GNU/Linux works fine on those old Lenovo laptops

A few years back, I suffered one of those computing hardware disasters. I had to submit a completed document online by the end of the week and my Ubuntu/Windows dual boot laptop decided that its inner hardware would suffer what I would describe as an electrical appliance’s equivalent of a coma. Everything just froze and gradually died.

I had been astute enough to have a 3-2-1 backup program in place and it was just a case of getting hold of a laptop quickly to access the copy of the partially completed document from my SpiderOak encrypted at rest cloud storage. My local external hard drive also had a copy but not with the latest revision before my laptop’s hardware issues.

I acquired a laptop to finish the job. It was a Lenovo Yoga 510 14AST which, with its limited specifications, was asthmatically running Windows 10. I managed to install Libreoffice and the SpiderOak client and finished off my document.

Since then, I have bought my current GNU/Linux workstation from Entroware and also recently bought a reconditioned HP Elitebook 840 G1 complete with Windows 10. This means that I had a Lenovo Yoga laying around doing nothing useful.

So this week I thought that I’d put a GNU/Linux distro on the Lenovo Yoga and make it usable. With it running Windows, I had enough time between entering my password and being logged into the working desktop to be able to boil the kettle and make a cup of tea – I literally did that most times using the Lenovo Yoga! So, for all practical interpretations, the Lenovo Yoga was not currently viable as a working production rig.

Of course, I could use the Lenovo Yoga to have a bit of getting my hands dirty fun and mess about with one of Linux From Scratch, Slackware, Gentoo or even Funtoo; but I thought it a good idea for a user friendly install for any visiting children (or even adults) to play with (we do occasionally have to entertain friends and their offspring).

The following image shows Caja calculating the SHA256 checksum.  I’ve already entered the expected SHA256 checksum for Caja to check against.


One of my forms of relaxation is watching distro reviews on YouTube and, more recently, also on so I had a few distros in mind for the job. I also noted a few videos discussing the recent announcement from Lenovo that they will be certifying all their future machines to be Linux compliant and will also be supplying pre-installed linux machines. So, in keeping with the announcement, were the best options Fedora or Ubuntu?

I also searched for which distros installed better with the Lenovo Yoga and it seems that with this particular model Pop_OS has worked better than Ubuntu. Hmmm, great news there! Pop_OS has some great recent reviews and with this being based on Ubuntu, just like my main driver Ubuntu-Mate, the additional learning curve will be close to non-existent.

Caja, the Ubuntu-Mate file manager, allows easy checksum verification via the right-click menu on the downloaded file. I’ve a couple of screenshots with this post showing how easy it is to do this. So, another quick prod to those scared by the command line, that nowadays many GNU/Linux distros can be used without jumping into the terminal.

The SHA256 checksums match so this ISO download is genuine

There is also the built in functionality within Ubuntu-Mate to copy this ISO file to a USB drive so that it is bootable on another machine.

Gone are the days when you have to jump through many hoops to do the most usual things in GNU/Linux.

I had to turn on the Lenovo Yoga, and press Fn+F2 to get into the UEFI menu. Secure boot switched off – check! Boot via USB – check! Reboot machine and install Pop_OS.

Now, I get into a working Pop_OS desktop in less than a minute, quicker than the time it took the previous Windows install to just ask for my password, even! I just need to set a few things up and then visiting fidgeting children can play about to their heart’s content.

2 thoughts on “GNU/Linux works fine on those old Lenovo laptops

  1. I will enjoy reading about Pop_OS this weekend. I’ve not been keeping up and I haven’t heard of it before. We are also running Ubuntu MATE on all the desktops now. Very pleasant.

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    1. Pop_OS is the distro created by System76 which they offer to pre-install on their PCs and Laptops. I’ve not used it much yet but it seems a very polished out of the box distro.

      One day, I will relent and have a workstation to fiddle about with Slackware and Funtoo. I’ve used Slackware derived distros in a virtual box and they’re super solid.

      I’m a little wary of the Gentoo and Arch communities, to be honest, although their wikis are phenomenal. I solve a few of my problems on Ubuntu reading their wikis.

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