ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7: Truly a New Generation

A preliminary look at the laptop that just took over the place of honor on my bench. Base specifications and the specifics of this top-of-the-line X1 Yoga – and how it compares to the previous tenant, a high-end Gen 6  X1 Yoga – ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6: Future Perfect?.  There’s also a super-quick look at Linux issues.  By now you know the drill:

From time to time Lenovo sends me a gadget. They’re handy to have around – both for my own use and when trying to help out in the Lenovo forums. I do some testing and writing as well. Beyond the use of the laptop, I’m not otherwise compensated. Professional images are Lenovo’s. Amateur snapshots are mine. Opinions are exclusively mine. I do not work for, represent, or speak for Lenovo.

This one, like the Gen 6, is a pre-customer-ship unit.  I expect it to be representative of what is – or will be – available to the public, but it may vary in some details.  As always, I strive for accuracy, but please double-check anything I say here before using it to make a purchase decision.

On first look it seems that nothing has changed from the Gen 6, apart from the little bump at the top of the screen – the Communications Bar that contains the microphones and camera(s).  It’s an identical-appearing, aluminum-cased, 16×10 ThinkPad Yoga with the same set of ports.

On a 2nd look it becomes clear that many things have changed – both base components and options: CPU, RAM, camera, and display, to name a few. As usual, before digging into the details, a few pretty pictures (clickable gallery – images Lenovo):

 

The specifications:

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Datasheet Snip

The full Datasheet: https://most.lenovo.com/api/v2/library/pdf/device2pager/Device_ThinkPad_X1_Yoga_Gen_7

The current sales page: https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/p/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpadx1/thinkpad-x1-yoga-gen-7-14-inch-intel/len101t0010  It describes features I don’t address here, like “breathing through the keyboard”.

The ports on the Gen 6 and 7 appear to be identical:

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Ports – image Lenovo

 

That one external difference – the communications bar containing microphones and cameras:

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Communications Bar

 

And the substantial component differences:

Links to the base specifications:
      X1 Yoga Gen 6
      X1 Yoga Gen 7

The range of CPU options:

X1 Yoga Gen 6 CPUs

X1 Yoga Gen 7 CPUs

That’s right.  Up to 14 cores and 20 threads.  Good grief.  12th Gen Intel® Core™ Mobile Processors

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Memory – LPDDR4x-4266

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Memory – LPDDR5-5200

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Multimedia – Cameras

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Multimedia – Cameras

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Displays

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Displays

Note that OLED option.  Gorgeous!

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Network

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Network

 

And for completeness a few of the similar component options:

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Graphics

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Monitor Support

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Storage

Storage notes:

The Gen 6 storage options don’t mention m.2 2242 – only 2280.  The Hardware Maintenance Manuals for both show identical SSD mounting, so it’s likely 2242 would work in either – with an appropriate mechanical extender.

Both machines list PCIe 4.0 x4, and PCIe 4.0 x4 Performance drives.  SSD manufacturers offer PCIe 4.0 drives in (at least) two performance tiers.  The ones Lenovo lists without the “Performance” label have speeds approximately equivalent to top-end PCIe 3.0 drives.  The “Performance” SSDs are roughly twice as fast as the non-performance drives.

Lenovo uses multiple SSD vendors.  Drive models and speed may vary from one machine to another as shipped, but the “Performance/non-Performance” qualifiers should be roughly representative.

 

The specifics of these two top-of-the-line machines:

X1 Yoga Gen 6:
     WQUXGA IPS display
     IR & 720p hybrid camera, with privacy shutter, fixed focus
    
Intel Core i7-1185G7  (4 core) processor
     32GB LPDDR4 memory
     2TB PCIe G4 performance SSD
     Wifi6
     Windows 10 Pro

X1 Yoga Gen 7:
     WQUXGA OLED display
     FHD IR MIPI camera with Computer Vision Technology
     Intel 12th gen i7-1280P (14 core) processor
     32GB LPDDR5 memory
     2TB PCIe G4 performance SSD
     Wifi6E
     Windows 11 Pro

 

A few basic performance comparisons:

SSD performance.  As noted, different vendors, somewhat different speeds but both in the PCIe 4.0 “Performance” realm

X1 Yoga Gen 6 PCIe 4.0 SSD

X1 Yoga Gen 7 PCIe 4.0 SSD

Passmark combined performance:

