Installing OpenSUSE on Thinkpad P50

The Lenovo Thinkpad P50 is quite a nifty laptop. However installing Linux required some digging around, so I'm writing this up for others to stumble upon it when looking for answers to similar issues.

* It is very important to change the BIOS/UEFI setting from "Legacy and then UEFI" to "UEFI only". Otherwise, installing Linux from a USB key boots in Legacy mode, and after 2 hours of installation, the OpenSUSE installer finishes with the very imprecise "an error occured during boot loader installation". After reading I changed the setting to UEFI only, re-did the installation, and voilà, the bootloader installs just fine. Compatibility is sometimes more trouble than not :-)

* Hardware consideration: since it uses a M.2 SSD (small form factor) and doesn't provide the necessary (Lenovo-specific?) cable to plug a 2.5" SSD, my initial idea of replacing the SSD with a bigger one failed. Should have bought another M.2 SSD instead.

* Grub2 in graphical mode was horribly slow (maybe due to high DPI, too many pixels to paint?). I changed /etc/default/grub to say GRUB_TERMINAL=console, and then ran `grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg` and `grub2-install`. Good old menu in text mode, much faster.

* The Wifi didn't work at all, because OpenSuSE Leap 42.1 includes kernel 4.1.12, but proper support for "Intel 8260" with subsystem 0130 (see lspci -vv) was only added in kernel 4.2 (see for the one-liner change to the kernel sources, but I didn't feel like recompiling the kernel...). So I switched to OpenSuSE Tumbleweed which has kernel 4.5. Magic, the wifi works now.

* Remaining issue: when asking for an encrypted LVM group, the installer didn't create an unencrypted /boot partition; it still boots fine but I have to enter the crypto password twice (once for GRUB itself, and once for booting linux). I wonder why grub can't just pass along the now-unencrypted device or something, dunno how that works exactly. Makes me wonder if there isn't a way to give grub everything it needs in the small EFI FAT partition...

Now moving on to compiling my own Qt5, KF5, Plasma5 :-)


update-bootloader --refresh should do the trick. It's equivalent to "update-grub" from Debian.

By Luca Beltrame at Tue, 05/03/2016 - 12:39

Thanks for the tip. If the comment at the top of /boot/grub2/grub.cfg said so, then it would allow people to find out about this ;-)

By David Faure at Tue, 05/03/2016 - 13:16

You can try to use LUKS keyfile in initramfs (initramfs is encrypted, so it should be safe) to avoid typing passphrase twice.

By Andrius Štikonas at Tue, 05/03/2016 - 14:00

Thanks for the tip, I didn't know this was a possibility. I repartitioned since, for other reasons, so now I have /boot unencrypted, it's much simpler ;)

By David Faure at Sun, 05/15/2016 - 09:33

I recently tried Leap 42.1 and was disappointed with the font rendering. Frustrated would be more correct since I could not get it fixed after trying to install freetype2 packages. What is your take on that?

Now I'm on Debian now, but the wonderful community of opensuse keeps pulling me back. If the font rendering is fixed somehow (Fedora does a great job), I will straight away come back to suse.

By Jay Aurabind at Wed, 05/04/2016 - 11:20

I'm not very picky about font rendering, but it seems to be fine. On the other hand I do hit issues with font sizes, due to HiDPI issues (this is a 4K monitor, even though I wouldn't have picked that if I had the option...).

Either I force the font DPI, but then icons are still very small, or I set QT_SCALE_FACTOR=2 and then apps work OK, but kwin is completely broken (all windows appear with a height of zero....) and the font in the taskbar and the K menu is awful (I wonder if that part is related to what you mention). Strangely enough this only happens in plasma-desktop itself, all apps are just fine.

By David Faure at Sun, 05/15/2016 - 09:43

Is that a skylake laptop? Im having awful trouble with Tumbleweed/kernel 4.5 and my skylake HP laptop. Graphics glitches/underruns when running on battery .... when on battery, plugging in a usb device can even crash the machine!

By Adam Pigg at Thu, 05/05/2016 - 09:40

It is indeed. I do get graphics glitches now and then, but nothing that prevents me from working.
Hmm right now I can't reproduce any glitches. But I switched to a self-compiled Qt5+KF5+plasma5 session, so maybe this is actually fixed, compared to the version of Qt/KF5/Plasma5 in the Tumbleweed packages.

By David Faure at Sun, 05/15/2016 - 09:48

I'm seeing more glitches, like the text in konsole suddenly becoming fuzzy (additional pixels on the right of some existing pixels) or right now a big flickering black rectangle on top of kmail's menu. Very weird. But I'm not on battery, and I don't know if these glitches come from Skylake or GL or Qt or plasma...

By David Faure at Sun, 05/15/2016 - 19:12

It works.
Even with Wifi.
Even as Dual-Boot with Windows 7.
I installed another M.2 SSD (Kingston Predator) in the second slot and am booting Suse 42.1 from there with the option to start W7Pro from the first M.2.
As you said for the installation you have to switch on mandatory Secure Boot.
After updating Linux to the newest Kernel it recognizes Wifi and you can switch on the CSM again.
Works for me.

- Martin

By Martin Hildebrandt at Wed, 06/01/2016 - 14:12