My Old Laptop

on monkeybusiness's blog


I had wanted to buy a (new) computer for years then and it had not materialized because I was not earning enough money with my IT services job to buy a computer. I thought I needed it to be powerful enough for my hobbies, which included gaming, scientific programming using Octave, KiCad and also for web browsing. So, I would spend hours every week scouring for a laptop in Flipkart and Amazon which preferably did not have Microsoft Windows preinstalled. The last part, in particular was a major PITA.

I had been using my phone for nearly everything one should be using a computer for, including simple document editing and I guess it would be safe to say I was somewhat addicted to my smartphone. Then, during one of my internet binges, I noticed a tweet from someone endorsing Mostly Harmless for laptops. I realized this is exactly the same model sold by Nitrokey and Insurgo for a higher price than what Abhas was selling for. I called Abhas and the Thinkpad X230(Abhas named it LC230) was ordered a couple of days before my next salary day. I went for 16GB RAM model because I wanted to keep the device as future-proof as possible, knowing this laptop was fairly old.

Having said that, I think Mostly Harmless is the only business in India that refurbishes and sells laptops with Coreboot preinstalled.

Hardware Specs

Memory : 16GB DDR3 RAM, 1666 Mhz.

CPU : Intel i5 3rd Gen.

Storage : 480 GB SATA SSD.

Wifi : Qualcomm Atheros(ath9k).

Display : 12.5" Matte Display - 1366 * 768.

Experience so far

I think it is safe to say that I love my laptop. Be it how quickly it boots(currently). I have Artix Linux with openrc init system installed on my computer and I would be on the login screen within 30 seconds of turning the laptop on.

The only problems I have recognized on this machine is while using Libvirt and Qubes OS when using Graphics intensive tasks such as rendering Javashit heavy webpages, running bloated Electron apps and playing HD Videos. It turns out the 3rd gen Intel processors don't do KVM/Libvirt particularly well, but otherwise it has all been great sailing.

I have never almost exceeded using more than 10G of RAM at any time other than when using Qubes Os and running multiple VMs simultaneously in Pop OS. I have since switched to Artix Linux because I wanted to learn how things work and also its lightweight nature by default, and I have decided to stick. Having to think of it, I think I only need 4-8 GB of memory at the absolute maximum for a majority of my use-cases.

Repairs are also quite easy on this laptop too. For example, access to the hard drive is just a single Philips screw away. RAM modules are 2 screws away. The palm rest is swappable and so is the keyboard. The given 12.5" display can be replaced with a 13.3" IPS thanks to Nitrocaster's mod. I never had to access the fans, but I think Abhas has documented the whole thing in his site. Pretty sure the repairs are not going to set you back by much, if at all. In short, if you have performed any minor repairs in the past, you would feel confident looking at the laptop's back-panel.

Now would I recommend this laptop to anyone else?

Absolutamente! This laptop should meet the criterion for an average laptop user and for the majority of the programmers with ease. You will commonly come across people who know better than me singing praises of Lenovo Thinkpads' various attributes leading up to Thinkpad X230. Plus, corebooted laptops are a rare commodity, particularly in India. I don't think there are many devices that combine freedom, decent performance, repairability and mod-friendliness currently. The Thinkpad X230 meets these requirements with ease.

The only set of people who may not consider this machine would be those absolutely have to use Windows 11(Please don't) and those who require a performace intensive machine for AAA games, video editing and other resource intensive tasks.

If you are considering this laptop for your use, I am sure the machine will not disappoint you.