1GB (Intel 4000)
Optical device      DVD Recordable, UBE w/SWR
Battery             9cell LI Battery TWL70++
Bluetooth           Bluetooth 4.0 w/ antenna
wireless LAN        Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300
Wireless WAN        Mobile Broadband upgradable
Display Panel       TW530 15.6FHD Anti-Glare, WWAN
Keyboard Language   KYB (Backlit) US English
Warranty Type       2YR Onsite Next Business Day + Accidental
Price:              $1351.45

One additional feature not mentioned above is support for an mSata drive in the Lenovo T530 which would allow me to add an SSD drive without the need to remove the optical drive. I still have not decide if I want to make use of this, but it is nice to have that option.  I am currently debating adding a Crucial M4 256GB mSata drive. I have confirmed on Lenovo forums that it is possible to use this mSata drive as a boot drive and not just as a caching drive. If anyone has any experiencing with mSata and Ubuntu I would appreciate any advice.

The cost I paid for the Gazelle Professional was $1352. If I had added the extra year of warranty for the System76 the cost would have been $1462 and would not have included on-site or accidental coverage. I consider this a clear win in price for the T530. At the time of the original purchase the price was slightly in favor of the Gazelle Professional because of the difference in sale prices at the time.

Some may ask if I would still recommend System76 and the answer is a resounding; yes! While this particular model did not work out for me I was amazed at the level of support that I received from System76 and their commitment to customer satisfaction was outstanding. In many cases returning a laptop would have not been possible. System76 has a 30 day satisfaction guarantee and gave me no hassle with returning the laptop.

The install of Ubuntu 12.10 was amazingly easy and was completed using the UEFI bios only option. All of the special function buttons work including the LCD and keyboard back lighting. The palm rest has not once been warmer, to the touch, than room temperature and the reported battery life with the lcd at 80% brightness is 7 hours and 9 minutes on a full charge.

Lenovo T530

Beautiful 1920×1080 95% gamut monitor

T530 Backlit Keyboard

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16 Responses to Lenovo T530: Ubuntu 12.10 and UEFI

  1. Roger says:

    I have the T430s which is the same generation as your laptop, but smaller screen and more carbon fibre. I use the Crucial m4 msata 250GB as you listed and it works fine. Note that it comes up as HDD3 with the internal drive being HDD0. I replaced the DVD drive with a battery. I have an ATA level password set on both drives that the BIOS unlocks upon fingerprint scan. (Other than some Windows only games, I use a small Windows partition for the fingerprint software.)

    I believe the mSata slot is SATA 3 only not SATA 6, but that isn’t a big enough deal to me. For filesystems I use btrfs with lzo compression, and the underlying partition encrypted with dmcrypt/LUKS. I previously had a msata stick from someone else that used the Sandforce controller. The Sandforce ones try to compress data before writing in order to have less wear (you don’t get more space). Since my data was already compressed, and then encrypted, the controller was needlessly wasting its time. Write performance was worse than the hard disk as a consequence! The Crucial m4 works fine and is suitably high performance.

    I also happen to have the same Intel Wifi chipset as you. I haven’t done much with Quantal yet, but with Precise it was somewhat flaky at longer distances (>10 metres) from the access point unless you also disable 11n.

    All in all they are great laptops, let down only by large bezel sizes and not having 16:10 screens.

    • Charles Profitt says:

      I lament the passing of 16:10 screens too. My T500 has the 1680×1050 screen and I like it quite a bit. I will check out the wireless card in the next day or so. I have a busy weekend with launch parties.

      • Roger says:

        My prior laptop (now promoted to home server) was a 15″ T61 with that same resolution. The 15″ T530 is quite a bit physically larger even though the screen sizes are supposed to be similar. I had to step down to the 14″ model, and its physical size is almost identical to the 15″ T61. It would have been fine if Lenovo didn’t use such wide bezels.

        For the wifi I have a script that does this:

        sudo rmmod iwlwifi
        sudo modprobe iwlwifi 11n_disable=1

  2. Yury says:

    Congratulation! Can you please check have you this bug on your new Lenovo?
    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/alsa-driver/+bug/1066437

    • Charles Profitt says:

      Confirmed and ran a test with the wireless turned off prior to suspend — speakers came back just fine. So it does appear to be some sort of issue that is tied to the wireless driver.

  3. Desh says:

    You replaced Windows with Ubuntu, but you paid for that Windows. Why not buy OS-less laptops? Why pay Windows tax?

    • Charles Profitt says:

      I did not see any ability to remove Windows from the Lenovo configuration… and I will likely make use of the license by using it inside VirtualBox.

      • Roger says:

        I don’t know if VirtualBox can expose the underlying hardware as you need that to activate Windows (there is some sort of signature in the BIOS that Windows looks at). Anyway one thing to be aware of is that the Windows shipped by Lenovo is somewhat bloated, although nowhere near as bad as other vendors. You do get crapware like Norton (almost impossible to completely remove) as well as far too overengineered and bloated wifi drivers (almost 1GB of software with them!)

        However the good news is that you can download the original Windows 7 media from Microsoft (Digital River) and install that using the key on the laptop sticker. That results in a considerably smaller install and no crapware. You can then download System Update from Lenovo’s site to install extra stuff (eg APS, fingerprint readers, 1GB of wifi drivers) but that is only useful on bare hardware.

        On my laptop I wiped the hard drive completely (including the recovery partitions) and did a fresh install of Windows 7 in 30GB of space. Inside all files are set to be compressed, I disabled swap (have 16GB of RAM) and disabled hibernate. That leaves plenty of space.

      • Glenn Vander Veer says:

        I may be wrong, but doesn’t that violate the Microsoft License? I have a foggy memory of reading somewhere that the Windows license does not allow installation on a virtual machine. Although I can’t see them making that stick in a court, because it isn’t really running on a “fake” computer…

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  5. Did you install from DVD or USB flash?

  6. Tony Trummer says:

    Did you have to do anything to get the RAM recognized? I basically did the same thing, but on a Win8-64 pre-install. It doesn’t want to recognize more than 8 GB.

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