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Starting a week with Ubuntu and Lenovo's X61 ThinkPad: First impressions

Ubuntu on the Lenovo X61 ThinkPad. It's a winning combination.

I finally decided to put my OS where my mouth is. Or, at least, where my typing fingers are. I'm typing this from a Lenovo X61 ThinkPad...running Ubuntu 7.10. I'm going to spend the next week or so reporting on the experience, including some first-person accounts from the lady who has cut my hair for the past 21 years, Valerie, and my grandma, whom I've noted before has been locked out of the Linux experience.

Well, today we're going to see just how much substance there is to my prior contention.

Before I begin, I have to admit that I'm going to be biased by the hardware I'm a positive way. Before switching to the Mac, I was a hardcore IBM ThinkPad devotee. This is my first experience with the post-IBM ThinkPad, and it's an impressive piece of hardware. Equally important for this review, it seems to work flawlessly with Ubuntu.


This is an exceptional piece of hardware, and surprisingly affordable (around $1,000 for the model Lenovo loaned me). It's super small yet has a full-sized, spacious keyboard. I could see myself using this. The keyboard isn't quite as responsive as a MacBook Pro keyboard, but it feels solid, responsive, and makes a satisfying "click-clack-click" when I type.

Interestingly, everything on the keyboard works with Ubuntu. Everything. Lenovo doesn't officially support Ubuntu on this hardware but you wouldn't know it from the experience. All of the specialty keys work and when I told Ubuntu to tell the system to put the X61 to sleep when I closed the lid, it did so without asking me, "Why?"

With Windows turning annoying since Microsoft left Windows 2000 (the last version that I really liked), for me there are only two choices left: Mac OS X or Linux. If my experience with Ubuntu on Lenovo's X61 ThinkPad continues to go as well as it has until now, I might even say it's a drag race between Mac OS X and Ubuntu. Ubuntu doesn't make a fetish of itself. It's just there. It's letting the applications do the talking without getting in the way.

In the Bible King Agrippa tells Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." Let's just say I'm "almost persuaded to become an Ubuntu user." We'll see how the rest of the week goes.