Lenovo ThinkPad P51

ThinkPad P51
Recommended CPU i7-7820HQ
Max. memory 64GB (4 slots)
USB controllers 1
Coreboot no
Heads no
ME_cleaner no
Qubes OS pre-installed no
Developer tested no
Certified no
Problems Suspend broken, No HDMI audio
HCL reports R4.0, R4.0

Hi Sven hope all is well,

I’ve been researching several of the laptops on the HCL and Community Recommended List - It seems that if I want memory in the 32 to 64GB range, there is a very limited amount of laptops that would “just work” (I am a newbie to Qubes).

I know you mentioned that you have been using the P51 yourself.

Couple questions if you don’t mind:

Does your HDMI audio work? I know that was a reported issue with the 4.0 version on HCL (Michael Holt’s log).

I also notice that the successful logs are with M1200 Mobile or HD 630 Graphics, but I see a couple P51 with Quadro M2200 for sale. I am not sure if the M2200 would create an issue since it isn’t exactly the same as listed on the successful reports.

I also notice that there are three successful logs on HCL for the P50 without workarounds, but I don’t see it mentioned on the Community Recommended List. Not sure if the P50 has some unforeseen issues not mentioned on the logs?

Lastly, I went through the Community List for any laptops that have a max memory over 16 GB, and it seemed the L380 didn’t require any workarounds, the P51, and E570.

The T480 appears to require workarounds, so I omitted it from my search (I also omitted the preinstalled laptops due to price).

Basically I think the P51 might be the best bet It has more positive reviews, you have been using it for 4 years, etc… but I’m concerned about the difference in graphics between the successful logs and what is for sale (in regards to Qubes complications).

Hopefully I am posting this in the appropriate area since it is a predominantly P51 question with a little P50 sprinkled in there. Thanks!

Hi @MrTea, welcome to the Qubes OS Forum!

Does your HDMI audio work? I know that was a reported issue with the 4.0 version on HCL (Michael Holt’s log).

I don’t know honestly and I am not using that machine anymore, so it would be a lot of effort to test.

I also notice that the successful logs are with M1200 Mobile or HD 630 Graphics, but I see a couple P51 with Quadro M2200 for sale. I am not sure if the M2200 would create an issue since it isn’t exactly the same as listed on the successful reports.

I cannot recommend using Nvidia cards at all. In my personal experience and observing discussions here and on the mailing list for years, my strong recommendation to you is to use the integrated Intel graphics. Especially when you are a beginner and don’t want to spent a lot of time troubleshooting.

Due to they way graphics works in Qubes OS it won’t make much of a difference in performance anyway. Yes, with R4.1 experimental support for GPU pass-through might be available. But that’s an advanced topic and doesn’t belong in the “just works” context.

I also notice that there are three successful logs on HCL for the P50 without workarounds, but I don’t see it mentioned on the Community Recommended List. Not sure if the P50 has some unforeseen issues not mentioned on the logs?

The reason is simple: for an entry to make it into the community recommended list we need at least two successful entries using the same processor. These three P50 entries use three different CPU, that’s why none of them has made it on the list yet. If someone with the P50 reads this and especially if your CPU is already listed in the HCL: please submit a HCL report!

Basically I think the P51 might be the best bet It has more positive reviews, you have been using it for 4 years, etc… but I’m concerned about the difference in graphics between the successful logs and what is for sale (in regards to Qubes complications).

Stick with integrated graphics!

Hopefully I am posting this in the appropriate area since it is a predominantly P51 question with a little P50 sprinkled in there. Thanks!

Perfect!

I’m glad I asked - I had no clue about the graphics issues, thank you for that!

Ok well I will hunt for one with the integrated graphics (I don’t have any intensive video processing or other GPU demands, so that makes my life a little easier).

Side note and off-topic, but your T430 log sounds great (how well Qubes runs, and the ability to do coreboot, etc.). The 16GB of max memory makes me a little hesitant, but you do seem comfortable with it (I don’t play games or do any intensive video processing). It is making me revisit whether I need more than 16GB really.

Anyways, thank you once again!

@MrTea:

I will hunt for one with the integrated graphics

“Integrated” means they are part of your CPU.

  • i7-6700HQ is a Skylake CPU with Intel HD530
  • i7-6820HW is also Skylake with Intel HD530
  • i7-7820HQ is Kaby Lake with Intel HD630

… I see that there are some reports in the HCL that list like i7-7820HQ Kaby Lake Quadro M1200 Mobile because that’s how they where originally reported and the reporter might be using the Quadro M1200 Mobile graphics. But those entries should read i7-7820HQ Kaby Lake Integrated Graphics (HD 630) & Quadro M1200 Mobile because the integrated graphics are always there with that CPU.

Skylake or Kaby Lake are the generation / chipset.

