My Ode to Thinkpads (and Linux) - Part 1

May 28, 2020

The King is Dead, Long Live the King! --- Good gear has always fascinated me and was something I was lusting after when seeing something new advertised in magazines (yes, you know these colorful paper thingies people used to read).

My first own PC was an IBM AT 286 running MS-DOS. Good old times with spending hours tweaking config.sys and autoexec.bat just to make a new game work. After that, glorious Windows 3.1, Windows 95, working professionally with Windows NT/Windows Server.

In 2008 I had some software fatigue on Windows, I just wanted a computer that works, a device that has all the software I need and is a good piece of hardware. The new aluminum unibody Macbook was delivering all of that for me and it stood its ground until 2017.

After almost 10 years and the recently ridiculous pricing politics by Apple—a new charger cost me once more than 100 US dollars in Korea—and their trend to make their hardware less and less expandable and fixable, I decided to look for alternatives.

I already installed Linux for robotics-related development with ROS. Step-by-step, I started my way out of the Apple ecosystem. Later in that year, half of the display backlight on my Macbook went dark, so it was time to find a new laptop.

I researched on the Internet and found out that Lenovo Thinkpads, even or in particular, older models were a great match to use with Linux. Living in Seoul, South Korea, I headed to the Yongsan Electronics Market and in one of its bellies, at a second-hand laptop shop, I found a Thinkpad T420 in mint condition for an affordable 220 US dollars. For an extra 120 dollars I bought a 256GB mSATA disk for the system install.

The performance improvement over the old Macbook was incredible and I was hooked.