Linux For Everyone
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Linux For Everyone

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Nano Gets Ubuntu 20.04, But Skips Some Killer Features

Are you a ThinkPad fan rocking Ubuntu as your daily driver? Have you been craving an ultra-thin and light ThinkPad with a 16:10 display and 11th Generation Intel processors? Then I bring both good news and bad news: The newly announced ThinkPad X1 Nano might be your new dream machine. Maybe.

Exploded view of the ThinkPad X1 Nano and internals

This week I attended a virtual press conference from Lenovo’s flagship store in Milan, Italy where the company unveiled two new high-profile members of the ThinkPad family: the X1 Fold and the X1 Nano. I was surprised to see that the latter would ship with both Windows 10 and Ubuntu Linux.

Well, sort of surprised. Lenovo’s been making some good noise about its recent Linux initiative. A trio of popular ThinkPads are launching with Fedora, and nearly 30 of Lenovo’s workstation computers are poised to launch with Ubuntu 20.04 preloaded.

Lenovo has also been vocal about treating Linux as a first-class citizen, including doing things like working with Synaptics on fingerprint sensor drivers for Fedora, and contributing those upstream to benefit every Linux distribution.

Which is exactly why I expected a little more from what could have been astonishingly awesome news surrounding the X1 Nano.

The reason for my disappointment is simple. The X1 Nano features a Match on Chip Fingerprint reader, sure. But it also boasts “voice recognition and human presence detection that enable zero touch login and device lock when the user walks away.”

My first inclination was to immediately reach out to Lenovo’s Senior Linux Developer Mark Pearson and ask if the Ubuntu version would have feature parity with the Windows 10 version.

​”Sadly not,” Pearson tells me. “I was looking at some documents about HPD (Human Presence Detection) but to my knowledge there’s no Linux support available for it yet — at least none that I can find.”

Pearson reminds me that Howdy comes closest to that Windows Hello-style facial recognition on Linux, but it can’t match what Lenovo’s doing here. The X1 Nano’s “zero touch” login automatically recognizes your presence and logs you in. Perhaps more importantly, it automatically locks your device when you walk away from it.

These are exciting features, but they don’t seem to be planned for Linux. This could obviously change over the next few weeks to few months, but, at least as Pearson tells it, this isn’t likely in the near term.

“I’ve had a few conversations with people about this type of thing but right now it’s not a committed feature,” Pearson says.

On the bright side, Pearson says that versions of the X1 Nano with Ubuntu preloaded will ship globally via Lenovo’s webshop. We should know pricing closer to the laptop’s launch window of Q4 2020.

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Jason Evangelho

Jason Evangelho

Technology addict, Linux enthusiast, musician, and writer. Currently reviving my imagination from a coma. Also an American in Croatia.