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Passmark

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Passmark

Battery runtime (not “life”):

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Runtime MP3

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Runtime MP3

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Runtime MP4

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Runtime MP4

The above tests were run at half brightness and 20% volume.  Sound through internal speakers.  The runtime trend follows what I observed with the Gen 6 compared to earlier ThinkPad Yogas: high-DPI displays, top-end CPUs (14 cores!), maximum RAM and SSD capacity and speeds, all lead to reduced battery runtime.  My presumption is that the OLED display also causes an additional increment of power consumption compared to an IPS panel.  That was true in the past, unsure if it’s still the case.  Gen 7 machines with other components should have increased runtimes compared to this maxed-out unit.

I would call this Gen 7 a 7, maybe 8 hour machine when playing media.  The runtime estimate with just an idle desktop showing at half brightness was about 12 hours, so I’d expect the runtime with an editor up to be decent, if not stellar.  I wonder if there will be further tuning of how the performance vs efficient cores are managed and assigned tasks, but I have no information about that.  One can hope…

 

Linux, the other OS:

OS support:

I usually (and will at some point soon) take a look at Linux.  Both live and installed.  For now some brief observations:

From what I read – on the sales and support sites – there will be Linux support for the Gen 7.  <soapbox> I often see complaints that new hardware “doesn’t support Linux!!!” That’s backward IMHO.  I’ve been around Linux since the install started with a floppy, and the question is whether and when kernels and drivers will catch up with new hardware, not the other way around. </soapbox>

It’s early days for this hardware setup and some things will take longer than others.  The MIPI camera may be problematic for some time, as described in this forum reply: Re:X1 Yoga Gen 7: Live Linux testing…  This represents things at the time of that reply.  I’m confident it will get sorted but it might be wise – as suggested – to avoid the MIPI camera for now.  I’m sure there will be much more discussion of Linux on the Gen 7 going forward.  Keep an eye on the forums: https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Linux-Operating-Systems/ct-p/lx_en

I’ll probably be adding additional Linux notes here as information becomes available.

Secure Boot revisited –  “Allow Microsoft 3rd Party UEFI CA”:

This caught me by surprise.  My Linux test live media – Ubuntu 21.10 and Fedora 35 – would not boot in secure mode on the Gen 7.  The distros are signed, and they would boot secure on all my earlier UEIF/Secure Boot machines., so what the heck?

With a little inside help I found the answer: there’s additional granularity in how BIOS handles signed media.  In addition to the Secure Boot ON/OFF toggle, there is a BIOS switch that enables secure booting media that has Microsoft 3rd-party signing.  If this is enabled both OS-en will boot in secure mode, and one doesn’t have to forego that level of security.  Whew!  There’s no “Linux lockout” thankfully, but there is one more toggle in BIOS to get things working

X1 Yoga Gen 7 BIOS 3rd Party Certs – image updated

 

[Update 2022.04.14] For those interested in the nuts and bolts, here’s a picture of the internals.  Shown with the SSD removed from its socket, giving a good look at it, both thermal pads, and the heat spreader.

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Internals

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ThinkBook 14s Yoga: not (quite) a ThinkPad, but not too bad…

I’m a hard-core, dyed-in-the-wool, rabid, militant TrackPoint fan. I did not expect to like this ThinkBook as much as I do. It’s a tight piece of engineering, and other than missing that red nubbin, it’s a first-rate machine.  Slim, decent weight, good specs and options, a stylus, and an aluminum case.  And it’s a Yoga.

From time to time Lenovo sends me a gadget. They’re handy to have around – both for my own use and when trying to help out in the Lenovo forums. I do some testing and writing as well. Beyond the use of the laptop, I’m not otherwise compensated. Professional images are Lenovo’s. Amateur snapshots are mine. Opinions are exclusively mine. I do not work for, represent, or speak for Lenovo.

I’ve done my best to gather accurate information, but things are subject to change and correction.  Please double-check anything I say here before using it to make a purchase decision.

As usual, this is not quite a review.  More a survey of things that interest me.  We’ll dig into the details, but first – Lenovo images and a video  (edited).  Click on gallery for full-sized images.

