Setting up Ubuntu on a Thinkpad T430


I’ve recently upgraded my laptop to xubuntu 14.04. I’d been running the old Ubuntu 12.04 LTS since it came out and finally decided to upgrade. I’m pretty impressed with the install process these days, almost everything works out of the box. There were a couple things that I did have to figure out though.

Configuring and installing Nvidia drivers

To use the mini display port that comes with many Thinkpads, you have to first set BIOS to use only the Nvidia card instead of the default Optimus setting, which automatically switches between the discrete Nvidia graphics card and the embedded Intel graphics chip. Nvidia, as far as I know, has not released drivers that allows Ubuntu to play nicely with Optimus.

First, install the latest Nvidia drivers with sudo apt-get install nvidia-current. Pop open the “Additional Drivers” section in Settings to pick the latest Nvidia driver. Next, run sudo nvidia-xconfig to generate an xorg.conf. If you reboot your computer now, it will use the propietary Nvidia drivers. However, you won’t be able to control your laptop’s brightness settings with the Fn + F-keys like you were able to with the default drivers. To fix this, pop open /etc/X11/xorg.conf with your favorite text editor and look for the section with Driver "nvidia":

Section "Device"
    Identifier "Device0"
    Driver "nvidia"
    VendorName "NVIDIA Corporation"

Add Option "RegistryDwords" "EnableBrightnessControl=1" right after the VendorName setting:

Section "Device"
    Identifier "Device0"
    Driver "nvidia"
    VendorName "NVIDIA Corporation"
    Option "RegistryDwords" "EnableBrightnessControl=1"

After rebooting, you’ll be able to control brightness settings. Most of this information was from the following link.

Fixing the boot splash screen

You may notice that after setting up the Nvidia propietary drivers that 1. the boot splash looks really ugly now and 2. the virtual consoles from hitting Ctrl+Alt+F1 have huge text. Not to worry, there’s a fix for that too.

First, install v86d: sudo apt-get install v86d

Next, edit your grub settings: sudo vim /etc/default/grub

Find this line: #GRUB_GFXMODE=640x480 and replace with:

GRUB_GFXMODE=1600x900 # or whatever your screen resolution is

Finally, run the following to save your grub settings:

echo FRAMEBUFFER=y | sudo tee /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/splash
sudo update-initramfs -u
sudo update-grub2

Reboot, and you should be good to go.


3 thoughts on “Setting up Ubuntu on a Thinkpad T430

      1. Unfortunately, yes. Many people seem to have the same problem with the T430. A BIOS update would help but Lenovo doesn’t seem to care. On Windows there’s a small software called TPFanControl but I haven’t found quite a good solution for Ubuntu yet.

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