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Gentoo Linux on Lenovo T400: My journey


When I finally accepted that you cannot do serious work on a single-core 1,3GHz notebook machine with 500MB RAM (running Xubuntu, to save compilation and manual disk encryption setups) I started looking for a notebook fast enough to really run Gentoo.

I was looking for ..

  • a Lenovo machine
  • Intel dual-core 2GHz or more
  • 4GB RAM or more
  • 14.1'' 16:10 display with more than 1024x768
  • CD/DVD drive
  • 200GB disk or more
  • any non-NVIDIA graphics card
  • 3x USB or more

Variations of T400, T410 and T400s seemed to be my options. I went to buy a T400 and started feeding Gentoo to it. These details may be interesting:


  • Gentoo ~amd64 system, stable GCC, XFCE, and a bunch of KDE4 apps mixed in
  • Full disk encryption (including swap)
  • /var/tmp/portage on 2GB tmpfs
  • WLAN works, sound works, even camera works. (Card reader, FireWire, modem, GPU switching, and hibernation untested)

On the hardware

  • Machine fast enough for Gentoo compilation fun (Core 2 Duo T9400 @ 2.53GHz, 4 GB RAM). See compile times below.
  • Good keyboard (both typing and layout)
  • Rather low noise so far
  • Excellent Linux support so far
  • Small keyboard (buffering?) issue still to be resolved. May be on software level though, no idea.
  • No fingerprint reader

Things I learned

Traps I hit

  • Forgot to install DHCP client first time.
  • Entered non-ASCII passphrases with wrong keymap activated. No fun.

Odds I came across

Compile times

  • 03:31:02 — OpenOffice 3.2.1-r1
  • 00:25:29 — GCC 4.4.4-r2
  • 00:06:27 — Linux Kernel 2.6.36-r3

Grub entry

title Gentoo GNU/Linux + genkernel initramfs  LATEST
root (hd0,0)
kernel (hd0,0)/vmlinuz dolvm dokeymap keymap=de \
    crypt_root=/dev/sda2 real_root=/dev/gentoo/root
initrd (hd0,0)/initramfs