 

 

 

Base Specifications:

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Sales Spec Snip – image Lenovo (edited)

Full base specifications:

ThinkBook 14s Yoga.pdf (local copy 2021.12.27)
ThinkBook 14s Yoga.pdf (lenovo.com)
ThinkBook 14s Yoga – all PSREF pages, including models, specifications, photos, documentation, and service (Lenovo.com)

 

Ports:

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Ports – image Lenovo (edited)

It’s worth noting that the fingerprint reader is incorporated with the power button,  which is on the right side.  It works surprisingly well, as does the one on the top deck of my ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6.  All of my earlier ThinkPads that use the small square FPR have problems with reading my prints consistently.

Another thing to note is the privacy shutter that can cover the camera lens.  It’s small, easy to miss, and easy to accidentally slide over the lens.  You’d be surprised how many times someone shows up in the forums with a “defective” camera, only to leave humbled by that little thing.  It really is easy to miss.  Nice that the ‘Book shipped with a reminder 😉

ThinkBook ThinkShutter

Yet another nice touch: the sheet that protects the display from the keyboard during shipping includes some tips.  Thoughtful.

ThinkBook Keyboard Shipping Protector Tips

 

This unit’s specifications:

In brief:

  • Processor:  Intel® Core™ i5-1135G7 (4C / 8T, 2.4 / 4.2GHz, 8MB)
  • Graphics:  Integrated Intel Iris® Xe Graphics
  • Memory:  8GB Soldered DDR4-3200 + 8GB SO-DIMM DDR4-3200
  • Storage:  512GB SSD M.2 2242 PCIe 3.0×4 NVMe
  • Card Reader:  MicroSD Card Reader
  • Audio Chip:  High Definition (HD) Audio, Realtek® ALC3287 codec
  • Speakers:  Stereo speakers, 2W x2, Dolby® Audio™, Harman Speakers
  • Camera:  720p with ThinkShutter
  • Microphone:  2x, Array
  • Battery:  Integrated 60Wh
  • Max Battery Life:  MobileMark® 2018: 8.4 hr
  • Power Adapter:  65W USB-C (3-pin)
  • Display:  14″ FHD (1920×1080) IPS 300nits Glossy, Glass, 100% sRGB,
    Touch, Dolby Vision™
  • Touchscreen:  10-point Multi-touch
  • Keyboard:  Backlit, English (US)
  • Case Color:  Mineral Grey
  • Surface Treatment:  Anodizing Sandblasting
  • Case Material:  Aluminum (Top), Aluminum (Bottom)
  • Pen:  ThinkBook Yoga® Integrated Smart Pen
  • Dimensions (WxDxH):  320 x 216 x 16.9 mm (12.60 x 8.62 x 0.67 inches)
  • Weight:  1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)
  • Operating System:  Windows® 10 Pro 64, English
  • Ethernet:  None
  • WLAN + Bluetooth®:  11ax, 2×2 + BT5.1
  • Standard Ports:  1x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Always On),  USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (support data transfer, Power Delivery 3.0 and DisplayPort™ 1.4), Thunderbolt™ 4 / USB4™ 40Gbps (support data transfer, Power Delivery 3.0 and DisplayPort 1.4), HDMI® 1.4, microSD card reader, Headphone / microphone combo jack (3.5mm)
  • Security Chip:  Discrete TPM 2.0

In detail:

ThinkBook 14s Yoga 20WE001FUS.pdf (local copy 2021.12.27)
ThinkBook 14s Yoga 20WE001FUS – PSREF page (Lenovo.com)

 

Operating system and initial setup:

The machine shipped with Windows 10 Pro.  Windows 11 was offered during OOBE (out of box experience) and I accepted the offer.  It starts chugging away on the download in the background, and once Windows 10 is up and running it asks to update to ’11.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga OOBE Windows 11 Offered

I would normally have made local recovery media for Windows 10, but since the Lenovo Win 10 image was available I downloaded that instead.  Lenovo Digital Download Recovery Service (DDRS) – Lenovo Community    Once Win 11 was fully up – and updated – I made recovery media from that using the standard tool available in Windows 10 & 11 – as I have with other laptops: ThinkPad P1 Gen 2: a Beauty AND a Beast -> Initial Setup -> Locally created media.

