Fixed msata

Upgraded to a Thinkpad X220 model 4287CTO from a X201. Kinda prompted by Jamie purchasing a X220 too.

A 64bit Archlinux install on a 166GBP OCZ 120GB Nocti SSD - mSATA SATA-II - Read 280MB/s Write 260MB/s from Ebuyer went well. I can't verify the SSDs speeds, but they are much faster than the Seagate 500GB Momentus XT Hybrid SSD in my Archlinux SSD upgrade from Ubuntu.

I opted for syslinux and I can boot into Windows uncommenting a chainload stanza in /boot/syslinux/syslinux.cfg or by using the Thinkpad own BIOS boot menu. No more bloated Grub for me, and syslinux does allow you to alter the cmdline. Bonus.

With MODULES=(acpi-cpufreq cpufreq_ondemand cpufreq_powersave) and /etc/conf.d/cpufreq:governor="ondemand" configured, I do drop down to 800mhz on all 4 processors. However the fan unlike my X201 is pretty much permanently on. Argh! NOISE... It is pretty hot on the side, so the X220 seems to exhibit some cooling issues. :( I'm not sure who to turn to. I don't think there is any point trying to turn off the noisy fan if it feels hot to the touch! I did find a ridiculously long forum thread on the X220 fan's issues.

UPDATE: Appending i915.i915_enable_rc6=1 to /proc/cmdline seems to make my X220's temperature /sys/class/thermal/thermal_zone0/temp fall almost 10C! Why the hell isn't this enabled by default is beyond me. The authoritative resource is tidbits buried in and also seems like a nice X220 resource.

Another problem is the "Intel Corporation Centrino Advanced-N 6205 (rev 34)" wireless. Arch's wifi-select wlan0 doesn't seem to want to join an open network. The problem seems similar to an issue documented with my X201 and DHCP IP lease attempt failed on Archlinx. I've also found general complaints about the Intel iwalgn driver. My workaround is to sudo iwconfig wlan0 essid praze, sudo iwconfig wlan0 key off & sudo dhcpcd wlan0 manually to get connected!

Another issue is the card reader. mmcblk0: timed out sending r/w cmd command, card status 0x700, sdhci/mmcblk0 b0rks with errors and REGISTER DUMP (mmc0) all over the shop when I put in an sdcard, which works fine on the X201. Found an Arch post of the same topic, which says the problem might be fixed in Linux 3.1. I'm running Linux x220 3.1.0-4-ARCH #1 SMP PREEMPT Mon Nov 7 22:47:18 CET 2011 x86_64 Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2620M CPU @ 2.70GHz GenuineIntel GNU/Linux atm. :/ Works now fine in 3.1.1-1-ARCH.

The 9 cell battery only seems to get 4.5hrs out of it. There is probably some tweaking I can do. Doesn't help that powertop doesn't work because it isn't ported to /sysfs IIUC. :( The 9 cell upgrade wasn't much money, but I think I would have gone for the smaller battery now, knowing what I do now.

X201 versus X220 showing tmux

I like the new wider & clearer screen. It suits me well with the rather excellent tiling window manager dwm. The little webcam (HD 720p) is also an improvement over the one embedded in the screen in the X201. I also think the keyboard is slightly better too, with the fat ESC & Delete keys that suit a vim user well.

Of course I disabled the touchpad/Trackpad in favour of the Trackpoint "nipple" in the BIOS, but it is unnerving to accidentally depress it from time to time as I think the case is falling apart (which it isn't).

Occasionally the Windows hard drive spins up and makes a funny noise, even though it's not in use. Not sure what I can do about this... perhaps I should take it out. ;) Update: I just removed it and saved some weight. Running solely off mSata.

Volume on the X220 is quite low, compared to the X201. Almost too low to watch a movie.

I must say buying a laptop from (powered by Digital River) was a little frustrating. It exhibited a myriad of problems, most of which I've cleared my mind off, less I go mad.

  • Timing out (joy at having to pick all the parts I want again ...)
  • Failed to login (I think my login is for the US site which doesn't work in the UK site), ended up ordering without an account, completely daft
  • Awful, god awful forms
  • Conflicting information about the on-site warranty, needed to call up to clarify this

Lenovo UK on twitter thankfully were slightly useful.

The UPS shipment progress was also pretty ridiculous. The laptop started in China on 11/03/2011, then it went to:

  • Castle Donnington, United Kingdom
  • Back to Shanghai, China (w.t.f!)
  • Incheon, Korea, Republic of
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan
  • Warsaw, Poland
  • Koeln, Germany
  • Castle Donnington, United Kingdom (been here 5 days earlier!)
  • Exeter, United Kingdom 11/08/2011
Hi! I just wanted to say thanks for documenting your install and problems/solutions with Arch on an X220. When I was looking at laptops to replace my X100e (I found that it wasn't powerful enough to be my primary computer in college, and also it's having hard drive errors), being able to find you and was really helpful in making me feel less alone and like Arch would actually work. I haven't ordered mine yet, because of Lenovo's website, but I'm really looking forward to installing Arch on my X220 at some point in the near future, since I love using Arch on my T42...
Comment by Anne
Did you partition the mSATA using GPT? If you're using syslinux then you can't be using UEFI, but I couldn't get my GPT SSD to boot on the X220 without using UEFI. If you didn't use GPT did you make sure to align the partition?
Comment by Jamie Kitson
comment 5
Is there some reason you don't want to use UEFI? I'm using a SATA SSD (Intel X-25) GPT with UEFI and it works great on Arch. I have had 2 booting issues, however. First is that it pauses for a few seconds then gives me a "comreset error, errno=16", and the second is that sometimes it hangs on udev for a while then udev fails and boot continues normally. Neither prevent it from booting but definitely slow down the boot times.
Comment by Tim

Hi Tim,

I'm not a fan of new fangled technologies like GPT/UEFI. Especially when it's use has frankly bonkers symptoms as you've just described! Why do this to yourself? ;)

Comment by hendry
Well as long as your partitions are aligned...
Comment by Jamie
comment 8

Why the hell isn't this enabled by default is beyond me.

Apparently it causes shutdowns. I think I read that that's fixed in 3.3, but can't remember where.

Comment by Jamie Kitson