Install Linux Mint on ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Original Post date: 02 July 2015

thinkpad_mint

This guide is intended as a reference for dual booting Linux Mint alongside Windows. It also covers some common issues, and fixes, that I ran into with Mint on this machine.

To skip to the issues section click here –> Issues

I’m using the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 3rd Gen with the high resolution, non-touch, display — 2560 x 1440 (16:9) I ran into some display specific problems that I’ll talk about later in the guide.

As far as I can tell this guide applies to many other ThinkPad models as well.

The version of Mint I’m using is 17.1 Rebecca; Cinnamon Desktop (64 bit) Get it here: 17.1 Rebecca

*NOTE at the time of this writing 17.2 Rafaela has been released, which you can get here: 17.2 Rafaela

I haven’t upgraded to this version yet, so some issues may be resolved already and installation may differ slightly. It’s worth noting also that both 17.1 and 17.2 use Ubuntu Trusty as the package base, and are both listed as Long Term Support releases until April 2019.

Step 1
Make space for Linux by shrinking your Windows drive.
1. Hold down the Windows key and press ‘R’ to open the Run window.
2. Type compmgmt.msc in the input field.
3. Click Disk Management
4. Right click the Windows 8 partition and select “Shrink Volume”
5. Set the amount to shrink to the amount of space you want for your Linux install. Minimum required is 10 GB, I want to use Linux a lot(as my main OS) and will download programs, keep some files here, and might have the need to set up virtualbox servers later, so I went for a little more and gave it 70 GB.

Step 2
Download Linux Mint; check the MD5 to make sure the file you downloaded is valid and not corrupt. (It’s tempting to skip this step, but I’d advise against it.)

Open Terminal (Alt + Ctrl + T)
cd /desktop` (or wherever your .iso file is)

md5sum linuxmint.iso

Using the actual file name you have downloaded
This should return an exact MD5 that you can find on the release page at linuxmint.com, if not then try downloading it again.

For reference, the MD5 for 17.1 Cinnamon 64 bit is:
0307ffcd5046c176599904193899426e

If you are using a different version please check the page that you downloaded from.

Step 3
If you have Linux installed on another computer use USB ImageWriter to make a bootable USB drive from the downloaded .iso file. (X1 Carbon doesn’t have a DVD drive on board)

If not, use PendriveLinux, UNetBootin, or something else if you have it, to do this from Windows.

Alternatively, a roundabout way might be, if you already have a Linux Mint boot disk (DVD) and a portable USB DVD drive, you could plug that in and boot from the DVD. But I don’t see a need for this unless you’re stuck without a USB drive you can use, and already have a portable DVD drive and blank DVD…

Step 4
Turn off [Secure Boot]

Go into BIOS; on my ThinkPad, BIOS can be accessed by pressing [Enter] when the Lenovo logo pops up during startup. Or you can hold F1, F12, [Shift], [Esc].

Navigate to the Security Tab and scroll down to Secure Boot. Set it to Disabled. Then ‘exit and save.’

If you are having trouble with this, or want to know more about the risks of disabling Secure Boot, see the link referenced in the footnotes.[^1]

Step 5
Restart the machine (it should do this when you save settings after turning off Secure Boot). Hold down F12 at the Lenovo logo, before booting into Windows. This will take you to the boot menu, select to boot from the USB drive that you have plugged in.

Step 6
Once in the Linux Demo, double click install Linux on the desktop and follow the setup wizard. It’s easiest to select the “Install Linux alongside existing Operating System” option, but that option doesn’t always seem to show up for me.

If your installation of Windows is not detected set up your Linux partitions manually. If it was, and you don’t want to set up your partitions manually, go ahead and Skip to Step 7

For the Installation Type window, select the “Something Else” Option.[^2]

Scroll down to the Free Space that you created when you shrunk your Windows Drive. There might be more than one chunk of free space, so look for the one that roughly matches the size of space opened up with the shrink.

Click the [+] button to create a new partition: We’re going to make 3 new partitions here.