Even though Windows 11 is shipping on new kit, it still seems it’s a work in progress. Some things are missing… or lost in the ozone somewhere… An example is hibernation.  It’s still possible to enable hibernation as an option in the shutdown menu, and it works.  What’s missing is the time setting that used to be available with sleep in the advanced settings.

Similarly on my X1 Yoga Gen 6 it’s the same story along with the Human Presence Detection (HPD) settings. They are still there in Commercial Vantage, but are not honored.  The search bar takes one to the Windows 11 sleep settings and suggests that’s where the controls are… but they aren’t there.

My WAG is that this is all part of MS deciding that all these sorts of controls should be gathered in settings.   OK, Fine… but how about actually putting them there after removing them from their traditional locations?  </soapbox>

A couple of other things that distress me – in both ’10 and ’11 – the incessant push to use an MS account as a login, and Bitlocker.  I recognize the advantages of both for convenience and security but that’s not the way I prefer to set up my laptops.

MS bangs away at trying to force an MS login.  At least with the Pro versions there’s a way to avoid that, although it’s often hidden in the fine print.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga OOBE Account Nag #1

ThinkBook 14s Yoga OOBE Account Nag #2

So sign me up for “Offline Account” and “Limited Experience”.

One of the things about an MS login that can cause some serious problems is that if a machine is capable of using Bitlocker, signing in that way will activate it.  The process should offer the key and store it in one’s MS account, but that too often gets missed by users. All is fine until later when they need to provide the key for forensics or recovery, or to simply access their drive after an update of OS or BIOS or some random event.

Even if Bitlocker isn’t fully activated the as-installed encryption will prevent other OSen like Linux from accessing the drive.  That’s a major problem if one is trying to salvage data, or simply setting up a dual-boot situation as I usually do.  Some of my machines provided a button in the Bitlocker management console (Control Panel -> System and -> Security -> BitLocker Drive Encryption or “bitlocker” in the search box) but some didn’t, even though the console was there.  I use a command line process to fully disable it.  In a CMD window run as Administrator:

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Disable Bitlocker

ThinkBook 14s Yoga No Longer Says Encrypted

 

Major components and performance:

Note: The performance tests and device information below were gathered while running Windows 11.

BIOS:

The “hidden” component.  This ThinkBook uses an insyde BIOS, not the Phoenix BIOS I’m used to in my ThinkPads.  It does have a GUI BIOS setup program that looks very similar to the one in my recent ThinkPads, and it appears to have the “self healing” feature.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga insyde BIOS

Navigating the BIOS setup GUI is inconsistent.  Scrolling via touchpad, for instance, sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.  For now (hopefully this will be fixed) it may be necessary to use both touchpad and keyboard.

The BIOS is “Modern Standby” only (S0ix sleep) and does does not have an option to toggle modes to old-school S3 sleep.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Modern Standby

NOTE: the BIOS is also missing a legacy boot mode option.  It is UEFI only.  Legacy mode has been deprecated: Legacy BIOS Boot Support Removed in Lenovo 2020 products.

SSD:

The SSD slot supports PCIe/NVMe Gen 3 x4 and not the newer Gen 4.  The installed SSD takes nearly full advantage of Gen 3 performance.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga SSD Model and Performance

Wifi:

This ThinkBook doesn’t have an Ethernet port, although an inexpensive USB-C or USB-2.0/3.0 dongle could be used to provide one if needed.  The AX wifi card performs very well, and nearly saturates my Gigabit cable connection.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Wifi Model and Performance

Virtualization:

The ‘Book has plenty of RAM for virtual machines (although more would always be welcome) and the i5 can handle the load (although an i7 would be my choice if this was a purchased machine).  BIOS was already configured for virtualization so all I had to do was install VMware Workstation Player (free) and copy a few existing VMs over for testing.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Virtual Machines

Battery runtime (not “life”):

Windows 11 no longer provides a “time remaining” estimate with the battery icon in the tool bar.  It wasn’t super accurate but it provided a very simple metric that for my ThinkPads seemed to be fairly close to the truth.

My admittedly simple runtime test consisted of running the appropriate software for 30 minutes or longer and noting the battery charge percentage drop reported.  All were at approximately half screen brightness, and one third volume.