Side note and off-topic, but your T430 log sounds great (how well Qubes runs, and the ability to do coreboot, etc.). The 16GB of max memory makes me a little hesitant, but you do seem comfortable with it (I don’t play games or do any intensive video processing). It is making me revisit whether I need more than 16GB really.

That brings us again to the “just works” aspect of it. When starting with Qubes OS and without having much Linux background it probably is a big advantage to have 32 GB or more if you can afford it so you can just start using Qubes OS with the standard full templates and crank the memory usage up until everything feels comfortable.

I feel confident that I can run circles around many newer and higher spec’ed setups with my T430, but that’s after months of tuning the hardware (which fan/pattern, high-end SSD, even the cooling paste) and at this point years of learning about Linux, debian-minimal, and asking hundreds of questions etc. It was by no means a “just works” transition :wink:

A final point that comes to my mind is the perspective: if I click a link in my email and it takes 8 seconds for the web browser to show and another 2 seconds until the page is rendered my reaction is pure joy about how awesome my setup is (compartmentalized/secure, reduced attack surface, disposable qube with only 500 MB memory). However, if you are new to this way of computing and used to how things work outside of Qubes OS… waiting 10 seconds to see the page might frustrate you.

Whatever hardware you go for I highly recommend spending whatever extra money you have on getting a high-end, professional grade SSD. There’s lots of cheap junk out there … don’t try to safe there. The dirty (not so) secret is that most of the time your kick-ass CPU is waiting for I/O. So anything you can do to accelerate I/O (aka reading/writing from disk) will pay in spades.

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Added “Problems” line to the table. Discussion.

I’d suggest just removing it from the list instead

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Why? It fulfills all criteria. Neither suspend nor HDMI audio are “core” features and their absence wouldn’t prevent one from using Qubes OS on that computer productively. It’s reasonable to point them out as limitations, but removing the machine from the list would remove one of the few options that allow more than 16GB or RAM.

Because the purpose of this list is to provide users with machines that “just work”, i.e., give you perfect, reliable experience with everything working. If you start to make exceptions for non-working features which you think are irrelevant to everyone, it will turn into a copy of HCL in my opinion.

In other words, the criteria should also be improved to not include not-perfectly-working machines.

@fsflover:

purpose of this list is to provide users with machines that “just work”, i.e., give you perfect, reliable experience with everything working.

That goes considerably further then the discussion about suspend and creates a lot of questions/issues. Let’s assume for a moment that suspend works on the P51[1] and the only known limitation is “no HDMI audio”. Would you still want to remove the laptop from the list @deeplow?

How about Bluetooth, SD-card reader, fingerprint sensor, esoteric keyboard functions, ambient light sensors, keyboard backlight, “tap to click”, docking station support, HDMI hot plugging (lots of devices need the monitor to be plugged in at startup), etc? They are all critical to a “just works Qubes OS experience”?

How do we make sure a HCL reporter checked all functions (even the ones they might not be aware of in the first place)?

That’s why I proposed a list of functions: networking, display, audio … because those are the ones everyone expects and everyone checks. We can discuss if suspend, webcam and maybe a few others need to be added to the criteria. But then, if the respective info is not part of the original HCL report – how do we verify?

We might end up with a community-recommended list that basically contains the certified laptops and maybe the Librem. Wouldn’t that be nice? :wink:


  1. I still have the machine and will verify how R4.0.4 fully updated behaves. ↩︎

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We can expect that in the future, more machines will get into this list, because many other companies, like System76 and Tuxedo target GNU/Linux systems with modern hardware. As long as we have at least a dozen machines, it’s good enough I think. I would prefer that the listed hardware worked flawlessly with Qubes. Apart from not disappointing the users (but see below), in this way we would support vendors who actually target Linux and not those who by chance (or by extremely hard work of volunteers) happen to support Linux more or less well.

Maybe not for you, but there are people with different needs and use cases. The list is created in the expectation that the machine can be a daily driver. It means working at night, watching movies on an external display and not rebooting for that, using touch pad comfortably. (It all works on my Librem 15, expect I did not test HDMI audio.)

This question has already been asked before:

You can put this answer in the FAQ below the table if you wish. This is the definition of “community-recommended hardware” in my opinion.

Don’t forget that the original HCL is still there and probably needs some love, i.e., good sorting and probably removing old Qubes versions (or putting them aside). The machines which work “well enough” for someone could be highlighted there, or sorted on top.

Maybe I misunderstood. Suspend not working may be an issue. As Qubes takes quite a long time to start and shutdown, sometimes I just suspend. But if you don’t think that’s criteria for not just working, that’s fine by me.

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The laptop list is short.

So IMHO, we shouldn’t be so restrictive, we just report the known issues and the users will choose by knowing theses issues. An important issue for a user isn’t important for another, so let the users make their choices.

When the list will be long, we could make more restrictive choices, not presently…

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