When we were looking at the Phoenix HyperSpace instant-on Linux environment, we had a Lenovo ThinkPad T400 in our testing labs for a few weeks. The ThinkPad T400 was introduced in the second half of 2008 as a ThinkPad refresh based upon Intel's Montivena (a.k.a. Centrino 2) platform. The Lenovo ThinkPad T40 has a 14.1" display and is described by Lenovo as "performance meets portability" with a lightweight design, hybrid graphics that allows switching between an IGP and discrete GPU, and superior power management. In this article we have some feedback on the T400 when it comes to Ubuntu Linux compatibility as well as some of the tests we ran on this Core 2 Duo notebook.
Our Lenovo ThinkPad T400 had an Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 (2.80GHz, Penryn), 2GB of DDR2 memory, 160GB SATA hard drive, Intel GMA 4-Series graphics (and ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470), and a 1440 x 900 display. Physically, to no surprise, the T400 looks mostly the same as earlier IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad notebooks with only a few subtle differences. One nice feature about the newer ThinkPad notebooks is the LED backlit panel. The selection of ports on the ThinkPad T400 is roughly the same as the previous-generation ThinkPad T60/T61 notebooks, but the USB ports have been moved around.
ThinkPad notebooks are generally great when it comes Linux compatibility and it has been that way for years. The Lenovo ThinkPad T400 had no problems installing Ubuntu 8.10, but the main unsupported area with this notebook is the switchable graphics. The Centrino 2 "Montivena" platform supports notebooks with an integrated Intel IGP (GMA 4-Series) and then having a discrete GPU (usually ATI graphics). The notebook user can then switch between the graphics processors in real-time (on most notebooks, the original generation with hybrid graphics requires a reboot). The reasoning behind hybrid graphics is to conserve power by using the Intel IGP when demanding graphics capabilities are not required, but the user has the ability to switch to the performance-oriented GPU when engaging in tasks that need more graphics resources. Sadly, however, this switchable graphics capability is not supported on Linux by X.Org.