Just sitting idle at the screen wallpaper or a quiet Edge browser the drop was about 2% per hour.  So forever… The media streaming tests were via wifi from a Windows host and gave roughly 15 hour runtime for MP3, and 12 hours for MP4.  I’d expect that with much else going on the results would be considerably lower, but I’d call this a 10hr+ battery.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga MP3 Battery Runtime – 40 minutes, 4% drop

ThinkBook 14s Yoga MP4 Battery Runtime – 60 minutes, 8% drop

 

Linux – live:

Something I always do with a new machine is boot one or more live Linux distros to take a quick look at what works – and what doesn’t.  It’s a very good indication of how a particular distro will work when installed (see below) and verifies that if I (or anyone…) needs to boot same for forensics or recovery it can be expected to function.

I went through my usual quick shakedown with Ubuntu 21.10, and everything I tried seemed to work well.  Also took a quick look with Fedora 34 and while it generally worked a few things didn’t.  They are noted below.

It wasn’t necessary to change  any BIOS settings to boot either distro.  Both will boot in secure mode.  The Ubuntu flash media was created my usual way: extract the contents of the ISO and drop them on a FAT32 flash drive.  The Fedora media was built using their tool.  They use their own partitioning and formatting which makes it a little difficult to build media manually.  It can be done – I’ve done it – but it may not be worth the fuss.

To boot USB media, hit F12 on startup or restart and select the drive from the boot menu.  NOTE: if Windows Fast Startup is enabled (it is by default) startup is more like resume from hibernation and it will be necessary to first shut down with SHIFT+Shutdown to get a full shutdown so the next startup will recognize F12 (or any other boot option key) but a restart should always permit using those keys.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Boot Menu – Ubuntu

Odd that the BIOS recognizes Ubuntu as Linpus.  That seems to be common for many machines and BIOSen.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Welcome

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Fully Booted

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Wifi

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Camera

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Speakers

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Microphone

Also verified that dedicated keys  – volume and brightness, shared with function keys – work.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Bluetooth

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Stylus (… fine art …)

With Ubuntu 21.10 booted, all the “touch” stuff worked as expected: touchscreen, touchpad, and tablet mode.  With Fedora 34 one thing I noticed is that “tap to click” did not work on the touchpad.  Press to click did.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Tablet Mode and On Screen Keyboard

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Windows Partition Access

NOTE: the above after Bitlocker disabled in Windows 11.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Connect to Windows Network Shares

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Windows Network Shares Accessed

A note about how the screenshots were saved: when booted from a live USB flash drive the media is treated as if it’s a CDROM – it isn’t writable.  That can be changed via the command line.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Copy to Flash Drive

 

Linux – installed:

The final exercise was an actual install of Ubuntu 21.10. Wow, what a difference from the old days.  In this new age of GPT drives and UEFI BIOS it’s nothing like the bad old days.  That and the sophistication of modern Linux installers make it simple and easy.

This went almost exactly as described in How to Dual Boot Ubuntu and Windows – the Picture Book Edition so I won’t go over it again here.  The only difference I noticed was due to the insyde BIOS.  The location of and procedure for changing boot order is  a bit different.  Access BIOS setup via F1 at boot or restart, then access the boot order “fine print” as shown below.  Note – again – that if Fast startup is still on in Windows (you should have turned it off by now if you’re doing a dual boot install) you need to either do a restart or SHIFT+shutdown then startup in order to access BIOS.

Ubuntu will put itself first in the boot order.  That can be changed.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Ubuntu Post-install Boot Menu

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Ubuntu BIOS Boot Order

 

Bonus Mouse:

The ThinkBook wasn’t the only thing in the box when it arrived.  No, this isn’t an included option, it was a pure bonus.  The timing was perfect since my go-to Bluetooth mouse gave up the ghost during ‘Book testing.

The Lenovo Go Wireless Multi-device Mouse is a small wonder.  Two Bluetooth IDs and an included RF dongle – with the ability to use a mouse button to select which is active – allows pairing with three different host devices and switching from one to the other with ease.  Very handy.  It will charge via USB-C cable (provided) or wirelessly (charger not provided – I’ve charged it with my “brand S” phone charger.)  And it’s inexpensive.  What a nice bit of design and engineering.

