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    Good read. This guy seems to have real some technical chops. “Oh, VGA doesn’t work? I’ll just get a BIOS dump and copy the VGA code from there, easy peasy.”

    I really like that he didn’t hide the fact that he broke a motherboard. In the end, the result is a bit disappointing:

    Another problem that I’ve encountered is the laptop randomly shutting down. This isn’t a huge problem…

    Not a huge problem? This seems about the biggest problem that a laptop can have. (I have this problem too with my desktop and too learned to live with it). Is there a “tech geek with unusable system” meme? I feel there should be (last weekend I was this guy at my parents when I brought my laptop with a fresh install of Alpine Linux, for which I didn’t yet look into setting up the wifi).

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      I use “the cobler’s children” in this situation: https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/the_shoemaker%27s_children_go_barefoot

      I have all the power to fix things, but I don’t fix the things for myself.

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        Yep, and he really seems to be enjoying it. I have a T420 as well, but I only changed the keyboard, disk and RAM, adn I dust it out once in a while. This guy seems to be doing that every week, just for fun.

        As for the random shut-downs, I think he’ll not be able to resist. Need to set a reminder to revisit that blog post in a few weeks or months :)

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        Bearing in mind human subcultures are nested fractally, the modding community of the old Thinkpad line is always something that’s been intriguing.

        • You can buy modern motherboard drop-in replacements for multiple old machines (see 51nb).
        • Buy modern express cards to add eGPUs, USB-C, GPG cards, programmable radio to name a few
        • Replacing the old 12in display with a high DPI display from the current XPS13 (generally its just buying a replacement display from a 3rd party, then physically trimming the bezel).
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          … and all this because Lenovo started to make shitty keyboards (like rest of the World) in laptops since 2012 in W530/T530/T430/…

          This ‘Ultimate T420’ laptop is basically similar to 2017 ThinkPad T25 … it always saddens me how much ‘pointless’ effort is needed to make today a usable laptop with normal 7-row keyboard.

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            How are those keyboards shitty? They are widely regarded as some of the best keyboards on laptops. Some even use the travel keyboard which I’m also very fond of. I like the the “new” keyboard more than the old ones, because they feel more crisp and distinguishable (because of the gap between the keys).

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              Amongst the best in production laptop keyboards. This is damning with faint praise indeed. I still get a shock when I pick up an old test/toy laptop and rediscover how much better they are to type on.

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                So much this.

                Because there are no better alternatives people praise what is available …

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                because of the gap between the keys

                The old style still has gaps between the pressable surface of the keys. The keys extend further and almost touch each other, but the bits that extend aren’t reachable; if you compare the shape that your finger can actually touch rather than they way they look, they’re very similar.

                My personal machine has the old style and my work machine has the new style, and I prefer the old one by a significant margin, though they’re both really lousy compared to an external mechanical keyboard.

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                  really lousy compared to an external mechanical keyboard

                  Absolutely. Sadly there’s no laptop with an atreus or ergodox keyboard. I’d love to see a (slim) laptop with an ortholinear split layout keyboard with low profile mechanical keys.

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                    No, but because of the layout, the random retarded layout of Insert, Home, PageUp, Delete, End, Page Down, Esc, PrintScrn, Scroll Lock, Pause keys. On older ThinkPads they were neatly, and very similarly laid out to a full size keyboard. On other notebooks you had to learn the layout of these special keys for each and every machine, as vendors always shuffled them. for me this was the main selling points of ThinkPads. Btw I also hate the island type keys, but I could get to live with that.

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                  I don’t notice a quality difference between my X230 Tablet and my X201, keyboard-wise. It’s different, but it’s better than a lot of ThinkPad keyboards I’ve had - the T42 for me was particularly numb feeling.

                  And since were seven row keyboards normative outside of ThinkPads? My deep experience with owning multiple ThinkPads is that they’re overrated anyways - quality wise, and including the classic models. I myself have an interest in acquiring a Let’s Note, a particularly high-end JDM laptop series.

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                    I have owned these ThinkPads:

                    • X300
                    • T420
                    • T420s
                    • X220
                    • W520
                    • T520
                    • W530

                    From all of the above only W530 keyboard broke - the ‘E’ letter stopped working.

                    Besides obvious 6-row (W530) versus 7-row (W520) difference there are other reasons that *20 (or just old) layout is just better for typing without watching. For example SPACES between keys ESC and F1, then SPACE between F4 and F5 keys (another 4 keys block), and SPACE between F12 and INS/DEL keys. These spaces are REALLY missing when you move from the good key island/chicklet bullshit. On *20 keyboard I do not need to think where I need to put my fingers, I just do and HOME or INS are pushed without me even noticing it.

                    I have used W530 as a daily driver for 4 years without using ‘classic’ 7-row keyboard laptops and even after these 4 years to hit HOME/END or INS was never ‘transparent’ - for most of the times I needed to check if I hit the right key.

                    … and its not only ThinkPads you know? I have used Dell Latitude C600, D630 and E6400 laptops which all have had 7-row keyboards and they also worked great.

                    Its just this shitty world where everything that is good/works best - dies or its changed/suppressed by new fashion shit … but millions of flies can not be wrong, aren’t they?

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                      “good/works best” is subjective. It’s all subjective. Why are you more correct than the “millions of flies”?

                      Some people like more keys, some people like less keys. The mainstream is 6-row, it’s the middle of the road, deal with it. You’d like more, I’d like less. The Planck layout sounds fun to me :P

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                  Small pet peeve but you should fix the Vue App in the title bar.

                  Otherwise awesome article! :)

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                    “Coreboot combined with full disk encryption and Linux makes this laptop one of the most secure ones available”

                    Without any details around disabling ME/AMT and other threats, this is a bit of a bold claim.

                    See https://puri.sm/learn/intel-me/ https://puri.sm/posts/purism-librem-laptops-completely-disable-intel-management-engine/

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                      The Coreboot build system actually includes me_cleaner, but you have to turn it on.

                      (but honestly this is such a paranoid moonshot threat…)