New Laptop: Thinkpad X301

Do you know how sometimes there is something old at the back of your fridge that you are scared to take out because it probably smells super bad? And you know how it doesn’t get any better with time as you think “if it wasn’t nasty last month, it has to be nasty now!”.

That is sometimes how I feel about my blog, if last month I didn’t blog in a long time, today I didn’t blog in a really really long time! So I am probably officially not a blogger any more.

I still owe some obligatory posts, specifically about my day job, and about the fact that  and giving a prez there.

But now let’s talk about my new toy. Did I need it? Probably not. My T400 is a portable workstation that gives me everything I need. But every 2 years or so I decide to splurge on a new machine, and I am happy to say that I have become increasingly satisfied with my choices each time. My T400 refuses to die or become obsolete, it’s black unimpressive looks doesn’t allow it to get stolen. But it’s been 2 years!

I have been looking at the Thinkpad X series for a while, and debating whether the X201 was ergonomically large enough for full days of work. The X300/X301, priced north of 3k, always seemed obscenely expensive, but I was curious what made it so (is it the whale penis leather exterior?). It’s been lauded as Lenovo’s answer to the Macbook Air, but I have seen those in reality, they looked paper thin. The X301 does not look as miraculous, not even in the sales photos.

One day, while reading the interblogs, I came across a $1,700 discount for the X301. I impulsively clicked “checkout” (after clicking “add 2 year warranty” and “add to basket”). Then came my favorite part about ordering a Thinkpad: the weeks long wait for them to assemble it, ship it, get through customs, and hoping the UPS does not lose it in the back of a truck in rural Wisconsin. After this period, you are sure that the UPS guy is going to deliver pure joy to your doorstep, as this photo suggests:

It’s a pretty nice machine, everything I liked about my T400 in a reduced package. Large enough to work on, but extremely light. Is it worth the $3,000 price tag? No. $1,300? Yes.

My favorite feature is not the 128 GB solid state drive, it’s the fact that the earphone jack is on the side, and not in front like in the T400. The front jack just didn’t work for me, it was super awkward.

My biggest disappointed has been the fingerprint reader. It does not work on Linux, what’s up with that? Are we in 1995? I really looked forward to unlocking my GNOME key ring with my middle finger, that would be so cool.

OK, enough with this guilty materialistic blogging. Next post will either be about my upcoming GUADEC talk about universal design, my fun happy times working on Telepathy and friends, or Israel’s rapid decline from nationalist chauvinism to overt fascism.

New Laptop: Thinkpad X301

6 thoughts on “New Laptop: Thinkpad X301

  1. Tobias says:

    The SSD in this model is actually the real downer. The drive-internal garbage collection that keeps write performance high only works in Windows with NTFS.

    Lenovo doesn’t release a firmware upgrade to support ATA TRIM even though Samsung has one for hardware identical SSD models.

    I recommend partitioning it to erase block boundaries. Samsung Semiconductor wrote me that they have 256k erase block size for the 0VA model.

    I you ever have to RMA the drive because it fails they might send you an 0VB drive as replacement, which is similar in hardware but somehow considerably faster.

    in Palimpsest
    0VA: http://i.imgur.com/VH3O5.png
    0VB: http://i.imgur.com/gre5T.png

  2. @Tobias

    I already set up my environment, so I would hate to tear it down again to benchmark and repartition. Although I should follow your instructions. It would be nice if they rolled out support for TRIM in the next week so I don’t have to reformat!

  3. Tobias says:

    In that case I wouldn’t bother either. But I was curious when I did my last full rsync disk backup and just wiped the drive and played back the backup afterwards There was a big difference in write speed afterwards.

    The method to do this is fairly brutal (there’s no other way to release the blocks otherwise):
    https://ata.wiki.kernel.org/index.php/ATA_Secure_Erase

    I even had to pull the drive out while booted to do the ATA security unfreeze.

    I also left 8GB unpartitioned at the end afterwards as a pool of untouched reserved blocks. No idea if 8G is overkill, but it’s clear that the drive is now using that pristine space to shuffle things around in the background.

    1. Wow, that is way TMI. I just checked, and I actually have a Toshiba SDD. hdparm 9.27 is not showing TRIM, so I am assuming it’s not in the firmware.

      I am new to all this, I see some people have a wipe.sh script, but I really don’t want to deal with this in any kind of way in user space.

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