ThinkBook and Mouse

ThinkBook, Mouse And Qi Charger

 

Links:

Lenovo Sales:  General  ThinkBook 14s Yoga

PSREF (specification) Pages:  General  ThinkBook 14s Yoga

Support:  General  ThinkBook 14s Yoga  User’s Guide  Hardware Maintenance Manual

Lenovo Forums:  All  ThinkBook  Linux

Linux:  Ubuntu  Fedora

 

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Windows 10/11 ISO: install.wim too large for FAT32 Flash Drive

As I indicated in previous whinge post, the size of the install.wim file in Windows install ISOs can present some problems when creating USB flash install media: Windows 10 USB Install Media … or MS BS  This came up again when I wanted to try a pure clean install of Windows 11 on a ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 4.  The MS download site is offering the Windows 11 ISO to all visitors – not just non-windows hosts as it did with ’10 – and others may trip over this.

Some UEFI machines – ThinkPads for instance – will only boot FAT32 USB install media.  The multi-version ISO has an install.wim file too large for FAT32, so just dropping its contents on a FAT32 flash drive as I usually do won’t work.  The ISO produced by the MS media creation tool (so far) produces an install.esd file that will fit, but may not always be the desired option.

I’ve just come across another way to tackle this that allows creating FAT32 + NTFS media with the multi-version ISO, and may also be handy if using a custom install.wim file. First, this is not my invention.  Full credit and kudos to the sites and people linked below:

USB install media with WIM file larger than 4GB

Create bootable USB installer if install.wim is greater than 4GB

Very useful and bears repeating.  My take in detail … perhaps too much detail…

To recap, simply mounting the ISO with Windows Explorer or an archiving tool like 7zip and extracting the contents to a FAT32 flash drive won’t work.  It is possible with an NTFS drive, but ThinkPad UEFI BIOS isn’t NTFS-aware. (Some other brands and models are able to boot from NTFS media.)  There are ways to split the overlarge file using Windows or Linux tools from the command line. ( Windows:  https://www.zdnet.com/article/windows-10-installer-files-too-big-for-usb-flash-drive-heres-the-fix/  Linux:  https://wimlib.net/ )    Another reported possibility is using Rufus to create a split FAT32/NTFS drive but so far I’ve not found the appropriate options – if they exist at all.

The approach described in those links at the top of this article does make use of a flash drive with both FAT32 and NTFS partitions.  This is made possible by a pair of things: Windows now allows creation of – and access to – multiple partitions on a flash drive, and the unmodified windows installer is capable of finding the install.wim file in the NTFS partition.

SIDE NOTE: regardless of multiple posts on the interweb claiming that to do a UEFI install to a GPT main drive the flash drive must be GPT partitioned – that is not the case.  The MBR partitioning on most flash drives out of the box is fine.  Either for this split drive or the simpler FAT32-only drives I use for both Windows and Linux installs. In fact, the MS media creation tool builds an MBR/FAT32 flash drive.

The process in words and pictures using Windows in-built tools.  It should also be possible to do this from Linux.

Use Disk Management to delete any existing partition(s)

Create the FAT32 partition

1GB is sufficient

Make it FAT32 and name it if you like

And the NTFS partition

Use the rest of the drive – 7GB is enough

NTFS and name it if desired

Ready – specific drive letters are not important as long as they are assigned

Open ISO with Windows Explorer or (un)archiving or mount tool

Copy ISO contents to FAT32 but do not include sources folder

Contents minus sources copied

Use “New folder” button to manually create an empty sources folder in FAT32

Open the sources folder in the ISO and copy boot.wim to sources in FAT32

Copy entire ISO contents to NTFS partition

All copied

And that’s it.  It probably wasn’t necessary to copy all of the folders in both cases, but it was easier than figuring out what was required in each partition.

Eject the flash drive, plug into the target machine, boot or restart and access the boot menu (F12 on a ThinkPad). Install…

On the way…

And we’re up – this screenshot after Lenovo Commercial Vantage installed

 

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Why we do this…

That’s a Good Question

13 years now, spending a ridiculous number of hours in the Lenovo forums.  I’m not the only one.  Mods, gurus, a legion of engaged “civilians” both asking and answering questions.

Plenty of mod/net nanny chores.  Binning spammers, moving threads to the appropriate forum, the occasional spanking issued for poor deportment… but it’s the tech stuff that’s the most interesting and gratifying. From the deep-in-the-tech-weeds booting and performance issues to the trivial-seeming and almost silly stuff:  New Member: “my webcam doesn’t work!”  Me: “Is the security shield over the lens?”  NM: “There’s no security shield! … Oh, wait… there it is.  D’oh!”