First, a place for Mint to live

  •  Select ‘Primary’
  • Give it a size; the recommended min is 10 GB (10000 MB) but I give it 30 GB (30000 MB) to allow space for addition software, etc.
  • Location: Beginning
  • Use as Ext4 Journaling System
  • Mount Point = /

Next, a place for your HOME directory (files, etc)

  • Select ‘Logical’
  • Give it a size; usually the remaining free space minus 4000 – 5000 MB for the SWAP partition
  • Location: Beginning
  • Use as Ext4 Journaling System
  • Mount Point = /home

Finally, a SWAP partition

  • Select ‘Logical’
  • Size should be set automatically as the remaining Free Space, so that’s cool (4000 – 5000 MB if you did the math right)
  • Location: Beginning
  • Use as: swap area
  • Don’t need to set a mount point (and should be able to once you select swap area)


Step 7
Your machine will restart, take out the bootable USB when prompted, and hit [Enter] Bam! Linux is installed and you should boot into the desktop.

Step 8
Let’s do our usual Linux first boot up dance…

Open Terminal (Alt + Ctrl + T)

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo reboot

You’re up and running! But… you might notice some things aren’t quite working correctly


 


Issues

Here are a list of the issues that I found after installing and upgrading, it seems many are solved by updating to a Kernel that’s 3.19 or higher (I went for Kernel 4.1 which is mainline at the time of this writing.) If you want to upgrade to kernel 4.1 click here to skip to that section. You can check current Kernel by opening Terminal and typing uname -r

1.TrackPoint mouse buttons (not the trackpad) don’t work as intended — they work as scroll up and down, but we want proper mouse buttons. Middle mouse button also doesn’t work.

Fixed with update to Kernel 4.1
This also enables middle mouse scrolling (YAY!)


2.TrackPoint Mouse — or “nipple” as I sometimes like to call it, doesn’t respond to sensitivity settings and is terribly slow. I found a couple of different ways to fix this, the following was the easiest and also persists through reboots.[^3]

Open Terminal
Find where your TrackPoint settings are located

find /sys/devices/platform/i8042 -name name | xargs grep -Fl TrackPoint | sed 's/\/input\/input[0-9]*\/name$//'

It will return a location `cd` into there (I used my location for the example)

cd /sys/devices/platform/i8042/serio1/serio2

Now let’s setup a config file for our TrackPoint
sudo gedit /etc/init/trackpoint.conf

Copy and paste this into the file:


description "Trackpoint-Settings"
env TPDIR=/sys/devices/platform/i8042/serio1/serio2
start on virtual-filesystems
script
while [ ! -f $TPDIR/sensitivity ]; do
sleep 2
done
echo -n 255 > $TPDIR/sensitivity
echo -n 255 > $TPDIR/speed
echo -n 1 > $TPDIR/press_to_select
end script

Change the location on line 2 if it’s different for your system (the return from the find that you did a min ago. Also you can change the speed and sensitivity on lines 8 and 9 to anything you like from 0 to 255. I like both on the max setting. Feel free to play around with different values until you get something that fits you.

Save and close the file.

sudo reboot


3.Two finger scrolling on the trackpad doesn’t work (you can turn the trackpad off, which I’m thinking about doing, but if you want to use it, it’s nice to have this)

* This is fixed by going to Mouse and Trackpad settings and enabling it after updating your Kernel.


4.Screen Brightness is unresponsive

* Fixed with update to Kernel 4.1


 

Display Issues
Issues that seem to be related to with the higher resolution monitor. (I’ll admit these are all pretty minor and can be lived with.) I’ll update this post if and when I figure out solutions.

1.The login screen is scaled wrong, geometry is off. (When logging back in after lockscreen) It is usable, but not clean.

* [still unsolved]

2.Welcome message is in the upper left, not in the middle of the screen as intended to be.

* I’ll admit this isn’t major and the welcome window can just be turned off, but I like stuff to work as intended. [still unsolved]

3.Software Manager is scaled too small and has a tiny search bar

* [still unsolved]


How to upgrade to Kernel 4.1
(64 bit generic)


cd /tmp/

wget http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v4.1-unstable/linux-headers-4.1.0-040100-generic_4.1.0-040100.201506220235_amd64.deb

wget http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v4.1-unstable/linux-headers-4.1.0-040100_4.1.0-040100.201506220235_all.deb

wget http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v4.1-unstable/linux-image-4.1.0-040100-generic_4.1.0-040100.201506220235_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux-headers-4.1.0-*.deb linux-image-4.1.0-*.deb

sudo update-grub

sudo reboot

*For 32 bit or more detail on the Kernel Upgrade such as low-latency versions, and how to do this using the GUI see here.

References
[^1]: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn481258.aspx
[^2]: http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?t=122276
[^3]: http://askubuntu.com/questions/137528/ubuntu-wont-save-my-settings-for-thinkpad-trackpoint

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