Lenovo X260 as a Unix workhorse

1 minute read

I’m writing this post from an old Lenovo X260 on which I’ve installed Fedora 39. For desktop usage this is currently my favorite Linux distribution: It supports common hardware out of the box, it’s ready to use immediately after installation, and its packages are kept fresh and nice. The only caveat is that there’s a bug in the x260 power management that manifests itself as recurring screen freezes of a few seconds. According to a post on the Arch forums this can be fixed by adding the string i915.enable_psr=0 to the line beginning with GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX= in /etc/default/grub. After that has been done, the computer performs perfectly well in this operating system.

At the point of writing this, the computer is about eight years old. It certainly isn’t as fast as my Mac, but there’s something incredibly satisfying in the fact that such an old machine still is perfectly usable for most daily tasks. Managing my servers over ssh, writing blog posts in vim, watching the occasional video on YouTube…

A nice aside is that the fingerprint reader works out of the box, so logging in or authenticating a sudo command actually isn’t that different from a modern Mac - though likely significantly less secure if you’re personally worried about that sort of thing.

Battery life on this old machine is okayish: Far from a full working day on battery power alone, but I can bring the laptop to a different room and work without really worrying about it for a good while.

All in all, I strongly recommend Fedora if you’re penguin-curious, and I strongly recommend running it on older business laptops that definitely feel a lot better in daily use than most consumer-grade stuff. This of course gets more relevant now that we’re rapidly closing in on the EOL date for Windows 10, when users will be faced with a choice between proceeding with unsafe software, purchasing new hardware, kicking the can down the road for another (up to) three years while paying for extended support, or re-purposing their still-satisfactory hardware with a modern operating system that doesn’t put arbitrary requirements on its hardware.