So I guess that’s it.  Not the fat pay check or the bennies  – no such, we’re all volunteers. The occasional tech swag is fine and appreciated, but that’s not it either.  Admittedly, the once-in-a-while attaboy or -girl is nice but that’s not the whole story.  For me, and I suspect many of the others, it’s the compulsion to be useful.  Sometimes that urge gets us out over our skis with a hasty reply, but there’s almost always someone around to add nuance, or even a correction.  Usually taken with good grace.  We’re a team of friends and strangers 🙂

Mostly remote via the web, but recently I had occasion to do some tech help in person.  It was almost literally eye-opening.

The Tech Stuff

Got word via the grapevine that brother-in-law’s desktop wasn’t performing.  Nearly unusable.  He – like me – is well into retirement age, but unlike me he’s still working.  A high-school teacher who loves his work and is respected and well liked by staff and students.  He needs a properly working machine.

This was a ThinkCentre M91p that I had gotten for him 10 years ago.  Fine in its day, but barely functional now: i7 – that’s OK – but 4GB of RAM and a 7200RPM HDD – those are not.  And Windows 7 – really not.  No support, no ongoing security.

Thanks to COVID-19 and circumstance I haven’t seen bro-in-law or the M91p for a couple of years.  A family memorial had us making the 1000 mile trip so I grabbed 8GB of DDR3 and a Samsung 1TB SATA SSD and off we went.

Installed the RAM and borrowed the internal SATA and power cables from the DVD drive to connect the new SSD.  Samsung provides free migration software and 20 minutes later we were booted up on the new drive mounted in an inexpensive 2.5-3.5″ bracket.  Machine is practically snappy now 🙂

Now the software: uninstalled the grab-bag of (probably conflicting) security software and installed ESET.  That took some hackage since it didn’t want to install in Windows 7.  (I hadn’t decided to try upgrading the OS at that point) An older version of ESET would install and activate with my key, and then happily updated itself to the latest version.  Yay.

Ran the Windows 10 upgrade assistant (not the media creation tool) in place and brought it up to Win 10 with no fuss whatsoever.  Activated without asking for a key. Nice. One last issue: a few months ago the machine had started refusing to shut down with the dreaded “operations are in progress…” message.  That’s an Acronis bug that requires some serious digging to fix – and the version of Acronis on the machine wasn’t going to work with Win 10 anyway.  Unless we purchased new software the backup to external drive wasn’t going to be an option any more.  Set him up with Google Backup-and-Sync with its free 15GB of cloud storage and Bob’s your uncle.

[Side rant] He didn’t ask me about the shutdown issue when it happened.  Had a well-known tech support company come in.  Their “fix” was to change the drive letter of the external drive so Acronis would error out and not hang during shutdown.  That left him with no ongoing backup, and the clowns left without warning him.  *bleep*

The Real Stuff

Brother-in-law has a history of serious eye problems.  Corneal transplants years ago, and again recently.  A detached retina that didn’t heal properly. Now cataracts that couldn’t be treated with lens replacement until the latest transplants healed – and one of them suffered considerable delay and challenging complications.  (TMI, I know…)

Hopefully there will be some positive resolution in the next few months but as it stood – even with the decent performance of the updated ThinkCentre – he couldn’t see what was on the display well enough to do much of anything.

I had never looked into ease of access/assistive tech before but it was readily available, and had been even in Win 7.  Got the resolution set to where it should be, found a scaling factor that increased visibility considerably without introducing other issues (some scaling factors cut off part of some applications) and most important: put the magnifier in the task bar.  Showed him that and got a smile… and maybe a tear (mine, when I realized how bad things were and how much this little bit of tech could help) and he was up and running.  So simple and yet so important and useful.

You know, maybe that new forum member with the trivial camera issue wasn’t silly.  That little lens cover is so well integrated these days it’s hard to spot if you don’t know to look for it. And maybe that camera was the difference between making it to an online job interview or not, or being able to attend a remote class or not.  Not so trivial after all.

Well, back to the forums.  See you there 🙂

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How to Dual Boot Ubuntu and Windows – the Picture Book Edition

 

*Click on the gallery for full-sized images and text*

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