Thinkpad Blue Thinkvantage button and linux...

Posted on 2008-11-03
Last Modified: 2013-12-15

I had recently downloaded Ubuntu and installed it on a USB thumb drive. Works very well. Anyways,
my question is "...can linux be installed into the preboot environment that is accessed when the Blue button on the Thinkpads is pressed?" I had just started searching the net to find out if anyone had done this. If anyone here had any experience with this or knows where I can get info please reply. Thank you.

Question by:danfti
    LVL 57

    Expert Comment


    Author Comment

    Thank you giltjr. I was actually thinking of having the button function more like what Asus and Dell had been doing. "Instant On" thing, instead of booting into Windows or Linux etc...I can get internet access or skype or email. When I turn on the notebook, I would just have to press the blue button and instantly get access to email, browser, skype...etc...without the need to wait for the machine to fully boot into an OS. I had used a computer recently that had the Asus motherboard which has this feature so that got me thinking if it is possible to do on the Thinkpad since I don't really use the recovery feature.
    LVL 57

    Expert Comment

    Ah.  The way I understand how these keys work is that they interact with the BIOS, so you would need to alter what the BIOS does when that key is pressed.  Unless you are into writing BIOS code, I would suggest that you let it be.

    However, what you are describing sounds like hibernation or suspend/resume mode.  On most laptops you press the power key to wake up the PC and it starts of from where it went to sleep.

    There are two type of hibernation and suspend/resume mode.  One is the PC really just goes to sleep.  It is still running the OS, but it stops doing things.  The other is basically copies what is in memory (both virtual and real) to the hard drive and powers off the system.  When the system is powered back on, it reloads the memory from the hard drive  and starts from where it left off at.

    So you may want to do is see if your distribution of Linux supports hibernation or suspend/resume mode on your laptop.

    Author Comment

    Using hibernation or suspend/resume would require you to have already booted into an os and just put it to sleep or hibernate. I think the part regarding altering the Bios is already done, since the bios already has instructions to enable the button to be pressed and access the preboot environment when pressed, it's just a matter of getting a minimal install of Linux with the email, skype, browser etc...installed in that preboot environment so that when the button is pressed, it would bring up that linux installation. Right now pressing the button at start up would bring up the recovery and diagnostics menu. All this is done without booting into Windows.
    LVL 57

    Accepted Solution

    Its been a long time since I was that deep in to the BIOS, but on the IBM PC's the pre-boot enviroment used to be on PROM chips on the MB.  I don't think the amount of space on the chips is big enough to store even minimal Linux environment that would support light work.  So the BIOS would need to be altered to be able to boot off a partition on the hard drive for the pre-boot environment.

    Now, if IBM has moved this to a partition on the hard drive, then you could replace what they have (void the warranty most likely) with your custom setup.  

    Author Closing Comment

    Thank you for your help, I will keep looking for a solution. I think I would have to find a way to install linux onto that hidden partition that's created for the recovery/diagnostics.

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