ThinkPad T440s + Ubuntu

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In August 2014, I upgraded my trusty ThinkPad L520 to a shiny new ThinkPad T440s. Unfortunantly, but not unexpectedly, I tried to follow online tutorials for dual booting and ended up with a lovely black screen every time I tried to boot from the USB Live image I’d created.

To re-iterate, disabled Fast Boot in Windows, and Secure Boot in BIOS/UEFI. I also enabled legacy boot mode, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. Got all that? These are the recommended settings for dual booting / installing linux on a UEFI/Secure Boot enabled box.

I went to bed unhappy, but in the morning had the crazy idea to enable Secure Boot, just to see if it would work. It did! So, it looks like new Ubuntu versions are supported in Secure Boot. Good enough for me.

I was then able to install Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on my shiny new T440s… not without other issues, but the point of this page is for me to log each of these issues and my solution for anyone else who is trying to install Ubuntu 14.04 on a T440s.

My Thinkpad T440s Specifications

  • Lenovo ThinkPad T440s
  • Intel Core i7-4600U
  • 12GB PC3-12800 4GBBS+8GB1D
  • 14.0″ FHD (1920×1080)
  • Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • 256GB SSD SATA3

Cannot boot from USB Live Disk

Affects: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

Problem: Trying to boot from a USB Live Disk results in a black screen, or GRUB error messages.

Solution: Enable Secure Boot in BIOS/UEFI and try again.

In my case anyway, I believe the USB stick identified the UEFI/Secure Boot capabilities and crashed because the system wasn’t responding correctly as it was disabled.

GRUB doesn’t load on dual-boot OR GRUB can’t start Windows

Affects: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

Problem: After a successful install of Ubuntu alongside Windows 8.1: either the GRUB menu doesn’t load – Windows boot directly, OR GRUB loads but can’t start Windows when the option is selected.

Solution: I tried a promising tutorial, which only succeeded in locking Windows out of Secure Boot(!!). My recommendation is to accept it and get familiar with the F12 button on the first BIOS screen. When your laptop first starts and shows the Lenovo logo (along with the words “To interrupt normal startup, press Enter.”), tab F12. It will give you a boot list, which should contain both ubuntu and Windows Boot Manager. Pick the one you want, and it should boot.

It needs you to get the timing right, but it seems to work, and is a lot safer than trying to fix bootloaders. Simply use BIOS boot order to select the preferred start up option, and use F12 for the other one.

Top “Clickpad” mouse buttons move the mouse

Affects: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

Problem: With the new (annoying) all-in-one clickpad on the T440s, which has the mouse buttons for the TouchPoint (little red mouse pointer in keyboard) as part of the trackpad. When clicking these “buttons”, you need be very steady, or it will move the mouse and cause issues trying to click things.

Solution: This is a difficult issue that is being actively worked on in newer versions of the Synaptics packages. After a short search, I found a promising PPA by Adam Glasgall.

After installation of the PPA, I created this file:


Containing this:

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier "T440s trackstick software button buttons"
    Option "HasSecondarySoftButtons" "on"
    Option "SecondarySoftButtonAreas" "3363 0 0 2280 2717 3362 0 2280"

Then I rebooted, and it seemed to work – with a couple of caveats: the middle mouse scroll wouldn’t work, and the defined button area is very small. Although latter can be fixed by tweaking the numbers in the config.

Middle Mouse Scroll doesn’t work

Affects: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

Problem: The middle mouse scroll function doesn’t work. I.e. hold down the middle mouse ‘button’, and move the pointer up or down.

Solution: I found a potential solution, but I’m not interested in manual package building. Use at your own risk:

Disable “Clickpad” on demand

Affects: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

Problem: My L520 had a function key shortcut to disable the Trackpad on demand, which was fantastic since I kept bumping the silly thing. It kept the TrackPoint (red dot mouse) and buttons working nicely. The T440s, however, has no such key, and if you disable the Trackpad via settings the top mouse buttons are disabled too… Not that useful.

Solution: The solution I am currently using is a simple ‘toggle clickpad’ script which simply toggles on and off the clickpad every time it is run. Link this with a keyboard shortcut (like Super+Space), and you can quickly enabled and disable the Clickpad. It disables the mouse buttons too, but when doing lots of typing, you don’t need them on anyway. It’s become second nature to toggle it on when I need to use the mouse buttons.

Save this script somewhere:


if [ -f /tmp/touchpad-disabled ]; then
    xinput set-prop 11 'Device Enabled' 1
    rm /tmp/touchpad-disabled
    xinput set-prop 11 'Device Enabled' 0
    touch /tmp/touchpad-disabled

Then go into System Settings > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Custom Shortcuts and add a new shortcut to run the toggle script above, with an unused keyboard combination. (Note: Text Editors and other problems will use shortcuts that dialog doesn’t know about.)

Hopefully some of the things on this page help you. 🙂 If you have any other issues, or know of any other solutions, let me know.

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