Garbage Collector

Tales from an old nibble

Thinkpad X230 - First linux setup

I bought this refurbished machine for me at the end of 2019 on ebay, then the pandemic hit and we needed to setup everybody with a computer for home schooling. It worked great with the preinstalled Windows 10 and my son loved it. Its main issue?

Battery life

Not a problem when you use it at home, but when school reopened, my son had to ask for a desk close to a power socket. Not exactly the best experience. So, at the end of 2021, I bought a new AMD based Chromebook for him (amazing battery life and Google’s official support till June 2029) and the machine was back to be mine for thinkering.

So I started with my plan, just a few weeks to have the machine setup!

Narrator: he was not great at planning

Upgrades #

As I wrote, the machine had a functioning battery, but battery life was less than one hour by the time I got the machine back from my son. Also I wanted to max out the RAM to 16GB. I may want to do some light Android development on it and the more installed memory I could have, the better.

Battery and BIOS updates #

I went back to ebay and bought a new battery and the RAM I needed.

Narrator: even the best plan start to fall apart when it hits reality

Lenovo Thinkpads have a BIOS check to verify that the battery is an original one. To avoid dangerous knockoff… obviously the battery I bought was seen as not original and it was not charging… So my plan got a bit more complex.

Searching on line I was glad to discover that I was not the only one with this issue and that BIOS modifications were available to fix the issue. A detour on 1vyrain’s gitub account and a custom BIOS fixed the issue for me.

Now my X230 was happy with a new 6 cells battery and 16GB of RAM.

Choosing an OS #

I wanted to keep the existing Windows partition (just in case my son needed again the machine as a backup), but I also wanted to move my stuffs under linux. This means having grub installed, not a problem there. Bigger problem was about choosing a distribution.

I wanted to try Pop!_OS by System76, but after a while I moved to Manjaro with Sway as WM.

Software #

Next step has been to setup the machine and install some software starting with emacs with doom-emacs.

With emacs in place I could start setup the rest. These are some of the tools I have now for my tinkering: