A new machine for work

Three days ago at work, I received an email with the ‘final approval’ for a new notebook/laptop computer (everyone around here calls them ‘laptops’, but they’re sometimes too hot and/or too heavy to keep them on your lap for long). And yesterday, I got another mail telling me that the item was ‘shipped’, plus one from our local post office in Frankfurt – it had arrived.

Of course it didn’t arrive with what I had ordered – the IBM Open Client, based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3. Instead, it had an image based on Windows 7 on it – which I wiped, and until the end of our office hours I had Debian GNU/Linux (the stable version 8, codename “Jessie”) running on it. But nevertheless, I wasn’t finished trying out the hardware, so I took it home. Here are some detail shots of it:



It’s a Lenovo Thinkpad P50, and I had to wait for it – all the colleagues who wanted a new machine right away got an older one. But my W520 was and is still doing a great job, so I had the time anyway.

It’s good tho that I took it home – newer hardware and Linux is still something which could cause you headaches. Turned out that the 3.16 kernel in the stable Debian wouldn’t recognize and detect a few items which are much younger than itself, such as the wireless card, or the sound. Some of the installed hardware required a kernel 4.x or higher, so instead of upgrading Debian to “testing” or “unstable”, I decided to put Ubuntu onto it – which is also Debian “unstable”, together with a bit of polish. With that – it has a kernel 4.4 – everything worked out of the proverbial box. Here’s a screenshot I made for my brother yesterday, while typing an email for him on that new machine:

Screenshot from 2016-08-26 23-46-43-1024

The machine has HDMI, Mini-Display-Port, and Thunderbolt outputs, so today I tried it on our 42″ Panasonic TV, which also worked. Good; my monitor at work has VGA and HDMI inputs, so I only need to order a cable for HDMI. And after adding the IBM ‘Open Client’ layer and copying some files from the old machine to this new one, I’ll be done.

This is a nice one. Should be fun to use it.

Thanks for reading and for viewing, as always.

Update, from Sunday morning:

I finished pre-configuring that new machine. At work, I will have to install the Open Client layer on top of it all, but for now I have 3 operating systems running on it: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and virtualized Windows 7 and 10 environments (both using 2 CPU cores and 8GB of RAM; this machine is powerful enough to even run them all at once – it has 8 cores and 32GB of RAM). Here are a few screenshots plus one I made using my camera:

Screenshot from 2016-08-28 11-05-42

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS running on Lenovo Thinkpad P50

Screenshot from 2016-08-28 11-07-35

Windows 7 (on Oracle VirtualBox 5) running on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS running on Lenovo Thinkpad P50

Screenshot from 2016-08-28 11-09-12

Windows 10 (on Oracle VirtualBox 5) running on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS running on Lenovo Thinkpad P50


Lenovo Thinkpad P50 (running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS) in front of my 24″ monitor (showing Debian 8 “Jessie”)

Again, thanks for viewing/reading.

7 Replies to “A new machine for work”

  1. Largely on your recommendation, I switched over to Debian 8 after many years on Fedora 10 (I didn’t like the newer Fedoras for various reasons). It’s been ok, but like all Gnu/Linuxes since this OS took off, some things work and others don’t. What drives me crazy is that many times, things that were solved became unsolved (grub, my video card (Nvidia — ugh, what a mistake!), my wireless card (Broadcomm chipset)) and then sometimes solved again later (plugging in USB devices).

    Question for you, Wolfgang: How do you handle the (OS, not EXIF) time stamps on your photographs? Since the Oly cameras can only handle FAT, which has no timezone information, I’ve noticed that with Debian 8 (and probably Fedoras later than my last one), the OS assumes the time stamp is UTC and then adjusts to my TZ (US, Pacific time). I searched around for a solution, but they all seemed too complicated. I ended up writing a perl script to read the EXIF time and change the OS time stamp to the same time.

    1. Hi Peter,

      yes, Debian 8 “Jessie” is stable – and that means “stable”, it has a kernel 3.16, which is much too old for this new Lenovo TP50. It’s better with unstable, or with Ubuntu (which *is* Debian unstable).

      About the Exif and filesystem TZ data: I simply don’t care. My systems (hardware) are set up to UTC, the OS cares about UTC+1 and daylight saving (what we call “summer time” around here). The camera is never changed, even when I visit Malaysia, which is CEST+6 (or UTC+8). Same for my car and all other analog clocks – I don’t even change them to that dreadful “summer time”.

      About Debian (or Ubuntu) vs. Fedora: at work, until now, I was using Red Hat 7.3 – but I’m glad that I’ll be back to deb packages instead of RPM.

      Thanks for your comment,

  2. Dang. I was hoping you’d have some solution (for the time rendering). I’ll just live with it. I found the hard-coding of certain mount options that would have given me the flexibility to do what I wanted very disappointing, but that’s something that runs deeper in the GNU/Linux community and isn’t particular to Debian.

  3. Nice machine indeed although not the lightest one. 🙂
    Now you can test Lightroom on it without much lag. 🙂

    1. Well Rafal, I use Windows on it – but only on small virtualized environments, and only when(if I have to test our software with browsers like IE or Edge. My main system(s) will always be Linux-based, so no Lightroom, no Photoshop, and no Olympus Viewer (tho the latter one fits into such a small machine, and does a good job with 8GB of RAM).
      And yes, the P50 is a nice machine indeed, though not the lightest one. For travelers, my colleague’s X1 Carbon is the much better choice.

  4. Mine,

    [irwan@oc4057568051 ~]$ dmidecode | grep ThinkPad
    Version: ThinkPad T440
    SKU Number: LENOVO_MT_20B7_BU_Think_FM_ThinkPad T440
    Family: ThinkPad T440
    [irwan@oc4057568051 ~]$ cat /etc/redhat-release
    Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation release 6.8 (Santiago)
    [irwan@oc4057568051 ~]$

    1. Yup – colleagues of mine are using Red Hat, Fedora, and the like. I always preferred deb packages, so it’s Debian at home and on the servers (both private and at work), and Ubuntu here at work – there are only a few supported options, so I had to stick with Ubuntu (which is polish on top of Debian mostly as you might know) 😉

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