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Dec 27 / kkrizka

ThinkPad X61 Tablet and Ubuntu Hardy Heron


A long time ago I ordered a tablet PC from Lenovo, but it did not arrive until a few days ago. But now I have it and I am quite happy with it. The laptop is the ThinkPad X61 Tablet PC, and it has been reviewed several times before in text and in video, so I will not be going over the hardware in much detail. I will dedicate most of this post to talk about it’s compability with Linux. I installed the first alpha of Ubuntu Hardy Heron, and I got all of the major features working without a sinch. Anyways, read on to learn more about the ThinkPad X61 Tablet.

First of all, let me do a quick summary about the hardware in my ThinkPad X61. I have the model with the SWGA screen that does not have the touch screen capabilities, so instead I have to use a special pen (included). However as a compenstaion I do get a better resolution. Also I upgraded to 2GB of memory and I have a Core 2 Duo processor running at 1.6Gh. The laptop looks a bit ugly, but I knew that before I ordered anyways since it is the trademark of the ThinkPad brand. 😉 The keyboard is very responsive, properly sized and has many multimedia shortcuts. The only problem is that the Ctrl and Esc button are not in the position that they are on a standard desktop keyboard, which can be quite hard to get used to and makes using Emacs a bit tedious. Finally, like all the other reviews sites, the screen smudges easily but you cannot see it with the computer is turned on.

Now a quick overview of how compatible this computer is with the GNU/Linux operating system, or more specific with Ubuntu Hardy Heron. Most features worked out of the box, but I had to install external packages and make a few scripts to get other working. In the rest of the post, I will mention what I got working and give a few tips. On everything else, I will write detailed posts later on. Also check out the ThinkWiki page for the ThinkPad X61 Tablet for even more guides. If you have trouble with anything, don’t hesitate to contact me.

The wireless connection works out of the box. I could connect to the internet from live CD of both Gutsy Gibbon and Hardy Heron.

Touchscreen (Pen Only)
Works after you uncomment the wacom options in your xorg.conf file. Hardy Heron did not have a default xorg.conf file, so I had to copy the one generated for me by the Gutsy Gibbon live CD. You can download it here.

Screen Rotation
Works with the xrandr utility, but there are no automatic scripts in place. There is a guide that shows you how to get automatic rotation when you flip down the screen. However I have created a script that takes data from the built-in accelerometer (see Hard Disk Protection) and rotates the screen according to it. Also I created a script for the rotate button on the screen that will rotate your display with a click. I will publish both of the scripts on this blog later after I iron out a few problems. Subscribe to my blog to be notified of them.

Extra Keyboard Buttons
All of the keyboard buttons, except the arrow buttons on the screen, report a keycode that can be assigned to an action in GNOME. However some of them do not have a X11 name assigned to them, so KDE users are out of luck. You can get the screen arrow keys working by adding the following lines to your /etc/rc.local file:
setkeycodes 6f 108
setkeycodes 71 103
setkeycodes 6e 105
setkeycodes 6d 106

There is also a problem with the ThinkVantage and Fn+SPACE buttons, which can be fixed by adding the following lines to the same file:
setkeycodes e017 148
setkeycodes 0082 192

Hard Disk Protection
The accelerometer that spins down your hard disk activity on lot of movement works, but the program that actually does it does not. The ThinkWiki page claims you can get it working by recompiling the kernel, but I did not feel like doing that yet. So far you can do other cool stuff with the accelerometer, like automatic screen rotation. However to get it working, you will need to compile the hdaps drivers for it manually, because the ones available in Gutsy and Hardy are broken. You can download them here.

The hdaps-gl script that mimics your laptop’s orientation based on the data seems to get the axis all screwed up, so if you using a program that uses it, you might need to fix the axis. I am not sure why this is happening. You can get the program by installing the hdapsd package on Ubuntu.

