ThinkPad X280 with Ubuntu

SmackBookPro

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jan 11, 2018
469
325
I made a few post over the past two months about getting rid of my Mac Mini and iPhone XR for a ThinkPad X280, Windows and an S10+. Well I got the ThinkPad and the Samsung, but sent the Samsung back and got another XR. The Mac mini never sold, so I kept it. Now I'm back on Apple, but before the ThinkPad ever sold I decided I'd keep it.

I barely used it, and when I did Windows just was a pain in a Mac setup. So I decided to keep it and put Ubuntu on it. I haven't looked back since.

It's so responsive, fast and the battery lasts much longer. I use it as a Chromebook essentially, accessing iCloud and all via Firefox, which is synced with the Mac. It's fantastic really.

I'd recommend this for anyone whose seeking an alternative to the Mac, at least if they want to stay one foot with Apple and one foot elsewhere without having to get in bed with Microsoft if they want a good experience. Ubuntu works well with both systems really, as its formats aren't proprietary and most of the software is free (no buying licenses again).

Have any of you did it? I just had to share how well it's going. I've had Ubuntu on numerous virtual setups but never really used it before. The ThinkPad really shines with it. The fingerprint sensor is the only thing that doesn't work, but it barely worked well on Windows anyway!

This thing has 256GB SSD, 16GB Ram, 1080p IPS matte display and now killer battery life. It's the ultimate little companion to the Mac and for travelling. It's no Mac, but it has its own unique benefits.
 

c0ppo

macrumors 65816
Feb 11, 2013
1,392
2,586
I'm using PopOS, ubuntu based distro. Tried ubuntu as well, but popos is more responsive, and way batter for my use case.

But I use Android as well (OnePlus 7 Pro). With KDE Connect on my phone, and GS Connect I get messaging on my phone, clipoboards and notifications sync, transfering files via wifi, etc.

So basically, I get what people like about apple ecosystem. But with way more freedom to customize things to my liking. I really have no intentions on leaving linux anytime soon.
 
  • Like
Reactions: alex cochez

Silvestru Hosszu

macrumors regular
Oct 2, 2016
125
68
Europe
Hi c0ppo, how do you like the OP7 Pro.
I`m on 6T and interested in upgrade. The camera does not matter to me at all. I`m not into smartphone photography and always carry a small real camera with me.
But battery life is very important.
Care to write a few words about your experience with it?
 

c0ppo

macrumors 65816
Feb 11, 2013
1,392
2,586
Hi c0ppo, how do you like the OP7 Pro.
I`m on 6T and interested in upgrade. The camera does not matter to me at all. I`m not into smartphone photography and always carry a small real camera with me.
But battery life is very important.
Care to write a few words about your experience with it?
Battery life is great. I get full day of usage no matter what I do, and since you own 6T, you know that fast charging is fast. OP7 Pro is even faster.

Camera isn't important to me at all, what matters is speed of the device. And OP7Pro with 90Hz screen and powerful specs simply destroys any other device out there. Not even a contest.

Since this is offtopic, all I can say is that I love this phone, and wouldn't trade it in for any other phone out there. Great screen, excellent UX, snappy phone and great battery life... Well, I couldn't ask for more. Now, is it worth it to upgrade from 6T? Only you can answer that one. But if it were me, I would wait for 7T, since that will come out in october or november. You already own a great device :)
 

Silvestru Hosszu

macrumors regular
Oct 2, 2016
125
68
Europe
I like my 6T but I hate the notch with passion. It is my first phone with a notch and will be the last.
If the battery lasts a day I will jump on it.
 

alex cochez

macrumors newbie
Aug 26, 2017
10
10
Chiang Mai
Same here.

Got a MS Surface GO and installed Manjaro 4.19 KDE. It's a joy! Fast, pen support etc.
(my wife got the same device, similar setup; we run a small business and these machines are our daily drivers).

Moved to Android, got a Galaxy Note FE (a bargain in Asia) with Nova Launcher (made it near Android stock). As cOppo mentioned, integrates well with KDE.