Both suspend and hibernate work out of the box. But after resume, the screen is not backlit and is very dark. I have to go into a console terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F1 and then back to X by pressing Alt+F8. Then everything is OK again. (Fixed)

Compiz Fusion
Ubuntu comes with the fancy effects known as Compiz Fusion, and enables them if 3D support is enabled. This happened to me right after I set the video card driver to “intel”, and I did not notice any lag. So I can say that Compiz works perfectly on the ThinkPad X61 Tablet!

Fingerprint Scanner
The fingerprint scanner works after you install the thinkfinger-tools and libpam-thinkfinger packages from the Ubuntu repos. You no longer need to add the extra repositories as claimed by the Ubuntu Wiki. However you should refer to it for installation instructions.


Leave a comment
  1. Jorge / Feb 2 2008

    I couldn’t get the stylus working with Hardy after upgrading to Alpha 4… actually it kind of blew my X session altogether.

    Have you managed to keep it working?

    • Karol Krizka / Feb 2 2008

      I just installed the latest updates and restarted gdm, but everything seemed to work fine. Did you try using my xorg.conf?

  2. etherior / Feb 5 2008

    Hello I have hardy alpha 4 amd 64bit on my laptop.When I use rotate script or xrandr -o right the stylus is inverted (right goes up etc…).Do you know how to fix this?
    Also I have no sound working.
    Thanks in advance

    • etherior / Feb 5 2008

      Ok sorry, I solved with “xsetwacom set stylus rotate 1”

  3. Niklas / Feb 29 2008

    How’s your battery life? And which battery are you using?
    Do you still have a problem with the backlight after resume in more recent versions of Hardy?
    I’m considering buying an X61 Tablet so I’m trying to gather as much info about it as possible.
    Thanks for your posts about it, they’ve been very enlightening.

    • Karol Krizka / Feb 29 2008


      I’ve been meaning to update this page, because as of few days ago resume from hibernation/suspend works perfectly. I think I have the 8cell battery (got it long time ago, so I forgot), and the battery life on it is around 3.5 hours.

  4. Dan Saint-Andre / May 1 2008

    I got my X61 in February. Doctoral work has kept me from spending time to add linux to the as-built WinXP Tablet install. I’ve heard and read rumors that recent win-dose patches (1) detect a dual boot config, and (2) make trouble of various sorts. Are you aware of this sort of thing.
    I have 2GB RAM and the multi-touch display (std res with tablet and touch vs. high res with tablet only). I also have the ultrabase with DVD RW and extra SATA drive.
    I’d love to abandon win-dose, but some of my school work demands that platform. Over the summer, I hope to get those tools running under WINE or similar.

    ~~~ Dan 0;-D
    Austin Texas USA

    • Karol Krizka / May 2 2008


      I do not know about any trouble dual booting with windows, but then I don’t usually dual boot. Well, sometimes I put Windows XP along side Linux for the summer, and I never had any problems with it.

      Also I don’t know how multi-touch display is supported under Linux, but the ultrabase works pretty well.

  5. Dan Saint-Andre / May 3 2008

    Once I wrap up this quarter of school, I plan to load “the latest” Ubuntu (Hardy Heron?). Is there a HOWTO or blog that names all of the several tablet oriented packages? With all of the feature buttons, stylus, handwriting, screen rotation and touch possibilities, (and since Emperor claims that they all work) there must be packages I need to track down and understand.

    ~~~ Dan 0;-D
    Austin, Texas USA

    • Karol Krizka / May 3 2008


      I made a few short posts about setting up different parts of the ThinkPad, so just type in “Thinkpad” into the search box in the upper right corner and you should be set.

      Other than that, ThinkWiki ( is a GREAT resource.

  6. Gengis / Mar 11 2009

    Hey Nice Review and Thanks,

    I would like to know if it’s possible to have an image of your X61 Tablet PC working with UBUNTU or any other Linux system.


    Gengis from Montreal Canada

  7. White Photo T Shirts / May 28 2011

    It was a excellent story in addition to beneficial post for many people. Make sure you keep us up to date.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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