Still have a Macbook Pro 2015 which I believe is a classic beauty. Sturdy too and in use for certain tasks. It remains a delight to use and I hope this machine stays with us many more years.

Couldn't agree more with SmackbookPro, these OSes are very compatible, each unique, and you can save a lot of money in the end.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SmackBookPro

SmackBookPro

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jan 11, 2018
469
325
Got a MS Surface GO and installed Manjaro 4.19 KDE. It's a joy! Fast, pen support etc.
Just re-read this and wondered, how well does the GO cope with a touch interface on Linux? I wasn't sure any of the Linux distro's really focussed on touch as tablet use seems a bit 'light' for the use cases of my stereotypical imaginative 'Typical Linux Hardcore User' lol
 

lowendlinux

Contributor
Sep 24, 2014
5,155
6,309
North Country (way upstate NY)
Just re-read this and wondered, how well does the GO cope with a touch interface on Linux? I wasn't sure any of the Linux distro's really focussed on touch as tablet use seems a bit 'light' for the use cases of my stereotypical imaginative 'Typical Linux Hardcore User' lol
Manjaro is it Arch, what Ubuntu is to Debian.

Arch has had great touch screen support for years now. If you want new and want it now you use Arch and Gentoo and those people tend make chit work all by themselves and Manjaro and it's brothers benefit.

Debian is a if it ain't broke don't fix it distro and Ubuntu and it's brothers reflect that.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SmackBookPro

alex cochez

macrumors newbie
Aug 26, 2017
10
10
Chiang Mai
Just re-read this and wondered, how well does the GO cope with a touch interface on Linux? I wasn't sure any of the Linux distro's really focussed on touch as tablet use seems a bit 'light' for the use cases of my stereotypical imaginative 'Typical Linux Hardcore User' lol
I agree with @lowendlinux, running Manjaro/Arch on a Surface GO, most got to work with some minor tweaking and along the process the Arch wiki pages have been very helpful (this is my first time running linux). Lots of respect for the Arch community.

And @SmackBookPro, I hear you, I don't use the GO as a pure tablet, but it's a pleasure to run linux on this small form factor and interact with it in different ways (simultaneously). Keyboard and trackpad are premium hardware, so the Surface cover is hardly being detached, even while taking notes with a stylus. The exception for me is when reading comics.

KDE is my preferred desktop environment, not sure where other DEs stand today - GNOME seems very advanced in this matter - and more may be possible with some additional packages/scripting, but here is my experience so far with the GO's trackpad, touchscreen, rotation and stylus input.

The Surface cover trackpad works as fine and precise as those that come with a macbook, but it takes some finetuning. If Arch-based, install following packages, available in the Arch user repository: xinput, libinput-gestures and xf86-input-synaptics (also well documented in the Arch wiki pages). Then adjust 2 config files that come with these packages (if you ever decide to get a Surface and run linux, I am happy to send mine).

Second, stylus support. Since I had to install the xinput package in order to make the trackpad work, using a stylus didn't require any additional effort. By no means a graphic designer, I only wanted to be able to make notes in Xournal and Xournalpp, so I got a cheap Surface compliant pen on Aliexpress (I live in Asia) for about 20USD. Taking notes works very smooth, even pressure sensitivity is enabled. Not sure how far a higher quality stylus will get you though.

Touchscreen works out of the box, that is single tap, 2-finger scrolling and pinch-zoom. In chromium-based browsers 2-finger (back and forth) swipes work as well. Good enough for me. I use these gestures most while viewing photos with Gwenview, working in Xournalpp, browsing the internet and reading comics. In regard to autorotation, I did install and try the iio-sensor-proxy package once, out of curiosity. Worked instantly. I do know there are virtual keyboards for linux out there, but I haven't installed any of those.

Linux and Surface computers complement each other surprisingly well. There is also a linux surface community on Github, where one developer, Jakeday, compiles a kernel specifically for the Surface series (I installed the default Manjaro kernel though).

EDIT: and linux makes the GO fast, a totally different experience than a Windows 10 Surface GO.
 
Last edited: